If, by “scientific,” you mean an “empirical, double-blind, repeatable, statistically sound and peer-reviewed proof for multiple rebirth or reincarnation in human beings,” the answer is no. But if you mean, has there been any “rational, systematic and statistically significant study of reincarnation,” the answer must be yes.
There are at least two significant, systematic studies made by Western researchers—
Dr. Ian Stevenson, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia, and Dr. Helen Wambach, a clinical psychologist at JFK University, California.
But before describing these studies, I would like to say something about science in general and the attitude of the mainstream scientific community toward nonphysical phenomena.
There is nothing wrong with the scientific method. Its principles and techniques for proving the existence of a phenomenon or the efficacy of a drug are perfect.
But the scientific method is applicable only to physical matter. Science has no valid tools or methods to study nonphysical things. That’s why, to apply the scientific method to supernatural phenomena is like using a telescope to see an angel, or a microscope to see a soul.
There is something fallacious in the statement, “If something cannot be proven scientifically, it does not exist.” And yet, this is, at the moment, the accepted conventional wisdom—which reminds me of the following story:
One evening, a stranger saw a man on all fours under a lamp post, apparently looking for something. Asked what he was looking for, the man replied, “I am looking for my car key.”
“Where did you lose it?” the stranger asked.
“Oh, it fell somewhere there in my backyard,” said the man.
“Then why are you looking for it under this lamp post?”
The man quipped, “Because this is where the light is.”
Fortunately, there are brave, scientifically trained individuals who are not afraid to peer into the dark to find the truth.
Dr. Stevenson, a well-respected psychiatrist and later head of the Psychiatry Department at the University of Virginia, systematically investigated about 2,000 cases of spontaneous recall of past lives by children ages 3 to 12.
These children began talking about their previous lives almost as soon as they learned to speak. They were never coached, nor had they seen films on past lives. Neither were they hypnotized.
Past life recall
Dr. Stevenson traveled to many countries verifying details of the stories of these children, and what he discovered soon convinced him of at least the possibility of reincarnation. He then chose 20 of the most remarkable stories he investigated and put them together in a book, “Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation.”
Dr. Stevenson died in 2007, leaving behind valuable documented stories of spontaneous past life recall by children from India, Africa, the near and far east, Britain and the United States. He was able to conduct such a pioneering study because of a substantial study grant he received from the inventor of the Xerox copying machine. He spent 40 years of his life recording cases of spontaneous past life recall in children.
One of the most famous cases was that of Shanti Devi of Delhi, India, who at the age of 3 began talking of her previous life as Lugdi Devi, who lived in Mathura some 50 miles from her hometown.
Her story was at first regarded as a product of a child’s wild imagination. But as Shanti began to grow older, she would give details of her life as Lugdi, and how she died giving birth to her second child.
When Shanti was 9, a man from Lugdi’s village came to Shanti’s town and met her mother. The latter asked whether Lugdi had lived in Mathura, and the man said, yes, he knew the family of the deceased woman.
When they brought Shanti to her “former village,” she recalled incredible details of her life, including the name of her former husband, physical description, and even the way they made love, which finally convinced him that Shanti was the reincarnation of his former wife.
Another pioneer in the systematic study of reincarnation was Wambach, a clinical psychologist from California. She initially hypnotized 30 subjects, until the number ballooned to 3,000 individuals producing some 5,000 recorded regressions.
Wambach (1925-1986) not only asked her subjects who they were in the past and their profession, but also asked them to describe their status, gender, race, clothing, footwear, utensils, tools they used, their money or currency, housing and the food they ate.
The result of her years of study surprised everyone, because in all but a few cases (less than 1 percent), the descriptions they gave were totally accurate and corresponded with historical facts!
Another interesting and important question she asked her hypnotized subject was, “When did you enter your mother’s womb?” Surprisingly, a great majority of her subjects (over 80 percent) said they entered their mother’s womb several months after conception and a few even after birth. This is contrary to the Christian belief that the soul of a human being is already present at conception, which is why abortion is condemned by the church.
Wambach reported her findings in two important books, namely “Life Before Life,” originally published in 1979, and “Relieving Past Lives: The Evidence Under Hypnosis,” published in 2000.
There are several other authors and researchers who have made very valuable contributions to our understanding of reincarnation. Two of the most important books filled with historical and scientific information are: “Reincarnation: The Phoenix Fire Mystery,” compiled and edited by Joseph Head (pen name of Carey Williams), and S.L. Cranston, published in 1977, and “Reincarnation: A New Horizon in Science, Religion, and Society,” by Silvia Cranston and Carey Williams, published in 1984.
I had the privilege of meeting Williams in the mid-’80s and interviewing her about her research, which I included in my book “Soulmates, Karma and Reincarnation.”
The next Soulmates, Karma and Reincarnation seminar will be held May 12, 1- 7 p.m. Call 8107245 or 09989886292. Visit www.innermindlearning.com.