The purpose of this examination of reincarnation is to present clarity to the reader of what is considered to be the evidence for reincarnation, that is responsible for people believing in the theory. Also, presented is the subsequent philosophy that is based on the acceptance of the theory. Belief in reincarnation is ancient and dates back not only to India, but to the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Assyrians. It is my belief though ancient the evidence for reincarnation and its philosophy are merely circumstantial and fall short of being scientific proof that past lives actually occur.

The evidence for this examination is based primarily on the research of Ian Stevenson M.D. The alternative explanations that I offer are based on the spirit communications of James E. Padgett.

Ian P. Stevenson M.D. Ian P. Stevenson M.D. (1918 – 2007) was a Canadian born psychiatrist and was on the faculty of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He chair the department of psychiatry and was a research professor for fifty years until his passing. As founder and director of the university's Division of Perceptual Studies, which investigates the paranormal, Stevenson became known internationally for his investigation into reincarnation. He concluded from his research that the emotions, memories, and even physical injuries in the form of birthmarks, can be transferred from one lifetime to another.

Dr. Stevenson traveled extensively investigating three thousand cases of children from around the world over a forty year period, who claimed to remember previous lifetimes. His position was that certain phobias, unusual abilities and illnesses could not be fully explained by heredity or the environment, and believed that reincarnation provided an alternative explanation.

Procedural scientific investigation included the checking and analysis of documents, letters, autopsy records, birth and death certificates, hospital records, photographs, newspaper reports and alike. Medical records are important especially when a child claims to have been murdered in a past life, as Dr. Stevenson found in cases of violent death.

There are those who accept that the proof of survival after physical death automatically requires an acceptance of reincarnation. Some insist that to accept life after death as a proven fact, one must also accept past lives. This could not be further from the truth and is grossly misleading. My position is that people who experience the feelings and memories of a past life are the result of a phenomenon called 'overshadowing' or, in extreme cases, 'obsession' or 'possession'. Overshadowing occurs when a discarnate entity, inhabiting the spirit world, comes down to the earth-plane and links with a psychically sensitive person and impresses him or her with its memories, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs accumulated during its incarnation on Earth.

The subject will feel a sense of ownership over the memories and may interpret them as memories of a previous life especially if the person believes in reincarnation. This overshadowing phenomenon works both ways and the discarnate personality will have telepathic access to the subject’s thoughts and can impress and reinforce the individual's mind with the conviction that he or she has lived a previous lifetime.

The Case of Jasbir first published in Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation by Dr. Stevenson proves beyond a doubt that discarnate personalities exist and can impress an individual with its thoughts, feelings, beliefs and memories. The significance of this case cannot be overemphasized because it demonstrates that every other case investigated by Dr. Stevenson can be explained as overshadowing or obsession.

Alan Ross

Types of Evidence

Spontaneous Past Life Recall - This is most evident in children who allegedly remember a past life, and is the most common evidence for reincarnation. Typically, such a child begins to speak about a previous life at a very early age usually between two and three, and typically it stops doing so between the ages of five and seven. Although some of the children make only vague statements, others give names, details of events and in a large percentage of cases incidents of a violent death. This information allows past life researchers to identify a person who had died previously that corresponds to the child's statements.

This is not evidence for past lives, but is nothing more than ordinary spirit contact. This type of thing is done by any decent medium during a psychic demonstration of proof of survival or in a private reading. The medium will invariably give the name of the spirit person, description of their death and events that in many cases that are known only to friends or relatives in attendance.

For the majority of cases, certainly in most of the Asian ones, Dr. Stevenson found that children remembered lives which ended only a few years before they were born. Often, the deceased person was from a different village, but still, could have known the child in question.

Some critics of reincarnation have argued that when a child claims that he or she remembers a past life, what is actually taking place is that a discarnate entity (a spirit) has taking control of the child's mind and the information in reality is coming from the spirit and not from the child’s past life memory. Because of spirit control in some instances the child actually takes on the personality of the spirit that they mistakenly believe to have been in a previous lifetime.

Birth Marks and Scars - This is the most compelling evidence for reincarnation. In Dr. Stevenson’s major work the 2,268-page, two-volume Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects (1997), he reported on two hundred cases of birthmarks that, he believed, corresponded with a wound suffered by the deceased person whose life the child is said to remember. These birthmarks are alleged to match the location of the trauma experienced by the deceased person that frequently was the cause of their death.

Dr. Stevenson went to great lengths to study birthmarks and birth defects which appear to be related to traumatic wounds in a prior incarnation. For example, if a person died of a bullet or knife wound in a past incarnation, Dr. Stevenson noted that a birthmark or scar would appear at the same location on the body of the child.

How a a traumatic wound of a discarnate spirit can create a scar or birthmark on a child is believed to be because when the spirit attempts to reincarnate its soul projects a hologram, template or energy body into the developing fetus, which the physical body is shaped around. This template will be imprinted with the traumatic wound, which is thought will transfer to the fetus as a birthmark. It is true that the soul does have an energy body, which is the active energy of the soul. However, the physical body is not shaped around this energy body, but the opposite is the case - the energy body is shaped around the physical body. This energy body will change in appearance as the physical body matures and as the condition of the soul improves.

In the case of an unborn child the discarnate influence may effect the mother with a physical impression, causing an emotional reactions to be realized in her embryo. There alleges to be a number of documented cases in which an expectant mother witnessed a violent incident, been traumatized by it, and her baby is born with marks or defects closely correlating with the injuries observed. Another scenario is a discarnate spirit, attempting to reincarnate, will try to attach itself to a pregnant woman’s embryo, which can cause damage and result in marks or defects correlating with the wounds suffered by the obsessing spirit. When a birth mark is imprinted onto an embryo it is inferred that this happens for two reasons. First, the incarnating spirit has not had enough time between incarnations for the wound to heal properly from the trauma. Second, the spirit’s mind needs to recall the trauma so it can be healed from it and released.

Birth defects are noticed immediately after the child's birth and are naturally occurring. The known causes of birth defects are from a close biological relationship, viral infections and chemical causes like drugs and alcohol. What actually happens to create a mark is a defective migration of cells that produce a dark pigment during fetal development. Normally occurring birth traumas can cause sufficient damage to produce a discoloration, which is the result of a malformation in the development of the structures of the skin and soft tissues.

Another explanation is that it is well known that spirits are attracted to mortals they have something in common with. A spirit that was an alcoholic will be attracted to a mortal alcoholic and drink with him vicariously on Earth. The person who died of an inflicted wound, now a spirit, could be attracted to a child with a corresponding mark in order to use that child to convey a message or to accomplish some unfinished business not completed while living on Earth.

This child claims to remember having his fingers chopped off during a murder struggle in a previous life.

Child Fingers

This child claims to remember loosing his fingers in a fodder chopping machine in India in a former lifetime.

Child Fingers

This child claims to remembers receiving a shot gun blast to his head in a past life.

Child Gunshot

Xenoglossy - This evidence for reincarnation is based on the ability of a person to speak or write a foreign language that has not been learned in a contemporary lifetime. Reincarnation is the most widely researched explanation for xenoglossy, and is believed that when a person speaks a language that is not known to them, it is because that person was fluent in that language in a previous life.

It has also been observed that in addition to the supposed recovery of a language from a past life, in some cases, the entire previous personality emerges and essentially takes over the contemporary person. These cases allege to demonstrate that the soul can retain its past life personality intact, but in reality it is the personality of the discarnate spirit superimposed over the personality of the contemporary person.

There are many cases on record of adults and children speaking and writing languages which they have never learned. In some cases it maybe only a few words, but in other cases the person becomes totally fluent. Sometimes this happens spontaneously, but more often it occurs while the person is under hypnosis or in an altered state of consciousness. Interestingly, the speaking of a particular language becomes more accurate when the person is in a hypnotic state.

Dr. Morris Netherton reports on a case of an eleven year old boy who under hypnosis was recorded for eleven minutes as he spoke in an ancient Chinese dialect. When the recording was taken to a professor at the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of California it turned out to be a recitation from a forbidden religion of ancient China obviously was not known by the boy, but would be known by the communicating Chinese spirt who had lived during that era.

Telepathy is often used as an explanation for xenoglossy, which is the transfer of information between two persons through their minds, beyond the five senses. It is said that when a person speaks a language that is not known to them that person is connected to someone else through telepathy, who is transmitting the words that the other person is speaking.

Spirit possession is another explanation for xenoglossy. The person who suddenly starts speaking a language that is not known to them prior is believed to be taken over by a spirit that has control of their body and mind. The person being controlled is able to speak in an ancient language or an obscure dialect which may have not been in use for centuries and can be explained as being the language of the ancient spirit.

Glossolalia or Speaking in Tongues - This may be related to xenoglossy in which a person utters incomprehensible sounds that the speaker believes is a language spoken through him or her by a discarnate entity. Incomprehensible speech in an imaginary language occurs when a person is in a trance state, during an episode of religious ecstasy, or when having a schizophrenic episode.

Child Prodigies - It is believed that past life abilities and talents are the result of the soul projecting an energy template into the developing fetus. This energy structure is believed to not only help create physical appearance, but is also believed to be used to download information and talent into a developing fetus, and is used to explain child prodigies. It is further believed that spiritually and intellectually one picks up where one left off in a previous lifetime, and that ones earned spiritual, intellectual and artistic achievements are retained from lifetime to lifetime.

Déjà vu - The phenomenon of having a strong sensation of familiarity with a person, place or event. It is thought that if one meets up with a person supposedly known in a past life, a spark of recognition may be experienced or a place can seem to be uncannily familiar. It is also believed that a déjà vu may occur if one recognizes an event that is part of a supposed itinerary of a road mark along the way of an predetermined life path. People who believe in reincarnation say that the reason for a déjà vu is that one has experienced the same situation in a past life.

Retained Characteristics - Those who subscribe to the theory of reincarnation claim that the personality, body type, facial features, gestures and handwriting style are retained from lifetime to lifetime, which is considered to be evidence for past lives. In men, it is thought that beards and mustaches can be retained from one incarnation to another. Physical habits, such as postures and hand gestures, are believed to be observed to be consistent from lifetime to lifetime. Research of portraits and photographs are claimed to indicate that poses struck by people are often remarkably similar from one lifetime to another. It is thought that the physical appearance remains the same from lifetime to lifetime, because the energy template that forms the developing fetus retains these characteristics. Although, genetics does play a role, it is the interaction of the soul's energy template with one's genetic inheritance that results in the physical appearance.

Reincarnationists believe that people have a similar level of spiritual maturity and intellectual advancement across lifetimes, but can trade off being rich and poor, famous and unknown. In addition, one’s status in life is determined by the karma created in past lifetimes, as well as by the lessons that a soul has set for itself to learn. It is thought there is a pattern that powerful souls come back as powerful souls, great artists come back as great artists and those who have made an impact in the past do so again in subsequent lifetimes.

Past life Regression - This simply involves placing a person under hypnosis and asking him or her to go back to a time before they were born. In many cases the person begins talking about their death in a previous life, their time between lives, the planning of their present life and even of being a walk-in. In some cases the person regressed remembers details of astonishing accuracy which can be verified by historians.

Philosophy of Reincarnation

Personality Traits - It is believed that these persist from lifetime to lifetime so that one’s way of approaching life and the way that one is perceived by others remains consistent. In addition, some personality traits are positive and contribute to one’s benefit, while others are detrimental and can cause suffering from one lifetime to another. It is believed that part of one’s evolution is to smooth out the rough spots in one’s personality. Just as personality traits remain consistent from lifetime to lifetime, it is thought that a person’s manner of expression will also remain similar.

Predetermined Destiny - In analysing past life cases there is a misconception that everyone has a predetermined destiny or earth-life itinerary. It thought that the soul coordinates its itinerary with a karmic soul group and that its future mortal parents somehow agree to the plan prior to birth. This is thought to bring people together who are destined to share the mortal life experience. The belief is that prior to incarnation the soul makes a contract, which determines its incarnation and thus its destiny. The clauses of the contract are believed to contain an agreement who its parents will be, who will become its friends, the places that it will travel, and what activities it will have access to on the Earth.

It is also thought that people who have made this supposed contract are committed to honor it regardless of the challenges involved. This has to bring up the question whether or not there is free-will. Indeed, growth and human evolution could not occur without free-will. As a means to justify why some people divert from their itinerary the theory was created that some people have a structured itinerary that limits diversions, while others have a less structured life plan.

I have to doubt this entire theory of a soul being involved in legal matters prior to incarnation. Because prior to incarnation a soul has less awareness and intellectual development than that of the infant that it is to become. The un-incarnated soul is therefore in no position to make any decisions until it incarnates into a physical body and becomes an individualized person and matures into a rational thinking human being.

Renewed Relationships - It is believed that people incarnate in groups, based on shared karma and emotional attachments. Couples are believed to return together and entire family units are thought to reincarnate together. When an individual incarnates, members of that person’s karmic group can be waiting for them on Earth. Identifying members of one’s group is an important criterion in establishing renewed past life relationships.

Dr. Stevenson did an important twin study in which the past lives of 31 sets of twins (62 people) were factually validated. In 100 percent of these cases, the twins are thought to have had significant past life relationships. The most common type of relationship was that of siblings, followed by friendships, other family relationships and spouses from past incarnations.

Synchronistic events - Another feature that allegedly is observed in past life research is that of synchronistic events and symbols in contemporary times which seem to relate to past life connections. It is thought that spirit beings can communicate with mortals by orchestrating such symbolic events. Though, firm conclusions cannot be based on such events, researchers claim they appear to occur in some reincarnation cases.

Writing Structure - It is believed that this can remain the same from one incarnation to another. Some variations in writing style of course are observed due to differing customs in various eras. Still, consistencies in modes of expression and in content are thought to be observed in reincarnation research. Portraits are claimed to allow researchers to see how one’s appearance is the same from lifetime to lifetime, historical documents, diaries and other available documentation is said to allow the study of writing styles across incarnations.

Announced Dreams - Dr. Stevenson reported that announcing dreams often occurs in reincarnation cases, where a soul awaiting incarnation announces or predicts its upcoming incarnation in dreams conveyed to people who will be part of their karmic group when they incarnate. Announcing dreams is inferred to constitute evidence that souls plan future lifetimes.

Cultural Changes - An observation made in reincarnation research is that individuals change religion, nationality, race and gender from one lifetime to another. It is thought that an individual who incarnates into a different race will have physical features that are consistent with that race, although, proportions of the face and bone structure will remain consistent from one incarnation to another. It is purported that the soul's energy template interacts with racial and genetic factors to produce one's physical appearance in the next incarnation.

Phobias - In addition to making verifiable statements about a deceased person, many of the children show behavior such as phobias for objects or circumstances. This is thought to originate from a past life and is not observed in their family, but found to correspond to the behaviour shown by the deceased person that the child is said to remember.

The Bubble Theory - A theory that has no foundation is how the personality is preserved as a bubble which is a miniature version of one’s soul. The belief is that when one incarnates, a bubble is projected from the soul containing the soul's energies, qualities and experiences. After incarnation is completed the soul supposedly resorbs the bubble that is the real person and retains the bubble within itself permanently. All of this is pure speculation on the part of the reincarnation theorists with no evidence to substantiate it.

Split Incarnation - Another conjectured statement is that the soul may animate more than one physical body at a time. This phenomenon is termed, 'split incarnations' and refers to two people of the same soul, who are incarnated at the same time as 'splits'. The belief is that the soul can project more than one energy template into a physical incarnation at a time, so splits can seen as appendages of the soul. Split incarnations are alleged to be the ability of the soul to express more than one bubble of itself at a time into a physical incarnation.

Twin flames - Also called 'twin souls', are literally the two halves of one soul. All souls have one twin, and generally after being split and incarnating the two go their separate ways, incarnating over and over to gather human experience before reuniting. Ideally, this happens in both of their last lifetimes on Earth so that they can ascend together. Each twin is a complete soul, not half of a soul. The task of twins is to become more whole by balancing their male and female sides, and ideally to become enlightened before reuniting with their twin. All other relationships through life are said to be 'practice' for the twin reunion, the ultimate relationship.

Parallel Lives - Another belief that is without foundation is that of parallel lives. This belief states that each soul prior to incarnation becomes more than one person living on the Earth. The oversoul is believed to be the creator of the person along with two or three others, which supposedly illustrates the energy expanding potential of the soul.

Change of Gender - It is believed that reincarnation research shows that in approximately 10 percent of cases, a soul changes gender. This percentage was reported by Dr. Stevenson in his series of 1200 reincarnation cases in which children had spontaneous past life memories that were objectively validated. This observation can give one insight into why some people are homosexual or have gender identity issues. If a soul is accustomed to incarnating in one gender and then has a lifetime as the opposite sex, that soul may still identify with the previous gender leading to homosexuality, transsexualism, transgender issues and gender identity disorder.

Most people maintain the same gender from one lifetime to lifetime, and it is believed that the soul has an innate masculine or feminine quality. Those who are innately masculine tend to reincarnate as males, and those that are innately feminine prefer to return in a female body. The belief is that all people switch gender periodically to experience what it is like to be the opposite sex.

Walk-Ins - This unfounded belief states, that it is possible for a human soul to leave one's physical body and enter into a different body. Souls are believed to become walk-ins during a period of intense personal problems or because of an accident or trauma. The rational for this theory is that by incarnating into a fully grown body, allows the more advanced soul to carry out its mission without having to go through the two decades of maturation that humans need to reach adulthood. All souls are believed to come to the Earth in order to accomplish a mission, and that a walk-in is a highly evolved soul who has come to raise the vibrational level of humanity, but can’t be bothered with the tedious process of incarnating in the normal manner.

In cases where the walk-in has sufficient information to seamlessly take up life in the exchanged body, it is thought that the change is immediately apparent. However, in other cases it may take weeks or months before the walk-in notices, or comes to believe, that a transition has occurred. Occasionally, the original soul returns after a period of months or years, and either the walk-in soul departs or the two souls coexist and integrate into a single being, and live as two persons in one body. This has to be pure speculation and a bit of nonsense on the part of the reincarnation theorists.

Cryptomnesia - This theory is understood to be that the reborn child had learned in its present lifetime what he or she is talking about from a previous life. The claim is that, consciously or unconsciously, the child must have read the information, or heard about it, or been told about it, but had forgotten it. Dr. Stevenson explains that the original information from some of the reborn children, especially from those who were as young as two years, was not known to those related to the child. Dr. Stevenson’s observations are that when the child learned to say just a few words he or she would start to talk about a previous life.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) - Prior this was known as, 'multiple personality disorder'. It is a mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated personality states that alternately show in a person's behaviour. The prevalence of DID diagnoses increased greatly in the latter half of the 20th century along with the number of identities (often referred to as 'alters') claimed by patients, increasing from an average of two or three to approximately sixteen. It should be expected that most of these cases develop among persons who believe in reincarnation, and that the subjects of these cases would interpret them according to their belief in reincarnation. It is thought that this condition is caused by extrasensory perception, telepathy or clairvoyance, in that, the child was able to tune into a discarnate entity and extract from them the information expressed about what is taken to be a previous life.

Schizophrenia - A severe and chronic disease, a disabling brain disorder that has affected people throughout history. A possible explanation of this condition is spirit obsession or possession. People with this disorder may hear voices that other people don't hear. The patient may believe that a discarnate entity is reading their mind, controlling their thoughts or plotting to harm them. Possession of an individual by a discarnate personality can produce changes in the whole physiognomy of the individual.

In Summation

Reincarnation is the cornerstone of Eastern philosophy, and is about the death of the physical body and the return of the soul to the Earth again and again to be reborn as an infant in another physical body. Reincarnation’s purpose is to work out one’s karma, depending on how good or bad one has been in previous lifetimes. A woman has no chance of liberation for that is reserved only for men. A woman’s only hope is to serve her husband and in so doing earn the reward of being reborn as a man in the next lifetime. Mahatma Ghandi called reincarnation, 'a burden too great to bear.'

Those who seek the meaning of life find reincarnation compelling and stimulating. There are many who are dissatisfied with their positions in life, and seek consolation in the belief that they were someone important in a previous lifetime. The desire to be someone else, coupled with the innate ability of the human psyche to fantasize and to believe its own fantasies, has led countless millions to believe in the theory. The number of people that believe they were once Napoleon Bonaparte, Florence Nightingale, Joan of Arc and other men and women of fame is astonishing since so many claim to have been the very same person.

Reincarnation is said to be a spiritual process that the soul undergoes which affords it the opportunity to lessen its desire to sin and error from lifetime to lifetime, and achieve purification while a mortal in the flesh. Reincarnation is a strong belief in Eastern religions and has been well researched in parapsychology. A fact well known to the pioneers of psychical research is that discarnate personalities can impress the minds of the incarnate with their memories, thoughts and feelings. Professor James Hyslop maintained that this phenomenon was mistakenly adduced as evidence for reincarnation. In Contact with the Other World (1919) Prof. Hyslop states, “Reincarnation can be explained as a mediumistic phenomena.” There have been many claims made for reincarnation, but there has yet to be scientific evidence that can clearly prove that it occurs.

Spirit influence, spirit obsession and spirit possession are the most widely accepted explanations why people feel they have had a life other than their present one. What they are experiencing is the life of the contacting spirit that can convey to mortals in the form of imagery, their life experiences and their death. These images and feelings are taken as one’s own and misinterpreted as a previous lifetime, and the person has no way of knowing that the life they are experiencing is that of the communicating spirit.

In the case of Billy Mulligan in 1977 doctors at the state penitentiary in Ohio, discovered that the convicted rapist had become possessed by two discarnate personalities, both of whom communicated in a different language. Mulligan was born and raised in the US and spoke no foreign languages, but when taken over by Abdul, Mulligan could read and write perfect Arabic. When controlled by Rugen he spoke perfect Serbo-Croat with a thick Slavic accent.

It is my belief that humans have one incarnation of their soul and upon physical death the soul is released to a spiritual world of a higher vibration. Where and how this soul will live in its new etheric environment is dependent upon its thoughts, deeds and values when on the Earth. The soul (the real person) is encased in a body of energy that replaces the physical body for this higher vibrational world, and the soul will live a life in the spirit world that is appropriate for its spiritual condition. The soul will have every opportunity for its purification and advancement without having to return to the Earth.

Once incarnated the soul cannot return to the Earth to be reborn again, because it no longer has its umbilical cord (silver cord) to attach to a fetus. Instead, it is now an individualized spirit and has exchanged its cord for a body of energy or spirit body. The spirit body is the portrayer and protector of the soul and remains with that soul making it a recognizable spirit during its eternal existence in the spirit world.

Near Death Experience (NDE) research pioneered by Dr. Raymond Moody’s investigations have become increasingly numerous due to modern resuscitation techniques, and have attracted the attention of the main stream. It is estimated millions of people worldwide are known to have been clinically dead and have been revived. Of the thousands of ordinary people interviewed by researchers in every instance the NDE subject describes going to heaven - a place of great beauty, peace and a feeling of being unconditionally loved. These ordinary people did not achieve enlightenment and for that matter may not even been on a spiritual path prior to their NDE, but yet, they went to heaven.

This has to mean that everyone who dies the physical death goes to heaven. Then, what possible improvement can be made beyond heaven by returning to the Earth to start over again and as an infant in another body? It is the surroundings and things of the earth that are the very things that prevent progress towards perfection, and are so detrimental that a return to the earth in another body would not assist one iota in acquiring spiritual improvement or achieving enlightenment. Then, what could be accomplished by having to undergo the incalculable hardship of numerous incarnations into a world that is evermore out of harmony with each passing day?

Alan Ross