From time to time I re-post one of my older posts that I think deserves more attention, usually adding a few changes. In this case I’m re-posting for the third time, for I can’t exaggerate the importance to me of the book Old Souls, New York journalist Tom Shroder’s account of his time with psychiatrist Ian Stevenson and the children who speak of past lives.
One morning while I was drinking coffee in a Wendy’s, I finished reading Old Souls again, put the book down and looked out the window at the traffic and people walking by on the sidewalk and thought about what it means that the world I was looking at was infinitely larger than it appears.
Steven’s children are just the tip of an iceberg of unperceived existence.
One day in 1976, my first daughter, about one year old and not yet talking, was sitting in her high chair babbling excitedly and pointing across the room at the foot of the wall, where there was nothing to be seen.
I said to my Afro-Caribbean wife Merle, “It’s as if she can see something we can’t see.”
She replied, “At home they say little children see spirits.”
I think that’s what got started me thinking about this. Also, anyone who has lived with cats or dogs knows that they too appear to see things invisible to us. Why do we assume that they see nothing, or that they are hallucinating, just because we see nothing?
So when children start talking about past lives, saying things like, “You’re not my mother” or “I lived in Junagadh, not here”, etc., – talking about people and places the family has never heard of, and then investigation finds that the names and details they provide match closely to the life of someone deceased, you can understand why Ian Stevenson was so intrigued that he spent a lifetime investigating those children.
Stevenson decided to call this reincarnation, as popular culture and many religions have done for ages, but Shroder wonders whether that name is the best one. Scientists have a such a phobia about reincarnation. Maybe if we call it something else they might get over their aversion for this subject.
Not long before he died, Carl Sagan, who was sceptical of most paranormal subjects, admitted that the children who speak of past lives need to be investigated more. He said we need to determine whether this is something real.
Well, no. Sagan’s interest was welcome, but these children have been known to be real for a long time. That’s what Stevenson established. Just because the scientific community refuses, decade after decade, to look at the evidence doesn’t mean that the evidence isn’t there.
What needs to be investigated is what is going on. How does this work? How can this happen within the known laws of physics? Or, what needs to be added to o the ‘known laws’ for them to include it?
The known laws of physics can’t even explain the mind. But physicists/neuroscientists either have to do it, or admit that they are incapable of their longed-for ‘theory of everything’ – since the mind is undoubtedly there, like it or not.
Today’s physicists love speculating about things like time travel, 11 dimensions, parallel universes, etc., but they remain curiously phobic about approaching anything that has been deemed paranormal.
So if you’re interested in these things and want to learn more, don’t wait on mainstream science to help you. Science may not face up to paranormal phenomena for another century. I can’t see them dealing with those phenomena before we have full AI – super-intelligent, sentient, independent computers that will be free of our biases and do their own research.
Oh, I suppose it’s possible that we will choose to program our biases into those computers. But some AI researchers believe that, even if that is done, real super-computers – computers that are vastly more intelligent than human beings – will have no trouble ridding themselves of human prejudices and bad ideas.
But that is probably a long way off, so you have only two choices – refuse to look at the evidence since mainstream scientists say you shouldn’t look at it, or ignore them and dig into it on your own. Believe me, that is a real adventure, and there is no better way to get started than reading Old Souls.