OLD SOULS: THE PAST-LIFE PHENOMENON
December 18, 2010 5 Comments
by Tony Harrington
If the belief that what we do in the past defines who we will be in the future, then for a million Americans (give or take a few), there are centuries-worth of experiences from which to pluck our current moral fiber.
According to a recent “Pew Forum” survey, approximately 24% (1 in 4) of Americans believe in Reincarnation. Of course, this was based on church-going folk so the end-result could be higher or lower if the survey was conducted outside the confines of an already spiritual group of people.
The survey surprisingly discovered that black people believe in reincarnation at a higher percentage (34%) than white people (21%) while Hispanics (29%) filled in the middle ground. Why Asians were not included in this study was not answered for. Overall, the results paint a picture of a vast landscape of those who believe that they were once someone else.
Perhaps they were rulers of kingdoms, powerful and rich. Maybe they were peasants or great military leaders. Or perhaps their life was just as mundane as their current existence and they died of natural causes.
It is hard to grasp the concept that our life, our current life, was preceded by another whose memories we retain locked in our subconscious. Yet, many religions and belief systems incorporate reincarnation into their doctrine and accept it as a part of existence. Some cultures believe that we are constantly reborn again and again until we achieve perfection while others believe that we are reborn as a penance for sins and crimes committed in our past life/lives until we atone for them and only then will Heaven be open to us.
Is “Past-Life” a true phenomenon though? Enough people claim to have experienced things that would lead them to answer that question with a resounding “yes”. But scientifically speaking, there is no proof. How does one go about proving something like reincarnation anyway? Some psychiatrists and modern-day “witch doctors” believe that the only way to prove the existence of reincarnation is by hypnotizing willing subjects and guiding them back through the modern-day, past the point of their conception, and back further until their subconscious mind opens up on the other side of their current existence and reveals a world and a life that is foreign to the conscious mind but that is familiar and comfortable to the subconscious.
I have a friend who for the longest time would have panic attacks when confronted with the notion of swimming. She wouldn’t even take baths (she would shower) because the fear of drowning was so overwhelming. She recalls that as a child she would swim in the ocean, splash in the pool and take bubble baths. Seemingly overnight she acquired a crippling fear of drowning. It started when she was twenty-one and has continued into her late thirties though there was no reason for the fear. It just appeared. After several years of sitting out on family vacations to the beach, relegating herself to having to unwind in a hot shower versus a hot bath, avoiding swimming pools and the occasional bird bath and any other standing body of water she decided she had endured enough and went to see a doctor.
The doctor couldn’t explain the sudden fear, there was nothing wrong with her physically so he suggested that she visit a psychotherapist for the sole purpose of being hypnotized to cure the fear. She had been to a hypnotist before to quit smoking and lose weight and was comfortable enough to visit one to help with her sudden and irrational fear of drowning.
She went under and the hypnotist ended up leading her through a past-life regression session to determine the cause of the fear of drowning. And wouldn’t you know it, allegedly my female friend was a man in a past life who was in the Navy and at the age of 21 he fell overboard and drowned. My friend was speaking to the hypnotist as if she was this man and not a 35-year-old mother of three. She spoke of serving on the battleship, combat that she had seen and how she had too much to drink with her buddies and in a drunken haze hit her head on a low beam and the last thing she remembered was the sound of water all around her.
Of course when I say “her” in the above section, I should indicate that my friend was speaking as an “him” since she had never been in the Navy, never socialized with drunken sailors on a battleship, and did not drown in the ocean after walking into a low beam and knocking herself out.
This excursion into a past existence did little to cure her fear of drowning, but in her mind it offered an explanation as to how she suddenly became afraid of something she once enjoyed. As she reached the exact age of the time she died by drowning in her past life, her current consciousness reconciled that past event and manifested itself with a new crippling fear.
Do I believe it? This is where it becomes difficult being a skeptic. I want to believe it, because it was experienced first-hand by a friend, someone I consider credible and who had been just as skeptical as I am. She is still a skeptic when it comes to many things which lends some credibility to her story. If it happened to someone who had experienced seeing monsters, being possessed, and encountered every possible paranormal phenomena, then I would have written it off as just another story in the book of crazy.
Still, as much as I want to believe 100% that this experience is accurate I can’t. The power of suggestion is very strong, this is the very basis of hypnotism. It is post-hypnotic suggestions are what makes us want to stop smoking, quit eating, or do whatever goal we set out to do when we set the appointment with the hypnotist. I have a very difficult time understanding how someone can get “hypnotized” in the first place. I can’t imagine that it is possible for someone to have that much control over your mind like they were Lamont Cranston and you were some bumbling crook.
So is it real? I am sure to my friend it is very real as well as to those millions of people who have experienced past-life regression therapy sessions. To me it is unfathomable that we would retain the knowledge of a life we lived prior if reincarnation itself is at all possible. If we are born again why do we retain the memories which are stored in a physical brain which does not go with us when we die?
Personally I do not believe that we retain any knowledge of past lives nor am I 100% sure in the existence of past lives in general. Do any of our readers have experience with this phenomenon? Have any of you visited a therapist for past-life regression sessions?
Share your experiences with us so that they may be stored on the internet for many lives to come.