Is Reincarnation Actually Real?
For millennia, people have wondered, is reincarnation really true? In this post we look into the evidence (if there is any) to find out – is reincarnation really true?
This is a difficult question to answer, and it depends a little bit on how literal you want to be. If you’re asking whether reincarnation after you die is possible, this is difficult to determine. However, many people do re-invent themselves within the same life – this could to some extent be considered to make reincarnation true. This is probably a bit of a stretch compared to the real reason you came here though.
What Happens When You Die?
This isn’t a question that can be answered in a post like this. Nobody really knows. Religion and spirituality all across the world has multiple different answers. Nobody knows what happens when you die though. Indeed, many medical and ethical questions consider when it is that someone dies. Is the moment the heart stops beating? Is that when someone is clinically dead? Or is the moment of death when the brain is no longer active?
There’s various thoughts about what happens to us when we die, and reincarnation is one of those thoughts. And then, within that realm, there’s different thoughts about how the reincarnation process itself works.
What Is Reincarnation?
Reincarnation is believed to be the process by which a human (though some people believe everything is reincarnated after it dies) leaves their current earthly body and (at some point in time) begins to inhabit a new earthly body. If we believe that the body contains a spirit or soul, which those that practise Astral Projection for example certainly believe, then it is simply a matter of choice as to whether we reincarnate or stay as spirit after we die.
Reincarnation As A Different Animal
Many cultures believe that humans can be reincarnated as other animals or even inanimate objects. This is rather difficult to prove or disprove since it’s generally pretty impossible to perform any meaningful scientific tests on the animal, plant or inanimate object.
Animals can’t answer questions about their previous lives for example. They might display behaviours that suggest they are familiar with a person or place they’ve previously never met or been though. But this isn’t scientific proof that they have been reincarnated as it could occur for a number of reasons.
What Do People Think Reincarnation Achieves?
Reincarnation is a significant feature of many Indian religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism and the Brahma Kumaris to name just a few. Most of the religions that firmly believe in reincarnation believe that we are here to learn lessons and have experiences before we can be elevated to join the deity.
Some New Age Western movements also believe in the concept of reincarnation. They also tend to agree that we’re here to learn lessons and to become perfect beings before being re-united with the deity.
In some of these belief systems it is considered that humanity is one of the last rungs of a spiritual ladder. A ladder that starts perhaps with plants or insects. As the young spirit learns and experiences things as a plant or insect and then dies, then they graduate further up the ladder until they eventually become reincarnated as human.
Many of these belief systems also believe the converse to be true. If, for example, as a human you perform some heinous crime against the universe then many believe you will be ‘demoted’ down the ladder. Perhaps to be reincarnated next time as a snail, slug, snake, rat or something similarly frowned upon.
Reincarnation As The Law Of Karma
Other beliefs indicate that there is no right or wrong as such, only lessons to be learned. These beliefs tend to think that humans will only ever be reincarnated as humans but that the life they choose next time round will reflect the lessons they failed to learn in this life.
Still others belief that life you inherit next time around is a direct response to the kind of life you led in this life. For example, if you are a good person in this life then you will be reincarnated into a good life next time around.
In this schema, if you act in ways that are not beneficial to others, then your next life could well be spent surrounded by others who do not act in a beneficial way to you. In this way, the spirit learns which actions and experiences benefit it, and which do not.
Do Christians Believe In Reincarnation?
Reincarnation, at least in the most commonly held belief, is not compatible with Christian beliefs. If one can attain their position with the deity through good works or good learning then there is no need for Jesus. Jesus removes all sin from Christians. There is only one time around for Christian believers.
Is There Any Proof Of Reincarnation?
There’s lots of anecdote regarding the question of is reincarnation really true. Most people reading this will have no doubt heard of children in India who travel hundreds of miles to visit families they should not even know about, but can name when they reach their destination. Sceptics don’t view this as scientific evidence however.
However, Dr Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia produced a study in 1993 entitled Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons (link to Virginia University Paper) which indicates a link between children’s birth marks and the wounds on the body of the person who they claim to be reincarnated from.
The study has some significant limitations – not least of which is that it’s now quite old. The study sample was quite small with only 210 children included and a great many more discounted from the study.
The journal itself is not highly regarded within the mainstream scientific community – though this in and of itself is not really an argument that the study doesn’t have merit. But it does mean the study should be read closely before deciding if the study has flaws.
Nevertheless, it is an interesting read – particularly the section where 2 or more birthmarks are present on a child that correspond with a previously living person who the child claims to be reincarnated from. Further study would definitely be warranted on this subject. I’m not convinced that bias doesn’t feature in the study somehow, as parents would have to have registered their child into the study and would likely (at least in many cases) to have known the deceased.
Scientific Bias Against Reincarnation?
It is interesting to note though, that there may also be significant cultural bias against the question of is reincarnation really true in scientists in the West. After all, most will have grown up with either Judaism or Christianity as their primary cultural background.
In my quest to find evidence for this article, I have come across many Christian based websites who claim that the reason reincarnation cannot exist is because the bible says so. Indeed, many say reincarnation is impossible because God said so.
I’ve yet to see any scientific study proving the existence of God however. So ruling out reincarnation as a possibility because there’s no evidence for it seems a little circular. I’m sure I’ll upset people with that viewpoint! But it is just my opinion – feel free to convince me otherwise. My mind is open. Hopefully not so open that my brain fell out though.
Anecdotal Evidence That Reincarnation Really Is True?
From a scientific point of view, anecdotal evidence is about the lowest form of evidence you can actually get. It’s only slightly more useful than no evidence at all. And even then it’s only useful because it suggests there might be something in whatever it is that needs studying. Further study is actually needed to prove or disprove a hypothesis.
Nevertheless, there are many thousands of anecdotal testimonies relating to reincarnation. For example, as recently as 6 years ago, a Reddit user (Drabbeynormalblues) claims to have vivid dreams of being a serial killer. That Reddit thread isn’t for the faint hearted though. The user Drabbeynormalblues goes into some fairly significant detail of how he believes the serial killer treated his victims and what he does with or to them after their burial. It is his belief that the question of is reincarnation really true is settled. For him, he is a reincarnated serial killer as there can be no other explanation that fits his situation.
That subreddit has literally hundreds of other stories of people feeling that they’ve been here before and know things as children they couldn’t possibly have known leading most of them to believe that reincarnation really is true.
Is Deja-Vue Reincarnation In Practice?
Or is it just The Matrix being rebooted? Nevertheless, if you’ve ever been somewhere and had the feeling that you’ve been there before then it’s possible that you have.
It would be nice if the memories of these places that you feel like you’ve been to before were a little clearer. Generally, for me at least, the feeling is quite vague.
Deja-vue may be a little more than just reincarnation though as it often manifests itself in the feeling that you’ve been in a specific situation before. We’ll look at Deja-Vue in another article in the future.
Do You Feel Like You’ve Met Before?
This is quite a different feeling from that of Deja-Vue and could be as a result of a reincarnation. Many spiritualists believe that when we are reincarnated we tend to be reincarnated within the same group of people with whom we shared a previous life. Timings may be different. Genders may be different. Whole relationships may very well be different. Is reincarnation really true? Well, if you’ve ever met somebody who you immediately felt like you knew then it’s possible.
I can only speak from experience here. My current partner and I met when I was 21 and she was 19. For me the minute I held her hand (in a platonic fashion incidentally, not romantic at the time) I felt like I knew her. I didn’t know her in this life time though. We’d never met before. But something in me knew.
We parted company about 9 months later because I was an idiot and had a lot of growing up to do. I probably still do, even though that was nearly 30 years ago.
But throughout the rest of my life, this person would creep into my consciousness through various weird and subtle (some not so) ways. Little things would remind me of her and make me wonder where she was and what she was doing.
Eventually we caught up again. The universe conspired against me and pretty much forced me to go looking for her. Oddly, she was in the same place at the same time as I was – and neither of us had been to that place before. A few other ‘coincidences’ occurred at the similar time. This leads me to believe that something was in control of our re-meeting. Our business was unfinished.
Also rather oddly, we’d both had career changes at a similar time in our lives. Both into healthcare professions. So although we had some things in common previously we now also had similar education and careers.
Bizarre? A little. But perhaps reincarnation is the answer. We had unfinished business from a previous life to sort out.
Can We Ever Remember Previous Lives?
As we mentioned earlier in this article, there is much anecdotal evidence to the question of is reincarnation actually true and much of it involves children remembering their previous lives. There seems to come a time in a child’s life where they forget their previous life and concentrate on the current one. It may be around the same time as their imagination becomes dulled and ‘reality’ sets in.
But wouldn’t it be useful, perhaps fun (or disturbing?) to be able to remember previous lives?
Many people believe that a previous life can be visited through a process known as Past Life Regression, which generally involves hypnosis. Not everyone is susceptible to hypnosis and so the process can be quite unsuccessful for some. For others though it can be quite enlightening.
In a future article I will go into much more detail about past life regressions and hypnosis for various other things. But for now, all I can tell you is that I have had what I believe was a past life regression. Perhaps oddly, I now live in the area of the country from which that previous life occurred too – even though at the time of the regression it was nowhere near where I lived. And I didn’t move here as a result of the regression (which was over 20 years ago) since I didn’t actually remember having had it until I was reminded.
A little weird perhaps – but largely insignificant… Nevertheless, it is something I actually believe in.
Trutz Hardo has produced a book entitled “Children Who Have Lived Before” which is available on Amazon. The book follows on from Dr Ian Stevenson and his research at Virginia University. It looks at children from across the UK, the US and various other countries who claim to have lived before.
The book claims to have additional scientific evidence to back up the claims that reincarnation is really true.
Dr Jim B. Tucker, also of the University of Virginia has also written a book which continues the work of Dr Stevenson. The book is entitled “Life Before Life” and is also available on Amazon for further reading. Perhaps somewhat interestingly, Dr Jim was previously raised in a strong Baptist Christian family and gave up a successful family psychiatry practice to continue Dr Stevenson’s work. Clearly he believes there’s something in it.
Is Reincarnation Really True Then?
This post has only really scratched the surface. I may come back as I find more information as it’s a subject that does interest me deeply. At the moment though, the only scientific studies I can find on the subject all arise from Virginia University and that suggests few other scientific institutions are prepared to investigate it further.
This doesn’t mean reincarnation isn’t true though. It could just mean there’s no money in finding out if there is or not. Unless you were reincarnated and knew where you’d hidden your previous nest egg. But then you wouldn’t need proof for that – finding the money would be enough proof for you!
It would be nice to find some more evidence for this subject. I think most people would like to think that there’s more than just this one life. But thinking such things can, depending on your frame of mind, lead to such thoughts as ‘well, I can do what I like in this life, I can pay for it next time around instead’. Equally though, the converse could be true. If this is all there is then why do we even have a moral code if there’s no consequence and we’re all going to die once and for all…
But that’s a topic for a very different article.
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment with any thoughts you might have below. I’d be very interested to hear anyone’s stories or whether you think I’ve got it all wrong.