Skip to comments.Never Having to Say You're Dead? The New Interest in Reincarnation in America
Posted on 09/02/2010 7:06:35 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Dr. Paul DeBell believes that he was once a caveman. Not only that, he is fairly certain that his life as a caveman ended violently. I was going along, going along, going along, and I got eaten, said the psychiatrist.
To his life as a caveman, Dr. DeBell adds his knowledge of previous lives as a Tibetan monk and a conscientious German who refused to betray his Jewish neighbors in the Holocaust. Dr. DeBells account is found in Remembrances of Lives Past by Lisa Miller of Newsweek magazine, published in the August 29, 2010 edition of The New York Times. Miller writes of the growing acceptance of the idea of reincarnation among Americans.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reported last year that a quarter of all Americans now believe in reincarnation. As Lisa Miller notes, the report found that women are more likely to believe in reincarnation than men, and registered Democrats are more likely than Republicans. In any event, the popularity of reincarnation is rising, and Dr. DeBell is but one example. A psychiatrist trained at Cornell University, Dr. DeBell is one of the voices on behalf of reincarnation, but he is not alone
In her report, Lisa Miller also introduces Peter Bostock, a retired teacher in Canada, who believes that he was once a large estate manager in England, and that he was then in love with his present wife, who was then a cook in the estates kitchen. Their forbidden love in a past life gives meaning, he suggests, to their marriage today. He told Miller that the couple shares a powerful attraction that a soul makes when it encounters the familiar.
The most influential figure in Millers report is Dr. Brian Weiss, who has pioneered what is now called regression therapy, based in the remembrance of past lives. A graduate of Columbia University and the Yale Medical School, Weiss became a lightning rod for controversy within psychiatric circles after he published an account of his treatment of a woman by hypnotizing her and assisting her to remember several past lives. Dr. Weiss now holds weekend seminars that attract hundreds of participants. He also claims that such therapeutic approaches are gaining credibility within the psychiatric profession.
Miller, who recently wrote a book on the afterlife, recognizes that the growing acceptance of reincarnation points to a retreat of Christian beliefs. In her words: In religious terms, the human narrative - birth, life, death and rebirth - has for millennia been relatively straightforward in the West. You were born. You lived. You died. After a judgment you went to heaven (or hell) forever and ever. Eternity was the end: no appeals allowed.
Reincarnation offers an escape from that linear view of history and human destiny. The Eastern conception of time common to Confucian cultures is deeply cyclical, with events and persons appearing again and again throughout time. As Lisa Miller summarizes the worldview: You are born. You live. You die. And because nobodys perfect, your soul is born again - not in another location or sphere, and not in any metaphorical sense, but right here on earth. There is more to it, of course. Hinduism teaches that eventually, after however many lives, the soul reaches perfection and release. Until then, the soul takes on life after life.
One of Dr. DeBells patients told of finding relief from grief over her mothers death by discovering that in previous lives she had been an Italian merchant who sold textiles along the Amalfi Coast, an herbalist in Africa, and a freed slave in New Orleans.
Readers of the report are likely to note some strange patterns. Why is it that these people seem only to recover knowledge of such noble past lives? A German who refused to betray his Jewish neighbor during the Holocaust? Where are the people who claim in past lives to have been concentration camp guards or complicit neighbors?
Put bluntly, even if you set Christian concerns about reincarnation aside momentarily, the picture looks dubious. Furthermore, the therapeutic application of reincarnation as a concept looks like just the latest fad. Do these people actually believe what they claim? Some do, of course, but Lisa Miller acknowledges that the nature of these recovered lives is slippery. She explains that psychiatrists have begun to broaden their definition of memory, leaving aside the question of whether a scene uncovered during hypnosis is real or not. That is a difficult question to leave aside. Most people would probably want to know if their neighbor really believes that he was a galley slave on a Viking ship in a past life.
Lisa Miller suggests that reincarnation is growing in popularity because Christianity is in retreat, especially among the young. But Stephen Prothero of Boston University asserts that increased interest in reincarnation is tied to the relative prosperity of the American people. Americans like their lives and their possessions, he argues, and they like the idea of postponing eternity. Reincarnation means never having to say youre dead he offers.
In reality, few concepts can match reincarnation in terms of being incompatible with Christian doctrine and the Christian worldview. The biblical view of history is linear, not cyclical. The Bible assumes and claims a past-present-future orientation, with the end bringing the perfect judgment and justice of God. History is not a great wheel, but a chronological current.
The Bible states clearly that it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment [Hebrews 9:27]. There is no do-over, and no great cycle of life.
Lisa Miller has a point when she suggests that the growing acceptance of reincarnation is tied to a loss of Christian knowledge and conviction among Americans. Nevertheless, it seems very likely that this new acceptance of reincarnation is more a matter of therapeutic fads and cultural fashions than a huge theological shift. The shift we are seeing is more likely a loss of Christian conviction in the face of secularization - not a comprehensive embrace of Eastern worldviews.
Nevertheless, it is important to know that a growing number of Americans now believe in reincarnation and are accepting ideas from Eastern religions and worldviews. But, even as this development is important in missiological terms, it is still hard to take very seriously.
Even in these confused times, how many Americans really want to consult a psychiatrist who believes he was once a caveman who got gobbled up?
-- R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky
Hey, Pilot, How’s DeNile today?
If you’re a Christian and you believe in reincarnation you are an idiot.
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call.................................... uh huh, you got it.
Just why is it most of the people remembering past lives are someone famous or rich? Wackos.
Meh...to each their own, no matter how silly.
“If you don’t believe in something you’ll fall for anything.”
I am always struck by the rationality of people whose work I read from a hundred years ago. They never fell for voodoo.
Nowadays, people make fun of traditionalists, calling them “regressive”. Yet moderns seem more liketly to believe and fall for the strangest things.
I wonder where they think these “memories” are stored?
Just by the odds, shouldn't at least a third of past lives be that of Chinese or Indian peasants?
That may be a consequence of the authors you're selecting. There was a big spiritualism movement in the the late 19th to early 20th century.
RE: Maybe next time he’ll come back as a tree....
And his ex-wife will come back as a dog if Karma exists.
The lost will behave like the lost.
‘To his life as a caveman, Dr. DeBell adds his knowledge of previous lives as a Tibetan monk and a conscientious German who refused to betray his Jewish neighbors in the Holocaust.’
Liberals, always exploring the edges of fantasy. In fact as a liberal (and loon) he’s far more likely to have turned them in or been one of the executioners.
If this guy is so nutty I wonder what his patients are like!!
Yep. And somebody in the world was once Hitler in their past life. I wonder who?
I'll say it was me. That way, even if all I do with this life is scratch my arse, gawk at women and drink beer I'll still be the leading candidate for the "Most Improved" Award.
(having come back so quick & all...)
That reminds me of a short story I once read. Time travelers from the far future show up in Hitler's bunker and convince him to leave with them (they leave a duplicate body so as not to cause a paradox). It seems that with all their science, they have determined that that's no afterlife, no Heaven or Hell...so they create a Hell just for Adolph. The story ends with Hitler seeing his destination, and screaming.
I remember that, but that was perhaps the beginning of the tree that bears this rotten fruit.
Actually the one the best “documented” cases of “reincarnation” was Bridey Murphy. She was neither rich, nor famous.
I don’t know what lies beyond the veil. I just trust in Christ, and pray that his grace will cover me. But I do like Kipling:
They will come back—come back again, as long as the red Earth rolls.
He never wasted a leaf or a tree. Do you think He would squander souls?
The Sack Of The Gods
In the United States perhaps, but you can go beyond that to Emanuel Swedenborg and Franz Mesmer in 18th Century Europe.
People have been believing in supernatural nonsense (redundant, I know) for as long as we've been people.
Eastern Gurus have had for years a clear agenda to implant eastern practices within our society as well as the churches. Yoga and the like within our schools and organizations was one of the first steps...and we see this now being practiced.
There was a recent photo of Michelle Obama praying in that manner common to those who do various Yoga and or Eastern practices. Which evidences her understanding of Christianity is lacking greatly. The idea one is not actually practicing a eastern religion is hog-wash....the chants etc. are indeed calling on a particular false God or entity....mantra.
The US is ripe to believe whatever deception is out there as they depart from the basics of Christianity thought and practice. Reincarnation is in direct opposition to Christianity....as well the Eastern religions who have introduced it to this country. When a nation turns it's back on God you can be sure a counterfeit will replace Him and generally one whose focus is on self...which is the hallmark of all Eastern religions.
Time travelers from the far future show up in Hitler’s bunker and convince him to leave with them (they leave a duplicate body so as not to cause a paradox).
Did you get the chance to watch the modern version of Twilight Zone ( in color ) where a woman was given the chance to return to the past and undo history by being the baby sitter of Adolf Hitler when he was a baby in order to kill him while he was an infant ?
It was narrated by Academy Award winner Forrest Whitaker.
Why did she need his assistance if she was the one that experienced it? This is a total crock of sheite.
You might read Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives by Dr. Jim Tucker who is associated with the University of Virginia, or even just read the reviews at Amazon. I have a scientific education, and no tradition of belief in reincarnation, but I thought Tucker's evidence assuming it to be real, was pretty interesting.
None of the accounts Tucker gives has anything to do with anyone rich or famous.
Adults who have been regressed can easily be dismissed - they’ve read novels, seem plays, studied history and so under hypnosis regurgitate any old thing. What interests me, though, are cases of spontaneous memories, apparently of past lives, from young children. Not saying I believe in it, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
It was from the third Twilight zone series (2002). The episode is called "Cradle of Darkness".
I only have the first and second Twilight Zone series, I may have to pick up the third.
That’s what you get for choosing the shortest line.
Just why is it most of the people remembering past lives are someone famous or rich?
Or noble or dramatic.
No one remembers being a toothless ratcatcher in Elizabethan London, or pulling a honeywagon in Korea in 1920.
For example the baby sitter kills the original baby Adolf Hitler but the parents steal a replacement baby from an orphanage and name him Adolf Hitler too, who then becomes the Hitler we know, meanwhile the orphanage burns down sans “Hitler” so the tyrants life is actually saved by the babysitter.