Wednesday, October 18, 2006

How long has this been going on?

I have a standard apology, which is beginning to read like legal boilerplate, for devoting too many postings to politics and not enough to spirituality and psychical research, which are part of what this blog is supposed to be about. So here it comes again. Those subjects are harder to write about — many of their aspects can't be framed easily in ordinary language. They are subtle and complex. Maybe I was over-ambitious in incorporating them into the Great Plan for Reflecting Light.

Still, they are interesting and important, and I propose in today's edition to at least keep the psychical research flag flying. My subject is what must be the only popular song — at least the only first-class one — whose beneath-the-surface subject is reincarnation. It is the classic "Where or When" by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. In case you haven't listened to it lately — if you've never heard it, you are culturally deprived and no mistake — the lyrics open like this:

It seems we stood and talked like this before
We looked at each other the same way then
But I can't remember where or when
The clothes you're wearing are the clothes you wore
The smile you are smiling you were smiling then
But I can't remember where or when

Lorenz Hart (who wrote the words), despite his well-known emotional problems, must have been psychically sensitive or had a touch of mysticism. In these seemingly simple but profound words, he has expressed poetically something I believe many people have experienced occasionally, especially when in love or infatuation: a haunting sense of meeting someone that is more like a re-meeting, a resumption of a relationship that isn't bound to the here and now.


Most varieties of occultism, and even one of the world's major religious traditions (Hinduism), say that when we leave the physical body at death our soul or spirit continues on a more rarefied plane, and after an inter-life period selects another body to be born into. But, according to this belief, the "new" person retains both unconscious memories of previous incarnations and so-called karmic attachments to the souls of individuals they were involved with in those past lives. When you meet someone who was important back then, such as a husband, wife, or close relative, that elusive "it seems we stood and talked like this before" feeling whispers to your inner ear.

But the relationships we established with them are not over and done. The give-and-take normally has to be worked out in succeeding lives.

Do I know this for a fact? No. Does evidence for it exist? Yes.

There is the testimony of mediums who are in touch with spirits able to see the larger scheme better than we can here in the physical-mental world. Don't believe in mediums? Okay. There is scientific evidence.

The best known scientist who has studied reincarnation is Ian Stevenson, M.D., head of the Division of Personality Studies at the University of Virginia. For more than 30 years he has studied spontaneous cases (i.e., not induced by hyponosis) of past life memory, mostly among Asian children.

Many people get in touch with apparent past life memories under hypnosis. This kind of evidence should be approached with caution; people who are hypnotized are usually in a state of extreme suggestibility, and unless care is taken they may make up stories based on what they think the hypnotist wants to hear. Serious researchers are well aware of this and avoid leading the witness.

The two best studies known to me of past life memory based on investigation conducted with scientific rigor are Reliving Past Lives by Helen Wambach, Ph.D., and Exploring Reincarnation by Hans TenDam.

Wambach's is particularly interesting — and persuasive — because she does not limit herself to reporting particular hypnotic sessions revealing alleged past life memories. More than 1,000 experimental participants were regressed to other lifetimes; while they were experiencing those lives, she asked them about their environment, clothing, food, what sex they were, and other questions designed to "place" the earlier incarnations. Wambach then performed a statistical analysis on the claimed previous lives as a whole.

What do you know — her subjects were (in their professed earlier lives) 49.4 percent women, 50.6 percent men, just what you would expect if their stories were authentic. The earlier lives were widely distributed geographically and temporally. Contrary to the cartoonish notion, hardly any claimed to be famous people; there were no Napoleons or Queen Nefertitis. Wambach also says that her historical research on some of the times and places of the remembered lives turned up no anachronisms or contradictions of known fact.

Do you have an intuition of a very long shared past with someone you know, longer than your current association? Seems like old times.

Some things that happen for the first time
Seem to be happening again
And so it seems that we have met before
And laughed before
And loved before
But who knows where or when


DontDrinkTheTaqiyyah said...
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DontDrinkTheTaqiyyah said...
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DontDrinkTheTaqiyyah said...

[It was me that dumped the above two posts, sorry. Was rusty on my html]

If one takes/knows repeated earth lives to be a fact -- (a fact not to celebrate with great smugness, for repeated earth lives are an outcome of the Fall) -- then an account of what happens in-between lives is all the more interesting.

Here are two lecture selections from Life Between Death and Rebirth, a series of engrossing lectures by Rudolf Steiner given in various towns during 1912/1913:

Lecture III

Lecture VI

Full index to lectures in "Life Between Death and Rebirth":

Lecture List for Life Between Death and Rebirth

What I appreciate about Steiner is that he shows how the moral/spiritual are bound together in the non-physical realms after death. -- [Of course, one will connect with this or pass it by as meaningless.]

Steiner describes here and in many other places (as did Cayce in more general terms) how we ascend after death through a series of spiritual environments related to the structure of the solar system (which is Ptolemaic-ly structured in the invisible realms). How we encounter and experience each domain after our passing is connected with the moral tenor of our lives and conduct.

For me, the deeply moral tenor inherent in what Steiner describes is deeply moving to the heart and conscience.

[ - Hitting the SEARCH button at far upper left of the pages above and typing "reincarnation" as a first search and "repeated earth lives" as an additional search will bring up many references. - ]

Rick Darby said...


Thanks for the links! I have read a few of Steiner's lectures and they seem intuitively to be quite worthwhile for learning about metaphysical reality.