Scientists are beginning to feel convinced of the existence of reincarnation after analyzing the past life memories of young children
Modern scientists have grown curious about very young children’s very convincing memories of experiencing reincarnation. Indeed, what happens before we were born and after we die remains one of the life’s great mysteries. Everyone you meet seems to have a theory. The religious have set beliefs about an afterlife. Alternatively, atheists generally believe there is none. It seems like you have to make a decision about where you were and where you are going beyond what you are capable of remembering in the moment you find yourself right now. However, this is an area barely touched by scientific examination. Until now.
Atheists will generally flat out deny the existence of heaven, hell, and reincarnation. Usually, they seek tangible proof of things before they will believe they are real. The religious, on the other hand, will tell you where your sorry soul is headed, but they won’t give you any verifiable proof. Consequently, it is no wonder that skeptics abound on both sides of the fence.
Ancient belief in reincarnation
The belief in reincarnation dates back thousands and thousands of years. The earliest texts discussing reincarnation date back to the Vedic period, which was during the iron age. Many religions that came afterward also incorporated reincarnation into their beliefs. Could this be because of uncanny past-life memories that people had? Maybe such stories were so regular, that these early religions automatically inserted them into their belief structures?
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The first time reincarnation became frowned upon was with the advent of Christianity. Judaism, from which Christianity was appropriated, does have some beliefs about reincarnation. However, Christianity rewrote many of the core tenets from the Bible, and for some reason, Christians invented the concept of eternal damnation. Many assume this was done to frighten people into conversion. Even amongst the Jews who do not believe in reincarnation, they either believe that life after death is not relevant to the religion, or that any concept of hell would only last around 11 months before the soul is purified.
Consequently, after Christianity spread around the world, many parts of the globe went dark on the belief in reincarnation. Believing in past-lives became considered pagan, and taboo. Therefore, most of the western world didn’t trust people who told tales of living past lives. Reincarnation went out of style, and the fear of eternal damnation made sure people were too afraid to mention it.
Nevertheless, despite the Christian suppression of the theory of reincarnation, people occasionally still shared stories of the vivid memories they had experienced from times before they were born. Such stories that have persisted to the current day. Consequently, some brave researchers have taken on the controversial subject in the modern time.
Brave modern scientists
Psychiatrist Dr. Ian Stevenson was one of the first individuals working within a scientific field to explore the phenomenon of reincarnation. Despite other’s cynicism and amusement, he forged onward. Stevenson explored the experiences of countless people who claimed to have experienced a past life. In 1966 he authored the book Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, which debuted the idea to a western audience.
Stevenson’s successor, Dr. Jim Tucker continues his legacy, exploring and recording the stories of those who claim to have lived before. One such case that Tucker analyzed in 2002 was that of a little boy who believed he was once a World War II (WWII) pilot shot down by the Japanese over Iwo Jima. At that time, James Leininger was a 4-year-old living with his parents Bruce and Andrea in Louisiana. His parents also were evangelical Christians and shocked that their child was suggesting he was reincarnated.
Christian parents grow convinced about reincarnation
James parents claimed that he first started having “memories” when he was two. Initially, his father set out on a mission to prove that his son merely had a vivid imagination. However, family life turned chaotic when James would repeatedly wake from nightmares shouting things such as “Airplane crash! Plane on fire! Little man can’t get out!” His mother would rush to comfort him and ask “who was the little man?” James would reply “it’s me.”
Gradually, finer details emerged from James “memories.” James knew details about WWII planes that regular two-year-olds would not know about. For example, his mother pointed to what she thought was a bomb underneath a particular aircraft. James corrected her and informed her it was, in fact, a “drop tank.” On another occasion, he announced to his parents that the narrator on a program on the History Channel had misnamed a Japanese plane. The Narrator had called this plane a Zero. James corrected the narrator by claiming it was, in fact, a Tony.
Little James insisted that his name in his past life was also James. He was able to recall that his aircraft had flown off a ship named the Natoma. Amazingly, a pilot named James Huston, whom the Japanese had killed in action, flew his plane off a WWII aircraft carrier named the USS Natoma Bay. Not only that, but James could remember the exact way his plane had gone down, and other friends who had been with him in his squadron. Additionally, James recalled who his sisters had been. Ann, now elderly, struck up a correspondence with the Leininger family. She felt deeply convinced that her brother had been reincarnated as James.
James continued to be disturbed and obsessed by his dreams of a plane crash
He would have nightmares many times every week, so his mother sought the assistance of a therapist. Carol Bowman, a past-life therapist, told James parents that they needed to validate his memories. Additionally, she suggested, they should remind him that he is safe now in his new body. Consequently, his nightmares became less frequent. Ultimately, to resolve the turbulent memories, the family took a vacation to the location where the original James Huston had died. After an emotional ceremony, where young James threw flowers into the sea, he felt he had finally made peace with the past.
Tucker has explored and analyzed countless other stories like that of young James. He has discovered that children from every continent, bar Antarctica, have occasionally reported similar past life memories. While many eastern cultures automatically believe children who report that they have been reincarnated, it is the memories of children from western cultures that don’t support reincarnation that convince Tucker that there is something more to what they are saying.
Common themes abound between the experiences children have of reincarnation. Tucker explains how no regression therapy is ever necessary to enable the children to recall their past life memories. Usually, children start to have such memories from around 35 months of age, and generally, they are vivid recollections of regular past lives that more often than not ended violently.
Tucker is adamant that none of these children are “little mystics”
He states that they are regular kids that simply recall who they once were. They remember past spouses and siblings, friends and the location where they once lived. Some of these children beg to return to these places. Others retain phobias of things that occurred around their past life death. For example, some children who report drowning will have an immense fear of water.
Additionally, many of these children recall what happened between the time their old ‘self’ died and when their new ‘self’ was born. Some recall experiences of staying as a ghost around the old family. Some describe experiences of heaven. Others will describe how something or someone guided them to their new parents, or how they personally specifically chose them. James Leininger was one such child who told his father that he chose him.
Nevertheless, the jury is out as to whether or not these children have legitimately been reincarnated. However, some scientists at least agree that there is much we don’t know about things like consciousness; therefore, things like reincarnation may one day be explained from a scientific perspective. British physicist Sir Roger Penrose is one such scientist who explores the realms of consciousness from the point of view of quantum mechanics. There is a theory that it is our consciousness that actually creates reality, and not the other way round. Therefore, scientists like Penrose do not entirely rule out the possibility that reincarnation might be real.