Reincarnation: Fact or Fallacy?
Reincarnation. Fact, fallacy, superstition or simply coincidence? Those stories of people with super-minds; minds that delve into the past, minds that have the power to move objects and perceive things the rest of us cannot with our ordinary senses; minds that operate independently of the body. Since ancient times, these enigmas have intrigued rational people but only back in the 1970s are scientists, the Mind Detectives, beginning to understand something of the mysteries at work inside of us.
Do we have one life only or several? Have you ever experienced that feeling of déjà vu or a sense of “been here before”? According to mind detectives, we have experienced many previous lives in the past and we’ll go on being born again, into other forms, until we reach an absolute state.
Here are three interesting cases of experts’ experience on the subject of reincarnation. Below is Part I
Case Study 1 – the Bloxham tapes
Arnall Bloxham was a Welsh hypnotherapist from back in the 1970s who, over a 20-year period, hypnotized a few hundred people and recorded what appear to be descriptions of previous lives. Do the Bloxham tapes prove reincarnation or can they be explained in some other way? Arnall Bloxham is an expert in what hypnotists call ‘past lives regression experiments.’ Under hypnosis he can take a person back to the moment of his or her birth, and even beyond that. Bloxham was the president of the British Society of Hypnotherapists then and he was using hypnosis to cure people of physical ailments, like smoking, for instance.
What happens during his experiments on hypnotic regression defies common human logic. His clients could relate, in meticulous detail, lives of people who existed hundreds of years ago.
As unbelievable as it may seem, Bloxham produced over 400 tape recordings of hypnotized subjects reliving their previous lives. In addition, many detailed records, cross-references from these tapes, have been substantiated as facts. According to Bloxham, this strong evidence strongly supports the ancient belief of reincarnation as the truth.
One of Bloxham’s high-profile cases is that of Jane Evans. Jane’s regression into her past lives began in 1971 when she saw a poster that reads: “Arnall Bloxham says rheumatism is psychological.” Jane, a 32-year-old Welsh housewife who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, found the statement incredible, so she decided to get in touch with the man responsible for this poster. Indeed she did, through a friend of her husband. And ultimately got in touch with six of her past lives as well. They were: as a tutor’s wife in Roman times; as a Jew who was massacred in the 12th century in York; as the servant of a French medieval merchant prince; as a maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon; as a poor servant in London during the reign of Queen Anne; and as a nun in 19th-century America.
The story of Jane Evans and several other examples of reincarnation were brought to light by BBC television producer, Jeffrey Iverson in his book, “More Lives Than One?” In 1975, in pursuing verification of the theory of reincarnation, Iverson asked Jane’s permission to let Bloxham hypnotize her again into regression, this time in the presence of a BBC television camera and tape recorder. Iverson then set out to uncover whether she did, in fact, have more lives than one.
Iverson researched the detail of these lives and verified that the details of Jane Evans’ recorded regressions were indeed founded on fact. At the end of the book he considers that Bloxham’s 20 years of work signify strong support for the concept of reincarnation. He also produced a BBC documentary film, called “The Bloxham Tapes” based on all these materials.
Case Number 2 – Dr. Arthur Guirdham’s Cathars
Skeptics have attributed this phenomenon to what mind detectives call “cryptomnesia,” a term that simply means remembering facts you forgot you ever knew! If such a distant memory could be culled from a person’s mind, it might logically explain Jane Evan’s supposed ‘reincarnation.’
However, for Dr. Arthur Guirdham, Britain’s other great authority on reincarnation, this explanation cannot account for the cases he had seen and heard. Dr. Guirdham relates these experiences in his books, “We Are One Another,” “The Cathars & Reincarnation” and his autobiography, “A Foot in Both Worlds.”
Dr. Guirdham, a retired national health psychiatrist in the U.K., heads a small group of people who believe that they were Cathars in their past lives, a heretical religious group which existed in the Languedoc area of south-west France in the 13th century.
The incident that led to Dr. Guirdham’s reincarnation theory began in Bath, 1962, in a hospital’s outpatient department, where Dr. Guirdham worked as a psychiatrist. His last patient on one particular day was an attractive, apparently normal young woman who had had a recurring nightmare occasionally since her teens, but was now experiencing it two or three times a week. In her dream she was lying on her back on the floor while a man approached her from behind. She did not know what was going to happen but was absolutely terrified.
Although Dr. Guirdham remained calm and detached, he had to hide his surprise while listening to his new patient for the woman was describing the same nightmare that had plagued him, too, for more than 30 years. The doctor was intrigued but said nothing to his patient. She never had the nightmare again and, as for Dr. Guirdham, his dream stopped within a week of meeting this new patient.
Their meetings continued, though. Dr. Guirdham was certain there was nothing mentally wrong with his patient and her knowledge of the past intrigued him. Later she gave him a list of names of people she said had existed in the 13th century and described things that happened to them. She also told Dr. Guirdham that he, too, had been alive then and was called Rogiet de Cruisot.
As a psychiatrist, Dr.Guirdham had picked up some basic information about the theory of reincarnation, but never had much interest in the subject. Nevertheless, intrigued by this case, he decided to investigate. He found that the names given to him by his patient were indeed accurate, though only mentioned in fairly obscure history records of the Middle Ages. Those records had been written in French though, and had never been translated into English. The people Dr. Guirdham’s patient described were all members of the Cathar sect, a group that had flourished in southern France and northern Italy in the Middle Ages. Among other things, the Cathars believed in reincarnation. Over time, Dr Guirdham met more and more individuals, 11 in total, who had memories of their past lives living together in a Cathar group.
None of the subjects were drugged or hypnotized; past names and incidents simply appeared in their minds, said Dr Guirdham. Dr Guirdham also produced one of the most remarkable pieces of evidence he had. It was the sketchpad of a seven-year-old girl, containing drawings of a bygone era. The sketchpad also includes many members’ names of the Cathar sect. Amazed, Dr Guirdham said, “It’s beyond me how a 7-year-old child could know these names when I shouldn’t think there was an expert in medieval history in England at the time who knew them.”
The sheer amount of memories, names and contacts convinced the doctor that he and his group had all lived together, not just once, but several lifetimes before. He said, “With 40 years of experience in medicine, it is either that I know the difference between a clairvoyant’s experience and a schizophrenic one or I am psychotic myself. None of the people in my group is mad in any way – and none of my colleagues have found me psychotic.”
Case Number 3 – Dr. Ian Stevenson, University of Virginia
If the world’s top experts on reincarnation were to be named, Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia would be on that list. He has traveled all over the world to investigate various reports of reincarnation and has devised a rigorous test to rule out fraud, cryptomnesia, etc. Out of 200, only 20 cases survived this tough test by Dr. Stevenson to be suggestive of possible cases of reincarnation. Seven of these cases occurred in India, three in Sri Lanka, two in Brazil, one in the Lebanon and seven among a tribe of Indians in Alaska.
Take the case of a very young girl, born in 1956 in central Sri Lanka with a tongue-twisting name of Gnantilleka Baddewithana. Soon after she had started learning to talk, she began mentioning another mother and father in another place, where she said she also had two brothers and many sisters.
From the details the little girl gave, her parents were able to fit her descriptions to a particular family in a town some distance away. They found that this family had lost a son in 1954. When Gnantilleka was taken to visit this family, she said that she was their dead son and correctly identified seven members of “his” family. But until then the families had never met each other or even visited each other’s town.
Skeptics may dismiss the theory of reincarnation as fallacy, while non-believers in reincarnation may brush it off as baseless superstition.
Regardless of whether you believe it or not, since time immemorial, Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism have been advocating the theory of reincarnation in their beliefs. They believe in the theory of causation, in other words, the connection between cause and effect. They believe a person’s conduct in this present life matters and all the good deeds and misdemeanors committed by one will be accounted for. But, well, who is the bookkeeper?
Theory has it that the natural forces of the Cosmic Law, or you may call it Nature’s Law, will take precedence over this. A person’s deeds, good or bad will manifest their effects in one’s present life or the next, as good fortune or destiny versus bad destiny or retribution, and so on, according to the case itself.
The atheists would probably consider this theory as an example of “fatalistic syndrome.” The atheists believe life is what one makes out of it; one’s destiny is in one’s own hands.
On the contrary, Taoists believe a person reaps what he/she has sown. Perhaps, this explains one of the theories of Taoism about the eight types of people’s reincarnated destinies; such as, wealth vs. poverty, honor vs. ignobility (lowliness), longevity vs. short-life, and the like.
Perhaps this is also the reason why Buddhism has promoted the theory of the “six paths of samsara (reincarnation)” beginning some 2,500 years ago until today.
And perhaps this could be the reason for the often heard advice of our forefathers and parents to follow the maxim of, “Doing good deeds will be rewarded with virtues and doing bad or evil deeds will beget retribution”.