Monthly Archives: July 2016

Twins with Past-Life Memories

This post is about twins with past life memories. There are some interesting things to say about them. One thing is that in all cases we know about where the previous identities of both twins are known, the previous persons had known each other. Another is that monozygotic or identical twins may differ physically and behaviorally from each other but consistent with the people whose lives they recall.

Ian Stevenson studied 36 pairs of twins, one or both of whom recalled previous lives. With 26 of these pairs, he determined the previous identities for both twins, and of these cases there was a familial relationship between the previous persons in 19 cases and they had been friends or acquaintances in the other 7.

The familial and acquaintance relationships were of various types. Gillian and Jennifer Pollock recalled the lives of their elder sisters (not twins), who had been killed at the same time. Ramoo and Rajoo Sharma recalled having been twins before in another family, in another village. A pair of girls recalled the lives of their grandparents, so one had changed sex. A pair of boys included one twin who had been a wealthy woman farmer and the other a man who had sold her grain. Both twins changed sex, from male to female, in another case, of friends who had been homosexual lovers.

The twins in these cases typically behave as their previous persons did, even when they are monozygotic (single-egg, identical) twins. They also behave toward each other as the previous persons did, and this is sometimes very striking. Gillian acted towards Jennifer as an older sister would, and Jennifer was correspondingly dependent on Gillian. Jennifer, whose previous person had been only 5 years old when she was killed, also held pencils in her fist to write, as her deceased sister had done, whereas Gillian wrote normally.

Monozygotic twins may also be physically different, in line with their previous persons. These differences between monozygotic twins are very important, because they suggest something beyond genetics and environment are influencing them. Stevenson devoted a chapter to twins in Reincarnation and Biology for that reason, and he also discusses twins at length in Children Who Remember Previous Lives.

I want to leave the topic of similarities and differences, though, and take up something else very interesting and important in the twin cases, and that is the implication that the twins had gotten together after death and decided to reborn together. It is hard to see how else to interpret the fact that in all cases where both previous persons are identified, they knew each other. These cases provide the only evidence I know of that suggests that we may meet each other and make decisions together about where we are reborn.

There is a case in which the previous persons may not have known each other, the case of Alexandrina Samona. Alexandrina was identified as the return of her elder sister and she told her mother in a mediumistic séance that she had met someone in the discarnate state and would be bringing her with her as a twin. However, she did not identify her, Alexandrina did not talk about this after she was born, and her twin said nothing about remembering a previous life, so we do not know who she was before, or whether or not they had been acquainted previously.

Stevenson did not learn of any cases in which two previous persons decided before they died that they would be reborn together, and I do not know of one described by anyone else. However, Stevenson mentions a case in which a girl said that she met a village friend in the discarnate state, and they had decided to be reborn together. This is similar to Alexandrina Samona, except that one of the twins recalled acting during the intermission and the twins’ mother had an announcing dream in which the same intention was mentioned.

Besides suggesting that we can meet and recognize each other and make plans together in the discarnate state before rebirth these cases suggest that the decision to become twins is something intentional. The previous persons do not need to have died at the same time or even near the same time. Gillian and Jennifer recalled the lives of sisters who had been killed together, but this is unusual. More commonly the two previous persons died days or longer apart from each other, sometimes in different places, yet managed to find each other.

At the same time, people who die together are not always reborn together. Stevenson has Turkish cases of a man and his wife who were killed at their home on the same night, together with their two children, but reincarnated independently. In this case, the reincarnation of the husband would have liked to have gotten to know the reincarnation of his wife again, but she was not interested, and that attitude on her part may have been a factor here.

Also, although all our cases suggest that the twinning was intentional, in tribal societies like the Tlingit, it is said to be the result of two spirits fighting over one body. I know of no of no reported cases of this happening, though.

Above all, the twin cases show the importance of psychological factors in reincarnation. As we see in other cases, there is no evidence of a force greater than ourselves that determines where we are reborn—or with whom. And they suggest that maybe we can make other sorts of pacts with each other, for instance to be reborn near to each other so that we can more easily encounter each other again. However, I know of no cases of this sort. The twin cases are the only ones that describe meeting spirits and coordinating rebirth. If there are such things as group reincarnations planned in advance, they have so far eluded us, and I think it is more likely that the same psychic links that make it possible for us to find each other in death make it possible for us to find each other in life.

There is something else of theoretical importance that I want to mention before I close, and that behavioral and physical differences between monozygotic twins sometimes show up where neither twin recalls a past life. The classic example like this is the “original” Siamese (conjoined) twins, Chang and Eng, who were very different. What this implies very clearly is that there can be reincarnation without past life memory, so it would be hazardous to assume that people who do not have past life memories have not lived before. For all we know, we have all had previous lives, whether we remember them or not.

This post appeared previously in my Signs of Reincarnation Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/965923533422836/permalink/1220370054644848/

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The Akashic Field and Past-Life Memory

I have been asked about the connection between Ervin Laszlo’s Akashic Field Theory and past-life memory retrieval. Laszlo’s theory is very similar to the Akashic Records of Theosophy but it is couched in more scientific or scientific-sounding terms and is essentially an updated version of that idea, an effort to unite quantum physics and the perennial philosophy of Eastern religions. You can read about it in his book Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything.

Many psychic past-life readers refer to the Akashic Records as the source of the past-life information they produce. Edgar Cayce said that he got some of his information from reading the minds of his clients, but the rest of it (most of it) from the Akashic Records. The Akashic Records have even been identified as the source of information retrieved in regressions under hypnosis. Many parapsychologists like Laszlo’s theory and assume that it can account for past-life information without having to allow for reincarnation. For that, see the book, The Akashic Experience: Science and the Cosmic Memory Field.

Laszlo himself believes that his idea accounts for the reincarnation cases. He says “phenomena suggestive of reincarnation consist of impressions and ideas recounted by people about sites, persons, and events they have not and could not have encountered in their present lifetime” (Science and the Akashic Field, p. 123). On the next page he acknowledges that birthmarks appear in some cases, but then concludes that rather than reincarnation, we retrieve past-life memories when “our brain becomes tuned to the holographic record of another person in the vacuum.” “Past-life experiences,” he says, “signify the retrieval of information from the A-field [Akashic Field], rather than the incarnation of a spirit of a deceased person.”

In other words, past-life memory is not actually memory at all, but rather is an accessing of information in the Akashic Field or Akashic Records through clairvoyance or some similar psychic process. Laszlo is not the only person to find this idea attractive, as I have noted. But how realistic is it? Does it really account for the past-life memory we see in the reincarnation cases we have studied?

I think it might if all that were involved in past-life memory were the retrieval of information about a deceased person, if it were only “impressions and ideas” about “sites, persons, and events,” as it is for some psychics. But that is not all there is to it, by far, for many of those who experience the memories, and when we try make this idea account for the whole range of phenomena we see in reincarnation cases it quickly becomes clear that it just doesn’t work.

For one thing, people with past-life memories aren’t simply recounting information, they often feel directly connected with the earlier life. Their experience is of a continuity of consciousness and they may refer to the person they were before in the first person, as “I,” not “he” or “she.” Along with this may come a variety of different emotional connections, so that they not only have feelings appropriate to a situation, they have feelings toward people similar to the feelings shown by the people whose lives they recall. In the child reincarnation cases that are solved (the previous persons identified), when the children are taken to meet the former family, they behave toward members of that family as the previous person did.

Solving a case allows us to compare the rememberer with the deceased person whose life he recalls, and we can see all sorts of other connections too, such as similarities of interests and of thought patterns, temperaments, etc. There may also be a variety of similar behaviors, sometimes expressed in play and sometimes in unlearned skills, including language skills.

It is very hard to see how the psychological connections, emotional affinities and apparent behavioral carryovers could be explained in terms of acquisition of information alone. People in favor of the Akashic Records theory of past-life memory just ignore these things and they may not even be aware that they must take them into account. From the way Laszlo describes past-life memory, he certainly doesn’t seem to be aware of them!

There are often physical things in reincarnation cases that must be explained as well. Laszlo mentions birthmarks, but it is not at all clear how his information-retrieval idea would account for them. Probably he assumes that they are coincidences only, or perhaps the things that prompted a child to search the Akashic Records for information on a deceased person that corresponded to them. This is the position taken by some parapsychologists. But this too fails when you realize all the different ways that physical signs can be represented in reincarnation cases. It is not just birthmarks and birth defects, but resemblances in facial characteristics and overall physical structure, even sometimes internal diseases. In solved reincarnation cases, those with identified previous persons, these go  way beyond any plausible coincidence, but are consistent with the idea of reincarnation.

However, in order to provide a proper response to the Akashic Field theory of past-life memory retrieval one must not only show where it fails, but offer an alternative theory in its place. I have been working on such a theory, parts of which I have written about in other posts. I develop that theory at greater length in my Signs of Reincarnation course and book.

My theory begins with the observation that past-life memory resembles this-life memory very closely. It has many if not all of the characteristics of this-life memory and may be talked about in the same terms. This leads me to think that past-life memory really is no different than this-life memory in principle. Materialist researchers assume that memory is stored in the brain somehow, but there are many problems with this idea, and they have never been able to show where it is stored. It seems much more likely that the brain gets involved with the how memories are recorded and retrieved, but doesn’t actually store them.

So where besides the brain could memories be stored, if they are not retrieved from the Akashic Records? I believe they are registered and stored in our subconscious minds. From there, they make their way from time to time to our conscious awareness. I believe this is true of all memories, and that helps to account for why people with past-life memories report that they have exactly the same feel as memories of their present lives, and why past-life memory retrieval is like present-life memory retrieval in many ways (for instance, in that it is often associational). Psychics also say that there is a difference in feel between things they remember and things they learn about clairvoyantly.

If our memories are stored in our minds, and if our minds are not generated by our brains, then our minds could survive the death of our bodies, carry on after death and become associated with (reincarnate into) other bodies later on. When that happens, if I am right, the memories of our past lives would still be in our subconscious, and would only require the right conditions to present themselves to conscious awareness.

The continuity of the mind or consciousness from one body to another would also explain why past-life identities are experienced as continuous with the present life and would account for similarities in psychological traits, temperaments, etc. I believe it could also account for repetitive behavior patterns like skills and even for the transmission of physical traits, if the mind itself is responsible for conveying these to the new body. There is nothing very extraordinary about this last proposal. We know the during our present lives our minds can affect our bodies in these ways, and all I am proposing is that we allow for a reincarnating mind to do the same. So I believe I have a theory which handles the full range of the reincarnation case data much more successfully than the Akashic Field or Akashic Records idea does.

This post was written originally for my Signs of Reincarnation group on Facebook. See https://www.facebook.com/groups/965923533422836/permalink/1086849804663541/

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Announcing and Departure Dreams

This post is about announcing and departure dreams in reincarnation cases. These topics have come up in several earlier posts, but we have not had one devoted to them specifically. There is a lot to be said about them, though.

Announcing dreams are dreams had by pregnant women or sometimes their husbands or someone else close to them in which a spirit presents itself, often declaring its intent to be reborn to them. Departure dreams are dreams that occur to a member of the previous person’s family, in which the spirit lets them know he has been reborn and may tell them where to find him.

In announcing and departure dreams, the spirit usually appears as the person he or she was in the previous life, not as a child, although the child born after the dream may bear some resemblance to that person. Sometimes the spirits bear physical marks related to the previous person which correspond to birthmarks on the baby. Almost always the sex of the person in the announcing dream is the sex of the baby, so at the very least, these dreams are successful in predicting the sex of the child to be born.

Announcing dreams are among the most common signs of reincarnation in tribal societies and sometimes past-life identifications are made on the basis of them alone. The anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor recognized the importance of announcing dreams as signs of reincarnation and in his book Primitive Culture, first published in 1871, mentioned reports of them from the Tlingit (an American Indian tribe of Alaska) and the Lapps. Ian Stevenson heard of these dreams everywhere he studied cases, but interestingly, there were cultural variations in their content, their timing, and how common they are.

Stevenson noticed that Tlingit announcing dreams tended to represent a person known to the dreamer, generally a relative, arriving at her home. In a twist on this theme, a woman who had lost her father and several other relatives dreamed that her father got off a boat carrying suitcases and visited her at a bakery she was running. In the dream, she explained to him that he was dead, but he replied that he was coming to stay with her and so were others of her deceased relatives. Shortly thereafter she gave birth to her first child, a boy, and went on to have several more children. None of these children related any past-life memories, but often in cases with announcing dreams, they do.

The statement of intention to be reborn to the dreamer is typical of announcing dreams, although in Western cases especially, a spirit may simply appear without any express intention to be reborn. It is only later, when a child starts speaking of a previous life, that the connection is made. In Burma, rather than stating his intention, the spirit usually asks permission to be reborn to a woman. That is not invariably the case, though. Several Burmese children have recalled being Japanese soldiers who were killed during the Japanese occupation of Burma during the Second World War. In one of these cases, the mother-to-be dreamed repeatedly of an army cook she had known and befriended. The cook told her that he was coming to be reborn to her, but did not ask her permission.

Intermission memories in the cases of the Japanese soldiers killed in Burma differ from the Burmese cultural norm in another respect. In Burma, announcing dreams tend to precede the pregnancy rather than coming during it, as they do among the Tlingit and in most other societies. In the Japanese-soldier cases, though, the intermission memories occurred while the pregnancy was underway. In some societies, for instance among the Sinhalese Buddhists of Sri Lanka, announcing dreams are uncommon, perhaps because of the belief that karma and not the individual determines where one is reborn. Announcing dreams are rare also among the Druze, who believe that reincarnation occurs immediately at death, the spirit moving at once into the body of a baby being born. Druze announcing dreams sometimes occur before the person to be reborn dies, the only instances of this that Stevenson encountered.

These various characteristics suggest that the spirit seen in the announcing dream is the responsible for the dreams. They are not ordinary dreams, the products of the dreamer’s imagination. Announcing dreams are one of our lines of evidence of conscious awareness and the ability to think and act during the intermission. They also show how our actions after death are shaped by the ideas we had while living.

In some places, the spirit is almost invariably someone known to the dreamer, whereas elsewhere it is not. In tribal societies like the Tlingit, the spirit is usually a relative of the dreamer. In India, also, all reported announcing dreams occur in cases of reincarnation in the same family line or, much more occasionally, among acquaintances. In most of Asia and also in Western countries, the spirit is unknown to the dreamer, however. The dreams may nevertheless convey veridical (factual) information. In one American case, a pregnant woman heard a name in a dream, and this name turned out to be the name of the girl her daughter (born of that pregnancy) later remembered having been.

Departure dreams are much less common than announcing dreams. They occur when the reincarnation is into a stranger family and a spirit wants to let his former family know he has been reborn. Typically, they also tell the family where he may be found. Jürgen Keil studied a case like this from the Turkish Alevi. The previous person’s mother dreamed that he had been reborn in a certain house. She and later two of his brothers went there, but they were not allowed to see the boy, and only confirmed his identity years later, when he began to speak about the previous life.

Announcing dreams usually but not always are had by a woman shortly before or while she is pregnant, although they may occur to her husband or a relative instead. Occasionally, they do not involve the spirit to be reborn directly, but the spirit of another deceased person or even another sort of entity. In the Italian case of Alexandrina Samona, Alexandrina’s mother dreamed that her deceased daughter would be returning to her, bringing along someone she had met in her discarnate state, and her mother gave birth to twins. In a Burmese case Stevenson studied, a man in white monk’s robes who claimed to arrange for the reincarnation appeared both in an announcing dream to the mother-to-be and in a departure dream to the previous person’s widow.

On occasion, announcing dreams occur after birth, and serve the purpose of alerting the dreamer to the past-life identity of a child. Departure dreams, on the other hand, almost always come after birth. I know of only 6 postnatal announcing dreams, out of hundreds. Of 17 departure dreams, 12 occurred postnatally and 5 antenatally.

Children occasionally remember having “sent” dreams to their mothers or others from the discarnate state. Apparitions are sometimes seen in the same roles and there may also be mediumistic communications in which the intention to be reborn to certain women is declared. These related phenomena make it even clearer that announcing and departure dreams are important features of the intermission period and we can and should consider them alongside intermission memories in trying to understand what goes on between death and rebirth.

This post appeared originally in my Signs of Reincarnation group on Facebook. See https://www.facebook.com/groups/965923533422836/permalink/1360787850603067/

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