The Reincarnation Mysteries
The science of reincarnation studies took off with Dr. Ian Stevenson who was the head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, School of Medicine from 1957 to 1967. He published ‘Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation’ after an investigative trip to India in 1966. In 1968 a wealthy donor left a million dollars to fund ‘The Division of Perceptual Studies’ at the University of Virginia. Stevenson became the first Carlson Professor of Psychiatry there which allowed him the freedom to do extensive traveling in his research.
The major work of Stevenson was ‘Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects’ in 1997 which ran several thousand pages and one for the general reader called ‘Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect’. These books reported on two hundred cases of birthmarks that corresponded with wounds on the deceased people children reported they were in past lives. Overall, he wrote three hundred papers and fourteen books on reincarnation studies involving about three thousand cases.
Stevenson died in 2007 but his work is being carried on by Dr. Jim Tucker who is also an assistant professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia and who authored a book called ‘Life before Life: Children’s Memories of Previous Lives’ which has been translated into ten languages.
One of the general prejudices against the work of Stevenson is that he used foreign populations that many times had a cultural belief in reincarnation. This allowed for facile rationalizations of self-delusion on the part of the parents along with translators who wanted to put a shine on the story that could have combined with leading questions on the part of Stevenson—despite that fact that Stevenson focused on physical phenomenon like birth marks and defects. Tucker has attempted to remedy this dynamic with his new book: ‘Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives’ published in 2013 from St Martin’s Press.
The first and one of the most extraordinary cases of Tucker was the case of a little boy born in the Midwest named Kevin who died of cancer that appeared above his right ear, in his left eye, and in his right leg. Twelve years after the death of Kevin, his mother, Lisa, gave birth to another son named Patrick. Patrick was also blind in his left eye as Kevin was and had a nodule above his right ear where Kevin had had the tumor. Patrick also had a birth mark on his neck that was a slanted line four millimeters long which matched the IV incision Kevin had had. Patrick also walked with a limp that involved swinging his left leg out just as Kevin had. Kevin’s leg had been broken and he had to walk with a brace.
Patrick had some excellent memories of his past life as Kevin in remembering the color of his brown and orange apartment building, that he had had surgery as Kevin, identifying the picture of Kevin as himself, and that he had a small, brown puppy.
Patrick told an extraordinary tale to his mother one night about meeting a cousin in heaven who was never talked about in the family named “Billy the Pirate” entirely unknown to Lisa. Billy was a rather wild boy who was shot dead by his stepfather three years before Lisa was even born. This was all verified by Lisa’s mother.
Lisa deeply grieved her son’s loss and provides a dynamic for why Kevin returned as Patrick and was able to demonstrate and reveal past life correspondences.
A story that has gotten a lot of media attention related by Turner is that of James Leininger of Lafayette, Louisiana who began fixating on little planes crashing with a “Little Man” not being able to get out of it when he was two years old.
Incredibly for a two year, James began relating that he had taken off from a boat called the ‘Natoma’ in a corsair that had been shot down by the Japanese. James’ father, Bruce, began doing an online search and found the USS Natoma Bay used during World War II. He printed out the page that he had found that was dated August, 27 2000 when James was only twenty-eight months old.
James mentioned serving with a pilot named Jack Larson, began signing his battle scene drawings with “James 3”, and identified the tiny Iwo Jima on a globe as the place where he had been shot down. The only pilot shot down near Iwo Jima that had been shot down was a man named James Houston who had been flying next to a pilot named Jack Larson. Huston was not actually flying a corsair but had spent a lot of time testing them before his war assignment. James Houston was a junior so that made James Leininger “James 3”. When James was six and a half he identified veteran Bob Greenwalt by his voice: “You’re Bob Greenwalt” at a Natoma Bay reunion.
James reported that James Huston’s father had been an alcoholic and had to be committed. This was confirmed by James’ mother who called Huston’s sister, Anne, who was 84 at the time and replied that the father had been hospitalized for six weeks.
Many other odd details and correspondences are documented like James saying he met three of his deceased buddies in heaven: Billie, Leon, and Walter but it was interested to read that James picked out his two current parents while they were vacationing in Hawaii and trying to get pregnant. When he was asked about heaven, James spread his arms wide saying: “It’s right here.” When he was asked about God he responded “he is whoever you need him to be at the time”. When he was asked about whether everyone reincarnates he responded by saying people had a choice.
Another striking case is that of a five year old boy from Oklahoma named Ryan who identified himself from a picture as an extra in the 1932 film ‘Night After Night’. He spoke of living an upscale lifestyle, hobnobbing with starlets, dancing on Broadway, taking ocean cruises, having an agency in New York where he knew an evil man named ‘Senator Five’
Several early verifications stuck out for Ryan’s mother, Cyndi. Ryan mentioned that there was a scene with a closet full of guns in ‘Night after Night’ which is true. The other incident involved Ryan relating that he saw from heaven the time when Cyndi had found out from the doctor that he was not going to be the girl that she had wanted. It was also her husband’s birthday and they went out to a restaurant to eat where she cried for a long time.
After some extensive research paid for by a television producer the film extra in the film was identified as Marty Martyn. Ryan was able to pick pictures of Martyn, Martyn’s last wife, “Senator Five”, and Martyn’s name out from groups of four choices. “Senator Five” turned out to be a liberal Republican Senator Irving Ives from New York who served from 1947-59 who it is verified that Martyn met with.
Ryan’s family met with the daughter of Martyn who was able to verify so many of the statements made by Ryan that Martyn had two sisters, danced on Broadway, had a big house with a swimming pool, traveled the world on boats, visited Paris many times, became a Hollywood agent with people who “changed their names”, got sunburns on the beach, lived at an address with “rock or mount” on it (825 N. Roxbury), had one daughter and interacted with other child (his step-children), and gave his daughter a dog which she didn’t like.
Ryan is unusual in these cases for demonstrating many instances of psychic ability. Ryan correctly described a stillborn sibling of his mother she had known nothing about, predicted his grandmother would get shingles, predicted his grandfather would break a water gun, predicted his father would need a new watch, predicted his grandfather would need to buy new tools, predicted his grandmother would hurt her back, and predicted who would be his second grade teacher.
It is clear that Ryan maybe remembered his past life because he missed it so much. However, he was also aware that he hadn’t spent enough time with his family and came back to make amends for that.
An interesting case involving a famous person is that of a boy named Lee in the Midwest who began talking about how his middle name was “Coe” and his birthday was June 26 rather than June 21st. He began obsessing about Hollywood to the point where his family began an interview with him when he was three years and three months old. Lee said that he “wrote movies”. After five or six movies were mentioned Lee said: “I wrote that movie” to ‘Gone With the Wind’. He said he was forty-eight when he died. The family did a little research and found out Sidney Coe Howard did write the screenplay for ‘Gone With the Wind’ and did die at the age of forty-eight. His mother’s maiden name was Coe as Lee had indicated. Howard was born on June 26, 1891. The eldest daughter of Howard was named Jennifer as Lee had indicated.
Lee had mentioned a tractor that people didn’t care of and had some nightmares involving “cars on my arms” along with having some behaviors about not wanting his chest area constricted which all seems to relate to the accidental death of Sydney Coe Howard who had turned on his tractor and had begun cranking it from the front. Unfortunately a farm hand had accidently left it in gear. The tractor lurched forward and pinned Howard against the stone foundation of the garage which killed him. Many of the cases of remembered reincarnations of children involve just this situation of the person dying at a relatively young age of a traumatic death who then reincarnate fairly quickly again.
Tucker calculates that of the two thousand cases in the data bank of remembered past lives that only thirty percent died of natural causes while the other seventy percent involved unnatural causes like murder, suicide, and accidental death. While the sexes were evenly reflected in the thirty percent of natural causes, it was males who comprised the seventy percent of unnatural deaths by seventy-three percent because of the higher rate of high-risk behaviors.
An extraordinary case is that of two year old Hunter who was given a set of plastic golf clubs and began obsessing on the golf channel and the famous golfer Bobby Jones. After Hunter began referring to himself as Bobby Jones and that he had been him “when he was big”, Hunter’s father who had done some reading of Buddhism decided to test him. Hunter correctly identified Bobby Jones but, shockingly, pointed out golfer Harry Varden: “This Harry Garden. My friend.” Dad also tested him with six houses and Hunter correctly identified his childhood home. Hunter also told his mother one night that he had a son: “Bobby Jones. He was my son.” Jones did have a son named after himself.
Hunter was so good at golf that a local golf club began giving him lessons at two years old even though they normally didn’t accept children until they were five. He was so good that at age three and half he began taking lessons from a golf pro. The last update is that Hunter at the age of seven has won forty-one out of fifty junior golf tournaments and had just won the six-to-nine-year-old division of a local tournament by ten strokes.
Dr. Tucker spends the last few chapters of his book discussing the scientific framework for consciousness that survives death with the over-arching view that we all participate in shared dreaming with a higher Dream Self that is outside of time and space. We are all little rivers of consciousness running to and from the greater ocean.
His shocking contention is that consciousness or our shared dreaming creates the world and not vice-versa. This realization comes to him from the past century of work on quantum mechanics which has determined through countless experiments that quantum particles exist in a wave or potential mode that is not particularized until it is viewed. Electrons are not really like billiard balls bouncing around the perimeter of the nucleus of an atom, for example. Their nature is more like that of electrons existing in all possible locations in the atom.
This shocking realization began taking form when the ‘double slit experiment’ began being performed two hundred years ago by Thomas Young who proved that light has wave-like qualities in contra-distinction to Isaac Newton’s reigning paradigm since it spreads out when passing through a slit rather than duplicating the slit pattern.
When light is passed through double slits an interference pattern is created of mixed dark and light rings like waves are produced in the ocean.
What is truly bizarre is when detectors are place at the slit screen which detect which slit the light or photon goes through. When the detectors register which slit the light goes through no interference pattern is produced on the screen. It is only when no observation occurs and the light potentially goes through both slits that an interference pattern is created. This is the principle of complementarity which says that light can be viewed as a particle or as a wave but not at the same time.
Tucker records the responses of a number of physicists to the implications of the double slit experiment:
Henry Stapp from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory states: “we have known for almost a century that this theoretical creation of the human mind called ‘classical physics’ is a fiction of our imagination.”
The famous Richard Feynman says about the experiment that it is: “impossible, absolutely impossible, to explain in any classical way”
Brian Greene has written that quantum mechanics: “shows that the universe is founded on principles that, from the standpoint of our everyday experiences, are bizarre.”
The double slit experiment has been done up to the size of a molecule which comprises 810 atoms.
What is even more mind-boggling are ‘delayed-choice experiments’ reported by Tucker such as have been done by physicist Helmut Schmidt using random event generators like red and green light flashes. A random series of these lights was run and recorded on a floppy disk on a certain date. Days or months later a subject tried to mentally influence the colors to a non-random result. It worked for Schmidt in five studies as long as no one inspected the floppy disk beforehand.
These experiments have led to the ‘Consciousness Causes Collapse’ school of quantum physics where consciousness or observation causes the wave function to collapse into the observation of a particle and statements like that of a quantum theory founder, Max Planck: “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness”. More recently, Richard Conn Henry from Johns Hopkins has decided: “The Universe is entirely mental.”
These experiments have created quite the conundrum if consciousness isn’t creating the world just through observation. One solution mentioned by Tucker is the ‘Many Worlds Interpretation’ (MWI) of Everett which asserts that timeline splits occur at every juncture of choice so that all possibilities exist in different timelines which have created their own universes. Tucker doesn’t give much credence to this option. It is overwhelming to think of millions and millions of timelines that stretch into trillions or more when all of the world’s people are taken into account. In addition Tucker is enamored with the idea of consciousness being a subset of the divine consciousness which is all connected outside of time and space and the quantum field which creates the shared dream of the material world.
Multiple timelines, though, needn’t be as befuddling as MWI. Modern physicists are coming to a degree of consensus on M theory which posits eleven dimensions. Given that there is also a divine consciousness working through matter as Tucker does then, perhaps, there are a more limited number of timelines of interest to the greater consciousness in its dreaming at major junctures where the South won the Civil War or Napoleon won the battle of Waterloo—or even in a person’s own lifetime where they could have married different people at different key moments and had an alternate experience. There are a number of people who assert the reality of alternate timelines like Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Starfire Tor, and Whitley Strieber. This is not to say that these timelines could have turned out totally differently since smaller genetic influences and larger global influences would also exert themselves. For example, the America’s could have also won the World Wars even if the South had won the Civil War. An individual could still wind up having the same number of children and working in the same career even if they chanced to marry different people in different timelines.
Tucker is a great believer in Jungian synchronicities and the freedom of consciousness he is less comfortable veering completely into the New Age. He doesn’t think people meet with guides after death to discuss lessons learned and he doesn’t think positive thinking is the panacea for every ill but he does allow for some communication between life and the intermission period between lives and even suggests maybe that you could contact a loved one after death while they are simultaneously being reborn into another family. He sees the after death experiences as just as ‘real’ as our experience is. His research shows that near death reports are somewhat the same and somewhat different across cultures and are proved as real by very young children who are not culturally conditioned but have the same experiences.
Dr Tucker’s book is foundational in proving the phenomenon of rebirth from case studies in the modern American context and in providing a logical scientific context grounded in quantum mechanics and consciousness studies such as in ‘delayed choice’ studies and near death case work. His work is indicative of an open-minded scientist who is not afraid to go with his conclusions based on his data but yet not stray too far afield from it while discussing other views in a greater context.