Reincarnation - Fact or Fantasy?

by Debbie L. Kasman in

When James Leininger was two years old, he began to have recurrent nightmares.  He would scream, “Plane on fire.  Little man can’t get out!”  The nightmares perplexed his parents because James was a happy and playful little boy.  As James revealed more fragments of his nightmares, his parents began to piece the information together.  After a great deal of research, they were forced to confront their skepticism and re-examine their belief system.  In time, they came to a shocking conclusion.  They believed a World War II fighter pilot who had been killed in the battle for Iwo Jima over 60 years ago had reincarnated as their son and his name was James Huston!   

Past-life recognition in children is currently being studied around the world.  In the 1960s, Dr. Ian Stevenson interviewed thousands of people who remembered past lives and he discovered that recollection of past lives by children is much more common than we think.  His colleague, Dr. Jim B. Tucker, an associate psychiatry professor at the University of Virginia Medical Center’s Division of Perceptual Studies, compiled over 2500 cases of reincarnation, which document children who have recalled past lives. 

American psychiatrist, Brian Weiss, used to be very skeptical about the idea of past lives.  His rigorous scientific training at Columbia University and the Yale University School of Medicine didn’t allow him to believe in that which could not be scientifically proven.  But over time and through personal experience, two factors eroded his skepticism.  He says one was “rapid and highly emotional, the other gradual and intellectual.”    

Weiss had a patient named Catherine and when he put her under hypnosis, she told him very private details about the lives and deaths of his father and infant son.  Weiss knew Catherine couldn't possibly know anything about his family.  There wasn’t a single person who could have given her the details she revealed, and there was no place where she could have looked up the information.  Weiss wrote that she was stunningly accurate and he felt shocked and chilled as she revealed what he knew to be true.    

Weiss wanted to write a book about his experiences with Catherine but he hesitated for four years because he knew it would endanger his entire professional career.  A highly respected researcher from Harvard Medical School had spoken at a conference in Boston on nutrition, and when she ran into her boss who was attending a medical conference at the same hotel, he told her that if she ever lent Harvard’s name to such a “frivolous affair as a nutrition conference,” she would no longer be working at Harvard. 

Nutrition is now a mainstream area of teaching and research at Harvard, and there are now faculty members at Harvard confirming and expanding on Weiss’ work with past-life regression therapy.  But close-mindedness, Weiss reminds us, is often undone very slowly.  He reminds us of the following. 

In the 1600s, the Church believed the earth was the immovable centre of the universe.  They saw this belief as an absolute fact of scripture that could not be disputed.  When Galileo, the father of modern science, expressed the belief that the earth revolved around the sun, he was accused of heresy and ordered to turn himself in to the Holy Office to begin trial.  He was imprisoned and secluded during the trial.  After the trial, his book was prohibited, he was ordered to recite the Seven Penitential Psalms once a week for three years, and he spent the rest of his life under house arrest.  He was exonerated by the Church in 1992 but it took 359 years for this to happen!

Do you believe in reincarnation or are you skeptical?  Is reincarnation real or just a fantasy of the imagination? 

A 1994 USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll shows the belief in reincarnation is increasing in the United States but the U.S. lags behind most of the rest of the world in this belief.  The study showed that 27 percent of adults in the United States believe in reincarnation, 28 percent believe there can be contact with the dead, 90 percent believe in heaven, and 79 percent believe in miracles.

Science can’t yet prove that reincarnation exists but research into past-life regression therapy is bringing interesting results. 

Sometimes we have to listen to our feelings, trust our personal experiences, overcome our skepticism, and look for evidence to support our feelings.  That's what Einstein did when he discovered his theory of relativity.  By listening to his feelings and looking for evidence to support them, he wiped out more than 300 years of scientific certainty, made immense breakthroughs in theoretical physics, and literally changed the world. 

Steve Jobs said it best when he said, "Here's to the crazy ones, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes...the ones who see things differently...You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they changes things..They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Debbie L. Kasman

Author Lotus of the Heart:  Reshaping the Human and Collective Soul