Evidence of Reincarnation

Elizabeth Fenwick

Reincarnation - the transmigration of the soul after death to another living body - is one of the oldest and most widely held of mankind's spiritual beliefs and still forms a central part of the doctrines of Eastern religion. In its most primitive form the concept was independent of any moral teaching, but in more modern times, the idea of reincarnation is associated with reward and punishment, and with a continuity of moral consequences in successive lives. In Hinduism for example, reincarnation is associated with retribution and the law of karma. In Tibetan Buddhist teachings, the cycle of death and rebirth continues until earthly desires are extinguished and enlightenment is achieved. The term 'rebirth' rather than reincarnation is often used in Buddhist religion, to imply only the continuation of life without the continuation of personal identity.

Even among cultures which accept reincarnation, beliefs about it differ. It is, for example, important for the Tlingit of Alaska to be reborn into the family of one's mother, but for the Igbo of Nigeria to be reborn into one's father's family. In some cultures birthmarks are attributed to some injury in a previous life and may help to identify a baby's previous personality. Not surprisingly, when cases of supposed reincarnation do occur, they reflect these differing beliefs.

The idea of reincarnation is attractive to many people either because the concept of karma seems to offer an explanation for the inequalities of life or because it suggests that there is a meaning and purpose to life. For others, the idea of a 'past life' feels intuitively right because it helps to explain feelings, empathies, abilities, which seem to have sprung from some quite inexplicable source and for which there seems to be no logical explanation.

Belief in reincarnation does not require that previous existences can be remembered. However a few people do claim to have such memories, and past-life memories seem to occur regardless of any cultural or religious belief.. Typically, a child may start to talk about a past life when they are very young, as soon as they are able to talk. Usually the memories seem to fade between the ages of five and eight although some adults do retain these childhood memories. Others have spontaneous flashes of such memories for the first time in adulthood, sometimes triggered by a place or a person who seems unaccountably familiar. Under hypnotic regression most people seem able to recover apparent past-life memories.

Attempts to 'prove' the validity of a past life are very seldom successful, largely because such memories are usually so scanty or non-specific that it is impossible either to prove or to disprove them. A few researchers, notably Professor Ian Stevenson and Professor Erlendur Haraldsson, have reported some persuasive and well documented cases. A more fruitful approach to past-life research may be that of Professor Haraldsson; to try to find common characteristics amongst children who have such memories.

For most past-life memories, especially those retrieved under hypnosis, there are rational explanations, for example cryptomnesia (the emergence of forgotten memories) suggestibility, fantasy or imagination, hysterical dissociation, wishful thinking or self-delusion. A few, especially those of very young children, seem to defy rational explanation. Whether reincarnation provides that explanation remains debatable. The fact remains that a few such cases do seem to offer evidence for the transfer of information independently of a brain. The search for a mechanism for such extra-cerebral information transfer continues.

Key texts

Stevenson, Ian., Children who Remember Previous Lives University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville. 1987. ISBN 0 8139 1154 0.
Probably the best scientifically argued account of the case for reincarnation. Stevenson reviews the history and world-wide extent of belief in reincarnation and presents summaries of 12 of the most compelling cases he has studied, the majority Asian, but including a few Western examples. Stevenson sometimes fails to give enough weight to the cultural and social factors which may be involved in 'proving' a past life, but many of his cases are convincingly argued and all make interesting reading.

Stevenson, Ian. Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiolgoy of Birthmarks and Birth Defects. (Two volumes). Praeger Publishers, Westport CTO6881, USA 1997. ISBN 0 275 95282 7 and,
Stevenson, Ian, Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect Praeger Publishers, Westport CTO6881, USA 1997. ISBN 0 275 95188 X
The latter book is an abbreviated version of the former, which is Ian Stevenson's impressive two volume work on reincarnation. In many of the cases he has studied, violent death has played a part, and the main thrust of this work is to establish a correlation between birthmarks and birth defects in children and marks of violent death in a supposed previous life. Stevenson is a conscientious and meticulous researcher; all of his data is interesting and much is very persuasive. He is, however, no more successful than anyone else in suggesting a credible mechanism for the transfer of memories in apparent reincarnation, or in explaining how physical characteristics of a dead person could become imprinted on an unborn fetus. Essential reading for anyone interested in reincarnation.

Stevenson, Ian. Unlearned Language: New Studies in Xenoglossy University Press of Virginia. 1984.
Xenoglossy, the ability to speak and understand a language that has apparently never been learnt, is one of the most fascinating, and unusual phenomena of apparent reincarnation. In this book Stevenson explores two of the most interesting and well documented such cases on record; Dolores Jay, who under hypnosis manifested as 'Gretchen', a German speaking personality, and Uttara Haddur, who over a fifteen year period of her life, was repeatedly taken over by the personality of 'Sharada' a young 19th Century Bengali - and Bengali speaking - woman.

Fenwick, Peter and Elizabeth. Past Lives Headline, 1999. ISBN 0 7472 1841 2.
A good overview of the topic, it re-examines many of the most interesting and best-attested cases on record, and also analyses over a hundred first hand British accounts given to the authors by people who believe they have memories of a past life. The Fenwicks discuss how far a Western scientific framework can explain these memories, and where we might look for answers outside such a framework.

Cockell, Jenny, Yesterday's Children. London, Piatkus Books, 1993. ISBN 0 7499 1246 4.
Throughout an unhappy childhood Jenny Cockell was haunted by dream memories of an Irish woman called Mary, her death in her mid-thirties, and the eight children she left behind. As an adult she underwent a hypnotic regression in which she seemed to recover sufficient details about her family and her circumstances to try to trace them. The book is a personal account, describing her successful search for the family she felt she had abandoned in a previous life. Jenny's transparent honesty and her total conviction make her story worth reading, whether or not one accepts it in its entirety. Her later book, Past Lives, Future Lives (Piatkus, 1996) extends her story.

Pasricha, S. 1990 Claims of Reincarnation: An Empirical Study of Cases in India. Harman Publishing House, New Delhi.
Satwant Pasricha is an associate of Ian Stevenson's,. and has independently investigated Indian cases of children than any other Indian researcher. She describes 45 such cases and compares them with cases studied in other countries. The main weakness of her cases is one that applies to many such cases - the child's statements are seldom recorded at the time they are made, and have often been contaminated by the passage of time and the rewriting of history that tends to happen when a family makes its own attempts to 'solve' a case.

Rogo, D. Scott The Search for Yesterday, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1985.
The first book by a parapsychologist to examine the evidence for reincarnation. A popular, journalistic, rather than an academic book, it identifies the few good hypnotic regression cases, but under-estimates and sometimes misjudges Ian Stevenson's work in the field.

TenDam, Hans Exploring Reincarnation, London, Arkana, 1987. ISBN 0 14 019204 2.
An excellent book for the serious student. Comprehensive and dispassionate, it begins with a consideration of the hypothesis and its history, moving on to experiences, including spontaneous recall, prebirth memories, regression and experiences around death. The third section is an extensive philosophical discussion of various possible views of the topic.

Woolger, Roger Other Lives, Other Selves, London, Crucible, 1987. ISBN 1 85274 084 1.
One of the best books on hypnotic regression and its implications for psychotherapy. The author, originally a sceptic, is trained in Jungian analysis. Here he expands Jungian theory beyond childhood events and offers a holistic approach to altering destructive emotional patterns. With the help of case histories, he explores the connection between past life illness and current life fitness - both emotional and physical. He documents a number of psychological conditions that have responded to this approach.

Bowman, Carol Childrens' Past Lives, Shaftesbury, Element, 1997. ISBN 1 86204 149 0.
Extends Woolger's work into children. The author recounts the discovery of the ostensible past life source of her own children's phobias - her son's phobia of loud noises completely disappeared after remembering an experience from the Civil War. The first part reports many new cases, the second gives guidance to parents and the third reports on children's insights into the nature of life and death.

Weiss, Brian L. Many Lives, Many Masters, London, Piatkus, 1994. ISBN 0 7499 1378 9.
The first in a series of three books by psychiatrist Dr. Brian Weiss, in which he documents his own astonishment when he tried hypnosis on a young patient and she began to channel messages about his own life that only made sense within a larger metaphysical framework than that acquired in medical schools. These are followed up by Through Time to Healing (Piatkus, 1992) and Only Love is Real (Piatkus, 1996), which are also well worth reading.

Leggett, D.M.A. and Payne, Max A Forgotten Truth, Pilgrim Books, 1986. ISBN 0 946259 14 3.
The title refers to the hypothesis of serial existence and the book is a rigorous and scholarly treatment of the theme. Part 1 looks at the question of evidence and scriptural references, framing a hypothesis that life can be likened to a school. Some fascinating philosophical reflections follow from an alleged discarnate Teacher. Part 2 considers the implications for science, religion and society. A searching study.

Head, Joseph and Cranston, Sylvia Reincarnation: The Phoenix Fire Mystery. New York, Julian Press, 1977. ISBN 0 517 528932.
A comprehensive historical anthology bringing together thoughts about reincarnation across cultures and history. A sourcebook that should be in every library. Cranston's follow-up book Reincarnation: A New Horizon in Science, Religion and Society (with Carey Williams, Julian Press, 1984) gives further material from scientists and religious teachers, while also taking a look at some perennial social issues from a reincarnation viewpoint. Both books advocate a reincarnation view and do not consider possible objections. For a critical discussion from a Christian angle, see Hick, John, Death and Eternal Life (Collins, 1976), chapters 16-19. Geddes McGregor's book Reincarnation in Christianity (Theosophical Publishing House, 1978).

Elizabeth Fenwick is co-author, with Peter Fenwick, of The Truth in the Light, Past Lives and The Hidden Door.

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Comments

  • I was born Aug 5, 1962- I have a beauty mark an inch under neath the corner of my lips . Sometimes I thimk I was a famous actress. She had a beauty mark as well on her cheek above her mouth. The people that were in her life, have the same names as the people in my life as well, odd very strange. Our lives are somewhat similar also, mental illness in the families. I like champagne and it was her favorite. She had no children, they said she had 2 abortions, I have 2 children. Many similarities, though I am a negro woman. She had a crazy mother me as well, she was raped at 11, I was molested by an uncle-in law at 11. She was unhappy and so I am I. They mentioned other things about and I feel the same way, or it has happened to me as well. My father before he died in the 60's callled my mother a pet name of "Marilyn", . My childhood friend is named "Marilyn", as well she was born june the 2, . Maybe I am " crazy", but I have alway's felt a slight connection.

    Posted by DM, 23/02/2014 9:55pm (2 months ago)

  • Hi
    i am B.Ali from pakistan You will really be astonished to hear that the question of re-birth has scientifically been proved with evidence.a human when dies re births in the form of animals , birds . reptiles , snakes, crocodiles, lions etc. and when the above mentioned animals dies re births in the form of human , i can prove it scientifically with evidence.

    Posted by Bakhtiar Ali, 06/02/2014 1:05am (3 months ago)

  • I know about my previous birth. I was His Holiness Sarkar Sahab in my previous birth. Sarkar Sahab is the Fourth Guru of Radhasoami Faith of Dayalbagh Group. This was revealed to me in 1999 .by His Holiness Maharaj Sahab, the Third Guru of Radhasoami Faith

    Posted by Anirudh Kumar Satsangi, 02/11/2013 11:16am (6 months ago)

  • Contrary to popular belief, reincarnation is not an exclusively Eastern notion but that has flourished in cultures around the world. It is still an integral part of some sects of the Jewish tradition; Kabbalistic Jewish wisdom tradition has reincarnation ideas embedded in it one way or another. Reincarnation is mentioned in numerous places throughout the classical texts of Jewish mysticism. “As long as a person is unsuccessful in his purpose in this world, the Holy One, blessed be He, uproots him and replants him over and over again”. (Zohar I 186b)

    Gnostic and Early Christians also believed in reincarnation; only later on church removed all such texts and blended those heretics. History records that early Emperor Justinian in 545 A.D. was able to apply the full power of Rome and his authority to stop the belief in reincarnation. However, the Bible contain no condemnation of the principle of reincarnation, and in fact, when Christ was asked when Elijah would return, He answered that Elijah had returned, referring to John the Baptist. At one place it is also mentioned, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3).


    Sakina Yusuf Khan writes in an article A Night Of Forgiveness published in The Speaking Tree: “It (Shab-e-Barat) is also a festival associated with the dead. It is believed that the souls of the dead are set free on this night to visit their relatives.” What this indicates? This is a belief in reincarnation, of course in subtle body. The Koran says, “And you were dead, and He brought you back to life. And He shall cause you to die, and shall bring you back to life, and in the end shall gather you onto Himself.” Among the followers of Islam, the Sufis especially believe that death is no loss, for the immortal soul continually pass through different bodies.
    Unaccomplished activities of past lives are also one of the causes for reincarnation. Some of us reincarnate to complete the unfinished tasks of previous birth. This is evident from my own story of reincarnation:
    “My most Revered Guru of my previous life His Holiness Maharaj Sahab, 3rd Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith had revealed this secret to me during trance like state of mine. This was sort of REVELATION.
    HE told me, “Tum Sarkar Sahab Ho” (You are Sarkar Sahab). Sarkar Sahab was one of the most beloved disciple of His Holiness Maharj Sahab. Sarkar Sahab later on became Fourth Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith.
    Since I don’t have any direct realization of it so I can not claim the extent of its correctness. But it seems to be correct. During my previous birth I wanted to sing the song of ‘Infinite’ (Agam Geet yeh gawan chahoon tumhri mauj nihara, mauj hoi to satguru soami karoon supanth vichara) but I could not do so then since I had to leave the mortal frame at a very early age. But through the unbounded Grace and Mercy of my most Revered Guru that desire of my past birth is being fulfilled now.”
    I am one the chief expounder and supporter of Gravitation Force Theory of God. This is most scientific and secular theory of God. This is the Theory of Universal Religion. I have given Higher Theory of Everything. Sometimes back I posted this as comments to a blog on:
    ‘Fighting of the Cause of Allah by Governing a Smart Mathematics Based on Islamic Teology’
    By Rohedi of Rohedi Laboratories, Indonesia. Rohedi termed my higher theory of everything more wonderful than which has been developed by Stephen Hawking. Some details are quoted below:
    rohedi
    @anirudh kumar satsangi
    Congratulation you have develop the higher theory of everything more wonderful than which has been developed by Stephen Hawking. Hopefully your some views for being considered for Unified Field Theory are recognized by International Science Community, hence I soon read the fundamental aspect proposed by you.
    I have posted my comments to the Blog of Syed K. Mirza on Evolutionary Science vs. Creation Theory, and Intellectual Hypocrisy. Syed Mirza seems to be a very liberal muslim. He responded to my comments as mentioned below.
    “Many thanks for your very high thought explanations of God.
    You said:
    “Hence it can be assumed that the Current of Chaitanya (Consciousness) and Gravitational Wave are the two names of the same Supreme Essence (Seed) which has brought forth the entire creation. Hence it can be assumed that the source of current of consciousness and gravitational wave is the same i.e. God or ultimate creator.
    (i) Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator, Source of Gravitational Wave is God”
    Whatever you call it, God is no living God of any religion. Yes, when I call it “Mother Nature” is the God generated from all Natural forces and Gravitational force is the nucleus of all forces or we can presume that Gravitation is the ultimate guiding principle of this Mother Nature we call it non-living God unlike living personal God of religions. I can not believe any personal God would do so much misery created for its creation. Hence, only non-living natural God can explain everything in the Universe. When we think of any living personal God, things do not ad up!”
    I have also discovered the mathematical expression for emotional quotient (E.Q.) and for spiritual quotient (S.Q.).
    Austrian Scientist Rudolf Steiner says,
    “Just as an age was once ready to receive the Copernican theory of the universe, so is our age ready for the idea of reincarnation to be brought into the general consciousness of humanity”.

    Posted by Anirudh Kumar Satsangi, 28/10/2013 9:42am (6 months ago)

  • Contrary to popular belief, reincarnation is not an exclusively Eastern notion but that has flourished in cultures around the world. It is still an integral part of some sects of the Jewish tradition; Kabbalistic Jewish wisdom tradition has reincarnation ideas embedded in it one way or another. Reincarnation is mentioned in numerous places throughout the classical texts of Jewish mysticism. “As long as a person is unsuccessful in his purpose in this world, the Holy One, blessed be He, uproots him and replants him over and over again”. (Zohar I 186b)

    Gnostic and Early Christians also believed in reincarnation; only later on church removed all such texts and blended those heretics. History records that early Emperor Justinian in 545 A.D. was able to apply the full power of Rome and his authority to stop the belief in reincarnation. However, the Bible contain no condemnation of the principle of reincarnation, and in fact, when Christ was asked when Elijah would return, He answered that Elijah had returned, referring to John the Baptist. At one place it is also mentioned, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3).


    Sakina Yusuf Khan writes in an article A Night Of Forgiveness published in The Speaking Tree: “It (Shab-e-Barat) is also a festival associated with the dead. It is believed that the souls of the dead are set free on this night to visit their relatives.” What this indicates? This is a belief in reincarnation, of course in subtle body. The Koran says, “And you were dead, and He brought you back to life. And He shall cause you to die, and shall bring you back to life, and in the end shall gather you onto Himself.” Among the followers of Islam, the Sufis especially believe that death is no loss, for the immortal soul continually pass through different bodies.
    Unaccomplished activities of past lives are also one of the causes for reincarnation. Some of us reincarnate to complete the unfinished tasks of previous birth. This is evident from my own story of reincarnation:
    “My most Revered Guru of my previous life His Holiness Maharaj Sahab, 3rd Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith had revealed this secret to me during trance like state of mine. This was sort of REVELATION.
    HE told me, “Tum Sarkar Sahab Ho” (You are Sarkar Sahab). Sarkar Sahab was one of the most beloved disciple of His Holiness Maharj Sahab. Sarkar Sahab later on became Fourth Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith.
    Since I don’t have any direct realization of it so I can not claim the extent of its correctness. But it seems to be correct. During my previous birth I wanted to sing the song of ‘Infinite’ (Agam Geet yeh gawan chahoon tumhri mauj nihara, mauj hoi to satguru soami karoon supanth vichara) but I could not do so then since I had to leave the mortal frame at a very early age. But through the unbounded Grace and Mercy of my most Revered Guru that desire of my past birth is being fulfilled now.”
    I am one the chief expounder and supporter of Gravitation Force Theory of God. This is most scientific and secular theory of God. This is the Theory of Universal Religion. I have given Higher Theory of Everything. Sometimes back I posted this as comments to a blog on:
    ‘Fighting of the Cause of Allah by Governing a Smart Mathematics Based on Islamic Teology’
    By Rohedi of Rohedi Laboratories, Indonesia. Rohedi termed my higher theory of everything more wonderful than which has been developed by Stephen Hawking. Some details are quoted below:
    rohedi
    @anirudh kumar satsangi
    Congratulation you have develop the higher theory of everything more wonderful than which has been developed by Stephen Hawking. Hopefully your some views for being considered for Unified Field Theory are recognized by International Science Community, hence I soon read the fundamental aspect proposed by you.
    I have posted my comments to the Blog of Syed K. Mirza on Evolutionary Science vs. Creation Theory, and Intellectual Hypocrisy. Syed Mirza seems to be a very liberal muslim. He responded to my comments as mentioned below.
    “Many thanks for your very high thought explanations of God.
    You said:
    “Hence it can be assumed that the Current of Chaitanya (Consciousness) and Gravitational Wave are the two names of the same Supreme Essence (Seed) which has brought forth the entire creation. Hence it can be assumed that the source of current of consciousness and gravitational wave is the same i.e. God or ultimate creator.
    (i) Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator, Source of Gravitational Wave is God”
    Whatever you call it, God is no living God of any religion. Yes, when I call it “Mother Nature” is the God generated from all Natural forces and Gravitational force is the nucleus of all forces or we can presume that Gravitation is the ultimate guiding principle of this Mother Nature we call it non-living God unlike living personal God of religions. I can not believe any personal God would do so much misery created for its creation. Hence, only non-living natural God can explain everything in the Universe. When we think of any living personal God, things do not ad up!”
    I have also discovered the mathematical expression for emotional quotient (E.Q.) and for spiritual quotient (S.Q.).
    Austrian Scientist Rudolf Steiner says,
    “Just as an age was once ready to receive the Copernican theory of the universe, so is our age ready for the idea of reincarnation to be brought into the general consciousness of humanity”.

    Posted by Anirudh Kumar Satsangi, 28/10/2013 9:40am (6 months ago)

  • This science has evolved since this web site has been put up. The book The Science of Reincarnation is both an overview of the research done on this and a syllabus for its study. Advances in remote viewing, clairvoyance, and a better understanding of psi and quantum biology have made a much stronger scientific case for reincarnation. Reincarnation can now be examines using the scientific method, there are 4 forms of math that support this science, statistics, fractal geometry and the minkowski complex. When all of this is looked at collectively we can now make a very strong case that we reincarnate and that our consciousness survives our deaths. visit www.thescienceofreincarnation.com

    Posted by BobGood, 22/03/2013 1:18am (1 year ago)

  • My friend i met him last year we are really close today we were talking about reicarnation and he said he felt like he knew me as in the past... i feel like he has been reincarnated do you know how to know if he is and how to retreave some memories of his past life?

    Posted by Brittany Landrio, 14/02/2013 8:29pm (1 year ago)

  • I had a traumatic experience as a young man where I witnessed a car accident where two people (a father and son) were ejected from a small golf cart like car in Bangkok, Thailand. I was the first person to try to help them, I knelt on the sidewalk and checked for a pulse, which they had but they both died within a minute or so. Afterwards I had a dream where I was kneeling on a white sandy beach trying to help a soldier who had been shot in the chest. He was dead and within a moment I was shot in the back of the head and killed. I forgot about the dream for 29 years, then in January of 2010, 29 years to month later I had the same dream with additional details. The dream was so vivid and "emotional" (I knew I had left a wife or finance') that I was troubled for days because of the dream. The dream contained "details" which allowed me to check to see if any real person had been the person I dreamed about:
    1. Civil war
    2. A beach engagement
    3. I was a young "surgeon"
    4. I had met a girl in New Orleans while studying
    5. I was from Boston or that area
    6. I was on ships that were very "awful" in terms of creature comforts

    I found who this person was. He was from Massechusetts, a young doctor, who studied pharmacy at Tulane, went on to Michigan to study medicine, and he died at Fort Fisher North Carolina on January 15th (?) 1865. The battle scene was a white sandy beach with hills of sand and clumps of beach bushes. The person killed (I am not giving the name) was shot in the back of the head and bullet came to rest behind the left adnoid sinus, dying instantly while trying to help a dying soldier.

    Subsequently I had a PLR performed by a practioner in Arizona. The details of this life came out in greater abundance.

    There is also a picture of this person who died on Fisher Island, the young surgeon. I have a picture of myself at a young age which, when I lay the two pictures side by side show a STUNNING resemblance. I couldn't have made that up.

    I am completely baffled by all of this.

    Posted by Scott Cisney, 08/10/2012 11:35am (2 years ago)

  • Hello my first time here and i believe in reincarnation having once had a paranormal experience at the age of six months, i saw a silouete of a man wearing a long cloak and a three cornered hat he was hunched over and relying on a walking stick, i recall being highly amused he was using a tree branch instead of a proper walking stick, and this is exactly what i was thinking i was questioning why this was so, my parents were in the room and i recall not knowing them has mam and dad but i felt familier towards them, my question is, how did i know what a proper walking stick was?? also i was thinking in perfect english?

    Posted by betty martin, 01/10/2012 6:06pm (2 years ago)

  • The brain is merely the biological machine necessary for consciousness to participate in this physical material membrane of the multi dimensional universe. We are multi dimensional beings, the brain and body being the outermost sheath.

    Posted by Robert, 20/08/2012 1:01pm (2 years ago)