Your burning reincarnation questions answered By a scientist, a journalist, a medium, and multiple spiritual teachers.
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These type of reincarnation questions are the main reason I was personally so skeptical of reincarnation in the first place. If reincarnation is real, why don’t we all remember our past lives? Why is it that some people do remember — and why is it usually children?
I’ve collected information from various sources to answer these reincarnation questions. In the following paragraphs, you’ll see insight ranging from journalists and scientists to mediums and spiritual teachers. For me, the most fascinating aspect is how much these individuals seem to agree with each other.
I think it’s worth reading through all of the details, but if you’re in a hurry, here’s the short answer. It seems that we’re supposed to forget past lives so that we can focus appropriately on the current life. The other side of that coin is that we usually *do* remember at first - which is part of the reason we don’t talk for the first year or two of life.
Reincarnation Questions Answered by a Scientist: Maybe Remembering Is a Defect
In his book Old Souls, award-winning journalist Tom Shroder details his experiences following the famous Dr. Ian Stevenson. They trekked through multiple countries, visiting children who claim to remember previous lives. They interviewed as many witnesses as possible.
In Chapter 5, he quotes Dr. Stevenson making a remark about why most of us don’t automatically remember our past lives. “Maybe remembering is a defect,” he said. “Maybe we’re supposed to forget, but sometimes that system malfunctions, and we don’t forget completely.”
Shroder finds himself thinking, “Either violence tended to imprint itself on a soul, interfering with the usual process of forgetting, or whatever forces created false memories of previous lives had a penchant for the dramatic.”
In one of his own books, Children Who Remember Previous Lives, Dr. Stevenson devotes an entire section to this topic. He addresses his theories on what kind of persons are mostly likely to remember a past life and “what other circumstances seem to assist or to block the emergence of memories.”
Trauma & Past Life Memories
I highly recommend reading this book yourself for a more thorough and well-executed explanation, but here’s the gist. Dr. Stevenson theorizes that people who died violently, or abruptly, or while still in childhood, or who had significant unfinished business — or any combination of these factors — are more likely to remember their lives the next time around. He also addresses the fact that there must be much more to it than that. Obviously not every person who has died violently or abruptly seems to come back with memories of the event.
I would like to add a reminder here that we all respond to things differently. A trauma in one person’s childhood may haunt them and give them nightmares throughout their adulthood. Meanwhile another person experiencing a similar trauma may completely block it out. I imagine this is also true with past life memories.
Reincarnation Questions Answered by Spiritual Teachers
It seems Dr. Stevenson may be on to something when he says it’s a glitch. Many spiritual teachers say that while it’s important to understand reincarnation is true, it can be distracting to remember our past lives. Since we’re supposed to focus on this current life, forgetting the previous ones is a gift.
This next excerpt is from a live speaking event of Abraham Hicks. (You could easily locate a video of it on YouTube.)
“It isn't that you don't remember — because you have access to infinite intelligence. It's that you came wanting to refocus... how difficult it sometimes is to let go of a belief… So you came with the intention of being in that fresh free place ... The death experience -- there isn't any death, but what you call death -- is sort of a clearing process where you leave behind all doubt and fear and resistance reemerge into nonphysical, and then from those intentions you come forth again. It's really the perfect plan.”
Here are some insights from metaphysical teacher and author Dolores Cannon:
"Many people ask me why we don’t remember our past lives. They think it would help a lot if we consciously knew about these karmic connections. It wouldn’t; it would make things too complicated. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to function in the everyday world if you had the memories of countless past lives constantly bombarding you? You would never be able to concentrate on the lessons you have to work out during this lifetime."
"Is it better to forget before you come back again? In many cases, yes… Otherwise the person would be continually trying to get back into the life that they led before…"
Examples of Being Unable to Move On
Dr. Stevenson has several cases that showcase this exact problem, where people who have past life memories spend this lifetime pining for their previous families. I recently wrote an in-depth post about Jasbir Singh that you can read about here. Jasbir — a standout case because of its walk-in soul aspect — dealt with depression, particularly because he missed his children and his wealth. Additionally, his present-lifetime family struggled to deal with his connection to the past life family and the way he treated them by comparison.
Another example is Suzanne Ghanem who still remembered her past life well into her adulthood. She could not find a lasting romantic relationship because she was still in love with -- and in touch — with her husband - from the life before. Though there was huge age gap between them and her past-husband had already remarried, Suzanne could not let him go.
Tom Shroder says that during an interview her previous-husband claimed he had stopped going to see her, though she still visited him once or twice a month. He wanted to discourage her so that she would move on and embrace the current life. Shroder quoted her husband as saying, “I just worry about her. This can’t be good for her. I still want to go, but I am denying myself for her sake.”
Why Is It Some People Do Remember?
Dolores Cannon is kinda the queen of answering reincarnation questions, so I’ll just quote her directly here. All of these are excerpts from her book Between Death and Life.
"Are there cases where it would be better if they didn’t forget? In those cases there is something to be learned from the previous existence that has direct bearing on what they are to go through and experience in this life."
"Sometimes when you’re a young child you remember your past connections because you’re still close to it. But then the memories you get in future years bury these memories and you forget, although they’re there in your subconscious…"
"From the work I have done with regressions, I have developed a theory about children and memories of past lives. When the soul enters the body the memories are still very close to the surface. It must be very frustrating to suddenly find yourself entrapped within the body of a baby unable to communicate… During the first two years the spirit becomes so involved with in learning to make this new body work and learning to communicate again that the memories are muted and pushed into the background. The few children who do still remember and try to tell people are usually criticized or ridiculed until they stop trying…"
More Insight from Dr. Stevenson’s Research
Dolores’s comment about the frustration of being “entrapped” within a baby’s body reminds me of one of Dr. Stevenson’s cases about a man named Parmod Sharma. He is quoted as saying, “I was sitting in a bathtub, and my feet have become small.” (The previous personality had been taking a naturopathic bath before he died and suddenly found himself in a tiny body.)
Shroder relays another story from Dr. Stevenson. “I had a case in Thailand of a man who, as a child remembered having lived the life of his mother’s brother. He said that he has a clear memory from his infancy in this life: When he was on his back, he felt he was an adult man and had all the memories of a previous life. But every so often, meddlesome adults would turn him over and he was then nothing but a small little baby, helpless in the cradle. Like a tortoise, he would struggle to get himself flipped over on his back again.”
Dr. Stevenson brings up the possibility and even likelihood of babies having imaged memories they're unable to speak about. One man directly said as much. Ven. Chaokhun Rajsuthajarn claims that when he was only an infant, he remembered all the details of his past life.
In another case, Shroder writes, "… the child’s claims concerning a previous life seemed to predate his ability to speak. His parents said that as soon as he learned to walk, every chance he got he would take off toward a neighboring village… They were constantly running after him, and would have to pick him up and carry him back to their home.”
This same child also had 2 birthmarks on his chest and as soon as he was able to talk, he would point to the marks and tell them he was shot there. He also named his murderers and the place he was killed. You guessed it — the same village he used to run to before he could even speak.
But Wait, There’s More
Even though this post is already longer than I intended it to be, I wouldn’t feel right without including a few insights from Seth/Jane Roberts on the topic. (For lack of a better word, Jane is generally considered a medium and Seth is the nonphysical personality she primarily worked with.)
It should be noted that Seth teaches heavily on the concept that "past" lives are actually all happening simultaneously. He says that time is an illusion created specifically for our experiences on Earth. I figured it would be best to save that topic for another day, but I wanted to mention it in case you've read any of my previous posts, so that it wouldn't feel like a contradiction. The following excerpts can be found in the book Seth Speaks.
"Normal waking consciousness, while having memory of itself, obviously does not retain all memory all of the time. It is said that memory of past events drops back into the subconscious. It is still intensely alive, and by alive I mean living and active, although you do not focus upon it. Inner portions of your personality also have memory of all of your dreams. These exist simultaneously, and suspended, so to speak, like lights over a dark city, illuminating various portions of the psyche. These memory systems are all interconnected. Now in the same way you have your memory of past lives, all quite complete and all operating in the entire memory system."
"Whether or not you remember your dreams, for example, a certain portion of you, under hypnosis, could remember every dream that you ever had in your life."
"You realize that your early memories are sparse. Most of you remember little of the years spent as an infant and child. You make use of the knowledge gained then, and while it is part of you, you are not aware of it consciously; and so you are not consciously aware of other reincarnational existences."
Reincarnation Answers Just Lead to More Questions
I hope this information resonates with you and brings some clarity. But if you’re anything like me, even satisfactory answers to your reincarnation questions only lead to more questions - ha. I’ll continue researching and writing about the topic. In the meantime, here are some books you might want to check out!
Old Souls by Tom Shroder
Children Who Remember Previous Lives by Ian Stevenson, M.D.
Between Death and Life by Dolores Cannon
The Children that Time Forgot by Peter and Mary Harrison
Seth Speaks by Jane Roberts
The Vortex by Abraham Hicks
Children's Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child by Carol Bowman