This evidence mainly stems from the work of Dr. Ian Stevenson and his studies of children who can spontaneously remember very specific details of their former life. These details are then checked against the details of the former life being described (such as people, places and events), very often with uncanny agreement. So much agreement, in fact, that it really does seem that these people have lived as other people, and represent the rare cases in which this previous life-experience is readily accessible through memory.
When a high percentage of these life-details are verified as correct, a link between two different human lives is suggested. Our task is then to do everything we can to explain this link within our existing paradigm — i.e. by finding a physical mechanism that might link these two lives, or revealing some way that these children are getting these details correct by accident, and actually they’re just spouting imaginary fantasies.
But the thing is, Stevenson kept finding cases where there is agreement on a large number of life details: sometimes as many 25-30 correctly verified specific details such as people’s names, place names, life events, manner of death, geographical data, and so on.
The likelihood of all of these details being correct by chance is astronomically, preposterously, small.
Take this analogy: you attend a party and week later, you and I are having a conversation about it. After you’ve described a few details, I say “I was at that party!”. “No way!” you reply, “I didn’t see you there at all. Prove it — tell me what happened!”.
Imagine that I then went on to describe that Mike (who was wearing his yellow shirt) was singing songs with Annie (an artist visiting from France) out in the garden, to celebrate Vishal’s birthday. Vishal was dancing with Anja and Rupert and they got on the table and sung “All Night Long” before Vishal made a speech about love and proposed to Sylvia, his fiancee. She said yes!
Since you witnessed all these events yourself, then you would of course conclude that I was at the same party. With that level of detail, the only reasonable conclusion to draw would be that yes, I was indeed at the same party as you. You might suspect that I got the information some other way. But if I could also prove to you I was somewhere else at the time (e.g. with a picture of me in a restaurant that same evening), then surely your doubts would disappear.
Now coming back to reincarnation: with this level of accuracy over several life details, it is unreasonable not to conclude that reincarnation is happening.
Stevenson recounts the a particularly strong case of a child who “talked copiously about the life of a young schoolboy. He made several specific statements that ultimately checked out. He said he lived in a place called Balapitiya and traveled by train to a school in another town called Ambalangoda. He made comparisons between the families’ property. He referred to an aunt, by name, who had cooked chilies for him. Perhaps the most astonishing thing was that when the two families met, the boy pointed to some [writing] in a wall that turned out to be the name of the deceased boy he was remembering. The subject said he had made that when the cement was wet.” (New York Times)
Human reincarnation. Yes, it’s weird. Yes, it’s unexplainable. But it’s happening.
The next question is how it is happening. And nobody has even come close to suggesting a physical mechanism that would explain such accurate and precise agreement between all these memories and verified life-details.
If this was a one-off, we might let it slide as an anomaly. But Stevenson collected as many as 2500 cases of former-life remembrance in children, from different cultures all over the world.
What are the chances of all these thousands of specific life details being correct by chance? To suggest that this is all just coincidence is a massive claim — you’d need a damn good explanation for why these all details are correct by chance.
Stevenson scrupulously took many of the potential information-transfer mechanisms into account (such as suggestive parents who have already gathered information about the former life being described), but still, the evidence holds its own. Taking all these factors into account, and by identifying controlled cases where there is a verified lack of communication between a remembering-child’s parents and the former-life’s family, it becomes clear that something very unusual is going on here.
To say it’s all coincidence actually demands that we concoct a far more elaborate (or downright vague) explanation for this phenomenon than the obvious and reasonable conclusion that is staring us in the face: that there is indeed some kind of non-physical mechanism that connects these children to the lifetime they are describing so precisely and accurately. This has huge implications, as we’ll see.
First let’s address the question: why only some children? Why not everyone?
Well, clearly the vast majority of people undergo a sort of “amnesia” before birth, where we forget our previous lives — perhaps in order to focus all our energies on the learning to be gained within this current life. Interestingly, a high percentage of children who remembered their former life, remembered one in which the means of dying was either violent or sudden. The trauma of this supposedly left a deep imprint on their psyche that survived even through their next birth, allowing these children to access former-life memories.
I get it, you’re skeptical! Maybe you think I’ve finally lost the plot.
Well: the *key reason* I’m writing this post is because of the incredible strength, quality and rigour of Dr. Stevenson’s research, analysis and reasoning (this paper is a good introduction).
And, of course, because I want to share a discovery that doesn’t seem to be getting nearly enough attention. Because this is very very good news, if you ask me. As Christopher Bache writes, it means that we have an “unlimited amount of time”… an “open-ended number of lifetimes” with which to learn, grow and evolve.
With reincarnation, “Nature has found a way of preserving and carrying forward the life experience of the individual. Now we see that our unique way of experiencing life, our singular individuality has emerged out of an ocean of time so vast as to be almost immeasurable and that it can continue to develop for as long again still. Death is but a pause that punctuates the seasons of our life, nothing more. This insight brings us to the threshold of a new understanding of human existence.” (Bache)
Reincarnation might sound scary or spooky at first, but once you digest it, the sense of freedom and vastness this evidence brings can be totally life-changing. It can help us to find freedom from the “imprisonment of the one-timer’s worldview”.
It’s also worth mentioning the secondary body of evidence that is the anecdotal accounts of very many living people who have done various forms of introspective work (such as deep meditation, psychedelic work, past-life regression hypnotherapy, or just spontaneous remembrance) and began to uncover memories of their former lives. Check out this heartwarming story for a good example. There’s a lot of these people about, but in our society nobody really believes them, and most keep quiet about it because the backlash and ridicule is so fierce. But to the naysayers, I would challenge you to consider how your life a worldview might change if you started to remember past lives. Ultimately no second-hand account is going to be more impactful than uncovering our own experiences of reincarnation. Through internet resources and guidance, such as guided past-life regression therapy, this possibility is now becoming available to a vast number of people.
It’s worth asking: why is Stevenson’s evidence for reincarnation not more widely accepted in our society? Well, I think it is a difficult thing for us modern Westerners to digest because it challenges some core assumptions of our worldview. Assumptions like “death is the end”; “you only live once”; “my identity is defined by this lifetime, this body, this person I currently am”; “without the body, there can’t be a mind”.
But what if all of these assumptions simply aren’t true?
Evidence for reincarnation has the power to completely overturn our “materialist” worldview which takes matter to be primary (and mind/consciousness to be some accident that bubbles up out of matter when it gets complex and intelligent enough). It suggests that some essential part of ourselves is not bound by matter; that the mind is not reducible to the brain; that reality is indeed more multidimensional than the four-dimensional space-time that we can see and touch (where do we “go” between our embodied lives?).
But: we don’t like evidence when it challenges our assumptions. We are all still learning how to be rational and scientific, letting good evidence change our minds about things. If you feel like you’d like to read a critical inquiry: I recommend this article in Scientific American and the chapter “Beyond Reincarnation” in Bache’s book “Dark Night, Early Dawn”.
Take some time with all this and let it sink in.
We are on a far bigger adventure than we have been led to believe, my friends. Far bigger, and far more epic. We are so much more than we have been led to believe! Our stories are so much richer and more complex, than this “one life and then it’s over” myth that we have been living under. We have lived for hundreds if not thousands of lifetimes upon the Earth — and will do so for many more.
The implications of all this are staggering. It feels like a triumph of the scientific method, and clearly it’s going to take our society a long time to digest — much like Copernicus’ discovery that Earth orbits the Sun, and not the other way around, which took hundreds of years to become widely accepted fact.
A revolution is underway. The modernist materialist worldview is collapsing, and it couldn’t be better timing. We desperately need a bigger and richer vision of who and what we are if we are going to treat ourselves, one another and our living planet with all the respect, care and appreciation it rightfully deserves.
This is truly a revolution in how we understand ourselves, who we are, what the universe is — and what on earth is actually going on here.
Oho, it’s good to be alive!
**By Will Franks