Is Reincarnation Real?

Discussion in 'SCIENTIFIC and ANECDOTAL research' started by fiziwig, Feb 23, 2003.

  1. fiziwig

    fiziwig moderator emeritus

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    Is reincarnation real? Here on some random thoughts to start a discussion. Feel free to disagree. :)

    Proving that reincarnation is real is a little like proving that the color red is real. For someone who can see the color for themselves no proof is necessary, but for someone who is blind, or color blind we can only present evidence that there is such a thing. Each person who cannot see the color red for themselves must then decide if they find the evidence convincing.

    For people who have had spontaneous recall of past life experiences or who have recovered past life memories through some form of regression, these experiences are often proof enough. But for someone who has not had such a personal experience we can only present the evidence and leave it to each person to decide if that evidence is convincing.

    Perhaps the best evidence is found in the several thousand case histories collected by Dr. Ian Stevenson at the University of Virginia Medical School. These cases involve children who have had spontaneous and unprompted recall of a past life. In many of these cases Dr. Stevenson has been able to collect specific items of information from the children and then independently confirm the accuracy of these facts. Those who wish to wade through the original case histories may consult any one of Dr. Stevenson's excellent, but lengthy published works including "Twenty Cases Suggestive of reincarnation", "Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect", "Reincarnation and Biology", and the three volume set "Cases of the Reincarnation Type". Those who would rather have a shorter and more accessible introduction to Dr. Stevenson's work will find it in the excellent overview "Old Souls" by Tom Shroder.

    Numerous interesting cases of childhood spontaneous recall have also been independently documented by other researchers including Carol Bowman ("Children's Past Lives", "Return From Heaven") and H.N. Banerjee ("Lives Unlimited" and "Americans Who Have Been Reincarnated").

    Another important source of reincarnation evidence is the work of such past life regressionists as Dr. Brian Weiss, Dr. Roger Woolger, and Dr. Raymond Moody, to mention but a few. These researchers have obtained results that are, for the most part, consistent with the cases of spontaneous recall of children. Notable cases in this category include the case of police Capt. Robert Snow, and the legendary, but still important case of Bridey Murphy.

    A third source is readings given by mediums and psychics. Some well respected psychics with proven reliability have been able to provide a great deal of quality information. Examples of these would include Edgar Cayce and Arthur Ford.

    Sources from religious traditions include stories of identification of the Dalai Lama and examples of identification of other reincarnated lamas and teachers in Tibetan Buddhism. The book "Reincarnation: The Boy Lama" by Vicki MacKenzie is an example of evidence collected during the search for the reincarnation of a prominent lama. The Tibetan Buddhists take reincarnation for granted but are still very particular about collecting detailed evidence before proclaiming that a certain child is indeed the reincarnation of a previous lama or teacher. This lends a certain amount of credibility to these accounts. And as is the case with all the most reliable sources, everything about the process of reincarnation revealed by these accounts is in close agreement with what is found in the cases of spontaneous childhood recall.

    While no single piece of evidence is particularly convincing on its own the sheer weight of corroborating evidence from a large number of independent sources strongly suggests that something interesting is taking place; something that warrants further study. In 1995 the skeptical scientist Carl Sagan wrote a book in which he debunked and blasted almost every conceivable new-age and paranormal claim. But in speaking of the very few claims that "deserve serious study" he included "... that young children sometimes report the details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation." [Carl Sagan, "The Demon Haunted World", page 302] Or as Dr. Stevenson has noted, there may not be enough evidence to prove reincarnation, but there is enough evidence to make believing in reincarnation a reasonable thing to do.
     
  2. Majic

    Majic Senior Registered

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    Even if we take away all of the evidence that people such as Stevenson has collected, reincarnation is till true.

    To me, it is simple logic that confirms the truth of reincarnation.

    We are biological beings, yet we all have some inner "feeling" that we are more - therefore it is logical that there is more.

    Some people are born with deficencies (blind, deaf, cripled, etc.), some people are born gifted (music or math ability at very early age, members of the same family have completely different personalities. To accept that the world is fair, we need to accept that the different abilities people are born with have come about from a previous life.

    Many religions ask for their followers to have "faith" and believe what they are told. Most of us can agree that there is very little logic in most religions.
    Majic
     
  3. fiziwig

    fiziwig moderator emeritus

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    Logic cannot prove the truth of anything. Logic can only prove the logicalness of something. At best it can prove that something is possible. But it cannot prove something to be factually true without evidence. Back when I taught freshman logic at Cal State Univ. I used to have the hardest time getting across to my students the difference between "logical truth", and "truth" as they were accustomed to using the word. In common usage "truth" means in accord with established facts, in agreement with reality. In logic "truth" means only that a given conclusion is consistent with the assumptions from which the conclusion was drawn. If I say "All unicorns are white", and then say "My pet Herman is a unicorn." Then the statement "My pet Herman is a white unicorn" is a LOGICALLY TRUE statement even though no such thing as unicorns exist. Logical is powerless to prove anything without recourse to evidence from reality.

    If we take away all the evidence then even if reincarnation is true we have no objective way to prove that it is true. That puts the turth of reincarnation in the same boat with the truth of any wild story that anyone cares to make up. If a person feels in his heart of hearts that he is receiving telepathic communications from aliens on Jupiter does that make it true? If it does then there are a zillion things that are true that all contradict one another which is not possible.

    If someone makes such a claim it is reasonable to demand proof. If the person refuses to offer any proof then it is reasonable to write him off as a lunatic. So he has that deep inner feeling that he has been selected by space aliens for special contact. Does that mean we should believe him? I hope not!

    Maybe our sense of justice tells us there should be something like reincarnation to balance the scales. But what if there isn't? What if the world IS unjust? Just because we want something doesn't make it true.

    So that leaves us with these choices. I can say I believe it because I want to believe it, or I believe it because I "feel" it's right, or I believe it because I was taught to believe it by my guru, or I believe it because I've seen convincing evidence that it is true. Of these reasons the last one is the ONLY one I accept. Anything less is irrational and belongs in the category of religious faith and not science.
     
  4. Majic

    Majic Senior Registered

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    Thanks fiziwig, for the lesson in logic. I can see that you are correct in your explanations.

    Would this example be considered scientific?

    I hypnotized and regressed a women to various past lives. After the experiements, and after the person moved to a new town, I sent money to a "past life reader" for a reading of this women. No other information was given.

    In a month I recieved a taped message with many past lives discussed. However, the immediate past life was very simular to what I discovered. Also, the psychic told me that I (my name was on the letter as I sent the money) was this women's lover in a past life, before she entered a convent.

    I discovered the same material in my regressions. I certainly feel that this is definitely suggestive evidence of reincarnation. But is it "proof"?
    Majic
     
  5. fiziwig

    fiziwig moderator emeritus

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    Majic,

    One case of that type certainly isn't proof because it could be conincidence. But I have heard of many cases like that. If you take them all together its very hard to write them off as coincidence. I'd say that cases like the one you mention certainly make good evidence for the case. Not only that, but it it is objective evidence.

    Maybe this could be followed up by a fomal study where past life information about a single subject was obtained from different sources and compared for matches. If one psychic tells me I used to be a guitar player in Barcelona there's no reason to trust it. But if 8 out of 10 different psychics all tell me about guitars and Barcelona then I've got good reason to suspect it might be true. And I have an objective statistic.
     
  6. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director Staff Member

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    Fiziwig presents a great question. :thumbsup: I found it interesting what Carl Sagan said -

    Do new members have any thoughts regarding his post?
     
  7. tiltjlp

    tiltjlp A Recycled Soul

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    fiziwig, you've finally made science a lot more understandable to me. But at the same time, made logic less logical. If, as in your "logic" example, a nonexistent unicorn is a valid example, logic has no logic, from what I can see.

    John
     
  8. Raj

    Raj Registered User

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    No, this is not scientific. There are two major flaws in this experiment:

    1. You will need to prove that you have not influenced the "past life reader" in any way.

    2. Your hypnosis of the woman, may have implanted false memories, and the "past life reader" has just picked those up. It would make sense, therefore, why both your accounts match.

    3. You either know this woman, or could know this woman. You will need to prove that she is not a stooge(This is the main stinger, in any study of the supernatural)

    Your biggest flaw is '2' which means it is impossible to scientifically validate your results, because the process you are using influences and manipulates your subject.

    A more acceptable experiment, in my opinion, would be: An independent third party, randomly selects a suitable subject for a past life regression. It then randomly selects a "psychic" They are placed in a chamber, with a divide, so that they can't see each other, but are in each others vicinity. The psychic then has to record the impressions they are getting. The psychics impressions are then compared with the past life regression, to see the percentage of hits(if any)

    This experiment can only prove or disprove that psychic has genuine psychic ability, not reincarnation. The psychic may have just picked up false memories that were implanted during the PLR, or other memories.

    I don't think it is possible to prove reincarnation scientifically at all.
     
  9. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director Staff Member

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    Raj,

    Majic is working as a coordinator at an Outdoor Education Camp with youth and is gone during the week. He comes around on weekends but his time will be limited until the end of June.

    I disagree. I do believe there are several serious scientists (Doctor's) working diligently - observing, taking notes and recording. Granted it may be a while, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. ;)

    Come on now - the way of ZEN - becoming one with the tree - the butterfly, the worm. Can you prove that scientifically? :D BTW - I love the way of Zen - it's just an observation.
     
  10. Raj

    Raj Registered User

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    The only way prove reincarnation scientifically, would be to prove the existence of the soul empirically, and how to isolate it and follow it's path.

    I think it is impossible to physically detect the soul, let alone detect it's path. So it's impossible that we can empirically prove reincarnation.

    Past life memories, even if they are genuine, cannot scientifically prove reincarnation. All they prove is that the claimant has a past life memory, it does not prove how it got there. The past life could have got to the person by many means:

    1. They were told by someone. In other words, if the claimant has succesfully identified their cat in their past life, there is the possibility that they were told this by friends, relatives and others who knew the person of the claimants past-life.

    If the claimant, has identified the murderer of their past life and evidence proves it. There is the possibility, that the murderer themselves told the claimant.

    A vast majority of reincarnation cases, are based on anecdotal evidence. So this flaw is most prevalent.

    2. They have obtained this information, from, other than physical senses. The claimant, may be receiving psychic impressions of somebody in the past, or tapped, into what Carl Jung, called, the collective unconscious.

    Now, there is only kind of case that I think can be more acceptable as scientific evidence. If the claimant, actually has physical and behavourial characteristics that are similar to the claimed past life, in addition to ancedotal evidence. Unfortunately, it's not conclusive, as it could simply be coincidence.

    The story about the Indian video shop owner is a good example for this kind. In addition to the anecdotal evidence the boy got in corroboration from his past-life friends and family, he also had birthmarks in his head, which coincided with the entry and exit wounds of the man.

    A skeptic could argue, however, that this is just a coincidence, and the boy may have other birthmarks too, which have nothing to do with the man.

    So whichever way you look at it, there cannot be any scientific evidence of reincarnation. The type of evidence that could be used to support such cases, would be subjective i.e., it is accepted by some, and rejected by others e.g. Like a court case.
     
  11. lagrima

    lagrima It wasn't MPD after all!

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    interesting points Raj. I just wanted to weigh in briefly here and put in my 2 cents.

    I agree with the majority of what you are saying regarding the inability to confirm- without any doubts- reincarnation by proving the existence of the soul.

    But, I also believe that each person, depending upon where they are spiritually in their beliefs, holds a different threshold of proof regarding reincarnation. In other words, what I need to be convinced of reincarnation is very different than what others may need. Some require much more proof than others and science can be a strange thing.

    For example, would you argue with me that the sky is blue? Doubtful. We believe the sky is really blue because we see it with our own eyes and are told it is blue. You don't need science to prove to you the sky is blue do you?

    Yet, scientifically speaking, the sky has no color at all as it is made out of air. The colors we see in the sky are the result of light scattering, air moisture etc. But, forget science- I still say the sky is blue.;)
     
  12. vicky

    vicky Senior Member

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    You might want to look here Raj. Scientific Evidence (Lost thread)
    Vicky
     
  13. Aligator

    Aligator Large Reptile

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    Hi ya'll....

    Know what? Even if reincarnation were proven it would be rejected by most folks who already know it doesn't exist.:)

    After all, I would be strongly tempted to reject any proof that reincarnation doesn't exist!

    Funny how you can't kill a myth with a fact.....
     
    fireflydancing likes this.
  14. Majic

    Majic Senior Registered

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    Raj, you stated, "1. You will need to prove that you have not influenced the "past life reader" in any way.

    2. Your hypnosis of the woman, may have implanted false memories, and the "past life reader" has just picked those up. It would make sense, therefore, why both your accounts match.

    3. You either know this woman, or could know this woman. You will need to prove that she is not a stooge (This is the main stinger, in any study of the supernatural)"

    They are all valid points and difficult to "prove" one way or another. All I can say is that I randomly picked the psychic out of many ads in a magazine, sent her the money, and only gave the name and age of the person as requested. The physic lived in California. I lived in The Northwest Territories at the time. So she definitely was not a "stooge", and I definitely didn't influence her in any way.

    As for number 2, to me, it is amazing to think that a physic can pick up on thoughts from another person thousands of miles away. If this discussion was about ESP, that ability would be discounted as luck or some other "justifiable" excuse.

    At the same time, I realize that one incident of a correct hit is not enough to be presented as proof. It is simply antidotal evidence suggestive of reincarnation.

    This 'coincidence' of evidence happened 30 years ago. If I had a few thousand dollars I could randomly select a dozen past-life readers to do a 'reading' on the same person. (This particular person is now a born-again Christian and will have nothing to do with the idea of reincarnation - it is the work of the devil.) Let's say that half of the physics made a hit, would that be considered as scientific evidence?
    Majic
     
  15. Raj

    Raj Registered User

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    It depends just how detailed they were. A skeptic here would argue about the file drawer problem, that is that 50% of the psychics were right and 50% were wrong, if we are going to claim success because 50% got it right, then what about the 50% that got wrong, that we conventiantly just set aside?

    Although that should be an expected results, because not all psychics have the same ability, and some of them are not really psychic.

    So of the 50% that did get it right, a further experiment should be administered using many test subjects with the same psychics.

    The details they provide need to be accurate and precise, that simply cannot be guessed.

    For example, I should say that in your past life you lived in America, in the suburbs and that you knew somebody called Richard. It's so vague and general, that anybody could guess the same, with good luck. It is quite a different picture, if I said you lived in America, in Florida, on Maple street, house no 7. That you knew a Richard, he is your boss, and you worked under him as an office clerk for HYA ltd.

    The latter, simply cannot be chance. There are thousand of place names and streets in Florida, how could I know the exact place. Similarily, there are hundreds of thousands of companies, organization, how would I know it was HYA ltd.

    If when consulting psychics, even two people give you the same details, and the others all differ, that is extraordinary evidence in itself.

    However, from this, the scientific evidence you can get, will prove that psychic ability exists. You still will not prove reincarnation. The only way to scientifically prove reincarnation, is to prove the soul exists and to isolate it's path, so you know exactly where a soul has gone.
     
  16. Majic

    Majic Senior Registered

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    Raj, I would have to agree with you - that experiment would only indicate that physic ability exist. It is almost impossible to 'prove' this kind of stuff to people who 'know' it is not possible.

    For what it is worth here is some of the information I received from the physic. Linda is the person I regressed. This is the comparison of my information vs the physics.

    Linda was Mary Jane Pennington, born in 1840 and died in 1894. The psychic’s impressions were of a person named, Mary Ann Simmington, born in 1827 and died 1899. The names are really close but the dates are off a bit. Mary Jane Pennington lived in England, Mary Ann Simmington live in New England (Boston). They both joined a convent. Mary Jane’s was a cloistered convent, while Mary Ann’s was a teaching convent.
    They both had boyfriends that they wanted to marry but did not. An interesting revelation revealed itself at this point. The psychic announced that I, Jerry, in my past life, was Mary Ann’s boyfriend in New England. (In my regressions I discover the same information - that I was Mary Jane's boyfriend in England.) I thought that was rather startling information. She knew my name because I had sent the money, but no other information was given.
    Majic
     
  17. Raj

    Raj Registered User

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    I think that is startling as well. I think there are reasonable grounds to believe, based on the information you have provided, that genuine psychic ability is involved. I would expect the slight divergences in your results, but it is good enough for me that you both got England and Mary. It's even more spectacular you both got the boyfriend link.

    As for whether this is a real past life memory, or a false memory, that is difficult to prove. The psychic, could have picked up, what was created in her mind during the session.

    I would like to ask you some questions about your client:

    When she approached you, did she already have memories of her past life, whether occuring in waking state or dream state?

    When you saw her, did you feel any attraction towards her?
     
  18. Majic

    Majic Senior Registered

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    Raj, you asked: "I would like to ask you some questions about your client:

    When she approached you, did she already have memories of her past life, whether occurring in waking state or dream state?

    When you saw her, did you feel any attraction towards her?"

    When I met Linda she had never considered reincarnation and never had any experience to indicate the possibility of it. She was very skeptical during many sessions we had.

    I thought Linda was attractive and I liked her very much, but there were no 'sparks' flying. She was married and had 4 children at the time.

    As I indicated earlier, she has now completely rejected the idea of reincarnation and has become a born-again Christian. I wrote a book about the whole experience and she refuses to accept a copy of it.
    Majic
     
  19. Raj

    Raj Registered User

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    Oh I see. I am curious(as I am always) why did she have the regression in the first place? What did she make of the experience at the time?

    How did you stumble into her past life? In asking this, I am assuming the possibility, that it was a regular hypnosis session, and somehow this lead you into a possible past life memory?
     
  20. Majic

    Majic Senior Registered

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    Raj, you asked: "Why did she have the regression in the first place? What did she make of the experience at the time?"

    She was first hypnotized to dispel her fear of the dentist. I met her in the same community in the Northwest Territories. I had a group of friends over one night and decided to try hypnosis after reading many books on the subject, and listening to instruction tapes. She volunteered. I was successful hypnotizing her and accomplished a few hypnosis 'tricks". It was a few months after that I asked her about regression and the possibility of past lives. She didn't know anything about such things but agreed to experiment with the idea.
    From the beginning she was skeptical, but curious, about what was coming from her with the regressions. She didn't remember any of the information from the regressions. I taped them, and she listened to them afterwards.
    You can read the complete details in my book by going to the web site listed below my signature. (The price is in Canadian money, so it is a lot cheeper then it looks.)
    Majic
     

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