.

.

POSTS BY SUBJECT

POSTS BY SUBJECT

''ESTONIA'' (15) "Hindenburg" (2) “Yom Kippur” War (1) 2017 Westminster attack (1) 20th_Century (3) 7/7 London bombings (38) 911 (390) A.H.M. RAMSAY (2) Abu Ghraib (1) ADL (1) ADOLF_HITLER (23) ADVENTURE (1) Affirmative Action (1) Afghanistan (7) AFRICA (45) African Origins (1) Agriculture (3) AIDS (24) Al Azhar University (1) Alain de Benoist (15) Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (34) Alois Irlmaier (1) AMAZONIA (3) America (4) American Islamization (21) American Universities (2) American_Indian (1) Ancient Egypt (1) ANCIENT_CIVILISATIONS (2) Angels (1) Animal_Rights (6) ANTEDILUVIAN_CIVILISATION (15) Anthony Blunt (1) Anthony Ludovici (3) ANTHROPOLOGY (7) Anti-Semitism (3) Antifa (2) Apartheid (1) AR. LEESE (4) ARCHAEOLOGY (3) Argentina (1) Armenia (4) Armenian Genocide (1) Art (15) Arthur Koestler (1) Astronomy (30) ATHEISM (1) AUSTRALIA (2) AUSTRIA (1) Ayaan Hirsi Ali (3) Baha'i faith (1) BALI (1) Balkans (4) Bangladesh (2) banned_weapons (1) Barbarossa (2) BELGIUM (2) Benjamin Freedman (1) BENJAMIN SOLARI PARRAVICINI (11) Beslan (1) Bill Clinton (1) Biological Warfare (2) Black America (1) BLOOD PASSOVER (12) BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION (15) Book purge (1) Boycottage (1) Brainwashing (1) BRAZIL (1) Brigitte Gabriel (1) British politics (1) Buddhism (5) California (1) Cambodia (8) CANADA (9) CANCER (40) Carolina bays (1) Celebrities-Show Business (3) Cell Phone towers (6) Censorship in Europe (7) CENTRAL_ASIA (1) Central/South America (1) Ch. Bollyn (30) Charles Tart (8) Charlie Hebdo (1) Che Guevara (2) CHEMTRAILS (13) CHINA (6) Christian Zionism (1) CHRISTIANISM (46) CHRISTIANISM in EUROPE (1) Churchill (7) CINEMA (2) Circumcision (10) CLIMATE (7) Climate Change (8) cluster bombs/mines (2) Cold Fusion (1) COLD_FUSION (1) COLONIALISM (1) Colonization of Europe (26) Commerce (1) Communism (49) CONGO (5) Consciousness (9) Conspiracies (8) Consumerism (1) contemporary society (8) COPTS (1) Cosmogony (1) Crime (5) Criminal_Sciense (1) CRIMINALITY (1) crop circles (5) CUBA (16) Cultural Marxism (7) DARFUR (3) Dead Sea Scrolls (1) Death penalty in ISLAM (1) Death-Bed Visions (1) DECADANT_ART (1) Deir Yassin (8) Democracy (1) DENMARK (3) Depleted uranium (6) DIAMOND CARTELS (1) DIANA (10) DIETRICH ECKART (1) DILUVIUM (5) Disney (2) DOGS (1) Donald TRUMP (4) Dönmeh (1) Doppelgangers (1) Dresden (6) DRUG ADDICTION (1) E.U. (11) Eastern Europe (1) ECHELON (1) ECONOMY (14) EDUCATION (4) Egypt (11) Eisenhower (4) El Inglés (2) Elie Wiesel (1) Elite_Child_Sex_Rings (16) Elizabeth Taylor (1) ENERGY (9) Enoch Powell (1) environmentalism (10) Ernst Zundel (1) EUROPE viz. ISLAM (8) EUROPE's FUTURE (7) European Parliament (1) EUROPEAN UNION (10) EUROPEAN_IDENTITY (4) Eustace Mullins (10) Evidence for the Afterlife (2) EVOLUTION (9) EXPLORATIONS (1) Ezra Pound (1) Facebook (1) FALSE_HISTORY (2) Fascism (4) Fashion industry (1) FATIMA (9) Female Genital Mutilation (2) FEMINISM (14) FINLAND (2) Fjordman (7) Flight 007 (1) Fluoride (1) Food (11) FRANCE (29) FRANCE viz. ISLAM (2) Francis P. Yockey (5) Frankfurt School (1) Franklin D. Roosevelt (6) freedom of speech (1) Fukushima (2) G7 (1) Gas chambers (1) Gaza (1) Geert Wilders (9) GENDERISM (1) genetically modified organisms (GMO) (8) Georges Bensoussan (2) German National Socialism (14) GERMANY (43) GERMANY viz. ISLAM (2) Gilad Atzmon (11) Global warming (2) Globalism (5) Great Britain (58) Great Pyramid (16) GREECE (2) GREENPEACE (3) Guatemala (1) Guillaume Faye (1) Gulag (3) Gulf War (1) Gulf War Syndrome (1) Guylaine Lanctot (2) HAARP (10) Hans Günther (8) Harry Potter (1) HEALTH (114) HEMP (1) Henry Makow (2) Hidden History (15) HIDDEN HYPNOSIS TECHNIQUES (1) Hiroshima (4) Historical Review (67) History_of_IDEAS (3) HMS Hampshire (3) Hollow Earth (22) Hollywood (11) Holocaust (138) HOLODOMOR_1932-33 (17) Homosexuality (6) Horst Mahler (4) Howard Hughes (1) HUMAN_ORIGINS (1) HUMAN_RIGHTS (2) Humorous (2) HUNGARY (2) HYPERBOREA (7) IAN STEVENSON (13) ICELAND (1) Image of Guadalupe (2) Immigration (15) IMPORTANT (5) INDIA (24) IndoEuropean (12) Indonesia (4) Infrasound Weapons (1) Intellectual_freedom (1) Intelligence (15) Intelligent design (8) International Criminal Tribunal (3) INTERNET (2) INTERRACIAL_RELATIONS (1) INTIMIDATION (3) INVENTIONS (3) IRAN (11) Iranian regime violence (1) IRAQ (21) IRAQ_war (11) IRELAND (1) ISLAM (325) Islam in Europe/America (92) ISLAM in RUSSIA (1) ISLAM propagandists (4) ISLAMIST INTIMIDATION (24) ISLAMIST_VIOLENCE (40) ISLAMIZATION OF EUROPE (65) Islamophobia (6) ISRAEL (127) Israel Supreme Court (1) ISRAEL-ARAB RELATIONS (9) ISRAEL's_ATOMIC_BOMB (4) ISRAEL/EU RELATIONS (1) ITALY (7) J.Kaminski (4) Japan (2) Jewish History (1) Jewish Question (1) JEWS (110) JEWS/ISRAEL-USA_relations (53) JFK Assassination (27) JFK/RFK (1) Jihad (15) Jo Cox (6) Joe Sobran (4) John Bryant (17) John Lear (3) Journalists (2) Julius Evola (38) Jyllands-Posten newspaper (1) Kafirs (1) Karl Marx (1) Katie King (1) Katyn (11) Kevin MacDonald (37) KHAZARs (1) Knut Hamsun (1) Kurdistan (1) KURDS (1) Lasha Darkmoon (13) Laurel Canyon (4) Layla Anwar (4) LEBANON (3) LEFT (16) Liberalism (1) Lord Kitchener (4) Lord Northcliff (1) Lost Civilisations (2) Lost Technology (1) LYDDA (1) MADELEINE McCANN (4) Magic (1) Magnesium (7) Mahathir (1) Mahatma Gandhi (4) Malaysia (2) Manchester terrorist attack (11) Manipulation (69) MAPS (1) Mark Weber (10) Mass immigration_Multiculturalism (20) Mass_Media (3) Mass-Psychology (3) Massacres (1) May-June 2017 London Jihadist attacks (4) Medjugorje apparitions (3) METEMPSYCHOSIS (17) MEXICO (1) MH370 (2) MIDDLE EAST (44) Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (10) MIND CONTROL (23) MONEY-Banking (8) Monsanto (9) Morality (1) Mormonism (1) Mortacracy (6) MUSIC MAFIA (2) Muslim Brotherhood (5) Muslim Honor Killings (1) Muslim Persecution of Christians (2) MUSLIMS IN EUROPE (71) Mussolini (3) Mysterious (69) Mysterious_SKY (1) Nathuram Godse (3) National Memorial and Arboretum (1) Native Americans (1) Neapolis (1) NESSIE (17) Netherlands (10) New World Order (4) NEW_ZEALAND (1) NGOs (2) Nicolai Sennels (1) no-go zones (2) NOAM CHOMSKY (4) Nonie Darwish (12) North Africa (3) NORWAY (1) Norway massacre (5) NUCLEAR (11) Nutrition (20) Obama (2) Occult Symbols (21) Oklahoma City bombing (7) OLYMPIC_GAMES (13) OPINION (9) Orel_Yiftachel (5) Organized Jewry (6) P. Buchanan (26) PACIFISM (1) PAEDOPHILIA (15) Paganism (2) PAKISTAN (2) PALESTINE 1944-1948 (1) Palestinians (18) PARIS (1) Patrice Lumumba (1) PATRICIA HEARST (2) Patton (2) Paul Craig Roberts (1) Paul Weston (9) PEARL HARBOR (1) Persecuted Christians (7) PERSONALITIES (1) Philosophy of Civilization (1) Photographic_Archive (1) Photography (2) Physics (9) POLAND (5) POLAR REGIONS (30) Poliomyelitis (8) Political Thought (52) Pollution (3) Polynesia (25) Pope Benedict (1) Pornography (2) PORTUGAL (6) PREHISTORY (28) propaganda (3) Prophecies (14) Psychedelics (64) PSYCHIATRY (10) Psychical Research (124) Psychology (6) QATAR (2) QUEBEC (1) Queen Victoria (1) R.R.Rife (10) Race (126) Racism (4) RED_Alert (4) Religion (27) René Guénon (1) Revilo Oliver (16) Richard Dawkins (1) Riyadh address to the Muslim world (1) Robert Faurisson (1) Rockefellers (1) Roger Garaudy (6) Roman Catholic Church (12) Ron Paul (7) Rudolph Hess (1) Ruling_by_CORRUPTION (14) RUSSIA (8) RUSSIAN REVOLUTION (1) RWANDA (31) S. H. Pearson (1) Sabra-Shatila massacre (10) Sandy Hook (1) Sanskrit (1) SAUDI ARABIA (6) Savitri Devi (27) Scandinavia (1) SCIENCE (45) Secret Military Technology (14) Secret weapons (10) Sedition Trial (1) SERBIA (1) sexual freedom (6) Sexualization of Culture (5) Sinister sites (11) Skepticism (1) Slave trade (1) SOUTH AFRICA (4) Space/Apollo_Hoax (54) SPAIN (2) Spengler (6) Spirituality (1) Srebrenica (1) STALINISM (1) State_criminality (8) Steganography (16) Steven Yates (7) STRANGE SOUNDS (4) Subterranean_world (10) SUDAN (2) SUPERNATURAL (16) Surveillance (1) SWASTIKA (33) SWEDEN (11) Switzerland (1) SYRIA (8) Taj Mahal (13) Ted Kaczynski (1) Terrorism (42) TESLA (6) The 1001 Club (1) The Celts (1) The Cultural Integration Initiative (1) The Frankfurt School (1) The Great Flood (8) The Irish Savant (9) The Mass Rape of German Women by the Red Army (1) The Nuremberg Trials (4) The plutonium injections (4) Theo van Gogh (1) Thought of the Right (63) TITANIC (72) Tommy Robinson (1) Torture (1) Tradition (5) Transatlantic Slave Trade (1) Transcendent Experience (6) Tunguska (1) Tunisia (2) TURKEY (7) TWA flight 800 (1) U.S.A. (143) U.S.A. ARMY CRIMINALITY (18) U.S.A. Foreign policy (13) U.S.A. Military (2) U.S.A._HISTORY (2) U.S.A._POLITICS (8) U.S.A._SOCIETY (6) U.S.A.-CIA (12) U.S.A.-Power Structure (6) U.S.S. Liberty (7) UFOs (166) Ukraine (15) United Church of Christ (1) United Nations (3) UNKNOWN_EARTH (2) USA (3) USA_Press (2) USA/USSR_relations (2) USS San Francisco (1) USSR (54) Vaccination (1) VATICAN (12) Vatican II (3) VELIKOVSKY (2) Vernon Coleman (14) Voynich_manuscript (15) WAFA SULTAN (1) War Crimes (35) water (2) Wayne MADSEN (2) WEST (14) WEST viz. ISLAM (10) WEST/ISLAM Relations (22) WESTERN_ELITES (3) White Guilt (1) White phosphorous (1) White Race (2) WILD_LIFE (1) Wilhelm Reich (4) William Gough (10) wind farms (1) Wm F. Koch (8) Women in Islam (7) World Wildlife Fund (8) WORLD_ORDER (57) WWI (6) WWII (98) WWII Aftermath (42) WWIII (1) Younger Dryas Ice Age (4) Yugoslavia (8) ZIONISM (11)

Monday, May 28, 2012

IAN STEVENSON - Reincarnation & biology - INTRODUCTION

IAN STEVENSON - Where reincarnation and biology intersect

1.INTRODUCTION


Children who claim to remember a previous life have been found in most countries where they have been sought. Reports of such children occur frequently in countries and cultures in which the belief in reincarnation is strong: the Hindu and Buddhist countries of South Asia, the Shiite peoples of Lebanon and Turkey, the tribes of West Africa, and the tribes of northwestern North America. We also have many (but fewer) reports of cases from Europe, North America, and elsewhere. I have published some 70 detailed reports of such cases, and, in recent years, several colleagues have published between them reports of another 15 cases.
I have deliberately referred to reported cases in the various countries and cultures that I mentioned. I use this word to emphasize that we have little information about the real incidence of the cases. In the 1970's a systematic survey of cases in a district of northern India showed that about one person in 500 claimed to remember a previous life. There are grounds for thinking that the incidence of cases may be higher in Lebanon and among the tribes of northwestern North America, but we have no figures from surveys that might confirm this opinion.
The cases are certainly found more easily in the non-Western countries and cultures that I mentioned earlier. Their strong belief in reincarnation allows a child who wishes to speak about a previous life to do so without being disbelieved or rebuked as such a child may be in the West. I believe, however, that the reasons for finding cases more readily in some non-Western cultures than in Western ones are deeper than the simple matter of permission for a child to speak about a previous life. This work is not the proper place to consider such an important topic. I would say, however, to Western readers: Do not make the mistake of thinking that because a phenomenon occurs more often in India than in your neighborhood it is no concern of yours. I say this for two reasons. First, a case may have occurred in your neighborhood without you (or I) knowing about it. Second, and more important, if reincarnation should prove to be the best interpretation of these cases, wherever they occur, this would have important implications for all of us.
In most of these cases the evidence consists mainly of statements from informants, often recorded months or even years after the case has developed. Such cases suffer from the serious defect that the accuracy of the informants' memories may have diminished with the passage of time; even worse, the two families concerned in a case may have mingled their memories and given the child more credit for accuracy in its statements than it deserves. It is possible to exaggerate these sources of weakness, but it is foolish to ignore them. In a small number of cases, however, we—by which 1 mean my colleagues and myself—have been able to reach the scene of a case within weeks of its development. In a still smaller number—only about 1% of the 2600 cases in our collection—someone, usually a member of our team, has made a written record of what the child has stated about the previous life before anyone verified these statements, and we have then verified them ourselves.
During my first visit to Sri Lanka in 1961 I investigated the case of Wijeratne (*), who had a severe birth defect said to derive from a previous life. (An asterisk after the name of a subject means that the monograph has a relevant figure or figures.) A few months later—on the other side of the world, in Alaska— I studied the cases of Charles Porter (*) and Henry Elkin (*). They were Tlingits who had birthmarks respectively related to a fatal stabbing with a spear and a gunshot wound. Despite this early introduction to the occurrence of birth defects and birthmarks in these cases, it took several years before I fully appreciated the importance of this type of case. Once I had this insight, I conceived the plan of collecting the reports of many such cases into a single large work.
The cases having birthmarks and birth defects are important for three reasons. First, the birthmarks and birth defects provide an objective type of evidence well above that which depends on the fallible memories of informants. We have photographs (and occasionally sketches) which show the birthmarks and birth defects. And for many of the cases, we have a medical document, usually a postmortem report, that gives us a written confirmation of the correspondence between the birth- mark (or birth defect) and the wound on the deceased person whose life the child, when it can speak, will usually claim to remember. As I shall explain later, despite the obvious difficulties that the concept of reincarnation poses for Western thought in general and modern science in particular, the birthmarks and birth defects in these cases do not lend themselves easily to explanations other than reincarnation.
Second, the birthmarks and birth defects derive importance from the evidence they provide that a deceased personality—having survived death—may influence the form of a later-born baby. I am well aware of the seriousness—as well as the importance—of such a claim and can only say that I have been led to it by the evidence of the cases.
Third (and perhaps most important), the cases with birthmarks and birth defects provide a better explanation than any other now available about why some persons have birth defects when most persons do not and for why some persons who have a birth defect have theirs in a particular location instead of elsewhere. We need to judge this claim against present knowledge of the causes of birth defects. Research on birth defects has identified several causes of them: genetic factors, certain viral infections, and chemicals (such as thalidomide and alcohol). Yet these and other recognized causes account for less than halt of all birth defects. (The figures assigned to birth defects of "unknown causes" vary in different series but range between 43.2% and 70%.)
Even taking account of the identified medical causes, modern medicine has nothing to say about why a particular person has a birth defect when another per- son does not. Indeed, modern medicine, with its reductionist and mechanical approach to illness, rarely recognizes a person as anything more than the behavioral expression of his or her body. From this perspective, there is no person other than the body. Thus, if someone is born with a birth defect, physicians nearly always attribute this to chance. The cases of this work suggest that for some birth defects we can say why a person has a birth defect and why the birth defect is in one location instead of in another.
Scientific publications have a rule that is sound, if austere: An author should not state his or her conclusions before presenting the evidence that supports them. I have departed from this rule because I think my readers need to remember, as they read further, the three different values of the cases with birthmarks and birth defects: They provide objective types of evidence, they suggest the influence of a discarnate personality on a later-born baby, and they help us understand why, in some cases, a person with a birth defect has it at a particular location.
In the preceding paragraphs I have mentioned birth defects more than birthmarks and will now say something further about the latter. Unlike birth defects, nearly everyone has a birthmark. In fact, one survey showed that the average adult has about 15 birthmarks on his or her body. Yet except for a few rare instances of pedigrees showing the inheritance of birthmarks at the same location, nothing is known about why a person has a birthmark at one location instead of another. As with birth defects, the cases of this work suggest an answer to that question, at least for some birthmarks.
Furthermore, most of the birthmarks that 1 describe differ from the kind of birthmark that almost everyone has. These latter are small areas of increased pigmentation that are called nevi by physicians and moles by most laypeople. Some of the birthmarks of the cases 1 describe are of this type, but most are not. Instead, they are hairless areas of puckered, scar like tissue, often raised above surrounding tissues or depressed below them; a few are areas of decreased pigmentation. Some are bleeding or oozing when the baby is born. Those that resemble nevi and moles in appearance are often larger than "ordinary" nevi and also often occur in unusual locations.
The birthmarks and birth defects occur within the context of a case that nearly always has other features. Not all of these figure in every case, and the first thai 1 shall mention is rare. A case may begin when a person—usually an elderly one who believes death is approaching—expresses a wish to be reborn to a particular couple who, the dying person believes, will make good parents. The person may express a further desire to change some physical trail so that in the next life he or she would, for example, be born without flat feet. Predictions of these kinds occur with some frequency among the Tlingit of Alaska and also among the lamas of Tibet. People of other cultures, so far as my experience goes, rarely make them.
The next feature in the development of a case is often a dream or dreams in which a deceased person appears and expresses an intention to be reborn to particular parents. I call these announcing dreams. The dreamer is usually a woman who will be the mother of the baby in whose body the announcing deceased personality intends to reincarnate. Sometimes other members of the family, or even friends, may have announcing dreams. Although such dreams occur in many different cultures, they are particularly prominent features in the cases of the Tlingit of Alaska and the Burmese. The time of their occurrence varies in different cultures. Among the Tlingit, the announcing dream usually occurs just before the birth of the child in question. In contrast, among the Burmese the dream nearly always occurs before the conception of the child. This accords with the Buddhist belief, at least in Burma (now called Myanmar), that once conception has occurred the deceased personality becomes tied to the developing embryo and can no longer communicate with other persons through dreams. Recognizable announcing dreams rarely occur in the cases of Sri Lanka, the United States (other than the North American tribes), and Lebanon. In Sri Lanka and the United States, there are few "same-family" cases, by which I mean that the subject of the case and the person whose life it will claim to remember belong to the same family. Therefore, if a mother-to-be or other person did have a dream about a discarnate person, the dreamer might not recognize the person dreamed about, and so noth- ing comprehensible could be announced or remembered. As for Lebanon, the Druses of that country and surrounding countries believe that persons cannot exist incorporeally (until the Day of Judgment). According to their belief, a person is reborn in a new physical body the instant he or she dies; this leaves no time for sending messages in dreams.
A variant of the announcing dream occurs that I call a departing dream. In such a dream, a person who has died appears to a member of his or her family and tells the dreamer in what family he or she will reincarnate or perhaps has already reincarnated. In a few cases, the information thus conveyed has enabled the family of the deceased person to locate and meet the newborn baby said to be the reincarnation of that person.
When a baby is born, its parents will immediately notice any major birth defect. They may, however, overlook birthmarks, especially if they are small. Much depends on the care with which they examine the baby. This, in turn, varies with the importance they give to identifying the baby as a particular person reborn. Some cultures, such as those of the Tlingit of Alaska and the Igbo of Nigeria, attach great importance to such identification. In those cultures, if you had been, for example, a famous warrior or even a successful trader, you can pick up some of your previous prestige as you are reborn—provided, that is, that your parents recognize you for who you were. This may require careful examination of a baby for birthmarks. I remember from my early work in Alaska an elderlyTlingit totem-pole carver who deplored to me that no one of his tribe any longer knew how to examine babies for birthmarks. He might have been even more dis- appointed with the Indians of Asia, many of whom do not expect to find birth- marks on babies and may miss many because they do not look for them.
In our investigations of these cases, we require that one or more informed adults testify that he or she noticed the birthmark immediately after the child's birth or, at most, within a few weeks of the birth. Sometimes we have been shown a boy of, say, 8 years of age who had numerous marks on his body, from insect bites, cuts, abrasions, and furuncles, as well as a possible birthmark. The parents have not always been sure which, if any, of these marks was present at the child's birth.
The fourth feature in the development of a case occurs when the child (whom we should now call the subject) begins to speak, or soon afterward. If a child is going to speak about a previous life, it nearly always begins to do so between the ages of 2 and 4. A few may begin earlier and before they have learned to speak coherently. They may mispronounce words and use gestures to communicate what they want to say. At first, what they say may make no sense to the parents, who only understand the child's words when it can enunciate clearly. A few children do not speak until after the age of 4. I studied the case of one child in Lebanon who had some dreams about a previous life when he was about 6, and then said almost nothing about it until he was 12 years old; but he was exceptional.
In most cases the child continues to talk about the previous life until he or she is about 5 to 7 or 8 years old. At this age the memories usually appear to fade. This, however, is a matter difficult to judge, and it seems that some children continue to remember the previous life, but stop speaking about it. They "go under- ground," as it were. This may happen especially with a girl who could speak loquaciously about having a husband and children up to the age of 8 or 10; but at a later age, the girl would be embarrassed, maybe even compromised, if she continued to talk as if she were a married woman.
Most of the children speak about the previous life with an intensity, even with strong emotion, that surprises the adults around them. Many of them do not at first distinguish past from present, and they may use the present tense in referring to the previous life. They may say, for example: "I have a wife and two sons. I live in Agra." Although some children make 50 or more different statements, others make only a few but repeat these many times, often tediously. At the other extreme, some children whom adults have identified as a deceased person reborn (perhaps on the basis of dreams or birthmarks) make no statements at all about the previous life with which they are identified.
The content of what the child states nearly always includes some account of the death in the previous life. This is particularly true if the death was violent, but occurs also—less frequently—when it was natural. Beyond that, the child usually speaks about the family of the previous life. Remembering the parents of that life, the child may use some phrase like "my real parents" to distinguish the parents of the previous life from its parents. The child often asks, and frequently importunes, its parents to take it to the previous family. Sooner or later most parents accede to these requests, partly to appease the child and partly to satisfy their own curiosity about the accuracy of what the child has been saying. Critical neighbors who hint that the child is narrating fantasies may further stimulate the child's parents to have it vindicated against such aspersions.
If the child has given sufficient and adequately specific details, especially of proper names and places, it is usually possible to identify a deceased person the facts of whose life closely match the child's statements. (We call this person the "previous personality," a phrase that acknowledges a terrestrial existence while allowing that the personality is no longer tied to a physical body; I may use the term even when no matching deceased person is found, but is only conjectured.) If a previous personality is found whose life corresponds to the child's statements, we speak of the case as "solved." In many cases, however, the child's statements are not sufficiently specific or, for other reasons, no matching person can be found. Such cases are "unsolved." They are difficult to interpret. In many respects they have features similar to those of solved cases, but in the absence of verified details they may be nothing but fantasies.
If the child's parents know or find the family to which the child has been referring and the two families meet, they understandably exchange information about what the child has said and how much of that is correct or wrong. The child may also recognize spontaneously (or on request) various persons, objects, and places known to the previous personality. I attach little importance to these recognitions because of the strong possibility that persons present could give the child cues, albeit without intending to do so. The informants themselves often give the child's recognitions great weight in their appraisal of the case, and I have known informants to reject an entire case because the child—perhaps by then much frightened by a crowd of onlookers—failed to recognize them.
The first three features in the development of a case (if they occur)—prediction of rebirth, announcing dreams, and birthmarks or birth defects—fix in the parents' minds a belief about the identity of the child in its previous life. This entails the risk that they will encourage or even guide the child to speak about the previous life of the person identified. I have known a few cases in which a parent has damaged an otherwise good case by overenthusiastic instigation of the child to speak about the presumed previous life. The best assurance we have against the frequent occurrence of such behavior lies in the comparative indifference of most of the parents (in the Asian countries) to what the child states. If a child has a birth defect, they—believing in reincarnation—attribute the defect to some previous life; it does not matter much to them which previous life it may have been. Moreover, a substantial number of parents, far from encouraging their children to speak about previous lives, take measures to suppress such expressions. In India, we found that 4I'< of the parents in a series of cases had done this. The parental measures of suppression have no observable effect. The children nearly always stop speaking about the previous lives (and seem to forget them) between the ages of 5 and 8 whether they are suppressed or not. The endeavors at suppression, how- ever, probably pacify the parents.
There are several motives for such suppressive measures. In India it is widely believed—without any evidence whatever—that children who talk about previous lives are fated to die young. In addition, parents often object to the content of the previous life the child describes. If the parents belong to the middle levels in social and economic terms and the child talks about a previous life in a much higher station, they may not wish to hear the child repeatedly bragging about having many servants and demeaning the clothes and food they are providing for it. Equally unwelcome would be talk about life at a much lower level, such as that of a street-sweeper, or about some sordid murder.
Mention of these last types of statements brings me to the fifth important feature of the cases: the child's unusual behavior, by which I mean behavior that is unusual for the child's family, but harmonious with what can be known or conjectured about the person of whom the child speaks. If the child recalls a previous life in superior social circumstances, it may refuse to participate normally in the life of its family. I have known children of lower caste Indian families who, believing that they had been (and in their view still were) Brahmins, would refuse to eat their family's food, which they considered polluted. Conversely, a child remembering the life of a street-sweeper may show an alarming lack of concern about cleanliness.
Phobias, nearly always related to the mode of death in the previous life, occur in about 35% of the cases. A child remembering a life that ended in drowning may be afraid of being immersed in water; one who remembers a life that ended in shooting may show a phobia of guns and loud noises. If the death occurred during a vehicular accident, the subject may have a phobia of automobiles, buses, and trucks. These phobias often manifest before the child has begun to speak. There is no model for them in other members of the family, and the child has undergone no experience since its birth that could account for the phobia; hence the possibility that it derives from the previous life, as the child, when it can speak, says it does. As with phobias following a trauma in this life, the phobias of these children tend to diminish as they become older.
Philias also occur often. They frequently take the form of a desire or demand for particular foods (not eaten in the subject's family) or for clothes different from those customarily worn by the family members. Under this heading also come instances of cravings for addicting substances, such as tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs that the previous personality was known to have used.
A few subjects show skills that they have not been taught (or sufficiently watched others demonstrating), but which the previous personality was known to have had.
In cases of what we call the "sex-change" type, the child says it remembers a previous life as a person of the opposite sex. Such children almost invariably show traits of the sex of the claimed previous life. They cross-dress, play the games of the opposite sex, and may otherwise show attitudes characteristic of that sex. As with the phobias, the attachment to the sex and habits of the previous life usually becomes attenuated as the child grows older; but a few of these children remain intransigently fixed to the sex of the previous life, and one has become homosexual
Particularly vivid examples of unusual behavior occur in subjects who claim to remember previous lives as natives of a country different from that of their parents. Examples of subjects of such "international cases" occur often in Burma. We have studied the cases of at least 20 Burmese children—now all adults—who said when they were young that they had been Japanese soldiers killed in Burma during World War II. None gave sufficient details to permit verification of its statements. All, however, showed a number of traits that I call "Japanese." By this I mean that they behaved in ways that were typical of Japanese people (especially Japanese soldiers) at the time of World War II. Such traits include industriousness; insensitivity to pain; complaints about the heat and the spicy food of Burma; and demands for raw fish, sweet foods, and strong sweet tea. (The Burmese drink a weak tea without sugar.) In all these behaviors these children differed markedly from their parents and siblings.
The deaths remembered by the children are predominantly violent. The overall percentage of violent deaths in the previous life is 51%, but the incidence varies (in solved cases) from a low of 29% among the Haida of northwestern North America to a high of 74% in Turkey. These incidences far exceed those of violent death in the general populations of the countries where the cases occur.
As I mentioned, the children usually remember the mode of death in the previous life, especially if it ended violently. And they often remember the other persons concerned in the death—usually murderers. The children often show strong animosities and attitudes of vengefulness toward these persons, especially if they happen to meet them. The animosity may generalize to other members of the same group. For example, a child in India who remembered a previous life that ended in murder by a Moslem might show a hatred for all Moslems.
Many of the children express memories of the previous life in their play. Some children play with other children toward whom they assume the role of the adult person whose life they remember. Thus, a girl who remembered a previous life as a schoolteacher would assemble her playmates as pupils and play at instructing them with an imaginary blackboard. A child who remembered the life of a garage mechanic would spend hours under a family sofa "repairing" the car that it represented for him.
A few children enact in their play the mode of death in the previous life, especially if it ended in suicide. One child who remembered a life that ended in suicidal hanging had the macabre habit of walking around with a piece of rope attached around his neck. Two children who remembered drowning themselves used to play at drowning.
I find it convenient to subsume all the various types of unusual behavior these children show under the collective term "behavioral memory," which distinguishes this kind of memory from the cognitive memories and mental images of events that find expression in the child's statements about the previous life. The behavioral memories, such as phobias and likings for particular foods, often last after the child can no longer remember any of the imaged memories.
Readers may not appreciate from what I have described that remembering a previous life is almost never a pleasant experience. Too often the children are troubled by confusion regarding their identity, and this becomes even more severe in those children who, conscious of being in a small body, can remember having been in an adult one, or who remember a life as a member of the opposite sex. To these tormenting awarenesses may be added a tearing division of loyalties between present and previous families.
The cases of the children who claim to remember previous lives have four features that occur so regularly that I have presumed to call them "universal." These are: the early age of speaking about the previous life (between the ages of 2 and 4); the later age of ceasing to speak about the previous life (usually between the ages of 5 and 8); a high incidence of violent death in the previous life; and frequent mention of the mode of death in the previous life.
Other features vary, sometimes widely, from one culture to another. I have already mentioned the relatively high incidence of announcing dreams in Burma and among the Tlingit of Alaska, and their paucity in the cases of Sri Lanka and the United States (other than tribal groups). Similarly, the incidence of cases of the sex-change type varies widely. In Burma about 26% of cases are of this type, and the percentage of such cases is also high in Nigeria (18%) and Thailand (13%). In India, however, sex-change cases comprise only 3% of the total; and in Lebanon and among the tribes of northwestern North America sex-change cases seem not to occur at all. There is a similar, although narrower range in the median length of the interval between the previous personality's death and the subject's birth. This extends from only 4 months among the Haida of northwestern North America to 34 months among the Igbo of Nigeria.
Our investigation of a case of this type begins as soon as we can reach its scene. Ideally, we would like to arrive there before the two families concerned have met, but this is rarely possible. As I mentioned, we sometimes do not reach the case until months and even years after its development. I have said that the case usually begins when the subject is a young child; but he or she may be an adult before we arrive at the scene of the case. If the subject has a birthmark or birth defect, the case is still worth studying, although it is obvious that the avail- able witnesses will be fewer and their memories of the development of the case probably weaker than those of informants we meet while a case is still fresh. The delay in investigating the older cases partly accounts for the paucity of information that will be found in my reports of some of them (in the monograph).
When we do reach the case—be it early or late—we begin with interviews on the side of the subject and its family. We interview the child (if it will talk with us), its parents, and such other persons as can provide firsthand testimony about the child's statements and any unusual behavior it may have shown. These may be older siblings, grandparents, teachers, and other informed persons. We examine, sketch, and photograph the child's birthmarks or birth defects. We ask for any written documents, such as identity cards, diaries, or horoscopes, that may pro- vide exact records of dates.
Next we go to the family of the claimed previous life (if the case is solved) and conduct a series of interviews with members of the family, who must, similar- ly, be firsthand witnesses of what they describe. A particularly important part of the inquiry is concerned with any previous acquaintance between the two families or the possibility that they had some mutual acquaintance (even if they themselves did not know each other). We want to exclude as well as we can the possibility that the child might have overheard other persons talking about the details con- cerning the deceased person of whom the child has been speaking.
In the cases with birthmarks and birth defects, we have spared no effort to obtain postmortem reports or other documents that establish the location of the wounds on the deceased person concerned. These records were made before the subject was born and without any thought of their use for our research. The med- ical documents have great value in themselves. In addition, as I shall explain later, they tend to increase confidence in the accuracy of the testimony of informants for most of the cases for which we have no medical documents.
Ahead of my readers lie 13 chapters—most of them about children who claimed to remember previous lives and who had relevant birthmarks—that they will read before coming to Chapter 15, in which I discuss the several possible interpretations of these cases. These interpretations are the ones that seem most pertinent to me, but there may be others that I have not been able to imagine. I think it will help readers if I summarize these interpretations now. Readers may thus be thinking about them as they study the case reports ahead.
One must first be adequately confident about the authenticity of each case. Is the account given here an adequate report of what actually happened? Whenever I think of the word authenticity, I remember that informants tried to recall events that happened weeks, months, and sometimes years before they spoke with me. Their memories were imperfect and their biases often obscure. With rare exceptions they spoke to me through interpreters; the interpreters tried their best to give a full translation, but inevitably something was lost, or perhaps distorted. My note-taking, even after many years of practice, was imperfect. Next, when writing the case reports I had to select from my field notes what to include
•in a published report. (A second selection occurred in the preparation of this synopsis; but I have already exhorted readers to reach no firm judgment without studying its parent monograph.) Given these important sources of error, what defenses do we have against them? There are several. First, whenever I could, I obtained the testimony of several informants whose statements I could compare. Second, I had the good fortune, for most cases, to have interpreters who worked with me for many years and who shared my interest in exactitude. Finally, the cases, even of widely separated cultures, show some similar features. I must admit, however, that in the end the reader has to accept my assertion that I would not have published these case reports unless I believed that they are authentic. This does not mean that I claim all details are accurate, only that what the reader can examine corresponds adequately to events that happened.
Given the authenticity of the cases, what are the next steps toward a rational explanation of them? We must first consider normal explanations. Among these there is the possibility that the child's family had mistakenly identified a deceased person whose wounds happened—just by chance—to correspond, more or less, to birthmarks on their child. They then decided that their child was the reincarnation of this deceased person; and they encouraged the child to think this also, until the child came to believe it. All this could be entirely innocent; but it can happen. I have described elsewhere one case (Kenedi Alkan) that developed in this way, and there may be a few others not known to me. I do not think there can be more than a few. I say this partly because the parents—surprising as this may be to many Western readers—are often slow to identify their child with a deceased person; and partly because the correspondence between wounds and birthmarks and the child's correct statements about the life of the deceased person usually leave no doubt that the correct previous personality has been identified.
Suppose that we find an indisputable correspondence between wounds on a deceased person and birthmarks (and other features, such as statements) of a child. How shall we explain the correspondence? Suppose further that the two families had no knowledge of each other before the case developed. We now have to consid- er what are called paranormal interpretations. The first of these is that the correspondence between birthmarks on the child and wounds on the identified deceased person have occurred by chance and that the child has obtained the information included in its correct statements about the deceased person by extrasensory perception. The principal difficulty with this interpretation is that the children con- cerned in these cases show no ability for extrasensory perception of the kind required in most cases, except in connection with their claimed memories.
A second paranormal explanation supposes that a discarnate personality controls or "possesses" the subject and imposes memories of its life on the child. This interpretation does not explain the almost invariable fading or amnesia of the child's apparent memories between the ages of 5 and 8 years. Why should possessing personalities all withdraw their influence, as it were, when children are at about the same age? This interpretation also does not explain the birthmarks, unless we suppose that the possession occurs before the child's birth. We then may ask how this situation would differ from reincarnation.
A third paranormal explanation supposes that the child's mother, knowing about the deceased person's wounds, somehow reproduces them on her baby. This is the process known as a maternal impression, and I shall give examples of it and discuss it in Chapter 3. Suffice it to say here that such a process entails that the mother would also impose the principal features of the concerned deceased per- son's personality on the child, so that it would identify with that person and utter statements apparently derived from the person's memories of his or her life. I find this explanation plausible to a certain extent. It could not, however, apply to 25 cases that I have investigated in which the child's mother had no knowledge of the deceased person's wounds. It also supposes that the mothers have more time, inclination, and ability to impose an identification on a child than I think they have.
If we reject all the foregoing interpretations and can think of no other, we may consider reincarnation the best one. We should not decide that it is the best however, until we have carefully appraised and rejected the others. I will repeat and amplify these interpretations in Chapter 15.
I do not expect my readers to accept readily the idea that the mind of a dead person can influence the form of a later-born baby. In order to make this idea easier to assimilate, I describe in the next two chapters ways in which images in the mind of a living person may produce local changes in that person's own body and, less often, in the body of another living person. After these two chapters I turn to the descriptions of the birthmarks corresponding to wounds (or other marks) on deceased persons.
I will conclude this chapter now with a few remarks about my presentations of the case reports, which will avoid later unnecessary repetitions or digressions in the text.
In its statements the child is expressing what certainly seem to it to be memories. This may not be the view, at least initially, of its parents, and it may not be that of my readers. It would, however, be tedious for me to keep reminding my readers that I am referring to "claimed memories" or "seeming memories." I have therefore often omitted such qualifying words as ostensible, claimed, and so on. This does not mean that I intend to beg the main question of this research, which is whether the claimed memories are real memories or have some other explanation. By real memories I mean mental images that correspond to events that other informants say occurred.
When I describe a birthmark or birth defect on a subject, it should be under- stood that—with rare exceptions—no one else in the child's family has a similar abnormality. In the few cases in which the subject and previous personality belong to the same family and a genetic factor might account for the subject's abnormality, 1 will mention this possibility.
Unless I note exceptions, the families concerned in the cases in India are Hindus; those of Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand are Theravadan Buddhists; those of Turkey are Alevis (a Shiite sect of Islam); and those of Lebanon are Druses. The Igbos of Nigeria and the natives of Alaska and British Columbia are usually Christians formally; but they nearly all adhere more or less to their traditional religions, which include the belief in reincarnation.

No comments:

Post a Comment