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Monday, May 28, 2012

IAN STEVENSON - Reincarnation & biology - VARIOUS ABNORMALITIES/DISCUSSION

 IAN STEVENSON - Where reincarnation and biology intersect



21. INTERNAL DISEASES RELATED TO PREVIOUS LIVES


Compared with the abundance of cases whose subjects have birthmarks and visible birth defects, I have found few subjects with internal diseases that correspond- ed to a similar disease in a person whose life the subject claimed to remember. I can identify several possible explanations for this, but there may well be others of which I am unaware.
First, some feature of the skin and the more exposed parts of the body, such as the extremities, head, and neck, may make them more susceptible to the impact of wounds (and other marks) than are the internal organs. Second, the birth defects certainly, and most of the birthmarks that I have described in these cases, are obvious at a baby's birth and easily noticed then or soon afterward. In contrast, most diseases of the internal organs develop slowly and only manifest in later childhood or adulthood. By this time most subjects of these cases have for- gotten the previous life, and the life of the previous personality lies even farther back in time. Informants may fail to make a connection between a later-developing illness in the subject and a similar one from which the previous personality suffered. Third, in the countries where I have found most of these cases, medical facilities are still not well developed; moreover, informants of these countries are less knowledgeable about the details of illnesses that they or their family members may have than is the average layperson in more developed countries. Consequently, when I have asked for the cause of someone's death, I have often been able to learn no more than that he or she died of "some fever" or "old age." Finally, the comparative meagerness of our data about internal diseases may derive from my own early neglect of this aspect of the cases when I first began to give attention to birthmarks and birth defects.
Even so, I have notes of some relevant observations of internal diseases, and when I came to tabulate these, I found that in 25 cases the subject had shown symptoms that were similar to ones from which the concerned previous personali- ty had suffered. In some of these cases the subject showed the relevant symptoms in childhood for a few months or years only, and then, as we sometimes say, he or she "outgrew" them. For example, a subject of Burma, Maung Tin Aung Mo, who remembered the life of a man who had died from a pulmonary disease, probably tuberculosis, coughed a great deal when he was an infant and was suspected of having tuberculosis; but this condition cleared by the time he was 3 years old. I will summarize here two of the cases for which we have the most evidence.
Maung Aung Myint was born in Moulmein-gyun, Burma, on October 22, 1967. His parents were U Thoung Shwe and Daw Khin Shwe. Before Maung Aung Myint's birth, Daw Khin Shwe had two dreams that suggested to her the rebirth as her child of a cousin, Maung Mya Maung, who had been killed when Daw Khin Shwe was pregnant.
When Maung Aung Myint was born, he was quickly observed to have a prominent birthmark under his right nipple (*). He also had a large nevus on his lower back (*). The birthmark near his right nipple corresponded to a fatal chest wound that had killed Maung Mya Maung about 3 months before Maung Aung Myint's birth. The nevus corresponded to a nevus that Maung Mya Maung had had at the same site. In later childhood, Maung Aung Myint developed "red urine," which I believe resulted from blood in his urine (hematuria); Maung Mya Maung had suffered from urinary disease, and I will discuss these abnormalities later.
Maung Mya Maung was born in 1936. When he was a young child, he remembered a previous life and satisfied informants that he had real memories of it. Maung Mya Maung became a hotheaded and pugnacious young man. One day, when he was intoxicated, he and an acquaintance, Maung Kyaw Lay, began quar- reling and continued angrily until Maung Kyaw Lay challenged Maung Mya Maung to a fight with swords. This quickly embroiled their friends, who were also armed. Maung Mya Maung and a single friend then advanced to meet their adver- saries. They found that they were badly outnumbered by the opposing gang. Maung Mya Maung decided to take the offensive and charged at his opponents. One of them was armed with a kind of long spike, and he drove this into Maung Mya Maung's chest. Maung Mya Maung was taken to the Rangoon General Hospital, where he died a few hours later. I was unable to examine the record of his admission to the hospital, but I obtained satisfactory testimony from firsthand witnesses concerning the correspondence in location between the wound on Maung Mya Maung's chest and the birthmark on Maung Aung Myint's chest; I must mention here, however, that the birthmark was just below the nipple and could be considered an auxiliary nipple.
When Maung Aung Myint was less than 2 years old, he began to speak about the previous life of Maung Mya Maung. Because the two families concerned were related and near neighbors, I do not believe that he can have said anything outside the normal knowledge that his parents (and he) would have had of the life and death of Maung Mya Maung. Maung Aung Myint did not remember the anterior life that Maung Mya Maung had remembered when he had been young.
Maung Aung Myint showed a strong identification with Maung Mya Maung and addressed persons Maung Mya Maung had known by the familiar names that would have been customary for him but that were disrespectful when spoken to elders by a young boy. He also had strong vengeful thoughts toward Maung Kyaw Lay, whose nephew had driven the fatal spike into Maung Mya Maung's chest.
Maung Mya Maung had suffered from "urinary disease" that was not further specified. Maung Aung Myint had frequent attacks of "red urine," which was almost certainly due to blood in the urine (hematuria). I was able to examine a record of a treatment he had had in an outpatient clinic for "urinary obstruction." This suggests urinary stones (calculi) as a cause for the "red urine."
Selma Kiliç was born in 1959 in Adana, Turkey. Her parents were Yusuf and Latife Kiliç. When Selma was born, she was quickly observed to have a large red birthmark in the skin of the left side of her lower back (*). When she first began to walk, her mother noticed that she tended to keep her hands on her back and over the area of the birthmark. Neither the birthmark itself nor Selma's tendency to put her hands on it made any sense to Latife Kiliç until Selma was found, at the age of about 7, to have kidney disease.
Selma was about 21/2 years old when she first began to refer to a previous life. Her opening statement occurred when she went out onto the street before her family's house and said that she wanted to find "my mother." When Latife said that she was Selma's mother, Selma replied: "No. You are not my mother." She insisted on being allowed to go to "my mother" and eventually had to be forcibly carried back inside the house.
Selma persisted in her demands to be allowed to go to "my mother," and eventually Yusuf Kiliç suggested to Latife that she let Selma go where she wanted and follow her. Latife did this, and Selma led the way through the streets until she came to a place near a public water fountain, where she said: "There! I have found my mother." Latife, dismayed and perhaps frightened, picked Selma up and took her home. On the following day, Selma's grandmother, with Latife's consent, took her back to the public water fountain. From there Selma found her way to a house where she went up to a woman whom she embraced, saying: "Here is my mother."
Selma's grandmother and the woman Selma addressed as "my mother" exchanged some information. The woman had had a daughter who had died of kidney disease, and this seemed relevant to Selma's birthmark in a way that impressed the woman, who began to cry.
This woman was Emine Zaman, and her daughter, Zehra, had died at the age of about 17 or 18. of kidney disease, in 1958.
It turned out that the two families concerned in the case had had some acquaintance before it developed. Latife knew Zehra Zaman's sister, Kadriye, and when she next met Kadriye she mentioned Selma's identification of Kadriye's mother as "my mother." Kadriye decided to meet Selma and went to see her. Selma recognized her immediately and then described to Kadriye's satisfaction numerous details about the last months, illness, and death of Zehra Zaman. Kadriye later remembered 12 statements that Selma made to her about the life of Zehra, and they were all correct but one, which was doubtful.
I did not obtain a medical record of Zehra's illness, but she was described as having widespread swelling of her skin, and her water intake had been restricted, which indicate that she had edema, of which kidney failure is an important cause. One informant said a doctor in Istanbul diagnosed Zehra as having nephritis, and another said that a doctor in Adana had said she had "a kidney disease."
For Selma's illness I was able to obtain firsthand evidence. A doctor had first told Latife that Selma had kidney disease when she was about 6 or 7 years old; but I do not know on what symptoms he based this statement. Over the next few years Selma continued to be somewhat sickly and complained of pain in the region of her kidneys. In 1969 she was admitted to the Government Hospital in Adana, and we were able to study her medical records of that admission. Her dis- charge diagnoses were "gastroenteritis" and "acute glomerulonephritis." The labo- ratory examination of her urine showed that it contained protein and many red blood cells. Selma continued to have symptoms of kidney disease up to the time of our last information about her, in 1975, when she was 16 years old.
Selma talked often about the previous life when she was young and continued doing so beyond the age when most subjects stop referring to a previous life. Visits with Zehra's family did not sustain Selma's memories, because the visits did not continue after perhaps two occasions. I conjecture that her illness might have kept her memories more in her consciousness than would have occurred if she had been in good health. Among statements that she made to us in 1970, when she was about 11 years old, some were correct, but others were not and appear to have been elaborations and distortions. In the monograph, I have listed and discussed these inaccurate statements.


22. ABNORMALITIES OF PIGMENTATION THAT MAY DERIVE FROM PREVIOUS LIVES


In this chapter I present a group of cases the subjects of which showed pigmentation that was unusual in their family and that corresponded or, in unsolved cases, may have corresponded to similar pigmentation in the person whose life an affect- ed subject remembered. Suggesting that a person's entire pigmentation may derive from a previous life seemed to me, and still seems, more complicated and controversial than pointing out correspondences between wounds and birthmarks or birth defects. Readers should know that I investigated these cases with great skepticism and for a time even considered omitting them from the monograph.
In preparation for reporting the cases of this chapter, I reviewed the medical literature about hair that was said to turn white suddenly or, as the saying goes, "overnight," as a result of some extreme fright. I thought that if hair really can turn white overnight from some sudden emotional disturbance, this would be evidence that a mental cause could alter pigmentation, presumably through a disruption in the metabolism of melanin, which is the principal pigment of the skin. Most dermatolo- gists believe that hair does not turn white overnight; the idea that it does, they believe, arises from the falling out—admittedly often from a psychological shock— of ordinarily pigmented hair. Previously existing white hair is left behind, and its new prominence produces an illusion that the subject's hair has "turned" white suddenly. This explanation may well apply to some cases. There remain other cases, however, to which it could not apply. I refer to instances that were closely observed by competent witnesses who reported no loss of hair in the person affected at the time the person's hair was observed to turn white suddenly. Furthermore, I found two well-documented reports of cases in which subjects had suddenly lost the pigment of part of the skin of their faces (*). I also found one case reported by a physician in which maternal impressions offer the only plausible explanation for the occurrence of albinism in some, but not all, of a mother's children.
When I examined notes that I had made of cases that I had investigated, 1 found that no fewer than 14 of the subjects had been reported to have had pigmen- tation that differed from that of other members of their family but corresponded to that of the person whose life a subject remembered.
U Kalar was a subject who showed a comparative increase in pigmentation. I have not met him, but one of my assistants sent me a report of his case, and another one sent me a photograph showing U Kalar with his brother; and the pho- tograph clearly shows that they had markedly different pigmentations.
U Kalar was born in the village of Soo-dut-gyi near Tawngdwingyi in Upper Burma in (about) 1942. His name means "dark" in Burmese, and his parents so named him because of his complexion and because they believed, as I shall explain, that he had been an Indian in a previous life.
When U Kalar was about 3 years old, in the spring or perhaps summer of 1945, he saw some British soldiers who had returned to Burma after defeating the Japanese Army toward the end of World War II. The British soldiers stimulated memories of a previous life in U Kalar, and he then narrated the following details. He said that he had been a soldier in an Indian regiment of the British Army during its retreat before the Japanese. (This would have been early in 1942. The British had then been pushed back as far as Tawngdwingyi. Eventually, they retreated all the way to India.) The Indian soldier whose life U Kalar was remembering and a companion went off from their company in search of alcohol. Some Burmese villagers offered them drinks and invited them to come to their village, Soo-dut-gyi. Then the villagers got them helplessly drunk and attacked them. (The Burmese villagers presumably wanted the soldiers' weapons.) The Indian soldiers tried to escape, but were caught and killed. The villagers left their bodies where they had killed them.
Soon after, U Kalar,s father, U Maung Sein, happened to pass in his bullock-cart, and he noticed the bodies. He thought they should not be left there and transported them to a place away from the village. U Maung Sein told his wife about the dead Indian soldiers. Later, his wife dreamed that one of the Indian soldiers came into the house and said he had come to stay with them. Not long afterward she became pregnant with U Kalar.
No one could verify U Kalar's statements about how the Indian soldier had been killed, but his father said he was correct in describing how he (the father) had found and removed the soldiers' bodies from where they had been left by their murderers. In order to help readers understand this case, I will remind them that the Burmese are an Indo-Chinese people, and their complexions are nearly always fairer than those of Indians.
U Kalar showed a darker pigmentation compared with other members of his family. I come next to cases in which changes in the opposite direction occurred that amounted, in some of them, to albinism.
Archana Shastri was born in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India, on November 7, 1964. Her parents were Netra Pal and Bhagwati Devi Shastri. Archana was appreciably fairer than other members of her family; her irides, in particular, were said to have been blue when she was born, although they later became a light yellow-brown (*).
When Archana was still a young child, she expressed a longing to go to "her home." She gradually brought out details of a previous life in which, she said, she had been a wife and mother of several children. The whole family had gone for a vacation to a resort hotel that had been destroyed, along with its residents, in a sudden flooding of the river near which it stood.
Archana's statements reminded her family of a great flood (in Kashmir) in which many people had lost their lives some years earlier. A Moslem family, slightly known to Archana's, had been among the victims drowned in the flood. Archana met members of this family and satisfied them that she had memories of the life of one of them, Tahira Khanani.
As a young child Archana showed Moslem habits, such as saying the Moslem prayer (namaz) five times a day.
Tahira Khanam, whose life Archana remembered, had been fair and had had blue eyes.
B. B. Saxena was born in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India, (probably) in 1918. His parents were Ram Charan Lal and his wife, Sudama Kunwar. At his birth B. B. Saxena was noted to be extremely fair in complexion. His hair was almost white, although his irides were brown (Figure 32). He had two prominent birthmarks, one on his neck, which was roundish and looked somewhat like a bullet wound of entry (Figure 33), and another, a hairless scarlike area, at the top of his head (*).
B. B. Saxena began to speak about a previous life when he was between 3 and 4 years old. He said that his name was Arthur and that he had been a "white" soldier who died in "the German war" (World War I). He said that he had two brothers and a mother; his father had died long ago. He himself was a Captain in the Army and died in a battle, during which he was on horseback. (B. B. Saxena pointed to the birthmark on his neck as he mentioned his death in the previous life.) He had been married to an English wife; they lived in a house with a kitchen and employed a cook.
All this seemed strange to B. B. Saxena's parents. His father was a scrivener and law clerk who could not speak English and had little to do with the few English people settled at that time in Bareilly. B. B. Saxena's statements, however, surprised his family less than his behavior did. He played at being a soldier and strutted up and down giving military orders. He also played at games totally unknown to his Indian family, such as leapfrog and hopscotch. He did not like wearing Indian clothes, such as the dhoti, and wanted to wear shorts instead. For food he asked for bread and butter instead of the Indian chapatti. Although his family were vegetarians, he asked for meat. He complained about the cooking of vegetables in fat or butter and wanted his cooked in water. He objected to the chilies and spices so liberally used in Indian cooking. He did not wish to use his right hand in taking food to his mouth, as most Indians did and do, but called for a knife, fork, and spoon.
B. B. Saxena's parents suppressed him from speaking about the previous life, not because they disbelieved him, but because they superstitiously thought that children who remember previous lives die young. Fortunately, the case came to the attention of K. K. N. Sahay, a lawyer of Bareilly whose own son, Jagdish Chandra, had remembered a previous life. Sahay included a brief report of B. B. Saxena's case in a pamphlet in which he reported six other cases, including that of his son. He published this in about 1927. Many years later, I was able to meet not only B. B. Saxena, but also his older brother and older sister, both of whom remembered his statements and unusual behavior as a child.
As B. B. Saxena grew up, he forgot the imaged memories of the previous life, and he gradually became what I may call "Indianized." He nevertheless preserved into middle adulthood some traits that might properly be described as "British." For example, he still preferred to eat with cutlery instead of with his hands, ate bread in preference to rice, and never ate chilies.
In connection with other cases, I have often considered whether the sub- ject's parents, noticing a birthmark, have decided that the subject is the reincarnation of a particular person and then, perhaps unwittingly, have imposed that identification on the child. I acknowledged earlier that this explanation has some force with many cases, and it may indeed be the correct one for a few of them. In the case of B. B. Saxena, however, I find it absurd. In the 1920s when B. B. Saxena was at the peak of making his statements and showing his "British" behavior, Gandhi's "Quit India" movement was steadily gathering force. No Indian family would have gained any merit by claiming to have an English Army officer reborn among their children. Apart from this. Ram Charan Lai and his wife would have had scant experience with the British from which they could have learned how to coach a child to imitate English behavior, especially the games that B. B. Saxena played, which were completely unknown to his family.
In conclusion, I will mention that the British Army had a cantonment in Bareilly during the period with which we are concerned in this case. Some soldiers from that cantonment served in France and later in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). It is therefore possible that B. B. Saxena remembered the life of a British soldier who, after having been stationed in Bareilly, had fought and been killed in World War I.
Before 1 began to investigate the cases of children who claim to remember previous lives, I had studied published reports of some cases, which I found most- ly in somewhat obscure books and newspapers. Among these reports two from Burma described blond children who, to judge by the reports, had given convinc- ing evidence of having been Englishmen in a previous life. Although precise dates were not given for the second case, I could estimate that the subject had been born in Meiktila, Upper Burma, around 1904. I thought that in the late 1960s he might still be alive. I therefore asked a correspondent, the late Dr. R. L. Soni, if he would make inquiries about this subject in Meiktila, which is about 120 kilometers south of Mandalay, where Dr. Soni lived. Dr. Soni said he would enquire about the case that interested me, and he did this. He did not find that case, but his informants brought him to the much more recent one of Maung Zaw Win Aung.
Maung Zaw Win Aung was born in Meiktila, Upper Burma, on May 9, 1950. His parents were U Tin Aung and Daw Kyin Htwe. He was the first of the 12 children they eventually had.
Maung Zaw Win Aung had a moderately severe degree of albinism. His complexion was fair and his hair blond (Figure 34). His irides were light brown. He had nystagmus (rapid involuntary eye movements) and also suffered from sensitivity to light (photophobia). Both these symptoms are typically found in albinism. In addition, the form of his eyes was much closer to the usual form of the eyes of Caucasians than it was to the usual form of the eyes of the Burmese, most of whom have eyes of Mongolian form (Figure 35). (In eyes of Mongolian form the distance between the eyelids tends to be less, and the fold of the upper eyelid is less prominent than in eyes of Caucasian form.)
Almost as soon as he could speak, Maung Zaw Win Aung began to say that he had been an American aviator whose airplane had been shot down and had crashed near Meiktila. He said he had a companion in the airplane, but there was ambiguity—perhaps due to limitations of the Burmese language—as to whether he remembered being the pilot of the airplane. (Because he later played at being the pilot of an airplane, we could suppose that he was then remembering this role.) Maung Zaw Win Aung made a number of other statements about the previous life of which the most important was that his name was John Steven. He also mentioned how he and his fellow pilots drank alcohol, sometimes when they were on bombing missions.
Maung Zaw Win Aung could not describe the airplane that he had been in when it crashed. Nor was he able to state the military unit to which he belonged, the rank he had, or the kind of uniform he wore. He did remember that the airplane he flew was not based in Burma. From the information that he furnished, it was not possible to trace any person corresponding to his statements. These were, however, plausible. American fighter-bombers, stationed at a base near Calcutta, aided the British as they advanced into Burma against the Japanese early in 1945. The fighting for Meiktila was particularly severe, and the Japanese shot down some of the American bombers. Maung Zaw Win Aung's statements were therefore credible, but in most details they remain unverified.
As a young child Maung Zaw Win Aung showed several behaviors that were unusual in his family but could be considered "Western," by which I mean that they harmonized with Maung Zaw Win Aung's statements that he had been an American aviator.
He was in the first place nostalgic for America and said he would return there if he could. He extolled America as a much better place in which to live than Burma. He expressed anger at the Japanese. He wanted Western types of clothing, such as shoes, trousers, and a belt. He was fascinated with airplanes and for many years said that he would later become a fighter pilot. As I mentioned, he played at being a pilot. He resisted taking food to his mouth with his hands (which nearly all Burmese people do) and ate with a spoon until he was about 12 years old. He did not like the spicy food of the Burmese and asked for milk and biscuits. He seems to have had a strong desire for alcohol, but he never expressed this as a young child.
A prominent feature of Maung Zaw Win Aung's behavior when he was a young child was an alternation in his moods. At times he would speak boastfully about the bombing raids in which he had participated. Then he would swing to an attitude of repentance and say that he had sinned in killing so many persons. He seemed to want to approach Buddhist monks as if they could give him absolution for his war crimes, as he then saw his conduct at such times. (At that young age he did not understand that there is no doctrine of forgiveness in Buddhism, but he might have mistaken the monks for Western priests; both groups wear long robes.)
As Maung Zaw Win Aung grew into later childhood and youth, he still had some memories of a better life in America, but he was obliged to confront the life he had to live in Burma. Sometimes he tried to escape from unpleasant features of the "present life" by dwelling on the memories of the previous one. They, howev- er, made him sad and sometimes even seemed to bring on a severe chest pain. At our first meeting in 1970, he summed up his feelings by saying: "I am dominated by my surroundings." Eventually, he resolved to become fully Burmese, and I think he succeeded. He entered medical school, subsequently qualified as a physi- cian, and then married. His marriage was a happy one, and at the time of my last information about them, he and his wife had had a son—of normal Burmese pigmentation and features.
When Maung Zaw Win Aung was about 10 years old, his mother dreamed that a Western woman came to her and asked to be born into her family so that she could be near her brother. Daw Kyin Htwe was pregnant at the time of the dream, and she later gave birth to a blond girl who was given the name Dolly Aung. Dolly Aung was also an albino. She was quite blond, although her irides were a light brown. She was short-sighted and suffered from nystagmus. The external form of her eyes was Caucasian (*).
Dolly Aung never spoke about a previous life. She did, however, exhibit some of the "Western" traits, such as in preferences of food, manner of eating, and desired clothing, that her older brother had shown. She was also strongly attached to him, as he was to her.
Daw Kyin Htwe subsequently gave birth to two more blond boys, each birth being preceded by a dream of a blond man. These children had eyes closer to the Caucasian than the Mongolian form. The older one also had shown some indica- tions of "Western" traits, but both these later-born children were still young when I had my last contact with the family.
All four of the family's blond babies weighed appreciably more at birth than any of the other children, who had normal Burmese pigmentation. (Western people are, on average, appreciably larger and heavier than Burmese people.)
I know that this case lends itself to quick dismissal, even to ridicule. It can easily be concluded that U Tin Aung and Daw Kyin Htwe each carried a gene for albinism—each being, as geneticists say, heterozygous. (They produced albino children from four out of twelve pregnancies, close enough to what we should expect from genetic factors alone.) The parents, deciding these blond children must have been Westerners in previous lives, then guided them toward such an identification. I do not think this a sufficient explanation of all the facts of which we should take account. I am unable to believe that Maung Zaw Win Aung's par- ents had any desire, even if they had the capacity, to impose Western identifications on their children. But is any other interpretation better?
If we interpret the case as one of reincarnation or—taking account of all the blonds in the family—of several instances of it, we can imagine an American aviator being killed in Burma and reborn in a Burmese family; his sister and then two brothers or friends follow him into the same family. This explanation would account for the Caucasian form of the subjects' eyes and for their large weights at birth. What are we to make, however, of the severe degree of albinism, complete with ocular symptoms, that the blond children showed? We cannot imagine anyone with Maung Zaw Win Aung's visual disabilities qualifying to become a wartime aviator. In short, if Maung Zaw Win Aung did have a previous life as an American aviator, he might have been fair, but he could not have been an albino. So if we adopt reincarnation as an explanation for the case, we must acknowledge that in the process of being reborn the aviator overdid—bungled, in effect—the influence he had on the pigmentation of the baby in whose body he was to reincarnate.
Interpreted as instances of reincarnation, the cases of Archana Shastri on the one hand and U Kalar on the other suggest that a mental influence from a discarnate personality can induce slight to moderate diminutions or augmentations of pigmentation in embryos and fetuses. They presumably would do this by interfering with the metabolism of melanin at some stage. The commonplace phenomenon of suntanning teaches us how sensitive the processes of skin pigmentation are. Perhaps—still speculating about reincarnation—we may suppose that in certain instances the mental influence we are conjecturing damages the metabolic processes and interferes so much with the metabolism of melanin that albinism results.
In the monograph I describe seven other cases of blonds in Burma who communicated that they had been Westerners in a previous life or whose parents, interpreting what the children said and how they behaved, decided that they had been Westerners. Although these additional cases have less detail than those of B. B. Saxena and Maung Zaw Win Aung, they do add important data of which we must take account. Unfortunately, they do not seem to carry us toward any entirely satisfying interpretation of these cases. I am far from content with our understanding of them.


23. PHYSIQUES, POSTURES, GESTURES, AND OTHER INVOLUNTARY MOVEMENTS RELATED TO PREVIOUS LIVES


In preceding chapters I have sometimes drawn attention to examples of the fea- tures with which I am concerned in this chapter. For example, I described the left- handedness of Ma Khin Sandi and Corliss Chotkin, Jr. with the suggestion that this trait in them might have derived from the previous lives that they remembered or were thought to have had. I also mentioned the unusual gaits of William George, Jr. and Ma Myint Myint Zaw; and I drew attention to Ma Win Tar's habit of kneeling with her buttocks on her heels, as Japanese people do, but the Burmese ordinarily do not.
Although I gave little attention to these features during the early phases of my investigations of the children who remember previous lives, I later obtained a substantial amount of relevant data from which I will extract a few illustrative cases for this chapter.
Ma Khin Ma Gyi and Ma Khin Ma Nge were twins born in the Shan States, Burma, on February 5, 1961. Their parents were U Ba Thaw and Daw Mya Tin.
Before their births their mother dreamed that her parents were going to be reborn as her children.
When the twins were able to speak, they referred to the previous lives of their grandparents. Ma Khin Ma Gyi, who remembered the life of the grandfather, spoke more than Ma Khin Ma Nge, who remembered the life of the grandmother. (The detailed report of their case is in Chapter 25 of the monograph.)
As a young child. Ma Khin Ma Gyi showed markedly masculine behavior and insisted for many years on wearing boys, clothes. More remarkable for the top- ics of this chapter were the differences in the physiques of the twins. From analysis of their blood groups I learned that the twins were fraternal or dizygotic, that is, developed from two ova; therefore, their genetic material was not the same, as it is in identical (monozygotic) twins. Nevertheless, I think the differences in their physiques noteworthy. It was most easily seen in their legs. Ma Khin Ma Nge had thin, gracile legs, whereas Ma Khin Ma Gyi's legs were thick and stocky (*).
Dulcina Karasek was born (probably) in 1919 in Dom Feliciano in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Her parents were Patricio and Georgeta de Albuquerque.
I never met Dulcina, who died in 1937 at the age of about 18. I first learned about her case during my first visit to Brazil in 1962. Even though the case was then already old, I found and interviewed some informants who seemed reliable. Subsequently, I continued gathering information about the case until I believed I had enough to justify a report of it.
In early childhood Dulcina had frail health, but was otherwise not physical- ly remarkable. She was somewhat later than most subjects in speaking about a previous life and may not have referred to it until she was 5 years old or even older. When she did speak about it, however, she spoke often and abundantly. I shall pass over most of what she said, which is not pertinent to the features of sex change and physique in the case.
Dulcina said that she was called Zeca, and she stated details about the life of a cousin of her parents called Jose Martins Ribeiro, who was generally known as Zeca. He had been born in about 1872.
As a young man Zeca had engaged in political and revolutionary activities and experienced adventures that figured in Dulcina's memories. Later, he established himself in a business in the town of Dom Feliciano and married. Then he became ill and died, perhaps of syphilis, in 1897 at the age of 25. His wife was pregnant at the time of his death and later gave birth to their only child.
Dulcina strongly identified with Zeca. She would say: "Do not call me Dulcina. 1 am Zeca, a man, and married." She repeatedly denied that she was a woman and insisted that she was a man. Once she asked her mother: "Why did I change my sex? I was a man and now I am a girl." On another occasion, she looked at herself in a mirror and, turning to her mother, asked: "Why did my eyes change color?" (Zeca had had blue eyes, but Dulcina's were brown.)
Dulcina preferred to wear boys' clothes instead of girls' clothes. It was observed that when she mounted a horse, she did so as a man would instead of as a woman.
As she became older, Dulcina developed a masculine physique. One feature of this came to attention when she was about 9 years old and became ill. In the course of her medical examinations, her doctor had an X-ray made of her pelvis. This showed that she had a distinctly small pelvic outlet. The doctor told Dulcina's father that she would not be able to deliver a baby in the normal way and advised him to have Dulcina sterilized; but this was not done.
After puberty Dulcina grew a great deal of hair on her arms, legs, and upper lip, where she had a noticeable moustache. One informant said that she was "full of hair," and another (who had known her well at school) said that she was "very muscular and quite masculine." Three out of four informants thought that her breasts were underdeveloped; the fourth did not think so.
Despite her masculine physique and gender orientation toward masculinity, Dulcina matured sexually and became enamored of a young man whom she married. She then became pregnant. As the doctor had predicted 9 years earlier, she was unable to give birth to the baby through the vaginal canal. She agreed to a cesarean operation, but immediately after the operation both Dulcina and her baby died.
Jim Bailey was a Tlingit who was born in about 1851 in Alaska. He was identified as the reincarnation of a man who had drowned at Yakutat not long before Jim Bailey's birth. I did not learn how this identification came to be made, but a dream may have contributed to it. Even more, the unusual posture of Jim Bailey promoted the identification. The posture, informants said, corresponded to the position the body of the drowned man had been in when it was retrieved from the water.
The unusual posture derived from permanent flexion of the legs. Jim Bailey could not stand erect, but remained all his life in a crouched-down position (*). His unusual posture led to his sometimes being called "the bear boy of Sitka." (He spent most of his life in Sitka.) He was normally strong in the upper parts of his body, and if a man would crouch down to Jim Bailey's level, he could wrestle with him on equal terms.
I believe that the previous personality of this case developed—at the time he drowned—the condition known as cadaveric rigidity. This occurs especially when death comes suddenly, as it often does in drownings. The muscles become rigidly stiffened.
Until a few years ago I knew of no case parallel to that of Jim Bailey, and I was unsure that I was correct in attributing cadaveric rigidity to the previous personality in his case. In recent years, however, I have studied two other cases show- ing close similarities to that of Jim Bailey. One occurred in Sri Lanka, the other in northern India. The previous personalities in both these recent cases had drowned; and in both cases the subjects assumed postures—one only when asleep, the other when awake—that corresponded to the postures in which the bodies of the previous personalities had been when they were retrieved from the water in which they had drowned. I believe they also had cadaveric rigidity.
Gillian and Jennifer Pollock were identical (monozygotic) twins of England. They were born on October 4, 1958. When they were between the ages of 3 and 7, they made a few statements and recognitions suggesting memories of the lives of their own older sisters, who had been killed in an automobile accident about 17 months before the twins were born. The older sisters had not been twins. The older, Joanna, had been 11 and the younger, Jacqueline, had been 6 when they were killed. Gillian remembered the life of Joanna and Jennifer the life of Jacqueline. (The detailed report of their case is in Chapter 25 of the monograph.)
Joanna, at 11, had been attending school for about 5 years and had learned to hold a pen and pencil properly. Jacqueline, however, had been attending school for only about a year before she died. She had adopted a way of holding a pen or pencil upright, enclosed in her fist. Efforts by her parents and teacher to teach her to hold a pen or pencil properly had failed.
When Gillian and Jennifer first learned to write, at the age of about 4/4, Gillian immediately grasped the pencil properly. In contrast, Jennifer held the pencil upright in her fist, just as Jacqueline had done (*). I followed the cases of the Pollock twins for many years. Even in her twenties, Jennifer still sometimes held a writing implement in her fist.


24. THE FACE AS A TYPE OF BIRTHMARK OR BIRTH DEFECT


It may seem unkind and even rude to include a discussion of faces among chapters about birth defects. I have become convinced, however, that in some cases unusual facial features of a subject correspond to similar features in the face of the per- son whose life the subject claimed to remember. Unfortunately, as with physiques, postures, and gestures, I gave little attention to facial resemblances during the early years of these investigations. What I am able to present on the subject now will have value mainly as a guide for future investigators who should make a systematic study of this and other features of the cases the importance of which I came to appreciate late.
These facial similarities may occur under three different circumstances. First, an unusual facial appearance may correspond to severe damage to the face or its nerves in a previous personality. An example in this category occurred in the case of Semih  (Chapter 18). Semih had a severe birth defect of his right external ear; in addition, the whole right side of his face was underdeveloped (hemifacial hypoplasia), and that gave it an asymmetrical appearance. Second, the face of a subject who remembers the life of a person from a different racial group may resemble the usual face of that group more than the usual face of his or her native race. Third, a distinctive facial feature of the subject, such as a sharply pointed nose or unusually prominent ears, may correspond to a similar feature in a previous personality.
A satisfactory study of similarities in the facial appearances of subject and related previous personalities should include photographs of both faces of a pair to be compared. Unfortunately, I have not often been able to obtain photographs of the previous personalities, but the monograph includes several cases for which I do have such photographs (*).
Ma Hmwe Lone was born in Inbetgone, Upper Burma, on May 21, 1953. She had a congenital paralysis of the left seventh (facial) cranial nerve, which gave a droop to that side of her face and prevented her from fully closing her left eye (*). She also had an extensive hairless scarlike birthmark on the left side of her head above and behind her left ear (*). (The detailed report of her case is in Chapter 18 of the monograph.)
Ma Hmwe Lone remembered the life of a man called Ko Hmwe, who was generally known as a rough, tough sort of person. He quarreled with another man at whom he threw a bomb, which failed to kill his adversary. The latter, armed with a sword, then struck at Ko Hmwe and hit him a fatal blow behind the left ear, killing him almost instantly.
Ma Hmwe Lone's facial paralysis might correspond to injury to the left facial nerve of Ko Hmwe from the blow that killed him. The nerve might have been damaged where it passed through the base of the skull or after it emerged into the softer tissues behind the face.
Maung Mhat Tin was born in Nga-Zun, Upper Burma, on February 27, 1945. (The detailed report of his case is in Chapter 9 of the monograph.) He remembered the previous life of a farmer called Maung Aung Su, who was con- scripted by the Japanese Army (occupying Burma during World War II) to partici- pate in the removal of bags loaded with rice from one town to another. A group of bullock-carts was to move together at night. In order to prevent pilfering of the rice each bullock-cart carried a Japanese soldier, who monitored the driver. The soldier on Maung Aung Su's cart harassed him to such an extent that Maung Aung Su took his sword, killed the soldier, and tipped the dead body off the bullock-cart. All this was unobserved as the line of bullock-carts continued to move ahead in the dark. The next morning, however, the Japanese discovered that one of their soldiers was missing. They quickly identified who had killed the soldier and sentenced him to be executed by a firing squad.
The Japanese executed Maung Aung Su in public, intending thereby to deter any other farmer from interfering with their activities. Maung Mhat Tin remembered that, to prevent himself from showing any fear in public, Maung Aung Su had bitten his lower lip just before he was shot. Maung Mhat Tin had birthmarks of increased pigmentation that corresponded to the bullet wounds that killed Maung Aung Su (*). In addition, his lower lip was grossly enlarged to the point of being slightly malformed (*).
Maung Soe Tun was born in Magwe, Upper Burma, on August 28, 1965. At or soon after his birth, the opening (palpebral fissure) of his right eye was found to be markedly narrower than that of his left eye (*).
After Maung Soe Tun became able to speak, he began referring to a previous life as a woman called Daw Soe, who was a friend of his mother. Daw Soe had lived and died in the town of Myinmu. Toward the end of her life she devel- oped cataracts and had an operation for this on one eye. Maung Soe Tun said that he remembered that the right eye was the one operated on. He said that his vision was poorer in that eye than in his left one. My other informants could not remem- ber on which eye Daw Soe had been operated. If I may reason backward from the birth defect to the related illness—a move that I do not ordinarily approve—I would say that Daw Soe's right eye was the diseased one operated on.
In the category of facial correspondences to the nation or race of the previous life, I have already mentioned the Caucasian form of the eyes of some of the blond and albino subjects in Burma who said that they were American or British flyers in a previous life or whose parents so identified them.
Similar observations were made about some of the numerous Burmese subjects who claimed to remember the previous lives of Japanese soldiers. The informants, but more importantly my long-time interpreter and associate, U Win Maung, remarked from time to time that one of these subjects "looked like a Japanese." Most Burmese and all Japanese people have eyes of the Mongolian form. I do not think that I am a reliable judge of the differences between the face of an average Burmese person and that of an average Japanese one. I respect U Win Maung's opinion sufficiently, however, to recommend a systematic comparative study of such facial differences, with judges who would not know which subjects claimed to have been Japanese in a previous life and which had not.
Maung Nyunt was born in Magyibin, near Tatkon, Upper Burma, on December 4, 1940. Both his parents were Burmese. After he became able to speak, he described the previous life of an Indian pony-cart driver. He said that he had been a Hindu. He gave no name for the Indian whose life he remembered, and the case is unsolved. Maung Nyunt recalled that somehow the pony-cart that he remembered driving tipped back so that the driver fell backward out of the cart, landed on his head, and died instantly.
Maung Nyunt showed when young a number of behaviors that were unusual in his family, but that were typical of Hindu Indians. He was born with symmetrically placed small areas of increased pigmentation at the backs of the helices of both ears (*). These birthmarks corresponded, it is supposed, to holes pierced for earrings, which Hindu pony-cart drivers habitually wore. (He was one of the nine subjects with similar birthmarks on the ears to which I referred in Chapter 8.)
I include this brief report of Maung Nyunt's case in this chapter because his facial appearance was noticeably more Caucasian than Mongolian in form. As I mentioned earlier, the Burmese are an Indo-Chinese people, and most of them have eyes of Mongolian form; Indians, on the other hand, are Caucasians and have eyes of Caucasian form. Unfortunately, the photograph of Maung Nyunt's face that I took did not bring out a difference that seemed definite to me when I looked at him (*).
Ma San San Nyunt and Ma Nyunt Nyunt San were twin sisters who were born in 1964 in the small town of Yanaung, Upper Burma. (The detailed report of their case is in Chapter 25 of the monograph.) After they became able to speak, they made a number of correct statements about the lives of two deceased sisters (not twins) who had been cousins of their father. The sisters were Daw Aye Phyu (the older sister) and Daw Sapai; and they had died—elderly women then—at separate times some years before the twins were born. Ma San San Nyunt remembered the life of Daw Sapai and Ma Nyunt Nyunt San remembered that of Daw Aye Phyu. I was able to obtain and copy photographs of the deceased women (*), which readers of the monograph can compare with my photographs of the twins (*). Those who do this will, I am confident, see a distinct resemblance between the faces of Ma Nyunt Nyunt San and Daw Aye Phyu and one between those of Ma San San Nyunt and Daw Sapai. The most obvious describable feature is the palpebral fissures, which were narrower in Daw Aye Phyu and Ma Nyunt Nyunt San than they were in Daw Sapai and Ma San San Nyunt. There also seems to me a definite similarity in the lower forehead and root of the nose in the faces of Daw Sapai and Ma San San Nyunt. They both show a slight frown that is absent in Daw Aye Phyu and Ma Nyunt Nyunt San.
If future investigators follow my recommendation to make a systematic study of facial resemblances between subjects and previous personalities, they will have to decide at what age of the persons concerned the faces should be compared. Informants have sometimes told me that a subject resembled the person whose life he or she remembered when young, but did not do so when the subject became older. This suggests that the faces of young children—when they are at the peak of speaking about a previous life—should be compared, when this is feasible, with photographs of the previous personalities not far from the time when they died.


25. TWINS WITH MEMORIES OF PREVIOUS LIVES


Since Francis Galton in the late 19th century first proposed the value of twins to help distinguish the effects of "nature and nurture," many studies of twins have been conducted with the aim of identifying the different influences of what we now speak of as "genes" and the "environment." In such studies, differences in concordance for certain diseases between identical (one-egg or monozygotic) twins and fraternal (two-egg or dizygotic) twins have been particularly clarifying. Monozygotic twins have the same genetic material; dizygotic twins are no more alike genetically than ordinary siblings. Significant differences between the two kinds of twins therefore should show the extent of genetic influence in a feature under study. In fact, monozygotic twins may have substantially different uterine experiences, and some differences between them may derive from these. The stud- ies of twins who claim to remember previous lives suggest that other differences between monozygotic twins, and between dizygotic ones also, may derive from previous lives.
In earlier chapters I have referred to three twin cases: those of Ma Khin Ma Gyi and Ma Khin Ma Nge (Chapter 23), Gillian and Jennifer Pollock (Chapter 23), and Ma San San Nyunt and Ma Nyunt Nyunt San (Chapter 24). Later in this chapter, I will present accounts of three other twin cases. I will also add further information about the Pollock twins. First, however, I will describe some results of the analyses of all the twin cases in our collection.
My associates and I have investigated a total of 40 twin cases in which one or both twins spoke about a previous life. To these I have added two additional cases of which earlier authors published reports. There are therefore 42 cases of twin pairs and 84 subjects and 84 previous personalities to be considered. Some of our cases have not been as fully investigated as I should like, but the series is large enough so that we can draw at least some tentative conclusions from it.
I need to emphasize, however, that more than half our twin cases occurred in Burma. The large number of twin cases from Burma may derive partly from the large number of cases of all kinds that we have studied in Burma. The proportion of twin cases among all cases in Burma is, however, much higher than the proportion of twin cases among all cases in India. The overall rate of twinning is not significantly higher in Burma (about 12.5 per thousand births) than it is in the United Kingdom (11 per thousand births). It is possible that being a twin in Burma some- how facilitates the emergence of memories of a previous life. Be that as it may, I need to warn readers that the large contribution to the series of cases in Burma limits the generalizability of the results of our analyses. Burmese cases in general—not just the twin cases there—differ in some important respects from cases in other cultures. In particular, the incidence (26%) of cases of the sex-change type in Burma is much higher than that of cases of this type in most other cultures.
We were able to determine the zygosity—whether the twins came from one egg or two eggs—in six pairs of twins by analysis of their blood groups and sub- groups. Only two pairs were one-egg twins (monozygotic). The series undoubted- ly contains other one-egg twins, but unfortunately we do not know with assurance which ones these are. Close similarity of facial features so that the twins of a pair are often confused, even by persons who know them well, is a good indication of monozygosity; but difference in facial appearance is not a reliable indicator of dizygosity. One study showed that as many as 18% of twins who looked different were nevertheless monozygotic. Later investigations have shown lower figures for such inaccuracies, but it is safe to assume that 5% of twins who look different are in fact one-egg twins. (Indika and Kakshappa Ishwara, whose cases I summarize later in this chapter, are examples of monozygotic twins who did not look alike.)
Among the 42 cases, 71% of the twin pairs were of the same sex and 29% of different sexes, proportions not appreciably different from an estimate that I derived from a large study of the zygosity of twins in the United Kingdom. Among the 84 subjects, 18 (21%) remembered a previous life as a person of the opposite sex or were identified as having had such a life.
The subjects varied widely in the extent to which they spoke about previous lives. In 10 cases both twins spoke to the same extent; in 12 cases one twin said much more than the other; in 13 cases one twin spoke, but the other said nothing; in 2 cases neither twin spoke, but informants identified them as having had previ- ous lives on the basis of dreams, birthmarks, and behavior. (For 5 cases we had DO information on this feature.)
Among the 13 cases in which only one twin spoke about a previous life, in 6 cases the twin who spoke placed the silent twin in his or her previous life, that is, claimed to have known him or her in previous lives during which they were con- temporaries. For example, one twin (of Burma) said that in a previous life he had been an officer in the British Army and that his co-twin had been his servant in the army. The co-twin never spoke about a previous life, but he showed subservient behavior toward the twin who spoke that was harmonious with the different sta- tuses the one who spoke said they had previously had.
In another case of this type, also in Burma, the twins' mother dreamed, about 1 month before she became pregnant with them, that a relative, one Ko Than Aung (who had died 3 months earlier), said that he was coming to live with her and was bringing a companion with him. One of the later-born twins, Maung Kyaw Myint Naing, subsequently spoke about memories of the life of Ko Than Aung. He also told his family that in the discarnate realm, where he (as Ko Than Aung) found himself after death in the previous life, he had seen a villager, U Saing (also discarnate), and had called to him to come along with him (to be reborn as his twin). U Saing had been an inhabitant of the same village, but not a relative of the family; he had died some time before Ko Than Aung. Maung Kyaw Myint Naing's co-twin never spoke about the life of U Saing.
In 36 (86%) of the 42 cases the previous personalities had been related or acquainted (or one twin said they had been). The relationships were of different kinds. Some had been spouses, others siblings, and others more distant relatives, friends, or acquaintances.
There was also a high incidence of a relationship or acquaintance between the previous personalities and the twins' parents. Among the 84 previous personalities, 26 were related to the parents and another 26 were acquainted with them, so that there was some personal connection between the previous personalities and the twins' parents in 62% of the cases. Another 15 previous personalities were strangers to the twins' parents, and 17 may or may not have been strangers.
There was a high incidence (56%) of violent death among the previous personalities of the twin cases, but it was not significantly different from that (51%) of a much larger series of other cases.
In 34 of the 42 cases we were able to learn whether the previous personalities had died at the same or different times. In 62% of the cases for which we had this information, they had died at the same time or at least on the same occasion, such as in a vehicular accident. In the remaining 38% of cases, the previous personalities had died at different times, sometimes at widely separated intervals, even many years apart.
We tried to learn whether a subject who remembered a previous relationship with his or her co-twin in which the previous personality remembered by the subject had been dominant would show dominance over the co-twin. We did not find it easy to obtain sufficiently reliable information on the feature of dominance, especially because some of the twins were still young when we studied their cases, and there had been little time or opportunity for either twin to express any tendency to dominate the co-twin. Nevertheless, among 11 cases for which we obtained satisfactory information on this feature, we found that a dominant twin remembered the life of a dominant previous personality in every instance.
The most important points of the analysis of these twin cases are the high incidence of a personal relationship between the previous personalities of a twin pair and the high incidence of a personal relationship between the previous personalities and the twins' parents. (I remind readers again of the heavy loading of our series of twin cases with instances in Burma.) Next I will present summaries of three more cases of twins, two from Sri Lanka and one from Burma.
Sivanthie and Sheromie Hettiaratchi were born in Galle, Sri Lanka, on November 3, 1978. Their parents were Amarapala Hettiaratchi and his wife, Yasawathie. They lived in the village of Pitadeniya, which is 14 kilometers north of Galle.
Sivanthie was the older twin by 5 minutes. She was born with a prominent birthmark on her abdomen. It was an area of heavily increased pigmentation. When she was about 4 years old, it measured about 2 centimeters in length and 1 centimeter in width at its widest extent (*). Sheromie had no birthmark. From analysis of the twins' blood groups and subgroups we learned that they were fraternal (dizygotic) twins.
Sivanthie was the first of the twins to speak about a previous life. At the age of about 21/2 she began referring to another home where she said that she had a father, mother, and younger sister. She made many statements about the previous life, including descriptions of how in the previous life she had been shot while
jumping into the sea. When she spoke about being shot, she pointed to the birth- mark on her abdomen. She asked to go to "my home" and also spoke about a tem- ple at a place called Yatigala, which is close to Galle and about 15 kilometers from Pitadeniya. When Sivanthie was about 31/2, Yasawathie took her to the temple at Yatigala. There Sivanthie made some further statements about the previous life she was remembering. Also at about this time she said that in the previous life her name had been Robert.
Sivanthie talked about a previous life for about a year during which Sheromie said nothing. Sivanthie's statement that she had been called Robert, together with her description of being shot as Robert and jumping into the sea, identified the person she was talking about as a well-known insurgent called Robert, who had been killed by the police during the insurgency in Sri Lanka of April 1971. Robert had had a close friend called Johnny. Word of what Sivanthie had been saying spread to Robert's family (who lived near Galle) and from them to the family of Johnny. One of Johnny's younger brothers, Gnananadasa. then went to Pitadeniya to see the twins. When Sheromie saw him, she said: "My younger brother has come." Then she too began to talk about a previous life, that of Johnny. Thereafter, the twins often talked about the lives of Robert and Johnny. Although Sivanthie had not earlier identified Sheromie as Johnny reborn, at least to the knowledge of adults in the family, once Sheromie had begun to talk about the life of Johnny, each twin fully recognized the other as from the previous lives.
After Gnananadasa's visit to the twins, they subsequently met other mem- bers of both Johnny's and Robert's families. The twins recognized some of these persons correctly. Sivanthie, unaided according to Godwin Samararatne, who was with her, showed the way along a tortuous path (which 1 later traversed myself) to the place where Robert had tried to escape from the police, the details of which I will mention later.
The families of Robert and Johnny fully accepted the twins as being these men reborn. No member of their families—and we interviewed 12 in all— expressed any doubts concerning the twins' claims.
Before describing the twins' unusual behaviors, I will describe the lives and deaths of Johnny and Robert. Johnny, like Robert, had been an insurgent; he was in fact the leader of the insurgents in the Galle area. He and Robert were best friends and well known in the area to be homosexuals. They were not, however, effeminate. They engaged skillfully in such activities as swimming and climbing trees (an essential skill in the harvesting of coconuts).
Robert had no steady work, but did odd jobs here and there, repairing hous- es or working as a mason. Johnny became employed at a factory for making spectacle frames. Amarapala Hettiaratchi was employed at the same factory, and be became acquainted with Johnny there. He invited Johnny, and Robert also, to attend his wedding.
Robert and Johnny belonged to the underemployed segment of Sri Lankan youth from which members of the 1971 insurgency movement were largely recruited. The insurgents succeeded in concealing their intentions and preparations so well that when they struck—mainly at police stations in the hope of obtaining more arms—the government was to some extent taken by surprise. It reacted swiftly, and within a few weeks the insurgency had been suppressed—brutally and with excessive force, it was generally thought afterward. Robert and Johnny had at first hidden themselves, but then for some reason decided to move away from Galle. Someone tipped the police, who arrested them at the bus station in Galle.
They were taken to the police station and interrogated. Robert had the idea that he might escape by jumping into the sea. He offered to show the police where the insurgents had hidden bombs on a hill, which had a cliff with the sea directly beneath it. The police accepted his proposal. Informants saw Robert with his hands handcuffed behind his back being led to this hill by a group of policemen. A short time afterward, a shot was heard, and the policemen returned without Robert. The police officers later said that Robert had kicked one of them, tried to butt another with his head, and was going to jump into the sea and escape. (This was not necessarily a foolish plan, because Robert was an excellent swimmer and might have survived even with his hands restrained.) One of the policemen then shot him, and his body fell or was pushed into the sea.
The police were so angry over Robert's almost successful attempt to deceive them that, back in the police station, they beat up Johnny until he died. They then hanged his body by the feet and subsequently cremated it. Many of the details I have mentioned—and others—figure in the statements that Sivanthie and Sheromie made.
I have already explained that the twins' father, Amarapala, had known Johnny well and had had some acquaintance with Robert. The circumstances of the deaths of Robert and Johnny were also well known in the community. It is therefore unlike- ly that Sivanthie and Sheromie made any statements about matters outside their parents' normal knowledge. This is not to say that they obtained their knowledge of the lives and deaths of Robert and Johnny from their parents or from any other normal source. The insurgency had occurred about 10 years before Sivanthie began to talk about a previous life, and I think it improbable that she heard references to it that would account for her detailed knowledge of the life of Robert.
The twins' unusual behavior forms as important a part of their case as their statements. They showed several markedly masculine traits. They liked to wear T- shirts and to roll them up above the waist so that their abdomens and lower chests were exposed; Robert and Johnny had sometimes rolled up their T-shirts as the twins did. They sometimes wore pieces of cloth that they would arrange like a man's sarong. They also urinated standing up, as boys do, until their mother checked this. They both liked to climb trees and play with bicycles, generally considered masculine activities; however, they also played with dolls and sometimes at cooking.
In addition to the types of play I have already mentioned, the twins also played at making bombs with clay. When asked of what bombs were made, they mentioned some of the ingredients that would have gone into the crude bombs that the insurgents had made.
The twins also sometimes showed "adult attitudes." They put sticks in their mouths and pretended to be smoking cigarettes. (Robert and Johnny had smoked cigarettes.) They both said they had beards and sometimes stroked their faces as if feeling a beard's growth.
Both of the twins had a noticeable phobia of loud noises, of persons wear- ing khaki (which the police usually wore in Sri Lanka), and of Jeeps, a vehicle commonly driven by the police and army there.
In addition to the prominent birthmark on Sivanthie, the twins showed dif- ferences of complexion and physique that corresponded to similar differences between Robert and Johnny. Sheromie was noticeably darker in complexion than Sivanthie (*); Johnny had been darker than Robert. Robert was shorter and stockier than Johnny; and Sivanthie was shorter and stockier than Sheromie (*).
Indika and Kakshappa Ishwara were born on October 24, 1972, at Weligama, Sri Lanka. Their parents were M. D. Ishwara and his wife, Swarnawathie. They lived in a village about 7 kilometers from Weligama. Indika was born 5 minutes before Kakshappa. I later determined, from analyses of their blood groups and sub- groups, that they were identical (monozygotic) twins. About a year after the twins' birth Indika was found to have a nasal polyp, which to some extent obstructed the airway on the left side of his nose (*). Kakshappa had no nasal polyp.
When the twins were about 3 years old, they began to speak about previous lives. Kakshappa spoke first and said that he had been shot by the police. He made a few other statements that suggested the life of an insurgent. For example, he mentioned a place, Elpitiya, that was known to have been a center of the insurgency movement of 1971 (which I mentioned in connection with the cases of the Hettiaratchi twins). For a reason 1 have never understood, the twins' family laughed at Kakshappa, and he never spoke again about a previous life. His case remains unsolved.
Indika, on the other hand, had much to say about the life that he remembered. He gave many details including names of people and places, and these made it comparatively easy to verify his statements. He said that he had lived in a place called Balapitiya and had attended school in (the nearby town of) Ambalangoda. Other details that Indika mentioned suggested that he was talking about the life of a young schoolboy.
Weligama is on the south coast of Sri Lanka, about halfway between Galle and the city of Matara. Balapitiya and Ambalangoda are on the western coast of the island, 6 kilometers apart. Ambalangoda is about 45 kilometers from Weligama "as the crow flies," but farther by road or rail. M. D. Ishwara had a friend in Weligama who worked in Ambalangoda, and this man, with the details stated by Indika, easily found a family of Balapitiya whose oldest (and then only) son, Dharshana, had died in Colombo after a short illness, on January 24, 1968. He was not quite 11 years old.
Dharshana's father, R. L. Samarasekera, learned about Indika's statements and went to Weligama to meet him. He quickly became convinced that Indika had detailed knowledge about the life of Dharshana Samarasekera. Subsequently, R. L. Samarasekera made two further visits to Indika at Weligama. On the second visit, he brought three other members of the family with him, and Indika recognized them. Indika also visited the Samarasekeras at Balapitiya.
Indika was credited with 36 statements about the previous life, all, so far as I could learn, made before the two families had met. Of these 36 statements, 31 were correct, 1 was unverified, 2 were incorrect, and 2 were doubtful. Some of the statements were applicable to many families in Sri Lanka, but others were much more specific, such as Indika's mention of an older sister called Malkanthie and a person he called "Aunt Chilies." The last person indicated had cooked chilies for Dharshana, who was her nephew. Indika did not state Dharshana's name, at least initially. He did, however, say that in the previous life he had been called "Baby Mahattaya," which translates best as "little master." This had been Dharshana's pet name.
Some of Indika's doubtful and incorrect statements were "near misses." For example, he said that he had a bicycle, which was wrong. Dharshana, however, had a tricycle, and he sometimes used his father's bicycle; in a childlike way Dharshana might have come to think of this bicycle as his own. Another example occurred in Indika's statement that the family had a calf. They owned no calf, but other persons brought their calves to graze on the extensive grounds in the Samarasekeras' compound.
Indika's most surprising statement referred to an event that even Dharshana's family knew nothing about. During his second visit to the Samarasekeras' house in Balapitiya, Indika was noticed to be going around anoth- er house in the same compound as if looking for something on the wall of a con- crete drain. Finally, he found what he was looking for and pointed to the name Dharshana and the date 1965, which had been scratched into the concrete while it was still soft. Dharshana, who did this, had told no one in the family what he had done, and none of them had noticed Dharshana's name in the concrete until Indika showed it to them.
Our investigation of this case began within a few weeks of its development. We reached the scene of the case just a little too late to make a written record of Indika's statements before they were verified, yet soon enough so that the informants were remembering events that had happened recently. I am convinced that the two families had had no prior acquaintance before the case developed. I say this not only because of the considerable geographical distance separating them, but because they belonged to widely different social strata. Indika's family were rural persons; his father was a shopkeeper who could not speak English. In contrast, Dharshana's father was a government employee who spoke English. Apart from these circumstances, Dharshana had been a young schoolboy, virtually unknown outside his family, friends, and school. His death at such a young age was saddening, but included nothing sensational that might have carried news of it to Weligama.
I come now to the important differences in the behavior of Indika and Kakshappa. There were nine of these. Indika was religious, but Kakshappa was indifferent to religion. Indika was calm and gentle in manner; Kakshappa tended to be tough and inclined even to be violent. Indika expected to be addressed respectfully, but Kakshappa was indifferent about how he was addressed. Indika was more intelligent than Kakshappa and had an excellent memory, better than Kakshappa's. Indika liked schoolwork and was good at it; Kakshappa was indifferent to schoolwork and weak at studies. Indika sometimes talked to himself; Kakshappa did not do this. Indika had a phobia for vehicles, but Kakshappa did not. Indika was inclined to be somewhat aloof from other members of the family; Kakshappa was affectionate toward other members of the family. Indika was more fond of chilies than Kakshappa.
Several of these differences require some explanatory comment. Indika's expectation of being addressed respectfully corresponded to Dharshana's status as the oldest son (and during his life the only son) in the family. Indika's aloofness from his family may have derived from his memories of the special status he remembered Dharshana to have had in his family. He probably made matters worse by openly saying that his "Ambalangoda mother and father" (as he called R. L. Samarasekera and his wife) gave him more affection than his parents. (I do not think this was true, but he thought it was and said so.) As for Indika's phobia of vehicles, this may have derived from Dharshana's having observed, about a month before he died, a child run over and killed by a truck. It could also have been related to the fact that when Dharshana became ill, he was transported in vehicles to hospitals, first in Galle and then in Colombo, where he died.
Although they had the marked differences that I have described, the twins got along well together. They were closer to each other than to their older broth- ers. They sometimes quarreled, but if anyone else then intervened, they resisted such an intrusion into their affairs. As the twins became older, some of the differ- ences between them that I have described diminished or disappeared.
As I mentioned, Dharshana had died after a brief illness. His death certifi- cate attributed his death to "viral encephalitis" and "cardiorespiratory failure." The records at the Colombo General Hospital, where he had died, had been destroyed after 10 years. It happened, however, that R. L. Samarasekera had pre- served a piece of paper on which the doctor who had treated Dharshana in Galle had scribbled some notes about the treatment given at Galle. The notes included the words: "Nasal feed 6 hourly given." This shows that Dharshana had been fed through a nasal tube at Galle (and perhaps at Colombo also). I believe that Indika's nasal polyp may correspond to the irritation produced by the nasal tube in Dharshana's nose.
Although they were one-egg twins, Indika and Kakshappa did not look alike; their faces were quite different (*). Indika's face did not resemble Dharshana's, as I could observe in a photograph of him that R. L. Samarasekera made available to us (*).
Maung Aung Ko Thein and Maung Aung Cho Thein were born in Moulmein, Burma, on July 5, 1970. Their parents were U Hla Thein and Daw Khin Kyi. Maung Aung Ko Thein made only two statements about a previous life, and Maung Aung Cho Thein made none. They were identified as being the reincarnations of two persons known to their mother. This conclusion was based on two dreams she had had, as well as on differences in the twins' physical appearances and behaviors.
Maung Aung Cho Thein was identified as the reincarnation of Daw Hla May, a relative of Daw Khin Kyi. She had been a prosperous owner and manager of a family mill. She was Chinese. During her final illness, Daw Khin Kyi had moved in with Daw Hla May and had nursed her until she died.
Maung Aung Ko Thein was identified as the reincarnation of an Indian paddy farmer, Sunder Ram, who had brought his paddy to Daw Hla May's mill to be milled. He had also sometimes worked with his cart on hire for other persons. Maung Aung Ko Thein's two statements referred to Sunder Ram's activity as a farmer and a carter.
Maung Aung Ko Thein had a birthmark, a small area of increased pigmentation on the upper part of the helix of one ear (*). This corresponded to a hole pierced for an earring and was similar to the birthmarks on Maung Nyunt (Chapter 24) and Edward Taylor (Chapter 8). In addition, Maung Aung Ko Thein had markedly darker skin than that of Maung Aung Cho Thein (*). The differences in complexion corresponded to the differences in complexion between Chinese and Indian people. The former are usually light-complexioned, the latter nearly always more heavily pigmented.
The twins showed markedly different behaviors in a number of respects. Of these the most important was the tendency of Maung Aung Cho Thein to act in a superior, dominating manner toward his brother. For his part, Maung Aung Ko Thein seemed to accept unquestioningly his brother's attitude of superiority. Their behaviors accorded with those of the well-to-do mill owner and the poor paddy farmer who had brought his rice to her mill.
I return now to the case of Gillian and Jennifer Pollock. As I mentioned in Chapter 23, they were identical (monozygotic) twins. As do most such twins, they had nearly identical facial appearances when they were young, although in later life they were more easily distinguishable.
Jacqueline, whose life Jennifer remembered, had had a flat mole (nevus) on her left flank, and Jennifer had a similar one at the same location. Neither Joanna nor Gillian had a mole at that location.
When Jacqueline was about 3 years old, she fell, and her face hit a bucket that wounded her on the forehead, above her right eye. The wound required three stitches, and a scar remained. I saw a photograph of her that clearly showed this scar (*). Jennifer was born with a birthmark at the site of the scar on Jacqueline's forehead. A photograph taken at the twins' baptism shows this birthmark (*). It persisted into Jennifer's adulthood (*). Gillian had no birthmark on her forehead. Neither Gillian nor Jennifer had any birthmark that might have derived from the injuries that had killed Joanna and Jacqueline.


26. GENERAL DISCUSSION


Having said earlier in Chapter 15 all that I have to say about the authenticity of the cases and the reasons I have for favoring reincarnation as the best interpretation of the stronger ones, I will add nothing further on these topics here. In this final chapter I will address some of the implications of reincarnation and discuss some of the processes that may be involved, if it occurs.
The concept of reincarnation seems otiose to persons, including many scientists, who believe that present knowledge of genetics and the influence of the uterine and postnatal environments adequately explain, or will eventually explain, all aspects of human personality. I cannot advance the merits of reincarnation as a contributory factor in the composition of human personality by exposing the limitations of genetics and environmental influences, but a brief review of these limitations may make some readers more receptive than they would otherwise be to additional explanatory factors—such as reincarnation.
Genes provide the instructions for the production of proteins or, more accurately, for the ingredients of proteins. If they fail to code for an essential protein or if they instruct for one that is abnormal, a clear-cut genetic disease may result. Examples of these effects are sickle cell disease, hemophilia, and Marfan syndrome. Such diseases are called monogenic, and they comprise a small proportion of all diseases. Geneticists describe other diseases or physical features that have a genetic component as polygenic, meaning that several or many genes must con- tribute to the condition. (Stature is a typical example of a condition said to be polygenic.) As I pointed out in Chapter 17, however, even diseases that seem most obviously genetic, such as Marfan syndrome, show a wide variation in the manifestations of the disorder, not only between members of different affected families, but between the different members of one affected family. To account for these variations geneticists have introduced the concept of "modifier genes," but (as I mentioned earlier) these are for the most part imagined, not specified. Their use evokes memories of the epicycles introduced into Ptolemaic cosmology to account for otherwise inexplicable anomalies in astronomical observations.
I said earlier that genes provide the instructions for proteins. From them alone, however, we have no understanding of how proteins develop their complicated three-dimensional structure. Even less does our knowledge of genes explain how proteins and other metabolites become organized into cells and then into highly differentiated tissues and the complicated organs that comprise our bodies. Present knowledge of genes tells us almost nothing about embryology and morphology, which is the science of the forms that organisms have. Some geneticists are not modest in assuring us that they will in due course supply all the information we need to understand embryology and morphology. This amounts to a promissory note with no immediate cash value, and in the meantime we are free to consider the possibility of other contributory factors.
Geneticists have allied themselves with other biologists who believe that natural selection provides a sufficient explanation of evolution. This neo- Darwinian synthesis now has hegemonic power among biologists. In recent decades a noticeable minority of biologists have drawn attention to the insufficiencies of neo-Darwinism. Defenders of current biological orthodoxy have tried to stigmatize these dissidents as detractors of Charles Darwin. Such pejorative labeling does not, however, answer the objections of the critics of neo-Darwinism; and surely we deduct nothing from the achievement of Darwin by saying that his theory explains much but not all that we need to understand about evolution.
As for the influence of the environment, it has long been held by nearly all psychologists and psychiatrists that infancy and early childhood are times of special plasticity in the formation of a human personality. Events of that period, it is believed, may permanently influence and thus make or mar the personality for life. This belief has a long history. In modern times it was the single belief on which psychoanalysts and behaviorists could agree; both accepted it as axiomatic. Where, however, is the evidence for such an unshakeable conviction? There is none, although there does exist a considerable body of published, if neglected data that show the reversibility of the effects of seemingly damaging events of early childhood. I do not deny that earlier events leave traces that may influence later ones. What I deny is that human personality is more vulnerable in infancy and childhood to the effect of injurious events than it is in later phases of life.
Having drawn attention to the limitation of genetics and environmental influences in early life, 1 need now to state that I do not propose reincarnation as replacing these factors. I regard it as a third factor that may fill some of the gaps in the knowledge we presently have about human personality and, as the cases of this work suggest, about the human body also. I turn now to some of the implications of the acceptance of reincarnation as such a contributing factor.
The most important consequence would be acknowledgment of the duality of mind and body. We cannot imagine reincarnation without the corollary belief that minds are associated with bodies during our familiar life, but are also independent of bodies to the extent of being fully separable from them and surviving the death of their associated body. (At some later time, they become associated with a new physical body.) In saying this I declare myself an adherent of interactionist dualism. This concept has an ancient history, but in recent times perhaps derives most from ideas of William James and Henri Bergson. They suggested that the brain acts as a filter between stimuli reaching it and consciousness, which needs only a limited amount of information. Proponents of dualism do not deny the usefulness of brains for our everyday living; but they do deny that minds are nothing but the subjective experiences of brain activity. How minds and brains interact during life is part of the agenda for future research; but that is equally true of the claims confidently made by many neuroscientists who assert that minds are reducible to brain activity. We need not, however, be misled into mistaking claims for accomplishments.
If dualism be accepted, we must consider where minds would exist between terrestrial lives. I believe that we are obliged to imagine a mental space that, necessarily, differs from the physical space with which we are ordinarily familiar. I think that introspection can show that our thoughts occupy a mental space distinguish- able from physical space, even while we are alive; but I will not review the evidence for that here. What I can say here, however, is that a mental space where dis- carnate personalities might exist between terrestrial lives is not only conceivable, but has already been conceived and described in considerable detail by several philosophers familiar with the evidence of the phenomena now called paranormal.
This space or realm where discarnate personalities might sojourn between lives would be markedly different from that with which we, while living, are familiar. Not having there the aid of our present sensory equipment, our perceptions in that realm would differ greatly from those to which we are accustomed. We should not be without thoughts, however, and indeed mental images might abound. Existence there might have features that would seem familiar to persons who have given more than average attention to their dreams, to persons who have taken such drugs as mescaline and LSD, and to some persons who have come close to death and survived.
If we accept the possibility that a personality can survive physical death and reincarnate, we may ask what features might be transmitted from one life to another. 1 have found it helpful to use the word diathanatic (which means "carried through death") as a term for subsuming the parts of a deceased person that may reach expression in a new incarnation. So what parts would be diathanatic? The cases I have described tell us that these would include: some cognitive information about events of the previous life; a variety of likes, dislikes, and other attitudes; and, in some cases, residues of physical injuries or other markings of the previous body.
The information conveyed, or at least expressed, by the child is much reduced from that of the previous personality. Despite wide variation among the subjects, on the whole they express little of all that must have been in the mind of the person whose life they remember. As I mentioned in Chapter 1, more than a few children, although identified with a particular previous personality through dreams or birth- marks, say nothing whatever in words about their presumed previous life.
The unusual behavior seemingly carried over from the previous life is also comparatively attenuated. This is equally true of the physical phenomena. The baby with birthmarks or birth defects is not born (there seem to be a few exceptions) with the open wounds from which the previous personality died; the baby's body shows marks or defects at the sites of these wounds, but not the wounds themselves (except for occasional minor bleeding or oozing of fluid).
We may understand better the loss through death of some or much of the previous personality by using the distinction between personality and individuality. By individuality I mean all the characteristics, whether concealed or expressed, that a person might have from a previous life, or previous lives, as well as from this one. By personality I mean the aspects of individuality that are currently expressed or capable of expression. For example, if I had learned to speak Swahili in a previous life, but had no opportunity or ability to speak it in this one, an aptitude to do so would form part of my individuality, but would not be part of my personality. If I were to try to learn Swahili in this life, however, the experience of my previous life might make it easier for me to learn the language than it would otherwise be.
I will next consider three ways in which experiences of a previous life might influence the physical body of a new incarnation. Selection of one's parents, when feasible, would be one method. In the cases of William George, Jr., Corliss Chotkin, Jr., and Wijeratne, the previous personalities predicted that they would be reborn to certain parents; and children of the selected parents gave evidence of remembering the lives of these persons. In addition, we have seen in many cases that a previous personality had strong ties of affection to the subject's parents. Our studies of twins especially show this, but many other cases do so also. Bonds of affection may have acted, therefore, to bring a previous personality to rebirth in a particular family, even when no one formally predicted this. The evidence for this makes the cases of the children who remember previous lives parallel in this respect to those of telepathy between living persons. These occur much more frequently between persons having an affectionate relationship than they do between strangers.
A discarnate personality might also influence its next physical body by somehow screening and selecting fertilized ova (zygotes or conceptuses) or embryos. Apart from any other relevant feature, such selection seems to be essential if the personality is not to change sex from one life to another. Even in Burma where 26% of cases are of the sex-change type, some selection of the right physical body would be essential in most cases. I am unable to state how a discarnate personality would achieve this purpose. I may mention, however, the possibility— which has some supporting evidence—that psychological factors may modify the vaginal secretions of a woman to give more or less advantage to Y chromosome- carrying sperms (from which males derive) compared with X chromosome-carry- ing ones. If a discarnate personality can—as some cases suggest—induce unusual cravings in pregnant women, perhaps it can also influence the physical body of a mother-to-be so as to favor or disfavor conceptuses of one or the other sex.
With the two methods of influencing the body of the next incarnation that I have just described—selection of parents and selection of conceptuses or embryos—the reincarnating personality has to accept whatever body its new parents can provide. The third method of influence that I am supposing includes a direct effect of the discarnate personality on the new body. It is the one that the cases of this work mainly suggest. I mean effects on the embryo or fetus that to some extent reproduce the physical attributes of the last physical body. I am refer- ring to birthmarks, birth defects, and some of the other physical features of the subject that correspond to similar ones of the previous personality. Any such direct influence implies some kind of template that imprints the embryo or fetus with "memories" of the wounds, marks, or other features of the previous physical body. The template must have a vehicle that carries the memories of the physical body and also the cognitive and behavioral ones. I have suggested the word psychophore (which means "mind-carrying") for this intermediate vehicle. (I know that many religions that include a belief in reincarnation have words to describe such an intermediate vehicle; I have thought it helpful, however, to coin a new word that would avoid linking our still rudimentary scientific study of reincarnation to any religion.)
The existence between terrestrial lives is therefore, according to this view, a corporeal one, but the psychophore would not be made of the material substances with which we are familiar. I cannot say of what it would be made. To suggest that it would be made of some nonmaterial mind stuff adds little information, but I cannot propose anything more specific.
I mentioned earlier that birthmarks and birth defects are not exact reproductions of bleeding wounds; they might be considered mental scars of such wounds that affect another physical body. The reproductions, however, often lack exactitude. The new body may show an influence from the previous body that exceeds the area involved in the previous body"s wounds. One example of this occurred in the case of Lekh Pal Jatav (Chapter 17). Hukum Singh, whose life Lekh Pal remembered, had all the fingers of his right hand severed, but not its thumb; yet Lekh Pal's right thumb was just as much involved in the birth defect of his right
184 Reincarnation and Biology General Discussion
hand as were his other fingers. Another example of an effect larger in area than that of the original lesion occurred in the case of Selma Kiliç. The previous personality in her case died of nephritis, and Selma also had nephritis. In addition, however, Selma had a large birthmark on her back at the level of a kidney, suggesting an influence from the disease of kidneys in the previous life much more extensive than the area of Selma,s kidneys. These and other cases suggest to me that the psychophore has the properties of a field or, more probably, a collection of fields that carry the physical and other memories of the previous life and more or less repro- duce them by acting on the embryo or fetus of the new body. The English scientist Michael Faraday first introduced the concept of a field in physics to assist in understanding the relationship between magnetism and electricity; schoolchildren become familiar with fields when they observe how iron filings organize them- selves around the poles of a magnet. In the early 1920s several European biologists used the concept of a field to help in understanding the successive development from a fertilized ovum of first an embryo, then a fetus, and finally a baby. Morphogenetic fields have been imagined as governing the development of the forms that organs and the whole body of which they are the parts will have. The cases whose subjects have birthmarks and birth defects suggest that discamate personalities may sometimes influence the morphogenetic fields and modify a physi- cal body toward some correspondence with that of a previous life.
Readers may reasonably ask whether there exists any evidence for a vehicle such as the psychophore apart from the cases of children who remember previous lives and who have birthmarks or birth defects. The answer is not much. Nevertheless, certain cases of apparitions furnish some relevant evidence. Most apparitions appear fleetingly, and the perception lasts only a few seconds; there is no interaction between the percipient and the perceived figure. Such cases have value, but not as evidence of a corporeal entity; they may derive from telepathy between the percipient and a living person, the latter (usually called an agent) being often in some extremely stressful situation, perhaps on the edge of death. There is, however, a small number of cases in which an apparitional figure stays longer where it is seen and reacts appropriately to the person or persons who see it, perhaps moving from one person to another with seeming purposefulness. Sometimes the appearing figure remains long enough so that it can be seen from different angles and even walked around. It is difficult to explain such cases as these without supposing that the appearing figure is present and somehow incor- porated. We cannot say how it is incorporated, except that it must be in some non- material substance.
Some additional evidence for a vehicle that I have called a psychophore comes from the occurrence of phantom limbs in congenital amputees—persons born with parts of limbs missing. Until the last few decades such phantom limbs were thought to be rare—and by some authors impossible. Nevertheless, among 101 congenital amputees studied in the 1960s, 18 had phantoms.
Some readers may think I should cite here as evidence of a psychophore the frequent experiences of persons who come close to death and survive and who say afterward that while they were apparently unconscious and near death they moved away from their physical body and seemed to be in a nonmaterial body, one that could perceive other (living) persons, even though these persons could not perceive the experient in his or her new location. Therein lies the difficulty. So long as the experience provides no feature that someone else—some person other than the principal subject—can report, we have no objective evidence of a nonmaterial vehicle. The perceived body seemingly detached from the physical one may be only a subjective mental image.
Apparitional cases that the investigators of these experiences call "reciprocal cases" may provide such objective evidence. In such cases—reports of which are regrettably rare—the primary percipient reports later that he or she traveled to another place and saw and perhaps spoke to a person there, usually a loved relative or close friend. The person he or she claims to have visited later reports hav- ing seen the primary experient (and perhaps spoken to him or her) at the time the primary percipient had the experience.
Acceptance of reincarnation as the best explanation for the cases releases a mass of questions about processes for which we have as yet no answers. A hint toward one factor comes from the high incidence of violent death among the previous personalities in the cases. A violent death is nearly always sudden and unexpected; it is premature, because even an old person killed violently would have lived longer if he or she had not been so killed; and it is nearly always accompanied by physical suffering. An analysis that we made suggests the importance of these features. We sometimes learned (or could estimate) the interval between a fatal wound and the previous personality's death. Among the 62 cases for which we had the necessary information, the interval between the two events was less than 5 minutes in 36 (58%), and less than 24 hours in another 17 (27%). These two groups thus together accounted for 85% of the cases. It seems, therefore that a fatal wounding shortly before death may have a facilitating influence in the occurrence of birthmarks and birth defects that correspond to wounds in a previous life.
This leads to the question of how violence acts as a facilitator. I believe that it does this by concentrating attention on the affected part of the body. In Chapter 2 I emphasized the importance of intense concentration in the occurrence of stigmata, and I believe this is also important in maternal impressions. A person suddenly shot, stabbed, or struck will inevitably concentrate attention on the wounded part. (This may not happen immediately; I know there are cases of wounded sol-diers and athletes continuing their activities for some time after being wounded.)
Increased attention to a part of the body may also figure importantly in birthmarks not related to wounds inflicted violently. 1 can suppose, for example, that Dominic Nwachi (the presumed previous personality in the case of Augustine Nwachi) thought much as he was dying about the swollen, gangrenous toes that were causing his death. Another example of concentrated attention occurs in the cases with birthmarks corresponding to holes pierced for earrings. The piercing is nearly always conducted with some ceremony; often it is a rite of passage that focuses the child's attention on the pierced holes, as do also the earrings that are thereafter worn in the holes.
I do not clearly see an influence from increased attention in experimental birthmarks and birth defects. The person marked or mutilated is on the verge of dying or actually dead when the body is marked or cut. We presume such a person incapable of attending to anything. A few subjects have claimed to have observed their body after dying, and one might suppose in these cases that they gave special attention to any mark or cut made on the body. That is, after all, what the person making the mark or mutilation expects, and it may be that all dying persons give concentrated attention to their dead bodies, but only a few can later remember this.
A further question arises about the morphological correspondence between the mental images conveyed in the psychophore and the parts of the new body that it influences. We have to suppose a close anatomical collocation of the two, not too different from that between a hand and a glove that fits it. Mental images held with concentration may, as 1 have suggested, intensify the influence of the psychophore, but the latter may also convey to the new body abnormalities in the previous personality's body of which he or she could have had no conscious mental image. Gunshot and other wounds to the head from behind could not be seen by a victim before he or she died; nor could wounds on the back. Such wounds could not form part of visually originated mental images. The physical body itself may therefore be able to imprint such abnormalities on the psychophore without pas- sage through a stage of conscious mental imagery.
I have now said the little that I can say at present about processes whereby birthmarks and birth defects corresponding to wounds and other marks on a previous personality occur. It remains for me to conclude by reiterating both some of my disclaimers and some of my conclusions.
Among disclaimers I wish most to emphasize that in presenting the cases of this book I am not presuming to offer an explanation for all birthmarks and birth defects. 1 dare hope that the cause I favor for the cases I have described, which is that they derive from previous lives, may have a wider applicability and throw
.light on other instances of birthmarks and birth defects; but this is a matter to be decided by further research, not by assertion from me. I also repeat that I do not propose reincarnation as a substitute for present or future knowledge of genetics and environmental influences. I think of it as a third factor contributing to the formation of human personality and of some physical features and abnormalities. I am, however, convinced that it deserves attention for the additional explanatory value that it has for numerous unsolved problems of psychology and medicine.
Until now I have said nothing about the potential value of the idea of rein- carnation in reducing the fear of death that is so prevalent in the West. It has been wisely said that the question of a life after death is the most important one that a scientist—or anyone—can ask. I have deliberately kept this aspect of reincarnation in the background until now, because I am well aware that the fear of death may encourage a belief in a life after death. It is true that many of us want to believe in a life after death, but our wish that something may be true does not make it false. We may, after all, be engaged in a dual evolution—of our bodies and of our minds or souls.
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