by Marinus Jan Marijs
The concept of reincarnation is the religious or philosophical belief that each human has a physical body and a non-physical component, traditionally called soul or spirit; and that after the death of the physical body, this non-physical component may persist for a time in a non-physical state; and that, following this interval, it will be reborn in a physical body. The believe in reincarnation is to be found in many cultures such as: The Hindus in India, Buddhist in Ceylon and Tibet, the old Greeks, the Druze in the Lebanon and Spiritists in Brazil. Some southern European Christians believed in reincarnation until the Council of Nice banned such beliefs in 553 A.D. This is rather remarkable if one takes in consideration the episode where Jesus identifies John the Baptist as Elijah. One of the promises of the Old Testament was that the Messiah would come. And one of the signs that the true Messiah has come, according to a passage from Malachi, is that he would be preceded by a forerunner, by Elijah. “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4:5) And when Jesus is identifying himself as the Messiah: “The disciples asked him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ But he answered them and said, ‘Elijah indeed is to come and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also shall the Son of Man suffer at their hand. Then the disciples understood that he had spoken of John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17:10-13). This shows clearly and unambiguous that Jesus believed in reincarnation.
In The Republic, Plato described souls about to be reborn as choosing their future lives. Schopenhauer took it seriously, and Voltaire’s observation that it is no more surprising to be born twice than once is well known. “In Memories, Dreams, and Reflections”, Carl Jung wrote that as a boy he remembered in great detail being a very old man in the eighteenth century.
Probably the best collection of scientific data that appears to provide scientific proof that reincarnation is real, is the work of Professor Ian Stevenson of the university of Virginia. Instead of relying on hypnosis to verify that an individual has had a previous life, he chose to collect thousands of cases of children who spontaneously remember a past life. Professor Ian Stevenson uses this approach because spontaneous past life memories in a child can be investigated using strict scientific protocols.
Professor Stevenson has devoted many years to the scientific documentation of past life memories of children from all over the world. He has over 2500 cases in his files. Many people, agree that these cases offer the best evidence for reincarnation.
Professor Stevenson takes into consideration the following hypotheses:
1.Conscious deceit/ Fraud.
6.Extrasensory perception and personalisation.
7.Actual reincarnation memories.
This very extensive and meticulous investigation delivered a great amount of information which supported the possibility of reincarnation in to a high degree.
For example a case in the Lebanon where a child Imad Elawar talked about remembering his former life. Subsequent investigation of the case showed that forty-seven items of information Imad gave about his former life, such as that he had had a woman named Jamile, forty-four were right. This is just one example and Stevenson’s investigations shows many. Sometimes children show linguistic, artistic skills and talents they could not have learned in their present life. Some have marks on their bodies which correspond to marks on the bodies of the deceased. British psychiatrist Arthur Guirdham collected detailed records of an English woman in his hospital who had recurrent nightmares. Investigation revealed that the patient had memories that corresponded closely to the history of the Cathars in the thirteenth-century France. The language recorded in some of the patient’s diaries is early French, a language which was unknown to her in normal life. Arthur Guirdham writes in ”The Cathars and Reincarnation” (London: Spearman, 1970): ”In 1967, I decided to visit the south of France and to investigate. I read the manuscripts of the13th century. These old manuscripts—available only to scholars who have special permission— showed she was accurate to the last detail. There was no way in she could have known about them. Even of the sons she wrote as a child, we found in the archives. They were correct word for word…. When I first wrote to Professor DuVernoy at Toulouse, he said, “Get in touch with me about anything you want. I’m astonished at your detailed knowledge of Catharism.” I couldn’t say, “I’ve got this by copying the dreams of a woman of 36,….. “
The acceptance of the idea of reincarnation in modern times:
“Recent studies have indicated that some Westerners accept the idea of reincarnation including certain contemporary Christians, modern Neopagans, followers of Spiritism, Theosophists and students of esoteric philosophies such as Kabbalah, and Gnostic and Esoteric Christianity as well as of Indian religions. Demographic survey data from 1999–2002 shows a significant minority of people from Europe and America, where there is reasonable freedom of thought and access to ideas but no outstanding recent reincarnationist tradition, believe we had a life before we were born, will survive death and be born again physically. The mean for the Nordic countries is 22% The belief in reincarnation is particularly high in the Baltic countries, with Lithuania having the highest figure for the whole of Europe, 44%. The lowest figure is in East Germany, 12%. In Russia, about one-third believes in reincarnation. The effect of communist anti-religious ideas on the beliefs of the populations of Eastern Europe seems to have been rather slight, if any, except apparently in East Germany. Overall, 22% of respondents in Western Europe believe in reincarnation. According to a 2005 Gallup poll 20 percent of U.S. adults believe in reincarnation. Recent surveys by the Barna Group, a Christian research non-profit organization, have found that a quarter of U.S. Christians, including 10 percent of all born-again Christians, embrace the idea.” (Wikipedia)
In an interview with Ian Stevenson:
Stevenson: ……. My idea of God is that He is evolving. I don’t believe in the watchmaker God, the original creator who built the watch and then lets it tick. I believe in a “Self-maker God” who is evolving and experimenting; so are we as parts of Him. Bodies wear out; souls may need periods for rest and reflection. Afterward one may start again with a new body.
Omni: Do you disagree with most bioscientists, who hold that what we call mind or soul is actually a part of brain activity?
Stevenson: The assumption that our minds are nothing but our brains appears to receive support when you consider the effect of injury, surgery, a high fever, or one or two drinks of whiskey on our mental processes. Some neuroscientists acknowledge that they have only just begun to show how brain processes account for mental ones. But they claim to know that they or their successors will work it all out. They are sure there can be no other explanation, therefore they consider no other. We are not pledged to follow all the received opinions of neuroscientists, however. Recently, a small number of psychologists and philosophers have begun to ask whether mind can ever be fully explained in terms of brain functioning.
– Alan Turing (the British mathematician and logician, who made major contributions to mathematics, cryptanalysis, logic, philosophy, and mathematical biology and also to the new areas later named computer science, cognitive science, artificial intelligence), wrote after the death of his friend Christopher in a letter to Christopher’s mother “When the body dies the ‘mechanism’ of the body, holding the spirit is gone and the spirit finds a new body sooner or later, perhaps immediately.”
Memories of previous lives ↓
Charles Robertson (English Painter, 1844-1891)
Gustave Léonard de Jonghe – L’admiratrice du Japon 1865
Lombard voorburgwal Amsterdam Cornelis Springer