Reincarnation? Heck Yes
A fellow hubber, Robert the Bruce, recently wrote me an email asking if I believed in reincarnation. I couldn't answer his email right away with anything other than a short and incomplete answer. I was teaching an extra load of classes this last month at the college where I'm a professor of information technology. My email remained unfinished for more than a week. I finally decided that I needed to write an article out of my answer.
Even though I grew up in a Southern Baptist household (my mother's father was a Southern Baptist minister and former missionary to Africa), my father was an explorer for Truth. He wasn't satisfied with the Baptist dogma. He read constantly of Edgar Cayce, Bhagavad Gita, Autobiography of a Yogi, and more. My mother was a little put off by all this stuff. She listened politely to him reading some of this material out loud. When he did, my brothers and I would be attracted to the living room like magnets. Listening to these stories of reincarnation felt like water being poured onto a dry and hardened sponge. I couldn't explain why it felt so good.
Stories of Old
One story has stuck with me all these years of an old monk who told his students that he was about to die and to come get him in 4 years. He described the small town and the house where they would find him. Four years later, they traveled to the town and the house and found the parents of a 4-year-old boy. The monks told them of their master and said that they would like to come back for the boy in a couple of weeks. The parents were deeply honored to have given birth to such a prestigious person.
After taking the boy back to the monastery and giving him the old master's room, with the same prayer rug, cups and prayer roll, the young boy started to remember. All of the old lessons filtered back into his mind—the spiritual source seeding the young biochemical machine called the brain. I now suspect that when full Enlightenment (spiritual identity) is achieved, that continuity of consciousness can bypass the brain altogether, though it may still use it as a switchboard for controlling the body.
Is this Truth? Somehow, I suspect not. It might be close; it might not be close. It seems far truer than many of my older ideas. But unlike physical science, working with memories and spiritual things is far messier.
When I worked as an artist in Hollywood, one of my employers was a former Indian Jew who had migrated from that Asian country as a young adult. She remarked once that the headlines in India were far different from American headlines. In America, scandals rule the headlines; in India, spiritual breakthroughs are the norm. One article she remembered reported that a 5-year-old boy had contacted his former wife because he felt guilty for not telling her about his hiding place of the family gold before he had died. When finally he told her, she was happy, and he could place his full attention on being a 5-year-old boy.
When I was about 10, my mother had a severe ear ache one day and, being relatively poor, going to the doctor was not an easy option. My father had read the book Dianetics and asked her if she wanted help with her ear ache. Reluctantly, she said "yes."
I remember that day clearly. It was the day my brothers and I had to fix our own dinner. We hadn't learned to cook, so it turned out to be sandwiches. A few hours later, my mother emerged from their room looking more beautiful than I had ever seen her before. The earache was gone. The past life incidents which had powered the physical pain were discharged so that the body could heal itself.
Not long after that, my father quit his job at El Paso Natural Gas and took a teaching job at Permian High School in Odessa, Texas. This would give him three months paid vacation so that he could look for a job in the Washington, DC area. He wanted to move the family closer to the Scientology headquarters in the nation's capital so he could study there. Scientology was an extension of Dianetics and spirit-based, so it was in every way a religion. In those days, it was far less controversial.
When finally we moved from West Texas, we lived in an old farm house in rural Maryland while my father looked for work. We almost ran out of time, but he found a job working at a company called Documentation Incorporated (Doc Inc, for short). He worked at the NASA facility handling their contract for the government's space agency.
Through junior high and most of high school, my life was pretty ordinary. This changed, though. During my summer break after junior year and throughout my senior year, my brothers and I took classes at the Scientology center in Washington. My grades had almost always been A's and B's until my senior year. Because I was taking classes every evening, when other students were doing their homework, my grades slipped. In English literature, I made my first ever D's—nearly failing. I wasn't surprised. Most of the homework was heavy reading and equally heavy memorization. I hated memorization. I remember even now that one of those assignments included Shakespeare's sonnet 116. I needed help and let my parents know.
They suggested that I get some Scientology counseling. I remember shrugging and thinking to myself, "Why? What could that possibly do to help?" I was hoping they would suggest that I no longer take classes in the evening. Now, I'm glad they didn't.
The Scientology counselor, or "auditor," was a soft-spoken young man named David Aldrich. He asked me questions while I held two soup can electrodes attached to a sensitive, electronic meter. After one session, I was still skeptical. How could this possibly help me? Mid-term exams were in a little over a week, and I was anxious about my prospects.
A second session left me feeling more relaxed. We had contacted a number of past-life memories. Each contact was a fleeting glimpse—just long enough to discharge some of the emotional energy attached to them.
During the next week at school, something remarkable happened in English literature class. I took prodigious notes in my usual fashion, but my mind seemed to be soaking up the details like a sponge. After the exam, the teacher announced that only one person had made an "A." That student had been me.
Over the next several years, my experiences with Scientology counseling gave me even more startling insights into my own past lives. Before I left Scientology in the 1980s, I had contacted thousands of past life incidents. The spiritual unburdening resulted in many spiritual miracles and dozens of physical miracles.
Tale of Atlantis Lost
Perhaps the most profound example of reincarnation, for me personally, involved my long fascination with Plato's Atlantis.
I had been writing a novel about one woman who had lost everything when Atlantis sank. But she was helping others to start again. At a site in the Mediterranean for a new town, she was helping to consecrate the ground when the last of the refugees arrived. one of them remained near the ship looking out to sea. As I wrote this scene, the room suddenly darkened and the scene I had thought I had been imagining was playing out before me as vividly alive as if it were happening in the present.
Suddenly, I recognized the man as my own true love who I thought had died. Just as suddenly, I felt tears flowing down my face in rivers. I had never before experienced such a flood of tears and had thought such descriptions to be an over exaggeration.
Here, I was feeling an emotion stronger than anything I had felt in this life coming from either mere imagination or an ancient memory nearly 12,000 years old. I choose to think it was the latter.
Reincarnation of Anne Frank
Science and Reincarnation
But reincarnation is more than merely newspaper clippings, or vague thoughts that could be memories or just as easily imagination.
One scientist dedicated much of his professional life investigating the subject of reincarnation. Dr. Ian Stevenson published a book in 1966 entitled, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. Even after his death others, including Dr. Jim B. Tucker, continue his work at the University of Virginia.
I cover some of the more interesting aspects of reincarnation in my article, "Reincarnation Stories: Proof that We've Lived Before."