“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another. Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.” — H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”
Over 3,000 years ago in the ancient cultures of the Orient, Greece, and India, the belief system was that the soul lives again and again in human (or even animal) form. Reincarnation or the idea of transmigration (from one physical body to another) of souls is deeply embedded in many religions and belief systems across cultures. These diverse beliefs may even teach how to remember past lives.
In a general understanding of reincarnation, it becomes closely linked to the Law of Karma, which means that rebirth is all about soul evolution. Many religions profess a variety of beliefs about the true purpose of reincarnation.
In most cases, reincarnation is viewed as a means by which the soul develops. In each incarnation, the soul struggles with negatives to obtain a higher state of being and ultimately become an "old soul". The theory is that the soul survives the body and is reborn in another body, which evolves and grows through the Spiritual Laws of Action and Reaction, or cause and effect.
Recent polls (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life) have shown that this is a growing belief system in the West. Over 75 million (around 25% of Americans), regardless of religion, believe in reincarnation. Other surveys have reported that one in ten Americans can either recall a past life or have a strong belief that they have lived before. Millions more embrace worldwide belief systems including Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, as well as Western adaptations or New Age religions that all describe reincarnation as a part of their spiritual beliefs.
Remembering Past Lives
There have been some very compelling cases of children under the age of 6 who have vivid past life memories. Shanti Devi was an Indian girl born in 1926. Her claims to have lived before were investigated and supported by Mahatma Gandhi, Edgar Cayce and a variety of others through the years.
A more recent case is recounted in the book "Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot" written by Bruce and Andrea Leininger in 2010. Bruce and Andrea's son had verifiable memories of another life. His memories included his name and the names of his fellow pilots in a previous life.
Human memory can be tricky. That's why the cases of children are often discounted. Research is continuing to uncover some amazing cases.
There have also been some dramatic cases of adults recalling past lives. In the 1950's, Virginia Mae Morrow had hypnosis-induced recollections that she had lived in 1864 Ireland as a woman named Bridey Murphy.
“The Body of B. Franklin Printer, Like the Cover of an Old Book, Its Contents Torn Out And Stripped of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies Here Food for Worms, But the Work shall not be Lost, For it Will as He Believed Appear Once More In a New and more Elegant Edition Revised and Corrected By the Author” — Benjamin Franklin epitaph written when he was 22 years old and not used on his tombstone.
Why Remember Past Lives?
Some people claim that the past is over and done. So does it matter if we know anything about our past lives? Why do some people remember consciously and others don't?
Going back to a previous life can be helpful to explain fears and trauma that seem to appear from nowhere.
Keep in mind that we each have many lifetimes that result in hundreds of years of experiences. It would be impossible and unnecessary to carry around all those memories from multiple life experiences.
Overall, when someone remembers a past life, there is a reason for the memories. For instance, famous healer Edgar Cayce was able to diagnose health conditions that were the result of unresolved issues carried over from previous incarnations.
If you believe in reincarnation, getting in touch with a past life may suggest a possible unraveling of the intricate and complex soul geometry. This "unraveling" has the possibility of helping you to resolve issues and understand problems in your current incarnation.
“It is not more surprising to be born twice than once;
everything in nature is resurrection.” — Voltaire
There are currently techniques similar to Cayce's which can be used to take people back to re-experience or remember their past lives.
There are many methods for remembering or discovering one's past lives.
1. Nightmares, Dreams, and Déjà Vu
Almost everyone has experienced startling moments of the déjà vu phenomenon. Out of nowhere, we are surprised by the sudden feeling that we have been in a certain place or lived through an event that would be impossible for us to have been through. Déjà vu can happen when you visit someplace where you have never been before. These feelings can even trigger past life memories.
Dreams and nightmares that reoccur may offer clues to past lives. Several famous cases of past life memories were opened up in hypnotherapy. This points to the idea that some past life memories may be housed in the unconscious mind. Dreams and nightmares are the output of the subliminal or unconscious mind.
It may well be that nightmares are reflections of long-ago traumas from other lives, still unresolved, which continue to haunt us.
Those memories that come to us in our waking and sleeping dreams are the most common types of past life memories. However, they are often out of context and impossible to understand.
Hypnosis, rebirthing, and Past Life Regression (PLR) are ways to tap the unconscious mind to reveal a previous life. Hypnotherapy was involved in some early recorded cases of past life memories. Cases like Virginia Mae Morrow (Bridey Murphy) came to light when the subjects spontaneously begin to reveal past lives while under hypnosis.
More recently, guided regressions have resulted in the discovery of memories that don't match anything in the participants' current life. Past life regressions often uncover memories of another life. These memories may even reveal that you lived in a different century, culture, spoke a different language, had a different sexual identity and personality.
3. Self-Journey/Coming Home to Yourself/Intuitive Sessions
There are also other ways to tap into your unconscious mind. One method (self journey) depends on meditation. Meditation can be guided by a facilitator or done as an individual.
An intuitive reading may also reveal details of previous incarnations. When a spiritual person or a psychic gives you past life information, it often helps you understand what is going on in the present. Psychic Elements has a number of readers that specialize in reincarnation or past life readings.
Past life meditations are often healing as well as revealing. Those memories that we seek out or that are gifted to us may help and guide us in unexpected ways.