Reincarnation, the phenomenon where a human being is reborn, with their soul, spirit, or consciousness embarking on a new life cycle, was scientifically studied by Dr. Ian Stevenson.
Dr. Ian Stevenson: A Trailblazer in the Scientific Study of Reincarnation
From Rigorous Methodology to Astounding Findings on Past Lives
This renowned researcher, born in Montreal, Canada, on October 31, 1918, and passing away at 88 years old on February 8, 2007, compiled an impressive collection of scientific data suggesting that reincarnation is not merely a mystical concept but a tangible reality.
Since 1958, Dr. Stevenson has been a prominent figure in reincarnation research. His journey in this field began with significant recognition when he received the American Society for Psychical Research award for his essay “The Evidence for Survival from Claimed Memories of Former Incarnations,” exploring the relationship between paranormal phenomena and life after death.
Dr. Stevenson devoted his life to the meticulous collection and analysis of astonishing cases of children who recounted details of lives they claimed to have lived with remarkable precision. These children identified not only previous homes and neighborhoods but also living friends and relatives, recalling specific events, including frequent violent deaths, and displaying birthmarks coinciding curiously with the fatal wounds of their alleged past lives.
In 1966, Dr. Stevenson published “Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation,” covering cases from various parts of the world, including Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, Lebanon, and beyond. This work was followed by further research in countries like Turkey, Thailand, Burma, Nigeria, and Alaska.
Thanks to the financial backing of Chester Carlson and the establishment of the Division of Personality Studies at the University of Virginia, Dr. Stevenson and his team could expand their research globally. His work’s most notable aspect was the scientific community’s recognition of his impeccable methodology and objectivity, even among skeptics about the topic of reincarnation.
Memories of Past Lives in Children
Human Personality Through the Prism of Reincarnation: Key Studies and Discoveries
Dr. Ian Stevenson, in his profound exploration of young children’s memories of their supposed past lives, found that reincarnation might be a viable explanation for certain aspects of human personality that other theories fail to elucidate. He noted that while a child may not have conscious memories of a past life, their interests, abilities, and phobias, as reflected in their behavior, could be influenced by forgotten experiences unrelated to their current environment.
In the late sixties, after an enlightening trip to India, Stevenson decided to focus exclusively on studying children, discarding adult cases due to the difficulty in verifying the authenticity of their memories, influenced by subconscious factors.
He found that the children were too young to have learned the vast information they claimed to recall, particularly when describing deceased individuals in remote locations. This was especially apparent in cases where the details described by the children pertained to deceased individuals in distant villages, often without any prior connection between them.
In a 1988 interview with Omni Magazine, key findings from Dr. Stevenson’s research were highlighted:
- Of over 3,000 cases studied globally, 1,100 were entered into a database and analyzed with more than 200 variables.
- Children typically begin recalling past lives between the ages of 2 and 4, with an average onset at 35 months.
- They generally stop talking about these memories around 6 or 7 years, averaging 72 months.
- Most continue with their normal lives, even denying memories of past lives when directly questioned.
- 75% of the children remembered how they died, and of these, 70% described unnatural deaths, such as drownings, murders, suicides, or accidents.
- Only 57% of cases involving natural death could recall specific details of their demise.
Additionally, a correlation was found between causes of death in a previous life and phobias in the current one.
For instance, of 47 children who described drowning in a past life, 30 (64%) exhibited a phobia of water. Cases were also documented where birthmarks coincided with fatal wounds from a previous personality, with a third of cases in India including such marks, and 18% supported by medical records. The average period between the death of the previous personality and the birth of the child was about 15 to 16 months.
Beyond Death: Studying the Interval Between Incarnations
Recollections from the Beyond and Their Impact on Current Identity
A captivating aspect of Dr. Ian Stevenson’s research into reincarnation is the study of memories related to the interval between incarnations. Among the 1,100 cases analyzed, 69 individuals recalled details about the funeral or handling of the remains of their previous personality, with 25 of these cases verified for accuracy.
There were 112 cases where subjects remembered being in another plane of existence, some even mentioning encounters with “God” or a deceased loved one; 45 cases included memories of conception or the reincarnation process.
Children often share their past life memories casually and spontaneously, frequently during relaxed moments like bathing, drawing, traveling, or upon seeing something that triggers a specific memory.
Regarding gender, out of 34 cases where the current life’s gender was opposite to that of the past life, 62% (21 cases) displayed behaviors typical of the opposite sex. Over time, many of these individuals adapted to the gender identity of their current life. Stevenson suggested that this observation could provide clues about the origins of homosexuality or gender confusion, a topic not yet explained by modern science.
Similarly, unusual behaviors were observed in some children, like preferences for certain foods or alcohol, aligned with their supposed past life. Of the 1,100 cases, 34 showed an unusual affinity towards alcohol or tobacco, consistent with their previous life.
The studies also revealed cases of children with atypical play, akin to “post-traumatic play” observed in children who have experienced traumatic events. Out of a sample of 278 children claiming to remember past lives, 66 exhibited play styles unusual for their families, with no apparent influences explaining such behavior.
In 22 cases, the children’s comments matched events from the life of the previous personality, and the nature of the play often reflected aspects of that life, like their profession, hobbies, or manner of death.
Stevenson’s work presented an innovative perspective on reincarnation, suggesting it could be a natural phenomenon subject to scientific investigation, rather than merely a matter of beliefs or opinions. If his findings are accurate, they indicate that reincarnation occurs regardless of our personal beliefs, opening a promising field for future scientific inquiries seeking to harmonize spirituality with reason in the comprehensive understanding of the human being.