By Dr. Tan Kheng Khoo
As night follows the day, so the law of reincarnation must follow the law of karma. One cannot commit karma and expect it to finish with it in one life. So there must be many lives to resolve one's karma. Once karma is initiated, it must (1) continue until it is spent. In this process, karma must have its repercussion in the forms of (2) consequence and (3) compensation. So we have 3 laws here.
The Law of Continuation: Some of our tendencies, traits, habits, talents and abilities can be carried over to the next life and the next, but not all of them. Our merit and good points may pass over. For instance our ability to meditate. Our kindness and our loving and compassionate nature may be carried over to future lives. However, intellectual abilities like our computer expertise may not. Our emotional memories are more likely to be carried over than the intellectual ones.
The Law of Consequences: Having free choice, we make mistakes as well as good deeds. Consequently, we receive negative and positive sequelae to make us responsible, and thereby we learn from these negative and positive responses. The lesson here is not to make the same mistakes. We should also learn that to hurt others we punish ourselves. In this way, life after life we learn to ascend the spiritual path.
The Law of Compensation: As we progress in our spiritual path, we have to experience innumerable facets of life. For instance, we must experience different races and take on different religions in order to round up our education. Then to know the extremes, we must change sex in different incarnations, and this practice must also include homosexual ones. In some lives we have to be physically strong and some weak. In some we have to be intellectually active and in others mentally subdued.
Definition of Reincarnation
Reincarnation must be properly defined. It is often mixed up with other terms. These are (1) Rebirth, (2) Metempsychosis, (3) Psychic collectivism, and (4) Pre-existence. Pre-existence was accepted in early Christianity. It postulates that there is a pre-existing soul. This soul is born in a human body, and after death returns to the spirit world. It is with exception that a soul is able to return to earth. This is no more the prevailing Christian view. Psychic collectivism embraces all ideas, which include that, the mind only becomes individualise when it enters a body at birth. After death this mind or soul is absorbed by the earth as vapour. This adds vitality to plants, animals and humans. This view state that the psychic field of vital energy is individualised temporarily at birth. Metempsychosis or transmigration means alternate incarnation of human and animals, or if one behaves badly one will incarnate into an animal. Rebirth or psychic transfer is discussed here in specific reference to Theravada Buddhism. This is because of the 'anatta' doctrine, which states that there is no soul or personality. At death, only the mental and psychic traits, characteristics and propensities return to a general pool. Then at the next rebirth these samskaras are issued to another personality who is not the old one. That means there is no individual soul or personality being transferred from the past life to the new one. The analogy given is that 'the light of a dying candle goes to lit another new candle'. This passing on of the baton does not speak of the intermission between death and life.
Materialism is another belief that has to be dealt with. This hypothesis states that there is no soul. In addition the mind including thoughts, concepts, emotions, feelings etc is a by-product of the body. When the body dies, the mind dies with it. There are no consequences, no responsibility, no improvement and no spiritual growth. There is no purpose to life: everything leads to nothing. The Epicureans are attuned to this concept.
Reincarnation: this hypothesis is the most likely situation. It postulates that there is a pre-existing soul before birth and continues after death. The soul incarnates hundreds or thousands of times, depending on which religion or philosophy one follows. The series of incarnations is to promote spiritual growth so that the soul can arrive finally at one with the universe. There are at least six facts that support the thesis of reincarnation:
(1) Near Death Experience.
(2) Out of Body Experience.
(3) Mediumship and channelling.
(4) Hypnosis and other forms of regression.
(5) Spontaneous past-life recalls.
(6) Induction by other techniques other than hypnosis.
Volumes of reputable research in various fields support the above facts with scientific authenticity. University professors and scientists have all researched thoroughly into these topics that they are now accepted without a shadow of a doubt. This article will now work on this premise that reincarnation is the valid hypothesis.
Historical and Geographical Background to the Belief in Reincarnation
Reincarnation is not solely an Eastern or particularly an Indian doctrine. Neither is it a well-defined one. Reincarnation has been loosely accepted by different cultures as a hotchpotch of ideas with false righteousness by the clergy to blackmail the flock into discipline. There is a fantastic amount of delusional speculation in the subject.
In a 1969 Gallop poll of Christians in the western countries, there were only 10 % to 26% of believers in reincarnation. Ten percent of the Dutch, 12% Swedish, 14% Norwegians, 18% English. 20% Americans, 22% Greeks, 23% French, 25% Germans and 26% Canadians believe in reincarnation. In 1980, 29% of the British believe in incarnation. This is a jump of 11% in ten years. In 1978, a TV poll in Brazil found 78% Brazilians believe in reincarnation!
These Western believers were presumably influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, certain African tribes, Druses etc. Further, the esoteric teachings of Theosophy, Spritualism, Spiritism of Allan Kardec and Anthroposophy all contribute towards this high percentage of western believers.
In Judaism, there is a strong belief in pre-existence, but a weak belief in reincarnation. In Christianity, with a background of pre-existence in some quarters, there are a few passages in the New Testament pointing towards reincarnation. There are passages found in St. Mark, St. Mathew, St Luke and St. John alluding to reincarnation. The obvious one is when Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah in a previous life. John 9:1-3 and John 17: 24 are good examples indicating belief in reincarnation.
The Second Council of Nicea in Constantinople in 533 AD did not meet to reject reincarnation. Its main purpose was to decide whether Christ consisted of one or two natures. A secondary consideration was to condemn the views of Origen, who strongly believed in pre-existence and thereby was sympathetic to reincarnation. When his views were condemned, it was erroneously concluded that the meeting was solely to reject his views on reincarnation. Therefore it can be seen that reincarnation was not the purpose of the council meeting. Origen's sympathetic bias towards reincarnation might not even have been on the agenda for discussion. Annie Besant and others initiated this erroneous speculation.
The subject of reincarnation is not explicitly discussed in Islam. Zoroaster, the Persian sage, managed to influence some Sufis towards reincarnation, but it is only for a few lives. It was the Sufi Jalal-Ud-Den-Rumni that taught the evolution of the soul through mineral, vegetable, animal to human and then to angel. The Druses, a partial Islamic sect, believe that the soul immediately re-enters a baby that is being reborn. The Jains believe that the soul is immediately connected to a conception. That is why under these circumstances, the last thought moments of a dying person is so important. Kabbala believes in pre-existence of the soul, which mostly has only one incarnation. This one incarnation is mainly for purification. If the individual fails he becomes a woman in the next life!
Modern philosophers, teachers and pundits all believe in reincarnation in a variety of permutations and combinations. Authors, musicians and artists and other famous thinkers also believe in reincarnation in some fashion or the other.
The subject is very complicating and there is no one finite view. Throughout this diversity and contradictions there is only one major theme of wanting to come back to earth. The religious tend to treat it as reward and punishment. The 'untouchables' in India are deemed to be punished for their bad behaviour in the past life. The esoteric sects believe it is for spiritual growth. The remainder takes it as a process of a universal law, which cannot to be avoided. Some religions deem it as punishment even for simple superstitious acts of neglecting religious rituals etc. This view is as wrong as the one concerning the untouchables. Another very erroneous view is that reincarnation is synonymous with fate or destiny. A wide range of estimates is seen in the number of incarnations of each individual. It ranges between a few in Persia to the Indian number of 840,000. Some teachings do not include intermissions i.e. periods between death and rebirth.
Theosophy: Theosophy has an elaborate doctrine, which has been greatly modified since its inception. It has a wide spectrum of esoteric teaching which involves involution of the monad (soul) and the evolution of the physical vehicle (body) simultaneously in one individual. It uses a language quite different from other esoteric disciplines. Theosophical viewpoints after much modification are now left vague and contradictory. However, these inconsistencies do not alter the theme of moralist karma, intermission and reincarnation. The three tenets of Theosophical thought on karma and reincarnation are (a) these are natural laws that cannot be redeemed; (b) they are for reward and punishment; (c) they are also for guidance, evolution and healing. Memories of past life recalls are extraordinary according to them, because in their view the physical brain and astral brain decompose after death, and therefore these memories are not available except in the higher causal body. So only highly developed people can access their past.
Anthroposophy is even more complicating. Rudolf Steiner, the main force in Anthroposophy, agrees that karma is a spiritual law of cause and effect, which pervades all inner and outer human thoughts and acts. He was a true Gnostic, which meant he kept on obtaining esoteric knowledge at first hand to all manners of spiritual mysteries. Therefore his interpretations of causes and effects keep on changing from period to period, i.e. his doctrines changed time and again. He definitely advocated karma and reincarnation, but his conclusions of what causes leading to what effects are totally at variance with all hitherto teachings. The declarations of his esoteric intuitions are told with feelings and effects, but there is hardly any justification for them. Neither is there any rationale. His concepts are incoherent and contradictory, but full of atmosphere.
Hinduism: The first Hindu view is that all souls arose from the Source or Godhead. After many incarnations, they forget that they are divine and that they originated from the Source. But after many incarnations, they learn that they have to realise who they really are (i.e. self-realisation), and from thence onwards the journey is towards returning to the Source. The second view is that we started as being minerals, going through vegetables and animals and finally to humans. It is only the human that can attain self-awareness and with it freedom of choice and responsibility. From then onwards, the law of karma comes into play. After many incarnations (840,000 of them) and after liberation (moksha,) the human soul does not need to come back to earth or other planet for growth. It will now carry on as an angel in the spirit world. These earthly incarnations and intermissions which, are totally guided by karma is called Samsara. During Samsara, the human soul progresses through four stages: (1) Lust (kama)---pursuit of pleasure. The sin here is anger. (2) Materialism (Artha)---The sin here is greed and avarice. (3) Morality, integrity and religiosity (Dharma). (4) Enlightenment (Moksha)---release from Samsara and no more earthly incarnations. So one can see that the basic laws of karma and reincarnation are essential for human spiritual growth to return to the Source or Godhead.
The soul before birth possesses a general karmic pool or mass (Sanchita karma) the sum total of karma earned form past lives. He brings a portion of ripe karma (Prarabdha karma) down to earth in this life. It is from this ripe karma that he constructs his G-plan. Then while living this life he incurs more new karma (Kryamana karma). A small amount of new karma is resolved in this very life, but the remainder is carried over and added to the main pool (Sanchita karma) for the future. In Hinduism, there is no place for predestination, luck or fate. However, these views on Hindu karma and reincarnation closely influence their attitude towards the caste system (the untouchables must have behaved pretty badly in their past lives). Metempsychosis or transmigration of souls to animals is part of this philosophy.
Buddhism: This religion is another eastern teaching that solidly supports karma and reincarnation. Its doctrine is very similar to Hinduism except on the question of the soul. In Theravada Buddhism, the anatta doctrine is the tenet of its teachings. There is no soul or Atman in man's spirit (Jiva). What is carried over to the next life is not an entity or personality, but a collection of habits, tendencies and characteristics. This lack of Atman is translated into an-atman and finally to the anatta doctrine. This transference is like 'an almost burnt out candle which lights up a new candle.' That is why in Buddhism it is called rebirth rather reincarnation. Intermission between lives is not elaborated here. On the other hand it is said that Buddha himself was able to remember all his previous lives, meaning that he was able to recognise an ongoing personality through all his lives! In the Jataka stories, metempsychosis is also taught, but there is no surety that Buddha was the source of these stories. In fact, Buddha never wrote a word, and other people wrote everything in the Buddhist literature.
Another small point in Tibetan Buddhism: it is said that a developed lama, called a sprul-sku (tulku), can preserve its personality. This is because he is so developed that his will and power can work against the disintegration of his personality He can even predict his future incarnation. He writes down and describes the whereabouts of the place and house in which he is going to be reborn. The expert detectives who will be looking for this boy were his former associates. After some divination procedures, these lamas will venture out to look for the boy. The two to three year-old boy will have to recognise possessions and relics of the deceased sprul-sku (tulku). Lastly, Mahayana Buddhism has an added feature of a Bodhisattva ideal. This plan says that a person who has reached the height of enlightenment has a choice to be reborn in order to help his fellow sentient beings towards enlightenment. Therefore the Bodhisattva has the freedom to choose not to reincarnate or incarnate. That means he can postpone his entrance into nirvana to a day when "every blade of grass is enlightened".
Reincarnation is not much discussed in Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism.
At least 100 tribes in Africa believe in reincarnation: only 36 of these believe in reincarnation proper while 47 of them believe in metempsychosis. The Zulus also believe that we come to perfect ourselves until it is not necessary. The strongest belief is in West Africa: Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana. There are all sorts of theories concerning how the reincarnation process comes about. Another area is where the Druses originated: Southeast Turkey, Lebanon and Northern Israel. Reincarnation beliefs in these two areas probably arose from ancient Egypt. A third area is Asia, which encompasses India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Nepal, Tibet and Indochina. The next is Japan and finally Southeast Alaska.
Europe: here the Celts believed that after a few lives they might reach a 'white heaven'. Metempsychosis and a Bodhisattva ideal are also believed in their culture. The ancient Teutons believed that people reincarnate in the same family. The Danes, the Norse, the Icelanders, the East-Goths, the Lombardians, the Letts and the Saxons all have some kind of reincarnation beliefs.
The Americas: The Tlingits of South-eastern Alaska and North-western Canada had elaborate views and practices of reincarnation. According to them the returning soul can choose its mother. They pay great attention to birth marks as features of the new-born's previous identity. The Indian tribes of America and Canada also believe in reincarnation. So do the Eskimos. Some of the latter even believe in overlapping reincarnations i.e. a soul is born before the previous personality has died. Many Red Indian tribes of North and Central America have strong belief in reincarnation. Some in metempsychosis. The Incas, the Mayans, the Dakotas etc all believe in some form of reincarnation.
Australia and Oceania: There is a universal belief in reincarnation amongst the Australian aborigines. Similarly, reincarnation belief is found among the tribes in Borneo and Celebes Papuans, the Maoris, the Tahitians, the Fijians etc.
So looking at the above survey we can conclude that there is quite a widespread belief in reincarnation throughout the populations of the world. In order to study the chronological sequel of reincarnation, let us begin at the end: death.
The Mechanism of Death
When we emanated from the source it is the form of a spirit, which in Sanskrit is called, Jiva. The Jiva is the life force containing the soul and all levels of our consciousness including the Akashic records. The soul is called the Atman.
(1) At the point of death, all the seven or more auras will involute into the spirit, which will move over to the heart chakra in the chest.
(2) All the auric bodies with all the karmic seeds will now congregate at this chakra where the atman is situated. A light is seen above the heart chakra.
(3) The Jiva including the soul, all the auras and the seeds of karma and all levels of consciousness will now flow out through the crown chakra. During sleep, when the Jiva leaves the body it is tied to the body by a silver cord, which will pull back the Jiva before awakening. Now at death, the silver cord is severed and this is the point of no return. The Jiva normally leaves through the crown and is seen by clairvoyants as a cloud of smoke. Sometimes it may leave through the 6th chakra at the 3rd eye or other chakras.
(4) The Jiva or cloud of smoke will reform into its etheric form, which is exactly like the corpse that it has just left. This etheric form will remain earth bound until it has bidden farewell to his relatives and friends. Then it will shed its etheric body to go to astral world. Some ignorant spirits full of attachment may remain earthbound for years (up to more than a thousand years).
(5) The Jiva then passes through a dark tunnel or climb a flight of stairs into a world of warm, bright light, where a radiant guardian angel is waiting to welcome him. This personage radiates warmth and light, and straightaway one feels very comfortable with him.
(6) A panoramic review of one's last life in three dimensions is then reeled backwards for one to see and feel. There is no recrimination here. Only the omissions and commissions are noted. These have to be worked at in the near future. The question is always asked: 'what have you learnt from your last incarnation'.
(7) In the astral realm the etheric body has already been discarded. The astral body is much more malleable and plastic. In this realm, one indulges in one's emotions trying to resolve them at the same time. Then when all the emotions are fully tested, one moves onto the mental realm. This can happen only when one has developed enough to be upgraded to the mental realm. The astral body has now to be discarded. This is equivalent to the second death. This second death is very painful, because one is losing all of one's emotions (joy, happiness and sadness etc), and going up to a realm where only thoughts are available. In the mental realm, a person, who has been working a great deal with his mind hitherto, will stay here much longer than one who has been working with his hands.
(8) Again, according to one's development, one may ascend to higher spiritual realms e.g. the causal etc.
(9) After working out our entanglements in the astral, mental or higher realms we may decide to descend down to earth again for another lesson. In these higher realms we are dealing mainly with the effects and not the causes. The time spent in this intermission varies between individuals.
(10) On the way down to planet earth, the Jiva must spiral down slowly. It has to visit each lower realm to re-acquaint itself for its sojourn on earth. For instance, it has to spend a bit of time in the mental and then the astral realm to prepare itself for earth. Thoughts and emotions have to be re-acquainted before the etheric gown can be assumed again. The Jiva with all its auras and levels of consciousness is now ready to descend into the new-born.
The Jiva will spend varying periods of time in the spirit realms during the intermission. The time spent depends on the development and the accumulated karmic mass of the person. Col. Leadbeater of Theosophy constructed a very elaborate table for different types of souls. The table is included here just to show what Gnostics can conjure up!
1500 to 2300 years : mature, advanced souls; initiates
700 to 1,200 years : those who are going along or nearing the path of initiation; 5 years in Kamaloka and up to 50 years in the Manas plane
600 to 1,000 years : upper class; 20 to 25 years in Kamaloka, short stay in Manas
about 500 years : upper-middle class; 25 years in Kamaloka, no sojourn in Manas
200 to 300 years : lower middle class; 40 years in Kamaloka
100 to 200 years : qualified workers; 40 years in Kamaloka
60 to 100 years : non-qualified labourers: 40 to 50 in Kamaloka
40 to 50 years : good-for-nothings and drunks; only in Kamaloka
About 5 years : the lowest class; only in the lower part of Kamaloka or earth-bound,vegetative.
The Kamaloka is equivalent to the middle astral realm, in which one works through one's emotions. The Manas is the causal realm, which is above the law of karma.
I suppose that the above is just typical examples of the different grades of people. Even then, it stretches the imagination a little too much to accept this table as gospel truth.
Hans Tendam after scrutinising the literature together with his own experience and research has suggested three patterns of reincarnation. These fall into:
(1) Population I: It is of people with hardly any awareness of their intermissions. They are asleep, hang about, or wandering around. This category is very common, but not found in induced regressions. Professor Ian Stevenson's childhood cases are classic examples. Most of them have no G-plan, as there is hardly any intentional karmic lesson to learn. The intermission is short. It varies between few months and 16 years with an average of 8 years. They are also reborn near where they died. The purpose of this lot is to gain experience and slowly to grow in understanding. These short intermissions continue for sometime until they become more aware and they will then move over to the next category.
(2) Population II: This category is mainly for personal development. They are aware when they die. Before the next incarnation, they take advice with consultations from their guides in order to resolve karma and spiritual growth. A G-plan is then constructed. This of course is not ironclad as fate. They are aware of their intermissions and relationships with others. Using their hitherto earned capabilities, attitudes and propensities they want to try and improve their spiritual status. The span of their intermissions varies between 15 to 130 years with an average of 60 years.
(3) Population III: Having learnt so much in the past centuries, this group now is fairly developed, and they are ready to contribute to others. They have also aggregated a circle of friends who are equally advanced. These teams are now devoted to help others in their reincarnation problems, acting as guides and advisors to the less initiated, either incarnate or discarnate. There is less urgency to reincarnate, and there is now a free choice to incarnate and when. Their intermission span is between 60 to 420 years with an average of 230 years. This group of individuals is growing in size as the entire world is steadily developing, and the individuals in this group will also be specialising in their expertise. This means that there is wide variation in intermission periods, as some of them have to incarnate for special tasks, depending on the conditions and circumstances on earth. They will be using their free choice to go down, as their compassion and love grow stronger.
Generally, intermission periods have been decreasing steadily in the past centuries, and this will explain why the population on earth has been increasing. There is little evidence to say that new souls are being ejected from the source currently. That means every one of us had our first incarnation at least a couple of million years ago.
There are different beliefs amongst theosophical writers. Some say that we remain in the same sex for 3 to 7 incarnations. Others claim that we alternate 7 male and 7 female incarnations. Some change sexes easily but not others.
Rudolf Steiner (Anthroposophy) states that alternating male and female incarnation is the rule. Exceptionally, one can remain in the same sex for two to three incarnations, but 7 incarnations in the same sex is maximum.
On the average, the probability of sex change between two subsequent incarnations is from 15 to 25%. Only 20% of people do not remember a sex change. That means in a series of incarnations, 80% would have had a sex change. Some individuals are in favour of one sex against the other. In the above category of Population I, the majority of them would be coming back in the same sex. This sex change explains why some females are very manly, whilst some males are very feminine, even though they are straight.
Homosexuality: Almost certainly this is due to the result of a sex change. After being a female for several lives, the individual decides to change into a male in the next life. The body changes into a male, but the mind still remains a female, and this incomplete transfer renders the individual a homosexual. There are at least 15 to 20 % of gays and lesbians in the world, and the figure is still increasing. Transvestites and transsexuals fall into the same category of a change of sex from one life to another, but the transformation is incomplete.
According to the Theosophists, the more developed the person is the more he will resemble his previous self, especially his face. The other idea is that if the soul is in contact with the foetus from the moment of conception, it is more like to resemble the former self. Some people may carry some features in their faces for several incarnations.
Confirmatory evidence of reincarnation
The following are experiential evidence of reincarnation:.
(1) Near Death Experience (NDE): During the sojourn in the astral realm, one of the main features is the past life recall of the life that is ongoing. More developed individuals could also glimpse at lives in earlier incarnations.
(2) Out -of-body experience: It is very rare to experience past lives in OBE's. There is, however, one outstanding case. Oliver Fox left his body to visit some Tibetan temple. Instead he had a past life experience, in which he was being tortured to death chained to a frame. His name was Theseus, presumably a Greek.
(3) Channelling through mediums in trance consciousness is strong proof of reincarnation. Similarly, sensitive clairvoyants may be able to reel off a series of the other people's past life without the slightest difficulty. In this case the sitter can verify what is told to him with other mediums and psychics. Nowadays, there is no shortage of clairvoyants. The stories usually tally.
(4) Clairvoyants: These psychics can usually recall their own past lives as well as others. They do not mix up the two. Some of them cannot tell their own past at all. In this category, an English boy living in the late 19th century was able to recount vividly many of his own past. It is edited in a book called The Boy Who Saw True (annotated by Cyril Scott) (1953). Joan Grant remembered her past lives in trance, and these are recounted in her autobiography, Time out of Mind (1956). The Winged Pharaoh (1937) is her 1st book about her past life.
(5) Psychics and Clairvoyants who can read other people's past lives: Many fall into this category, but only a few have written down their experiences. The best known is Edgar Cayce. He gave details of patients' past lives to explain away the symptoms of current lives with a moral lesson attached. Joan Grant is another. Quite a bit of literature is available on this subject. Lately, Brian Weiss has written best sellers: 'Many Lives, Many Mansions' and 'Through Time into Healing'. Weiss does it through hypnosis.
(6) Information on reincarnation by discarnates: There are quite a few famous theses published via mediums either in trance or fully conscious. (a) Alice Bailey channelled tomes from a Theosophical Master, the Tibetan. (b) Madam Blavatsky's Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine. (c) Dr. Mona Rolfe lectures in trance and is famous for her book ' The Spiral of Life: Cycles of Reincarnation' (d) Allan Kardec's book ' The Spirits Book'. Although it is written in 1857, most of what is written in the book is in accord with what we accept today. This book is regarded as a bible in Brazil, and thus explains why 87% of Brazilians believe in reincarnation. (e) Arthur Ford was able to recount his own and other people's past lives. After his death, Ruth Montgomery received messages from him through automatic writing. The material is about reincarnation in general and about some famous people in particular. (f) Jane Roberts channelled Seth in trance. He is a gnostic spirit-philosopher. He tells us that all our lives are occurring in parallel, because time is not linear. That means while living in the 20th century we are also acting out our lives in centuries past and future. Therefore karma does not exist: we are deluded by it. He discredited himself by predicting that in the year 2075, man will be able contact their inner being. He is using linear time in this prediction!
Spontaneous Recollections of Past Lives
The 7 types of spontaneous recollections are:
(1) Recognition of places at first sight: Guilfoyle had a survey and found these percentages: 35% never had, 50% had once or twice, and 15% more than twice a feeling that they had been there before. Muller (1970) found that 6% of his subjects had intense feelings of recognition at the first visit. This must be differentiated from déjà vu, which does not point to a past life. Deja vu is more like the consciousness moving ahead of the body.
(2) Recognition of people at first sight: This is quite common, but one must not jump to conclusion too quickly. Liking or disliking someone at first sight may not be past life experience. An intense affinity or mutual affection, which developed spontaneously, may be a relationship from the past. Certainly love at first sight is from the past. Uncommon familiarity and being totally comfortable with the other person are good pointers. Intense hatred at the first meeting is also a good possibility of a disagreeable past.
(3) Recognition in Dreams: Dreams are not a common way in recalling past life. This is because we mostly forget our dreams, which are also pretty unconvincing as evidence. Unless it is a recurring dream, which should also be lucid (that means we know that we are dreaming) and vivid. The accompanying emotions are also intense, and we can describe the details years later. When one dreams of one's past life, the person is usually in the dream, but not when dreaming of other people.
(4) Recollections triggered by objects, photos and books: Almost anything can trigger a recollection, and it may end up in a dream. Lenz found that 9 out of 127 cases had memories triggered by listening to some music, seeing a painting or an object.
(5) Recollections triggered by a similar situation: This is rare but it happens, as we are told that we repeat the same mistakes, life after life.
(6) Recollections under extraordinary circumstances: The conditions from which a memory can arise are (a) during a life-threatening accident, (b) under anaesthesia or semi-conscious (c) under great stress and strain as in war or other activity that entails lack of sleep, (d) depression and despair due to a great loss.
(7) Spontaneous Recollection: Many well known people do proclaim their past incarnations, but without proof they were treated with little credibility.
Spontaneous Recollections in Children
The most well known investigator in childhood cases is Ian Stevenson. He has collected at least 2000 cases and examined them thoroughly in 200 of them. One hundred and five of them are from Northern India, 80 are from Sri Lanka and a few dozen are from Turkey, Lebanon, Alaska, Thailand and Burma. In the 105 cases in India, 60 were boys and 45 were girls. Out of 80 Sri Lankans, 38 were boys and 45 were girls. Usually their memories start at three and diminish at 7 to 9 years of age. Only a few got clearer as they got older. Some of them remember only fragments, some merely incidents, such as death. Very occasionally, the whole story is told to someone, and after that they tend to forget the recall. Stevenson describes the cases in detail in his publication: Cases of Reincarnation Type (1975-83).
The intermission between death and birth in these childhood cases is between 1 and 4 years. He found changes of sex in 6 to 16 % of his cases, varying from region to region. According to the Tlingits, children are always reborn in the same family. In Turkey, reincarnation usually takes place in a nearby village. If a child can recall his past life, it usually implies incomplete death, followed by being earthbound with a quick reincarnation. In 40 to 50 % of childhood cases, the death was violent in the past life. Birthmarks usually signify scars from past lives.
Five to ten percent of cases returned to the same family. They may return as a nephew, niece, sibling or one's own child. The median age of the last death was between 28 and 32. Similar behaviour, idiosyncrasies and preferences are seen in the consecutive lives of the two personalities.
Stevenson found very little karmic relationship between one life with the next. This is probably due to the very short intermission periods of 1 to 4 years. In these cases there is not much awareness. Neither is there much planning for the next life. The intermission period is mostly spent in hanging about or sleeping. Stevenson found sex change in 6 to 7.5 % of cases.
Induced Regression to past lives
(1) Hypnosis: this is the commonest method used at the present. There are different levels of hypnosis. The deeper one goes the less one is aware of the present, until one is completely transported to the past. At this deepest stage, one is totally in the past and the present is not in his consciousness at all. The stages as graded by Hans Tendam are memory, recollection, reliving, regression and identification. Memory is like normal memory. Recollection means you see images, hear noises and voices and smell the food from the past. In reliving, one in addition will have emotional feelings as well as thoughts. The next deeper stage is that of real regression, in which you are totally in the past, but there is no consciousness of the present. This is the stage when past life regression takes place. In identification, which is even deeper, the past becomes your present. There is now only one personality, which is totally in the past, and the patient takes the past as the present. An excellent proof of real regression is the occurrence of xenoglossy, i.e. speaking of a language that is never learnt in this life.
(2) Trance: a trance without the classic hypnosis is now fairly commonly used. A deep trance may be required at the first sitting, but a lighter one will do the trick in subsequent sittings. There may be some self-hypnosis involved here.
(3) Imagination and Visualisation: Therapists use methods of relaxation together with a mild hypnosis to induce the patient to the level of recall. From here he slowly brings the patient into reliving and then to regression. A garden scenery is imagined and then the patient will be walking in this garden. It can be any other scene and in one of them an emotional problem may arise. The physical symptom may be associated with this scenario, and when the whole story is told, the symptom may disappear. This is the technique of the waking dream. The feelings in these cases must be intense to be of value.
(4) Magnetism: The therapist touches the patient with one hand and sweeps down the body with the other. This is called making passes. The patient goes through deeper and deeper levels. At deep levels past lives may be recalled. This method is seldom used nowadays.
Akashic Records and Past Life Memory
The Akashic records our every thought speech and action since our first incarnation. In fact everybody's records are thus registered, and therefore we are all inter-linked and interconnected. Our memories do not fade and they remain clear and brilliant as ever, even if the events are tens of thousands of years ago. The Akashic registers our emotional feelings and thoughts and senses whether we are conscious or not. This is remarkable.
There is limitless capacity, unlike the memory in our computers. We can access this memory at any point in time, be it thousands of years ago. There is no rewinding of the tape. These memories are also structured around associative points. We can see the events without any feelings. We can look at ourselves in the past as impartial observers. We can go through the same scene and feel the emotional reactions as well as others' feelings. We can also look at the situation from a different angle and perspectives.
In a trance or with a shift of consciousness, we can go to our past lives in the whole of the Akashic: a recent life is just as vivid as a one from the far past. Emotionally charged events come sooner than ordinary ones. Traumatic death experiences usually come out first. Clairvoyants usually can see a past situation similar to the present one. Some blockages to the entry to a specific past situation are encountered: traumatic death experiences and acts related to secrecy.
There is probably no such thing as a 'reincarnation wave' in which a whole country of souls is reincarnated at the same time to one country. We come back life after life with our friends, loved ones and relatives. They come in different combinations, but it is the intense relationship that we have developed with each other that make us reincarnate together time and again. In some lives, we are friendly, but in the others we are hostile with one another. On the whole it is love and compassion that bring us back to earth again. This is the reason for the phenomenon of 'love at first sight'. The older souls with more awareness in population II and III are the ones that return with their small groups of acquaintances.
In conclusion, there is enough evidence as enumerated above to state categorically that reincarnation is a fact and not a superstition. To recapitulate there is evidence in (a) NDE (b) OBE (c) Clairvoyants and paranormal sensitives who are able to see their own as well as others' past lives. (d) Spontaneous recall. (e) Induction by therapists using hypnosis, magnetism, imagination or visualisation and trance. ( f) A past life regression heals the patient.
Then in summary, after scouring through the historical records and properly conducted research in a scientific manner we arrive at these parameters:
(1) We most probably reincarnate hundreds or thousands of times.
(2) Our intermissions are between a few months to several centuries. The older the soul, the longer the intermission.
(3) Almost all of us change sex, but the frequency varies a great deal. There is no set rules for this. Some authors state categorically that at least 80% of their subjects change sex.
(4) The more mature souls with awareness do have a G-plan, but this is not hundred percent adhered to.
(5) When regressed to a past life, this process may heal the person, especially if the symptoms have no discernible cause.