The concept that our souls or spirits reincarnate reaches back at least 3,000 years. Discussions of the subject can be found in the early traditions of India, Greece, and the Celtic Druids. It’s a tantalising belief – that our spirits are not limited to the 7, 8, or 9 decades of life on Earth, but that we have lived before and that we might live again.
What do you believe? Do you believe that you have had a past life or lives, growing up, working, loving, and suffering in roles very different from the one you are now playing out? Probably you had been a different race, socio-economic class, or gender.
People who believe in past lives suggest that there might be clues to what our past lives were in the various complex aspects that make up our current physical, emotional, intellectual, and psychological personalities. Here are some of them.
My daughter has “memories” of childhood events that we know never really happened. Is she just remembering a child’s fantasy, misunderstanding, or even a dream that she now interprets as reality? Or is she remembering something that happened to her before she was born into this lifetime?
Human memory is a fraught with error and incongruities, and I’m sure many of us have memories of things that family and friends can attest never occurred. So the question is: Is it faulty memory or a remembrance of lives past?
Fears and phobias
Where do your fears and phobias come from? Fear of such things as spiders, snakes, and heights seem to be built into the human psyche as part of our evolved survival instinct.
Many people suffer from phobias that are completely irrational, however. Fear of water, of birds, of numbers, of mirrors, of plants, of specific colors… the list goes on and on. People suffer from all kinds of bizarre phobias.
While several years on a psychologist’s couch might get to the root of those odd fears, those who believe in past lives wonder if they are carried over from a previous lifetime. Does a fear of water indicate a previous death by drowning? Could a fear of the color red suggest, for example, that a person was struck or killed by a red streetcar?
Most of us have experienced the eerie feeling of déjà vu – the sudden, surprising feeling that an event we are going through at the moment has happened exactly this way before. Psychologist Arthur Funkhouser has broken down this phenomenon into sub-categories: déjà vécu – an event already experienced or lived through; déjà senti – already felt, perhaps triggered by a voice or music; and déjà visité – a place so familiar we feel we’ve been there before.
While scientists and psychiatrists insist there are neurological explanations for these phenomena, others wonder if these strange feelings could be vague, fleeting memories of past lives. You enter a house or building, for example, in a town you’ve never visited before. Yet every detail of that place is familiar. You know what’s in the next room and up the stairs. You have the overwhelming feeling that you’ve been there before. Have you – in a past life?
Affinity for foreign culture
You probably know a person who was born and raised in the United States but is an ardent anglophile – a person who is interested to the point of obsession with British culture. You might also know someone who can think of little else but getting dressed up and acting the part for the next Renaissance Fair or Civil War reenactment.
There are “philes” for virtually every culture on the planet, both modern and ancient, affecting people who seem to have no rationale for their obsessions. Why? Are they merely trying to find familiarity in a culture in which they lived 100 years ago? 1,000 years ago?
Dreams and nightmares
Recurring dreams and nightmares also have been suggested as being memories or at least clues of past lives. I have experienced this type of recurring dream. There are two locations with specific details that crop up in my dreams several times a year, yet they are places I have never been to.
The first is a large city and I am walking down the street… there is a candy/magazine store on the corner, and I go in any buy something… then I go farther down the street to another building, and in the lower level is a small restaurant where I meet some friends and make the acquaintance of some girls… and later I think that I must go back to that place to see if the girls are there again.
The second is a smaller city – I get the distinct feeling of a “college town” – and I can see the specific view of a specific corner, how it looks, what’s there, how the street slopes down, etc.
These are not memories of places or events that have happened in this life, yet they recur in my dreams often. Are they memories of something important that happened in a past life?
Likewise, can nightmares be reflections of past life traumas that have clung to our spirits and haunt our sleep?
Birthmarks have been touted as evidence for reincarnation. In one fascinating case, an Indian boy claimed to remember the life of a man named Maha Ram, who was killed with a shotgun fired at close range. This boy had an array of birthmarks in the center of his chest that looked like they could possibly correspond to a shotgun blast. So the story was checked out. Indeed, there was a man named Maha Ram who was killed by a shotgun blast to the chest. An autopsy report recorded the man’s chest wounds — which corresponded directly with the boy’s birthmarks.
In a similar way, various other physical traits – even deformities – have been suggested as having their precedent in a person’s former life.
Here is a related subject. It’s good to have things that we are passionate about, as long as they do not become obsessive and debilitating. But from where do passions arise for books, art, antiques, fashion, gardening, theatre, cars, trains, aircraft, the paranormal – or any number of other subjects?
Intense interest in a specific subject might be totally natural, of course, but might there be a past life connection in some cases?
The dark side of passions are those uncontrolled habits and obsessions that take over people’s lives and can even marginalize them in society. Obsessive-compulsives and hoarders fit into this category. A man who has to turn the light switch off and on ten times before he leaves a room; a woman who collects newspapers into six-foot-high stacks throughout her house because she cannot bear to get rid of them.
Each of us has at least one bad habit, from fingernail biting to gossiping to procrastination. The extreme forms include addictions to everything from television to Facebook to drugs. Again, psychological explanations can be found for these uncontrolled habits, yet those who believe in reincarnation say they might have roots in past lives.
Do you have aches and pains that the doctors cannot quite pinpoint or find a medical explanation for? You might be labeled a hypochondriac – a person who imagines his or her ailments. Or, as past life proponents suggest, those mysterious pains, sores, cramps, and more could be reflections of suffering you endured in a previous existence.
Of course there definitely are or could be medical, psychological, or societal explanations for every of the phenomena above, and your experience with any of them does not always indicate that they may be related to a past life. However, this website is about alternate possibilities, and the notion that we have lived before and will live again is one that holds a great deal of fascination.