Part two… (Continued from the previous post…)
Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, has extensively investigated numerous reincarnation memories recounted by children, including Deep Kapadia’s case. Stevenson has assembled accounts of over 3000 cases of reincarnation and verified them thorough scientific precision, taking care to screen out fabrications. Scholars, agnostics and sceptics alike have accepted his studies to provide the most convincing evidence that there is a conscious self that can travel from one physical body to the next.
Dr Harold Lief in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease remarks “Either he (Dr. Stevenson) is making a colossal mistake. Or he will be known as the Galileo of the 20th century.”
What is Dr Stevenson’s modus operandi?
One would commonly expect a researcher on reincarnation to rely on hypnosis to verify a person’s past life. And that’s precisely why it’s less reliable from a purely scientific perspective; most scientists would scoff at such research and dismiss them.
Dr Stevenson however chose to collect thousands of cases of children who spontaneously remember a past life. He uses this approach because past life memories in a child can be investigated using strict scientific protocols; hypnosis on the other hand fails to strictly confirm to scientific procedures.
Dr Stevenson methodically documents the child’s statements of a previous life. Then he identifies the deceased person that the child remembers being in a past life. He then verifies the facts recounted by the child. An advantage of this approach is it’s difficult for children to make up a fantastic story if it isn’t a real experience. Besides, confirming the child’s statements as accurate or dreamt up is empirically possible. He even matches birthmarks and birth defects of the child to the wounds and scars on the deceased, verified by medical records. His exacting procedures of verification rule out all possible ‘normal’ explanations for the child’s memories.
The soul’s journey baffles science
Clearly when a person dies, the body is either burnt or buried. This would mean the contents of the person’s brain are also destroyed. Now we have another person, a child, with a new body and brain that remembers many things of the previous body. What’s the connection between the two bodies and brains; the one dead and gone, and the new one that recollects all the old stuff? There must be some entity that connects the previous body to the new one; who or what’s that object that survives the death of this physical body?
Science can offer no logical explanation for this phenomenon. The only common-sense understanding is the conscious self must be a being distinct from the brain. While modern science is yet to develop tools to detect this object that defies material laws, the Vedic scriptures clearly reveal this is an anti-material or spiritual entity. Also known as the ‘soul’ or Atma, the real person, this individual survives death and continues on the journey to the next body.
The Bhagavad Gita (2.13) describes this:
“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.”
We always experience that within a lifetime, our body and its cells are constantly changing; even our mind, intelligence, character, thought and everything connected to me changes in due course of time! Yet through all these ups and downs, my identity and awareness of ‘myself’, or I – the spirit soul-remains the same. We always feel, ‘I am the same person’ although my thoughts, relationships, finances or the body has changed.
Thus we are eternal or constant amidst the changing body….
The Bhagavad Gita further describes (2.22)
“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones”
We may mend our old garments for some time, but once they are beyond repair, we discard them and take on new clothes. In the same way as long as the body is usable, one keeps restoring it. However, when the body is too old and beyond any healing, the person-the soul- gives it up and takes on a new body.
A driver may relinquish his old, worn out car, and accept another new one; in the process he remains the same. The soul too changes from one body to another, all the while remaining the same, pure principle. Whether it’s the internal reincarnation- the change of body during one life time- or the external reincarnation- the soul goes into a completely new body- the real person, known as the soul remains unchanged.