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Why Do So Many People Claim To Be Famous In A Past Life?

Sunniva

Administrator Emeritus
Everybody reincarnates. Statistically it means that a certain percentage of human beings presently alive must have had a socalled 'famous past life', but according to the studies of Helen Wambauch, Ph.D. (1978) only about 10% of those, who remember past lives, can recall a 'famous' one.

As put by Karen:
That leaves a disproportionate incidence of famous past life claims among those who talk about them, as the existence of multiple claims for the same famous past life proves. And yes, it is frustrating for those who are struggling to solidify their own acceptance of the reincarnation paradigm, and those who are trying to disseminate reincarnation evidence so as to enhance public knowledge of it, as the number of famous past life claims discredits and confuses the whole idea.

Still, it can't be denied that some 'claims to fame' are real and valid. However, as implied above, 'famous past lives' is a controversial subject within reincarnation, posing difficulties to both those who claim them, and those who don't. Hopefully this thread will shed some light on some of the questions often asked.

What are 'famous past lives'? Why do people claim them? Why are people so sceptical about it? And what are you going to do if you have memories of being a famous person?

What are 'famous past lives'?
Firstly, it's important to remember that a 'famous past life' is just another incarnation in a long row of reincarnations. Fame is not a trait in your character, but an adjective based on the relative number of people who know, or knew you, and generally, history dictates who is famous and who is not. 'Famous past lives' range from royalty to super stars, from criminals to heroes. These people may not have experienced the fame when they were alive, like an artist or philosopher only being recognized post mortem, or they may have experienced every facet of the word, like Marilyn Monroe or Elvis. Some people became famous because of something they did, good or bad, but may generally have played a rather insignificant part in history. What I am attempting to illustrate is that 'fame' is many things, and will be experienced differently by different people.

Secondly, in the bigger scheme of things, famous people have no advantage in their spiritual growth just because they were famous. So basically, when researching your past lives, it's not really important whether your past incarnation was famous or not. As with any past life, what is important are the lessons learnt, or not learnt, the reasons for living that specific life, and making the choices you did. The most important thing in that person's life was most likely something within themself, or between them and their surroundings that history didn't record.

That being said, recalling a 'famous past life' does offer some advantages, the main one being that they're often much easier to research, and thus validate, than non-famous past lives. Depending on how famous the person was, the internet, libraries and book shops will hold a vast amount of information about them. BUT, be careful! It's very easy to be influenced by movies, books, paintings, lectures, etc. on that particular person and their time. Also keep a critical mind when studying historical sources. Most of history was, and still is, written with a certain political agenda that influences the way people and their achievements are portrayed. Some people are made to look better or worse than they were, fact and fiction are sometimes mixed up with an exclusion of details that would compromise the general picture.

Why are people so sceptical?
People who claim a famous past life often have to stand more scrutiny than those with non-past lives. The main reason for this was mentioned in the beginning of this thread: the disproportionate incidences of famous past life claims compared to the amount of famous people. If you search the internet you will find many people who claim to be reincarnations of e.g. Anne Boleyn, Marilyn Monroe, or Napoleon, and obviously they can't all be right.

Reincarnation is a controversial subject, even to some believers, and credibility is essential when it comes to past life memories. On this messageboard we often see people claiming a famous past life and yes, they often have to stand more scrutiny than others, because there are so many other aspects to claiming a past life than just to be interested in reincarnation, and as mentioned above, it's very easy to be influenced by all of the available information. We have to ask critical questions, because it would hurt the credibility of this forum if we just accepted any claim that was made.

Why do some people claim a famous past life if they didn't have one?
There are many different reasons why people would like others to believe that they've had a famous past life.
The following was written by Karen:
1) Misinterpretation due to ignorance of history. Hypothetical example: a woman remembers that her name was Cleopatra, and so concludes she was the Cleopatra VII of Egypt, the famous one... because she doesn't realize that Cleopatra was actually a common name in ancient Macedonia, and so she could have been any one of thousands of women by that name. Another example: a person remembers a view of a historical figure, and concludes that he was that person, rather than a friend, family member, acquaintance, or anyone who might have seen that historical figure in public.

2) Archetypal energy: a person connects psychically with a major historical event or person due to its symbolic relevance to his own life, and mistakes the experience for a past-life memory.

3) Cryptomnesia: a person mistakes the memory of seeing a historic scene in a movie/TV show, or reading a scene, for a past-life memory.

4) Conscious fraud: a person knowingly misrepresents himself as having a famous past life, for financial gain or to receive adulation. (In my experience, this is extremely rare.)

5) Delusion caused by a mental disorder that can produce grandiose claims of all sorts, for example schizophrenia.

The challenge of past life memories is that often they are subtle, fleeting, fluid, light on hard facts and hard to interpret. Most of us have a yearning to appear special, so that if something appears to suggest we were someone special in a past life, we are eager to accept that, and many people will accept it on what is, in truth, flimsy evidence.

I recommend some degree of rigor in one's standard of evidence, both for one's own claims, and when judging those of others. A view of an ancient army does not make the person who remembers it the general, he might have been a soldier, a camp-follower, an onlooker. A feeling of resonance with a picture of a historical figure might have all sorts of explanations, from one having caught a glimpse of that person in a past life, to a symbolic relevance to one's own life, to an unconscious yearning to be similar to that person. Personality or experiential similarities may simply be the result of certain personality traits and experiences being common to many people.

To make a famous past life claim when other explanations for one's experiences are equally, or more likely, is not intellectually legitimate, and discredits all true past life memories as well as the field of reincarnation study itself. Before making a famous past life claim, a person should amass sufficient evidence as to defy any other explanation. Likewise, I do not wholly recommend accepting any claim without such evidence.

Further reading
Here are some older threads with good points on famous past lives, and some of the problems that people who claim them may encounter:

Famous People

Avoiding the Acceptance Trap

Does consciousness go to what it is familiar with?
 
I tend to be very critical of the tendency all of us have of thinking that we had been famous or even infamous during a past life—even if it might be true. It just seems wrong on so many different levels:


It is often motivated by ego. The values and complexity of our society causes us as individuals to feel unimportant. Thus, we are too often motivated to reach for past-life accomplishments. Even in this present life I have witnessed far too many people claiming accomplishments or experiences that don't belong to them in a sad and pathetic effort to achieve the respect and sympathy of others—Non-Veterans who claim to be Veterans, Veterans who claim to have received medals that they didn't earn, people who claim to be victims of 9/11, or various mass shootings around this country.


It is far too easy to make a past-life claim concerning some notable event in the past. Who would know otherwise? This may not even be a conscious effort, for we often fool ourselves into thinking that we are capable of something that we are not; and if a person's lack of confidence is so great that they are subconsciously motivated to believe that they could have been famous during a past life, it seems plausible that they could sincerely believe that they had been that person.


I do not intend to discredit any claims, for I have no way of knowing if such claims are real. I do believe in Reincarnation, and it is obvious to me, therefore, that Cicero, Rousseau, and Queen Victoria could all be presently living inside new bodies in close proximity to any one of us. However, I would not give those people any more respect than I would anyone else, even if I knew that they had been famous; for it is only their present accomplishments that are important.


Given that Reincarnationists believe we have all been incarnated thousands of times, it is probably inevitable that we have all been famous at one time or another; and that we have all been poor beggars during most of our lives. What is more important than notoriety, fame or fortune is what we have learned along the way. Money and fame are short lived, because we can't take it with us. What we do keep are the deeper lessons that we have accumulated after eons of living on this earth.
 
We do need to remember that some people who claim to have a famous past life may actually have one! I have evidently been an inconsequential peasant for centuries, but that doesn't mean everyone has! I don't think we want to be so skeptical and unfeeling that we chase those who may have had one away. cover face
 
BriarRose said:
We do need to remember that some people who claim to have a famous past life may actually have one! I have evidently been an inconsequential peasant for centuries, but that doesn't mean everyone has! I don't think we want to be so skeptical and unfeeling that we chase those who may have had one away. cover face
I have to agree. I have no problems in believing somebody' s famous past life as long as their memories seem valid (they are not over-interpreting the facts) and they seem like a stable person (not doing it for attention, etc). Actually I've talked with several people with famous past lives (among a lot of non-famous lives) and their stories seem pretty real to me. Who knows? maybe famous past lives are more easy to remember because there are more triggers around. However, we should be more careful when researching a FPL of our own to not fall in common traps. In the end, a FPL is just another life, as Sunniva said, the difference is that we can find much more information about it, and that' s always useful.
 
Fame is an 'opinion' made and bestowed on a human being - by their fellow human beings. In the greater scheme of things, fame has no significance whatsoever. So basically, household names like Kennedy, Da Vinci, Columbus etc., are no more 'important' on the other side, than a beggar in the gutter or a tramp sleeping on a park bench, we're all just human beings experiencing life from different perspectives. Apart from a very few individuals, we're all born equal, with equal opportunities. Whichever path we take in life, whether by choice or destiny, we all end up back at the starting block, with a clean slate, and a new path to follow. With that in mind, I would have to agree with Nightrain:

I would not give those people any more respect than I would anyone else, even if I knew that they had been famous; for it is only their present accomplishments that are important.
 
ChrisR said:
Apart from a very few individuals, we're all born equal, with equal opportunities. Whichever path we take in life, whether by choice or destiny, we all end up back at the starting block, with a clean slate, and a new path to follow.
:confused: What do you mean? who would be those individuals?


Actually, I don' t think this life accomplishments are important either. What we did 20 years ago is as important as what we did 200 years ago. Accomplishments might not be important for anything besides "ego buster" and "social acceptance or positioning" in a meritocratic society. What matters is the way we interact with others, that' s what changes the world. And that' s ultimately what people remember, both in this life and in future lives.
 
What matters is the way we interact with others, that' s what changes the world. And that' s ultimately what people remember, both in this life and in future lives.
I have to agree with this. As someone with no worldly accomplishments, I would think that this is an area where for people with ambition, "too much is never enough." I don't think people of accomplishment in another life deserve more respect because of it, but maybe they have greater responsibility to live up to potential. I'm presuming here that the soul characteristics that lead to accomplishment in one life survive to another. That's rather a big assumption, I know. I think we are all equal in a legal and moral sense, but we are not really all born with equal gifts, or even equal opportunity.
 
Nightrain said:
I tend to be very critical of the tendency all of us have of thinking that we had been famous or even infamous during a past life—even if it might be true. It just seems wrong on so many different levels: ...
It's what you have said that seems wrong on so many different levels. You would deny someone their freedom to speak openly about their past life simply because it was one of fame, but more particularly even if it were (might be) true.... and worse, you presume ego is the motivating force for the majority of people who think they have lived a famous life. How do you know? In my experience, the number of people who do not speak openly about their FPLs tells me that their egos are kept well in check.


If anyone understands that "fame" is not important, it's those who have been famous. The manner in which we go about pursuing our goals and living our life is what is of utmost importance, more so than what we actually accomplish. All of our past life experiences are important (whether we have lived a life as a beggar or as a King) – every single experience, in every single lifetime we have lived, has shaped our souls and made us who we are today.


Here's hoping that you don't think ego is also the driving force behind spontaneous FPL memories too. These usually arise when a person has deep, unresolved issues from their past impacting on this life, so the fame aspect of that previous life is usually of little or no consequence in those instances. Of course a FPL memory alone is never proof .... but if very personal details were offered up as evidence to any critical skeptic, even if that evidence did defy any other reasonable explanation, the 'motivated by ego' tag would still come out. It's a no win situation, which is why I have advised people in the past to be very careful what they openly announce in public forums.


As for the "tendency all of us have of thinking that we had been famous" ... I don't think ...
 
BriarRose said:
I have evidently been an inconsequential peasant for centuries, but that doesn't mean everyone has! I don't think we want to be so skeptical and unfeeling that we chase those who may have had one away. cover face
No life experience is ever insignificant ... never.
 
Publicity. Even if I was certain I had a past life as a famous person, I'd keep it to myself. That life isn't one of my present achievements in this life. It's best to move on from it but remember what lessons you learned & not try to convince people.
 
A lot of times the reason why people talk about them is not to convince others but because you want to talk about your own life, like everyone else does. However, due to the taboo, the social stigma and the problems associated with FPLs your choices are to either say nothing about it, repressing your opinions or to say things in a cryptic way so people won' t figure out who you were. Both are not comfortable. It' s easy to talk about your past life if you were Johnny, the English soldier who died in WWII, you are free to talk and everyone believes you. It' s not as easy if you were Winston Churchill, nobody will believe you and they will think you are doing it for attention. And it' s even worse if you were Iosif Stalin, not only you will have a hard time talking about your life since a lot of people won' t believe you and you will also have to deal with the ones who think you are doing it for attention, but on top of that you would be labelled as "Emo kid identifying with the bad people". It' s easier to have any life than a famous past life. And sometimes FPLs are only names, there' s no "fame" involved. Otherwise look at Van Gogh or Nietzsche, they both died in poverty and their lives were pretty bad.


So it' s not just about the lessons, it' s mostly about interactions and being able to talk about your past life freely as everyone else is.


I' m not saying that every FPL claim is true, I've seen a lot of people over the years who were misguided, and just went for the famous name because it was easier, it was what they associated with a particular time or place. But with time those people either disappear from the face of Earth or find their true self.
 
Could it possibly be that sometimes people either remember a famous life or have false memories as some sort of punishment either to the real person (who possibly is aware of their past identity but sees others who claim to be that person) or the claimant (who for some reason has to deal with an identity crisis)?
 
I don't even care why they publicize it. Famous frauds are part of the reason reincarnation is so unorthodox. I've seen so many stories about people who think they were Queen Nefertiti or Marilyn Monroe. I mean... good golly. lol
 
Some FPL accounts may well be true - no doubt are! - but each one makes me believe less and less in reincarnation. Certainly all the duplicate Marilyn Monroes and Nefertitis do. I know somebody had to be Anne Frank and Marie Antoinette, but someone also had to have been my great-great aunt (who was murdered in a dispute over a cow). The percentage of people who remember any past life is very tiny, the odds don't favor the famous lives being as well covered as they are.
 
I know and agree. It's not worth reading about people who claim to have a FPL's in my opinion. Utter waste of time. There was someone on here who actually claimed to be Marie Antoinette... I mean, if you truly think you were keep it to yourself.
 
HeatherMarie said:
My "keep it to yourself" comment was more directed at people who go to the media to convince and publicize it, not those who use and seek solace on the forums. MA was just one example. No need to get upset?
HeatherMarie said:
I know and agree. It's not worth reading about people who claim to have a FPL's in my opinion. Utter waste of time. There was someone on here who actually claimed to be Marie Antoinette... I mean, if you truly think you were keep it to yourself.
Errr... no. Sorry.


Red Night had all right to be upset, you are pretty much attacking anyone who claims a FPL.
 
I agree with RedNight and Owl that this has to be a safe place for everyone to post, and to find acceptance (!) But, I think HeatherMarie just phrased her opinion in an overly strong way, probably not realizing we have quite a few "famous" members, who choose not to be public with their memories. Honestly, where would Winston Churchill come to post, if not here? :laugh: This is a really interesting and worthwhile discussion, and I want to keep reading what all of your thoughts are on this subject! So, we all have to be "civil" to each other. I have to say, if I had been someone "famous", I wouldn't want to be ridiculed for it! Blessings, Briar
 
BriarRose said:
Honestly, where would Winston Churchill come to post, if not here? :laugh:
LOL, agree, this is definitely the best place for the reincarnation of Churchill and I would recommend him to post here. Everywhere else online is just too full of those Dead Nazis! :D He would feel uncomfortable.


This topic is indeed very interesting
 
I admit at first, I too was chagrined by HeatherMarie's comment. But I also think that she was speaking in loathe of attention seekers (which is something I think we can all relate to) and not actual, legitimate cases.


It certainly is a complex issue. I agree with both Owl and BriarRose that people should be able to speak about their case, especially if they need help.


However an exceptional claim requires exceptional proof; I think that's simply the burden of having a famous or well known past life. But irregardless, an immature or sincere person is not going to be a pleasure to deal with. So no doubt, even if their claim were true, that person may be at risk of dismissal.


The best we or anyone else can do is to take things on a case by case basis.
 
Totoro said:
The best we or anyone else can do is to take things on a case by case basis.
And treat each other with respect, as we would wish to be treated...kind of that "golden rule" thing!
 
HeatherMarie said:
My "keep it to yourself" comment was more directed at people who go to the media to convince and publicize it, not those who use and seek solace on the forums. MA was just one example. No need to get upset?
I didn't mean for my post to sound like I was getting all charged up; I was just a little irritated. I took it all a bit personally... No hard feelings, I hope!
 
Red Night said:
No hard feelings, I hope!
None from me, Julius Caesar, Tamerlane, Charlemagne, Napoleon and George Patton sitting behind my computer! Joke! Seriously though...none taken!
 
I have long maintained that the best defense - is no defense. ;)


If you have experiences of being famous, and have done your research and found validations there should be no need to defend yourself. The Zen story below illustrates, what others believed to be true was not. The Zen master did not defend himself, but in due time the truth was reveled. The belief of being famous is just that, a belief. There is no way to prove anyones past life at this point in history, only recorded cases with some creditable validation.

Is That So?
A beautiful girl in the village was pregnant. Her angry parents demanded to know who was the father. At first resistant to confess, the anxious and embarrassed girl finally pointed to Hakuin, the Zen master whom everyone previously revered for living such a pure life.


When the outraged parents confronted Hakuin with their daughter's accusation, he simply replied "Is that so?"


When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. "Is that so?" Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child.


For many months he took very good care of the child until the daughter could no longer withstand the lie she had told. She confessed that the real father was a young man in the village whom she had tried to protect. The parents immediately went to Hakuin to see if he would return the baby. With profuse apologies they explained what had happened. "Is that so?" Hakuin said as he handed them the child.
 
I agree that in time the truth is revealed, as the story rightfully mentions, and as I said earlier, with time misguided people find their true self, the true claims are hold as true and the fake claims fade from the face of Earth.


However, in that story, during the whole time that the girl took to admit the truth, Hakuin had to maintain the baby and suffer public humiliation. Why would he have to pay for someone else's mistakes until time tells the truth? I can' t agree with that part, maybe it' s an ego thing and an enlightened individual wouldn' t care to suffer due to an injustice, who knows?


I understand that a true claim wouldn' t really care if others don' t believe them, after all, it' s THE OTHERS who don' t want to see the truth and it has nothing to do with oneself. However, many people with FPL at the beginning of their journey have doubts and have a hard time accepting it, not because they are a fake, on the contrary, because they are sane enough to have a healthy amount of doubt. I think we should listen to them and guide them if they seem misguided (if they take coincidences as an identity proof for example). I don't think we should reject them without reading what they have to say and neither to just "let time prove them right", because even though it' s true that time proves them right (or wrong), it' s a mean way to help them and it' s pretty much leaving them alone in their journey when they reached for help and advice. Because that' s what motivates people to post in a reincarnation forum, very little do it for attention, most of them have questions, have issues, don' t know where to start, and they seek advice. EVEN the person saying "I think I was Napoleon because I like France" is a person seeking for help and guidance. Maybe they wouldn' t want to believe us when we tell them that liking France is not enough to claim that life and that they should focus on having memories and such, maybe they would get offended and leave, but maybe they won' t, maybe they will learn. If we label them as attention seekers and cast them aside, not paying them any attention, we would miss the chance to help one person. I understand that one reason why a lot of people don' t believe in reincarnation is because of all the FPL claims, but the solution is to guide the mistaken claims, not to ignore them.


If we have experience with reincarnation, if we have seen many types of people with many types of problems, we should put that to good use to help the ones who are just starting with all this.


Just my opinion


~Beppo
 
Hakuin had to maintain the baby and suffer public humiliation. Why would he have to pay for someone else's mistakes until time tells the truth?
It's a matter of perception. Perhaps he saw the time spent with the child as a blessing, and the situation an opportunity to demonstrate acceptance and another way to truth. I am sure the outcome of the situation only made others trust him more and with high regard.
 
Totoro said:
I admit at first, I too was chagrined by HeatherMarie's comment. But I also think that she was speaking in loathe of attention seekers (which is something I think we can all relate to) and not actual, legitimate cases.
It certainly is a complex issue. I agree with both Owl and BriarRose that people should be able to speak about their case, especially if they need help.


However an exceptional claim requires exceptional proof; I think that's simply the burden of having a famous or well known past life. But irregardless, an immature or sincere person is not going to be a pleasure to deal with. So no doubt, even if their claim were true, that person may be at risk of dismissal.


The best we or anyone else can do is to take things on a case by case basis.
Agreed! I think everyone has the right to make a claim and should not be surprised if people have questions. Though there is a difference between questioning and interrogation. People come here because they are on a journey and searching. Some times they are on the right path and sometimes on the wrong. Our jobs here aren't to judge, police, or attack a person should they be wrong or right. Mostly because those who come here are confused and new to this subject and any kind of perceived attacked or feeling of not being welcomed or being unbelieved will drive them away and maybe even leave them will a bad feeling towards the idea of reincarnation. Are there people trying to make a profit or get a spot light for having a famous past life? You bet! They are obvious though. They gloat about ho great they are and such or if they are infamous they'll say what they did wasn't wrong when it clearly was. Those looking for the attention are obvious and if none is given they'll move on. Those who are legit tend to be more questioning and shy about it and not attention-seeking. This is just how I see it. I'm sure every person has had a life that is known. I don't like the word "Famous" ( unless they were a rock star or actor) because simply being a known person doesn't make a person "famous" Van Gogh was not famous in his lifetime and most viewed him as a nuissance in his day. But now he is considered to be one of the best. Popularity and or being known comes and goes. I suspect I died in a well known disaster and I have a name from a list of those killed but I don't think of myself as famous since I was possibly 3 or 4 at the time and couldn't contribute anything in my life other than a name for the deceased.


I would sincerely hope that someone who legitly feels they may be a known past life will not be chased out...Because in the end we can't know for 100% sure who we are but we can have a pretty good idea based on evidence we have collected.


Anyways I've gone on a tangent, my apologies! Hope my point was made or possibly clarified anything.
 
Deborah said:
It's a matter of perception. Perhaps he saw the time spent with the child as a blessing, and the situation an opportunity to demonstrate acceptance and another way to truth. I am sure the outcome of the situation only made others trust him more and with high regard.
I can see that. And I guess it makes sense with that philosophy. I' m not sure though if I can agree with an injustice, because what if instead of having to maintain a child he would have been sentenced to death?. But I thank you for the clarification.
 
Rustic_Kid said:
I suspect I died in a well known disaster and I have a name from a list of those killed but I don't think of myself as famous since I was possibly 3 or 4 at the time and couldn't contribute anything in my life other than a name for the deceased.
I would like to hear more about this.
 
Deborah said:
I have long maintained that the best defense - is no defense. ;)
There's a Taoist saying that's quite similar. I think it goes something like "if you give freely, you have nothing that can be taken".


I've avoided so far in really taking part in these couple of threads that have popped up. But from my own personal experience, I went through a lot of what you guys are describing.


I can't even really tell you how I got started in doing reincarnation research. At first I thought it was a game or something I was curious about when I was bored. And then the next thing you know I sort of opened the proverbial flood gates. I started having nightmares and I felt like my reality was quickly coming unglued. At that point, I was freaked out and I didn't really want to be alone with what I was feeling.


I then found this place and just sort of dumped everything I had experienced and researched into a thread. I knew though that I was going to need to prove my case; I even went as far as to provide my birth date off of my drivers license.


But having the freedom to discuss what I needed to along with being able to back it up really opened the doors for me here. And that just backs up what Deborah and I said about not having to have a defense. I had no need to say "you can't prove it's not true!" when I merely had to say "here's a photo comparison" since I have nothing to hide nor gain by discussing it. The only thing I wanted was to be able to bring peace to myself after having what I thought was reality upended.


Long story short, I think that most of what everyone has said is true in a situation like this and that I'm an example of a "successful" case, for lack of a better term. I'm very glad to be here and to be able to contribute and given back to what I've gained so much from.
 
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