Saturday, January 26, 2013

Children's Recall of Past Lives and the Period Between Lives

by Nelson Abreu
IAC California

Either he [Dr. Stevenson] is making a colossal mistake. Or he will be known as the Galileo of the 20th century.  - Dr Harold Lief in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Sujith tells his mother that he was a railroad worker and then a seller of bootleg arrack in the village of Gorakana, about eight miles from where they now live in Sri Lanka.  He has quite a taste for cigarettes and arrack.  Did I mention he is barely two year old?  His mother is not shocked by the past-life account of her son, who tells her he was struck and killed by a passing truck along the highway in front of their house, after getting drunk and quarrelling with his wife – he remembers how he would affectionally call her Maggie. 

As a Buddhist, she naturally accepts the concept of reincarnation, or the idea that the self lives several, successive physical existences and transcends the physical body, therefore surviving its death each time.  In IAC's Consciousness Development Program, students are introduced to the neologism existential seriality, that includes the period between lives. That is, we see a sequence of physical and extraphysical periods, alternating between periods of having and not having a physical body.

A monk selected sixteen items about Sujith’s statements that could be checked for accuracy and visited Gorakana, where he verified virtually all of them.   Six months before Sujith’s birth, a Sammy Fernando that fit the profile indeed lived there.

IAC Radio: Return to Life: Reincarnation Research with Dr Jim Tucker 00:00/ 28:11

Formerly a professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine and director of personality studies at the University of Virginia, the late Ian Stevenson had been among the world’s leading reincarnation researchers.  Funded by Chester Carlson, the inventor of the photocopy machine, Stevenson was able to find behavior parallels and corroboration for fifty-nine of Sujith’s statements about his earlier life as a Sammy. 

These included a taste for spicy food and wearing a type of shirt and sarong not commonly found among young children, inclination to free use of profanity, singing, physical violence, notable generosity, wariness around policemen, and great fear of trucks.  When he brought the Fernandos and the child together, he seemed to instantly recognize several of them, including Maggilin – Sammy’s widow.  He called her several pet names Sammy used, proclaimed his love for her, and blamed her for his death.

Cryptomnenia, or the mind’s creation of ‘memories’ from books, films, and other data sources based on present-life traumas can explain many purported cases of reincarnation, but cases like Sujith’s reveal it does not necessarily rule out reincarnation.  We all know that because some pathological cases exist, it does not logically follow that all cases are such.  Genetic or inherited memory is an unsatisfactory hypothesis since many cases cross family, cultural, geographical and ethnic borders.

Dr Stevenson and colleagues documented cases around the world, including some that included biological evidence: for instance, birth marks or defects that a highly correlated to mode of death or other events in the purported past existence.  The evidence is so compelling it has been published in major international journals and is among the studies that renowned popular astronomer and skeptic Carl Sagan admitted warranted further investigation and should not be readily dismissed.

Wagner Alegretti, president of IAC, is an internationally-seasoned consciousness researcher, and also defends that existential series can be scientifically and personally verified.  Besides dedicating over a decade to recall moments of his own past lives and studying the existing literature, his major contribution in the field has been elucidating the link between recall of past lives and the out-of-body experience or projection of the consciousness.

If we entertain the possibility that the self is non-physical, we can use scientific reason and method, but venture beyond the physical body and dimension, taking seriously the possibility of the self as being different and more than energy. 

By encouraging and training individuals and researchers alike to have their own experiences, encouraging mastery of the perception and control of chi or vital energy, parapsychism, and conscious projections beyond the body, the concensus grows among these experiencers that they are each multidimensional and multiexistential consciousness.  Scientific conclusions can then be derived through consensus of experiences as well as formal experimentation.  Direct, personal experience as a source of knowledge and self-improvement reveals itself as irreplaceable.

Though several movies and books report cases of people having such experiences, few explain why the phenomenon happens and how to generate it.  As a notable exception, Alegretti’s Retrocognitions, the English version of the best-selling Brazilian edition, is a sophisticated, mature, comprehensive and integral study of the mechanism of the phenomenon through Alegretti’s own experiences and research.
It discusses factors that predispose or hinder retrocognition; types of past life recall (spontaneous, forced / induced, and generated at will), benefits and precautions regarding retrocognition, and its purpose as an evolutionary tool.  It highlights that the out-of-body experience may allow one to temporarily escape the restriction of acuity caused by the physical condition, giving us more access to our integral memory: including recall of the period between lives, which few other researchers have studied. Among the exceptions, we find Michael Newton and, in fact, Jim Tucker, one of Dr. Ian Stevenson's successors.  

Not only does the projection of the consciousness facilitate such recall, it is a way to observe existential series "live, on the scene, as it happens."  In other words, we can observe the process of biological death and confirm that a person continues to exist with their subtle body in the extraphysical period. We can observe that those who are more lucid in this extraphysical period are reviewing their previous existences and preparing for the upcoming physical period. This could be a window in the our own recent past, when we may have been doing the same.

We can also witness different stages of the process of rebirth, how an extraphysical consciousness prepares for energetic connection with a new fetus leading to its ultimate physical birth, returning nightly to the extraphysical, with or without awareness, through the out-of-body experience, and eventually through biological death, once again, a sort of "final projection" -- final from that specific body, but far from the first, and far from the last, in the multi-millenary cycle we are calling existential series.

Although there are interesting applications for historians, judges, geologists and other professionals, the most profound implications for this study deal with understanding daily life: remembering past experiences can help us avoid repeating mistakes.  Perhaps the most provocative idea is that of recall of the intermissive period between two physical lives, which could allow us to remember a life mission we may have planned to execute in this life.  Alegretti suggests we could identify former family members, friends and "foes" who may be in their physical or extraphysical periods presently, clarifying the roots of the dynamics of our relationships; hints about our inclinations and traits, phobias, shortcomings and prodigious skills, why we were born into a particular family, and concepts on ethics and karma at a personal, group, and humanity level.

Note: In issue 35 of the Journal of Conscientiology, you may read a tribute in memory of author and researcher of past-life experiences, Ian Stevenson. This tribute was written by Jim Tucker, a child psychiatrist who became one of Stevenson's successors in his work. Jim Tucker makes the work accessible to the lay audience in Life Before Life, which includes a chapter on children's recall of the Intermission. Dr. Tucker has also published a paper co-relating recall of the intermission with descriptions of out-of-body experiences, especially of the near-death experience variety.


  1. If the evidence for reincarnation were known, there would be much wider acceptance of it, and greater happiness.

    1. Dear Beverly

      You will enjoy this interview with Dr Jim Tucker who offers his reflection on what the world might be like if the evidence was more widely accepted.

    2. There are societies like Burma, India, Sri Lanka where reincarnation is widely believed, but it is not clear those civilizations are more spiritually advanced. They seem to have plenty of issues of their own with human folly. It is no so much lack of awareness of evidence or belief, but rather lack of more direct, personal experience of multidimensionality and multiexistentiality. This is why IAC is dedicated to fascilitating such experiences worldwide, so that little by little, more and more people expand their paradigm and hence, as you point out, their behavior.

      Thanks for following our blog!

      Nelson Abreu
      IAC California
      Los Angeles

  2. My relatives say my mum could remember her past life when she was young. When she started talking, she would say where she came from and what her name was. She would say she was from a nearby village (from a different religion). When heard, her relatives from past life travelled to my grandparents' place and verified it. As Buddhists my grandparents accepted that as reincarnation, however, they didn't like their first child (after 2/3 still births) attached to her past life. They tried everything in their power to make her forget her past life (using traditional means). Not sure if it helped or it's just that memories faded over the time, she stopped talking about it a few years later. My mum is now 73 and she would say she doesn't even remember that she talked about these things when she was young. She only know it because people talked to her about it. I have only personally met two such people in my entire life, my mum and another girl who has a birth mark that's drawn by her father in the past life. The rest are just the stories that other people say. I heard that some people can remember a few past lives and can still remember even when they grow up. However, for my mum and the girl, they only talked about their past life when they were very young esp. when they started talking and slowly they will forget about it. Not sure Sujith can still remember about his past life a few years later.

    Myanmar (formerly known as Burma)