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Why Remember Past Lives

Written by: Michelle Belanger

Dr. Ian Stevenson is a renowned psychiatrist who has dedicated his life to collecting material concerning the recollection of past lives. The author of numerous books, during his long career he has collected no less than 3000 cases throuhgout the world of children who remember a previous lifetime. Many of these provide enough accurate details that the previous personality can be tracked down, and in some cases birth marks and birth defects on the child match wounds and surgery scars on the body of the deceased verified through autopsy reports. The following article presents a selection from Stevenson's book, Children Who Remember Previous Lives. It addresses the impact of such recollections on the child and his or her current family and raises the question of the usefulness of past life recall.

Is It a Help or a Hindrance to Remember a Previous Life?
Even to pose this queston requires one to ask others: “Helpful of harmful to whom?” and “Helpful or harmful at what stage of life?”

Many children subjects of these cases suffer miserably because they feel separated from the families to which they think they really belong; they may make wounding remarks that provoke reprisals and lead to their being socially isolated within their own families. Such children can then be truly alone: physically separated from the “real” (previous) family and socially separated from their own (present) family. Their parents are in no better situation. A child they wanted has turned against them and declared them not his real parents, but unworthy subsitutes. If we think only about the turmoil of conflicting loyalties in which most of the subjects find themselves between the ages of two and five, we cannot say that remembering a previous life is beneficial to anyone concerned. Apart from this, the memories themselves are more apt to be of unpleasant events than enjoyable ones. Murders and other crimes dominate the memories, not scenes of love and friendship, although there may be some of these, too.

In later life the advantages of remembering a previous life may outweigh the disadvantages. Some of the subjects have used their memories as a means for improving present conduct, rather as one may study the test questions on an examination one has failed in order to pass the next test. Moreover, those who remember any previous life, whatever its content, may acquire from the experience a sense of detachment from the present troubles that only a longer view of an individual's destiny can confer. Some subjects of these cases have had no fear of death and have offered reassurance about it to their elders. For example, a recently bereaved visitor to the home of Marta Lorenz sorrowfully remarked: “Oh dear. The dead never return.” To this Marta replied: “Don't say that. I died also and look, I am living again.” Another subject, Ma Than Than Aye, said, as her father was dyng, “It is a happy release for him. There is no cause to be sorrowful. Death is not strange at all. We all must die too.” She did not weep. (from pp. 216-217 of Children Who Remember Previous Lives by Dr. Ian Stevenson.)