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.
     
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  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
     
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  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.....
     
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  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
     
  21. tiltjlp

    tiltjlp A Recycled Soul

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    What I find interesting is that, as you said, 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." Since you also say that " She was very skeptical during many sessions we had."

    Although I guess you'll never know, I wonder why she was willing to undergo the sessions when it seems she probably had strong misgivings. How much time was involved between the sessions with her and her rejection of reincarnation and her becoming a born-again Christian?

    John
     
  22. Majic

    Majic Senior Registered

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    John, when she left the Territories, I lost contact with her for a few years. When I finally found her living in a new province, she told me she stopped soul traveling (that was also a big part of her experience during our sessions) and became a born-again. She told me she had turmoil in her life and friends helped her find Christ.
    Majic
     
  23. tiltjlp

    tiltjlp A Recycled Soul

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    Thanks for the follow-up Majic. I have never quite understood why so many people who eventually embrace Christ feel they have to reject other beliefs they have held previously.

    John
     
  24. Six

    Six New Member

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    I hope this is not inappropriate. I wrote this paper one time as a comparison paper for a class... Just observations of mine.


    I was just thinking that If the Buddha was correct about DNA then, he must have been correct when he said that he saw people being born into conditions in which their births and deaths are tending.


    So,her is an excerpt.


    ...Long before Watson and Crick described the structure of DNA in the late nineteenth century, and long before the electron microscope was invented in 1940, the Buddha knew of DNA. DNA can be found amidst the metaphors, similes and parables provided by the Buddha to help his disciples understand his teaching.


    First: geologists recognize seven classifications of crystalline forms known as minerals. This system is divided into thirty-two distinct classes. In comparison, the Lotus Sutra frequently makes reference to seven jewels. The emergence from the Treasure Tower says, “In the treasure tower is the complete Buddha body…its banners and canopies were made of seven treasures, namely, gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, carnelian, agate, and pearl” (Watson 170). Furthermore, the Buddha is known for his thirty-two characteristic features which is said to be the complete Buddha body.


    Some of the characteristics include webbed feet and hands, hands that extend pass the knees even when standing, and protuberant knot of flesh like a top knot on crown of head (Watson 339). The thirty-two features are probably not meant to be taken literally because if they were the physical appearance of the human being would be frightening to look at. The thirty-two features are probably traits in the gene pool on an evolutionary tree. To illustrate, all life is thought to have evolved from the ocean starting with the single celled amoeboid. The amoeboid cell evolved into a variety of multi-cellular plants and animals with mutations, traits and their different characteristics being recorded on the genome. It makes perfect sense that the webbed feet and hands are traits from maybe an otter or an alligator, and although these traits are not selected by humans, they are in the gene pool.


    The hands that hang down below the knees sound like some kind of ape; man’s next of kin is thought to be an ape. In Buddhism attaining enlightenment has been compared to receiving the jewel in the maharaja’s top knot, so the protuberant knot of flesh like a top knot on crown of head may have something to do with evolving into a higher consciousness; thus a higher level of consciousness is in the genome. Seven crystalline forms? Seven jewels? Thirty-two classes? Thirty-two features? It seems that the Buddha was very deliberate in his choice of words and chose metaphors that would have the same meaning in any age so that his intention would not be misunderstood.


    Second is the genetic code. According to scientists there are sixty-four possible combinations in the genetic code of which human’s only use twenty, and in the human genome each person has forty-six chromosomes with twenty-three pairs. The number sixty-four seems to have significance in science as well as Buddhism. A parallel between the sixty-four possible combinations in the genetic code and Buddhism can be seen in the story of Wu Lung and I Lung. Keep in mind that a Buddha is perfectly endowed, and being able to utilize all sixty-four combinations in the genetic could make one perfectly endowed, like a Buddha. In the story Wu Lung and I Lung, I Lung the son of Wu Lung, the foremost in calligraphy, promised his father he would never transcribe the Lotus Sutra. However, after his father’s death, when the ruler asked I Lung to transcribe the Lotus Sutra, he refused three times.


    Thereupon the ruler ordered him to transcribe at least the title or he would have him beheaded; then I Lung could not refuse. That night, I Lung racked with guilt, feeling that he had betrayed his father, fell into a deep sleep and dreamed of a heavenly being. Above the head of the heavenly being were sixty-four Buddhas. When I Lung asked this being who he was, the being said, “I am your father, Wu Lung.” Wu Lung went on to explain to his son how he had fallen into the hell of incessant suffering for preventing I Lung from transcribing the Lotus Sutra and how characters appeared in the hell of incessant suffering, transforming it. He said, “…in that way sixty-four characters appeared and became sixty four Buddhas. Sixty-four Buddhas were like sixty-four suns and moons coming out in the sky” (Nichiren 1101).


    The title of the Lotus Sutra is merely the law of cause and effect. In the Treasure Tower of the Lotus Sutra, Shakymuni Buddha virtually describes the DNA molecule by describing the law of cause and effect. Clearly, in the story of I Lung and Wu Lung, the sixty-four possible combinations in the genetic code are being referenced. If the law that I Lung transcribed and reached Wu Lung in hell is the same as DNA, then the sixty-four Buddhas and sixty-four suns and moons must be the sixty-four possible combinations in the genetic code. The sixty-four Buddha’s and the sixty-four suns moons coming out in the sky seem to have a deeper meaning. They serve more as a metaphor to convey the sixty-four possible combinations in the genetic code.


    Finally, the DNA molecule resembles a spiraling ladder with segments of four. These segments are called genes. Genes are composed of DNA derived from carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Genes tell the cells what to do, how to make an organism look and act. In the Treasure Tower chapter of the Lotus Sutra, a treasure tower is described suspended in the air with rooms, railings, canopies, and carriages adorned with seven jewels, flowers and fruit. The Introduction chapter of the Lotus Sutra says, “…jeweled carriages drawn by teams of four, with railings and flowered canopies adorning their top and sides” (Watson 9).


    Can there be any doubt that the rooms are cells; railings are double helix; the banners are the rungs; the carriages adorned with seven jewels are bloodcells carrying minerals throughout the body; the flower and fruit, genes; and drawn by teams of four means carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen? In examining these two descriptions, it is plain to see that the DNA molecule that Watson and Creek described is the same as what the Buddha observed in his awakened state...
     
  25. fiziwig

    fiziwig moderator emeritus

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    Interesting.


    The problem I have with the Lotus Sutra is that it was written at least five centuries after the death of the Buddha, so the claim that the Buddha wrote, or knew about what it says is suspect to say the least.


    (Disclaimer: I am a Theravada Buddhist myself, so I rely primarily on the Pali Canon rather than the much later Sanskrit writings. The claim is sometimes made that humans were not advanced enough at the time of the Buddha to understand these teachings so they were "channeled" 500 years later after humans had advanced further.)


    At any rate, some very enlightening parallels between modern science and Theravada Buddhism (pre-Lotus Sutra) can be found in the book Science and Mysticism by Richard H., Jones. (Subtitled: A Comparative Study of Western Natural Science, Theravada Buddhism, and Advaita Vedanta.) The book is very detailed, but very dry and academic, so it's not for light reading.


    In the very oldest and most well authenticated texts of the Buddha's teachings ("dhamma" in the Pali language, "dharma" in Sanskrit) we find that he put forth NO theories about how the world works. He taught only the causes of suffering and the practical techniques to end suffering, and nothing more. Aside from taking karma and rebirth for granted (as did all Indian religions of that period), the metaphysics were all applied centuries after the Buddha's death like "gingerbread" tacked on the outside of a Victorian house.


    "I teach one thing and one only: that is, suffering and the end of suffering." --The Buddha in Sutta Nipata (Note: "sutta" is the Pali language equivalent of the Sanskirt word "sutra".)


    "Just as the great oceans have but one taste, the taste of salt, so too there is but one taste common to all true dhammas, and this is the taste of freedom." -- The Buddha in Majjhima Nikaya


    Anyway, I'm rambling so I'll stop here before I get even further afield.
     
  26. Majic

    Majic Senior Registered

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    Six, you draw some interesting comparisons from two completely different sources to draw a conclusion. Because of the very doubtful nature of the Buddha information and the puzzle-like construction of your theory, I can't agree with your conclusion.


    Like in the time of Jesus, in the time of the Buddha society accepted reincarnation and didn't have to prove it. So IMO your construction of DNA with the lotus flower has no relevancy to reincarnation.


    I can't prove reincarnation, I just think, like gravity, it is a law of nature. It is just how things work.


    Majic
     
  27. Rod

    Rod Senior Registered

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    To your original question...


    Fiziwig,


    Somehow I missed your original post on this question, or a response would have come sooner. Admittedly, I am somewhat of a visitor here, often busied by endeavours of this life. However your question and thoughts are most interesting and and need of comment.


    I must respectfully disagree with part of your point. When you say "Proving that reincarnation is real is a little like proving that the color red is real," it makes sense at first glance but upon further consideration one realises that the proportion of sighted people vs. blind or colour-blind is adequate that little effort or thought has ever gone into proving the existence of "Red".


    In general anything that exceeds some threshold of obvious and near-universal observability is assumed real and proof is only needed if one asserts that it doesn't exist. I know that a rock, released in mid-air, will fall toward the ground. You know it too, so there is little need for proof. I would not need to drop a rock in your presence for us to discuss this occurrence, nor for us to embark upon a plan to find out why it falls, how fast, where, etc. Because of experience to the point of general agreement, we study gravity without having to first prove it exists.


    Anything less obvious that exists needs to be proven in one of two ways. Some happenings can be observed directly with instruments, measurements, and methods. A microscope, telescope, or a series of experiments with repeatable consistent outcomes can show us things our senses alone cannot. Gazing at the skies tells us little about the universe, but a telescope and careful tracking of the visible locations of planets/stars give us the data we need to figure out that we have a heliocentric solar system, the moon orbiting the earth, with certain planetary orbits being of specific sizes and locations. This mapping was done correctly, and was necessary BEFORE mankind ever attempted space travel. It was still shown through basic observation.


    The higher level of complexity comes when something is not directly viewable nor measurable. This is true in much of modern science where a compilation of results is compared to probability by random chance in order to find patterns. This is true not only in quantum physics, but in medicine as well.


    People smoked tobacco for over 300 years before there was any credible suspicion that it had adverse effects on health. Why is this? The trouble is that smoking does not "cause" cancer and heart attacks; it increases the probability of them. Because there are some smokers who live to very advanced ages without these problems and there are non-smokers who develop these conditions and die young, the relation is less than obvious. However, once statistical analysis was done in the late 1950's it was noted that lung cancer is 10 times more likely in smokers, heart attacks are 3 times more likely, and people who smoke on average live about 8 fewer years than non-smokers. Once these results were widely replicated in multiple studies it was accepted as medical fact that smoking is hazardous, even though there was no general understanding of why this was true.*


    As I see it, those of us who have personally observed reincarnation are in much the same position as those who first suspected that cigarettes made them sick. It is is proposition that is provable by probability. While those of us have had the experience generally find Dr. Stevenson's work easy to accept, these ideas can only gain wider scientific acceptance if replicated by more independent studies. This needs to be done.


    Imagine if 10 reputable scientists from 10 universities around the world found the same things that Dr. Stevenson did. Then 10 more would extend on the research to other cases. At some point there would be nearly universal scientific agreement that something real is happening. Only then can we move on to studying how reincarnation works, what precisely it physically is, if there is a way to measure or observe the soul, etc.


    Perhaps because many people have been introduced to the ideas of reincarnation by psychics, new-agers, various religions, etc., there is widespread resignation to the idea that it is intrinsically ethereal and unable to studied, proved, or explained. I reject this notion.


    ...Rod


    *In the late 70's and 80's the specific strains on the circulatory system related to smoking were found, but the exact method by ingredients in tobacco smoke can lead to lung cancer remained a mystery until just a few years ago, even though the effect was well-known and universally accepted.
     
  28. Majic

    Majic Senior Registered

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    Rod, I enjoyed your logical discussion on the 'proof' of reincarnation. I agree with you that if more people like Dr. Ian Stevenson do research the probability of acceptance would be greater. It is too bad that our scientific community won't accept other researchers such as psychologist doing past life therapy. There are hundreds/thousands of papers and/or books written by these people that respectable. To name a few: Michael Newton Ph.D, Dr. Edith Fiore, Helen Wambach, Ph.D. Even my two books ( http://www.notunique.ca/content/blog/my-books-are-here.shtml ) with hypnotic regression should be considered.
     
  29. Rod

    Rod Senior Registered

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    Deborah, thank you for you kind words. It is always nice to know people enjoy these discussions and questions.


    Majic, it is most true that other researchers work also needs to be considered. I used Dr. Stevenson as the example, but did not mean to imply that only his work was serious and scientific. Certainly Dr. Wambach and others have made notable contributions. Indeed a first step for others trying to scientifically investigate reincarnation would be to look at the existing body of work, with a special emphasis on the methodology used by various researchers. Some will qualify as "hard science" and others as anecdotal support, and some only as declarations of faith, and the overall result is that the case will be strengthened.
     
  30. Majic

    Majic Senior Registered

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    The sad thing about all of this is the majority of people are so conditioned by their traditional religion that they will reject any evidence to support reincarnation. It is one of those - the sun revolves around the earth situations. Religion controlled that concept for centuries, but eventually people had to look at the facts. When religion begins to loose control, reincarnation will become obvious and people will begin to live with responsibility and respect.
     

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