Via WitchVox, here’s an article from Psychology Today on reincarnation – in particular the work of Professor Ian Stevenson, who catalogued “over 2,500 cases, from cultures around the world, where small children would describe previous lives and deaths they had experienced that turned out to correspond in detail with those of real people whose stories the children could not have known.”
The writer, Michael Kaplan, points out the scientific difficulties with Stevenson’s work. The largest problem is the inability to test the hypothesis that reincarnation is the explanation for these past life memories – there was “no potential counterexample where a child with the same apparent memories could be shown not to be reincarnated.” When you consider there are well over 6 billion people in the world, 2500 cases could be statistical coincidences. Could be.
To his credit, Kaplan (who I gather is somewhat skeptical about such things) admits that even though Stevenson’s studies are outside the realm of proper science, that doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
Belief in reincarnation was found in many ancient cultures, both in the East (with the Hindus, and some forms of Buddhism) and in the West (including the Celts). The Egyptians – and the three monotheistic faiths which succeeded them in the region – preferred a one-shot life/afterlife arrangement. Who’s right – if either of them? We have no way of knowing.
I’ve had past life memories. I have no memories of being “a princess or mighty warrior,” as Kaplan complains too many people claim. But the first one I remembered was of a battle: I fought briefly, then my throat was cut. I didn’t remember pain so much as shock and terror, and then darkness.
I’ve had a few others – some just memorable scenes, others much longer and more detailed. I’ve never remembered anything I could verify, but these memories feel very different from either memories from this life or from my imagination. Perhaps they are just my imagination – in the absence of conclusive evidence, I have to admit that’s a possibility.
But I don’t think so. They feel real. And they make sense, in terms of helping explain who and what I am.
Life is a mystery – and so is what comes after this life.