Is there good evidence for reincarnation? Researchers say yes.
HAVE YOU LIVED BEFORE? The concept of reincarnation -- that our souls may experience many lifetimes over centuries, maybe even thousands of years -- has been present in virtually every culture since ancient times. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Aztecs all believed in the "transmigration of souls" from one body to another after death. It's a fundamental precept of Hinduism.
Although reincarnation is not a part of official Christian doctrine, many Christians believe in it or at least accept its possibility. (Jesus, it is believed, was reincarnated three days after his crucifixion.) That's not at all surprising; the idea that after death we can live again as another person -- maybe as the opposite sex or in a completely different station in life -- is intriguing and, for many people, highly appealing.
Is there any truth to it, however? Is reincarnation just an idea, a fantasy? Or is there real evidence to support it? Here's some of the best evidence available, gathered by researchers who, in some cases, have devoted their lives to the subject. Examine it, then decide for yourself.
PAST LIFE REGRESSION HYPNOSIS
The practice of reaching past lives through hypnosis is controversial, primarily because hypnosis is not a reliable tool. Hypnosis can certainly help reach the unconscious mind, but the information found there is not reliable as truth. It has been shown that the practice can create false memories. That doesn't mean, however, that regression hypnosis should be dismissed out of hand. If the past life information can be verified through research, the case for reincarnation can be considered more seriously.
- The most famous case of past life regression through hypnosis is that of Ruth Simmons. In 1952, her therapist, Morey Bernstein, took her back past the point of her birth. Suddenly, Ruth began to speak with an Irish accent and claimed that her name was Bridey Murphy, who lived in 19th century Belfast, Ireland. Ruth recalled many details of her life as Bridey, but, unfortunately, attempts to find out if Ms. Murphy really existed were unsuccessful. There was, however, some indirect evidence for the truth of her story: under hypnosis, Bridey mentioned the names of two grocers in Belfast from whom she bought food, Mr. Farr and John Carrigan. A Belfast librarian found a city directory for 1865-1866 that listed both men as grocers. Her story was told both in a book by Bernstein and in a 1956 movie, The Search for Bridey Murphy.
ILLNESSES AND PHYSICAL AILMENTS
Do you have a life-long illness or physical pain that you cannot account for? Their roots could be in some past life trauma, some researchers suspect.
- In "Have We Really Lived Before?", Michael C. Pollack, Ph.D., CCHT describes his lower back pain, which grew steadily worse over the years and limited his activities. He believes he found out a possible reason during a series of past life therapy sessions: "I discovered that I had lived at least three prior lifetimes in which I had been killed by being knifed or speared in the low back. After processing and healing the past life experiences my back began to heal."
- Research conducted by Nicola Dexter, a past life therapist, has discovered correlations between illnesses and past lives in some of her patients, including: a bulimia sufferer who swallowed salt water in a previous life; a fear of indoor heights caused by carving the ceiling of a church and being killed by falling to the floor; a persistent problem in the shoulder and the arm area having been caused by participating in a tug of war which injured the same arm; a fear of razors and shaving was found to have its root cause in another lifetime where the client had chopped off someone's fingers with a sword and then as retribution had his entire hand cut off.