Boy 1: Do you believe in re-incarnation? Boy 2: What is that? Boy 1: It is a rather popular belief in two of the world’s biggest religions: Hinduism and Buddhism. It is believed that one’s being or soul is re-born in different bodies through a cycle of many lives. Experiences and knowledge seem to be carried over life after life until one arrives at the ‘last life’ where one enters the ‘enlightened’ state of ‘Complete wisdom’. Boy 2: Sounds interesting! I have read about famous examples of scientific proofs of re-incarnation, the most famous being that by Dr.
Ian Stevenson. Instead of relying on hypnosis to verify that an individual has had a previous life, he instead chose to collect thousands of cases of children who spontaneously (without hypnosis) remember a past life. Dr. Ian Stevenson uses this approach because spontaneous past life memories in a child can be investigated using strict scientific protocols. Hypnosis, while useful in researching into past lives, is less reliable from a purely scientific perspective. In order to collect his data, Dr.
Stevenson methodically documents the child’s statements of a previous life. Then he identifies the deceased person the child remembers being with, and verifies the facts of the deceased person’s life that match the child’s memory. He even matches birthmarks and birth defects to wounds and scars on the deceased, verified by medical records. His strict methods systematically rule out all possible “normal” explanations for the child’s memories. Boy 1: I am still skeptical about that.
I think it is just man’s desire for immortality that gets expressed, rather strongly, as this spiritual belief of ‘Re-incarnation’. Boy 2: Before, you go too far in assuming that as a possibility, please look at a video featuring Dr. Ian Stevenson’s colleague Dr. Jim Tucker who has furthered Stevenson’s research by looking at the memories in many young children all over the world. http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=VZTtU7akrfQ Boy 1: All this looks interesting but there is chance that a big chunk of these 3000 cases just might be frauds or cases where children are lying etc.
These fraudulent cases should be considered as statistical outliers and shouldn’t even be counted in the data set of the experiment. Boy 2: That’s a good point but when you do look at the remaining cases that are not frauds, the cases are so strong and so ‘unlike’ and ‘dissimilar’ to the fraudulent ones that you can’t just throw the whole data set as statistically deviant. Boy 1: Hmm…… that might be true. But why don’t all of us remember our past lives if re-incarnation is in fact true?
Boy 2: I do not definitively know the answer for this but if you look at the video, it says somewhere in the first part that in 80% of the cases, the children could recollect their strange and unusual deaths. Maybe, it’s the trauma at the time of the death that etches these memories into the soul and carries certain memories of the past lives into the next life. Maybe there is a purpose behind it. Boy 1: Maybe…. If one goes deeper into the mechanism of certain phenomena, one comes to know more about those phenomena. How can re-incarnation occur if you do not know how it occurred?
Boy 2: That might not be true. Not knowing what the working mechanism of something is doesn’t mean that that ‘something’ cannot occur. Just because I don’t know how the bacteria multiplies doesn’t mean that bacteria doesn’t multiply. Life’s workings and processes are not dependent on our knowledge of them. In fact, sometimes it might be beyond our limit of knowing and scope of knowing but that is a whole different knowledge issue altogether which we might discuss some other time. Boy 1: I see…. This is interesting:).
It seems this real life issue of reincarnation in the cases we saw in the video has opened up a deeper knowledge issue: On what basis do people believe in spiritual beliefs and to what extent can spiritual belief be considered as knowledge? Boy 2: Well, people believe in spiritual beliefs for a number of reasons: they might have personally experienced it, they might believe in it because it gives them happiness or peace, they might believe in it because they cannot think otherwise, they might even believe in it because their culture has been doing so for centuries.