Nobody Ever Remembers Being a Cow

There was a deeply silly New York Times article about “Past Life Regression” over the weekend:

In one of his past lives, Dr. Paul DeBell believes, he was a caveman. The gray-haired Cornell-trained psychiatrist has a gentle, serious manner, and his appearance, together with the generic shrink décor of his office — leather couch, granite-topped coffee table — makes this pronouncement seem particularly jarring.

In that earlier incarnation, “I was going along, going along, going along, and I got eaten,” said Dr. DeBell, who has a private practice on the Upper East Side where he specializes in hypnotizing those hoping to retrieve memories of past lives. Dr. DeBell likes to reflect on how previous lives can alter one’s sense of self. He, for example, is more than a psychiatrist in 21st-century Manhattan; he believes he is an eternal soul who also inhabited the body of a Tibetan monk and a conscientious German who refused to betray his Jewish neighbors in the Holocaust.

At least this is in the Style section, aka “Stuff Wealthy White People in the Northeast Like,” (the hook here is that well-to-do doctors in Manhattan have gotten into this stuff) but still, this is a bit much. As silly as it is, though, this at least represents a small amount of progress in dippy New Age thinking– they don’t quote anybody “remembering” being somebody famous in a past life. At the same time, though, nobody “remembers” a past life where they were anything disreputable.

Which is kind of remarkable, given how this is supposed to work.

I mean, it’s striking that, of all the possible past lives he might’ve had, Dr. DeBell remembers one as a monk in Tibet, a group that has never constituted a significant fraction of the world population (total population of Tibet at the moment is a few million, and I’d be surprised if monks are even a few percent of that), and another as a WWII-era German who refused to betray his Jewish neighbors, a group that is probably considerably smaller than the historical population of Tibetan monks.

Given that improbable one-two combination of virtuous past life living, wouldn’t you expect the soul in question to have moved on to a higher plane by now? Or does “Manhattan psychiatrist” occupy a high position in New Age cosmology?

It’s all like that, too. Not all of the people quoted as “remembering” past lives were important during those lives, but somehow all their recovered memories are flattering to them in some way. Funny how that happens.

It’s also worth doing a little math about this. The article describes a bit of a past life workshop:

In a post-Freudian world, past-lives therapy has its advantages. For one thing, it’s quick. A regression session usually takes several hours — and costs more than $100 an hour. Under hypnosis, the patient follows a guided visualization. In his workshop in Rhinebeck, Dr. Weiss talked more than 200 people into a meditative state and then encouraged them to imagine walking through one of five doors. One had on it the year 1850, another 1700, another 1500 and so on. (All this reporter could visualize were Vermeer paintings; peasants in homey kitchens and the bourgeoisie at play.) “Any good therapist can use these techniques and you can learn them in a week,” Dr. Weiss said.

The current world population is about 6.7 billion. The estimated world population in 1850 was, according to a quick Google search, anyway, around 1.2 billion, meaning that four out of five people living today can not possibly “remember” a past life as a human in 1850. For 1700, you’re looking at maybe 700 million, which knocks out 90% of the population. 1500 is maybe 500 million, ruling out 92.5% of people alive today, and so on.

If souls are continually sent back out into the world, 80% of the people alive today must’ve been animals in 1850 (presumably passenger pigeons, or some other numerous species that has now gone extinct, freeing up more souls for incarnation as humans). And yet, people not only remember past lives, they remember interesting past lives– nobody ever remembers being a cow, or a bird, or a beetle (though in the next decade or so I’m sure some people will remember being a Beatle).

I do appreciate the Vermeer line, though. It lets you know that Lisa Miller, the reporter writing this, doesn’t take it nearly as seriously as the people she’s covering. Though that does make you wonder why the Times feels this is worth writing about at all.

Comments

  1. #1 Vicki
    August 30, 2010

    John Brunner’s “The Vitanuls” plays with the idea of reincarnation only within species, and population growth.

  2. #2 dean
    August 30, 2010

    “Nobody Ever Remembers Being a Cow”

    That’s because, other than tasting yummy, cows have rather inglorious lives.

  3. #3 Moopheus
    August 30, 2010

    Aren’t you assuming that no new souls are created? There isn’t necessarily a conservation rule. What would be surprising is if _everybody_ had a past life memory. But then, cross-species couldn’t be ruled out, either, and of course, this is assumed in traditional cosmologies that include it (such as Hindu and Tibetan Buddhism).

    Or it could all be bunk.

  4. #4 rijkswaanvijand
    August 30, 2010

    Rekall!
    For the memory of a lifetime..

    Any psychiatrist indulging in this type of quackery should be helped on to his next life.

  5. #5 Yuji
    August 30, 2010

    Of course there were people who remembered being a cow. There’s a whole literature on the past lives of Buddha, in which he was animals many times! Read Jataka. I agree that New Age-ism is silly, but don’t make an unfounded statement.

    I hope for the day when Buddhism/Hinduism literature is as common cultural knowledge as Abrahamic ones in the western world.

  6. #6 Victoria Reeve
    August 30, 2010

    Oh dear… loaded language, peeps! You should know better.

    Is the whole point of science not to explore possibilities? How can you do that effectively if you are not willing to step out of your own narrowly restrictive paradigm and just… wonder?

  7. #7 Nebularry
    August 30, 2010

    I love this stuff! Do you think that if Dr. Debell went back far enough he would discover that he was a noble slug or something? Or maybe not.

  8. #8 dean
    August 30, 2010

    “Any psychiatrist indulging in this type of quackery should be helped on to his next life.”

    Shouldn’t that read

    “Any psychiatrist indulging in this type of quackery should be helped on to his next career.”?

  9. #9 Left_Wing_Fox
    August 30, 2010

    How can you do that effectively if you are not willing to step out of your own narrowly restrictive paradigm and just… wonder?

    Sure, but you can’t “Just Wonder” without just wondering the act things we’re wondering about, like why does no-one remember all their lives as the peasantry, or cowards, or villains? Or at what point do living organisms stop having “souls”? Mammals only? Animals only? Multicellular organisms? No plants allowed? If a bacteria has a soul, does a virus?

    “Wonder” is fine, but I’d rather stick that “wonder” to the realm of fiction, where wonder can be free of consequence, and valuable as inspiration wherever it might touch with reality, rather than the assumption, unproven, that it should be integrated with our knowledge without critical though.

  10. #10 chris
    August 30, 2010

    I wonder if anyone could be regressed far enough back to remember their existence as a bacterium, and finally explain to us how they formed their flagella.

    “Think of three doors…one labeled 1850…one labeled 1700…and one labeled 1,000,000 BC.”

    Also, I wonder what Dr. DeBell does when someone remembers being Josef Mengele or Torquemada. Does he support it? Or does he tweak the apparatus to obtain a more favorable result.

    Thirdly, whenever I see this reporter’s byline in the Times, I can’t help but recall crack reporter Lisa Miller of radio station WNYX.

  11. #11 rob
    August 30, 2010

    i distinctly remember being shirley mclaine in a former life.

  12. #12 Eric Lund
    August 30, 2010

    In a post-Freudian world, past-lives therapy has its advantages for the therapist. For one thing, it’s quick. A regression session usually takes several hours — and costs more than $100 an hour.

    FTFY, Lisa. :-)

    To be fair, I don’t think every therapist who runs such sessions knows he’s running a scam, but some of them are smart enough to figure it out. Also, I don’t think the editors would have let Ms. Miller leave the bolded text in even if she had written it, but the idea that she is at least subconsciously thinking this is more plausible than the idea of people having led multiple past lives *and* remembering them.

    Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt more plausibly has its central characters leading multiple lives but not recalling, at least during those lives, their previous lives (at the end of each section, when they’re all dead, they have a meeting in the afterworld). One of the characters has a reincarnation as a tiger, and the human reincarnations are with various stations (including as slaves and/or peasants) and either gender.

  13. #13 Jeff
    August 30, 2010

    I like to think that in my past lives I was a total dud. I mean a complete loser, doofus maximus. I figure that way, no matter what I’m doing, things are looking up!

  14. #14 Chad Orzel
    August 30, 2010

    Any psychiatrist indulging in this type of quackery should be helped on to his next life.

    Had I seen this before leaving to play basketball, I would’ve disemvoweled it. As silly as I think this past life stuff is, I don’t approve of this kind of rhetoric.

    Of course there were people who remembered being a cow. There’s a whole literature on the past lives of Buddha, in which he was animals many times!

    I mean “no person who is interviewed in newspaper articles about past life regression ever remembers being a cow.” Instead, you get what you have in this article: lots of people “remembering” past lives that flatter their current life in some way.

    The reported past lives of the Buddha are in a very different category from the reported past lives of psychologists in Scarsdale.

  15. #15 jim
    August 30, 2010

    archy the cockroach, who had been a vers libre poet in a previous life, asked to become a revenue officer in his next life. He understood that it was not a large step up, but he was humble.

  16. #16 feralboy12
    August 30, 2010

    By the same token, people in my part of the world sometimes claim to have animal spirit companions. And those spirits are always ravens, wolves, coyotes and other “dramatic” creatures, never marmots or mosquitoes.
    I guess there’s no point in inventing magical connections that are just as boring as your actual life.

  17. #17 Chester Burton Brown
    August 30, 2010

    If these quacks are onto something, it suggests that somebody’s holding out on us. Out there, somewhere, is the reincarnation of Hitler — they’re just too embarrassed by all the genocide to raise their hand.

    This could revolutionize the practice of history! Somebody should do an exhaustive search to locate and interrogate Herodotus.

    Finally, dare we speculate on how a cow gets ahead in lives? That is, how does a cow comport itself with sufficient nobility to be reborn into a “higher” animal like, say, my landlady or a faun? Once we’ve established that we can move on to listing and categorizing bovine sins.

    Yours,
    CBB

  18. #18 Sili
    August 30, 2010

    I mean “no person who is interviewed in newspaper articles about past life regression ever remembers being a cow.” Instead, you get what you have in this article: lots of people “remembering” past lives that flatter their current life in some way.

    Of course!

    Those of us who were something bad or boring in a past life, want to repress the memory, so we’re reborn as skeptics who don’t believe this crap.

    Only formerly interesting people have any interest in remembering being interesting. Like the guy who scored the winning touchdown in highschool and haven’t done sweet Fanny Adams since. He’s gonna bore you stiff with that story till he’s stiff, too.

    If bad people did regression it would just be awkward.

  19. #19 Ron
    August 30, 2010

    I, for one, am just thankful I survived past childhood in this life. Past life regression is just plain depressing, so many lives, all cut short: died during childbirth, dead of cholera, survived to age 3, died from measles, malnutrition, whooping cough, diptheria, rubella, rheumatic fever, chicken pox. Over and over again. Life was short before folks figured out to wash their hands. Who wants to remember all that?

  20. #20 DesertHedgehog
    August 30, 2010

    There was, I dimly recall, a sci-fi story from the early ’70s where the population of the world (early 21st-c.?) exceeded the sum total of people who’d ever lived beofre, and the new births were…soulless. I can’t recall whether they were zombies or just dullards, but the story was clear: too many bodies, only a limited number of souls to reincarnate. And, yes— this may explain so much about what you see at the mall…

  21. #21 bomoore
    August 30, 2010

    It’s no more silly than believing that burning bushes talk, that virgins give birth, or that there’s an afterlife in a place that looks like Kansas in the 1950′s. A belief in reincarnartion at least leads to some interesting philosophical predicaments and possible historical study.

    I might add that reincarnation seem as plausible as string theory…

  22. #22 Max
    August 30, 2010

    Maybe there’s soul fission. So, when a soul is reincarnated, it’s split and reincarnates into two bodies!

    That would explain why SO many people remember being Cleopatra, or whatever.

  23. #23 Kate from Iowa
    August 30, 2010

    That or everyone who lived in the past was like Sibyl.

  24. #24 Raka
    August 30, 2010

    Max@22: You know, that’s internally consistent. Fragmented souls lack coherency, which is why infants and children have so much learning to do. Of course, this does reduce everything we consider to be our lives to just a transitional state in the (presumably) asexual breeding cycle of soul-things. In fact, in reduces all life experience to nourishment for the growing soul.

    We can infer a symbiotic relationship between souls and corporeal forms; we are food providers and by breeding we create new hosts for the waiting generations of soul fragments. They provide… well, whatever it is we’ve decided “souls” do for the thinking meat.

    If we restrict ourselves to human hosts, it’s obvious that not every soul splits into multiple (more or less) immediately reincarnated copies in every incarnation. It’s possible that viable conceptions/births are restricted by the number of available proto-soul fragments. Alternately, perhaps the meat-breeding is an entirely independent process, and there’s a pool of soul-stuff waiting (and competing) to become incarnate.

    Since so many people recall being famous figures in the past, it seems that some souls are much more successful in replicating than others. Does some activity inherent in becoming famous confer highly advantageous traits on a developing soul? That seems more likely than the converse, which would be assuming that Cleopatra is only famous because so many of our souls are inclined descended from hers, which inclines us to give her a greater share of attention.

    Are some experiences particularly beneficial or inimical to the successful growth and development of a soul? Can we quantify and measure this? Utilitarianism could experience a dramatic resurgence.

    Do souls fragment completely into new proto-souls, losing its own identity in the process? Or does one primary soul cast off smaller buds, and continue on? If so, where to?

    I think I’m on the border of a new religion, self-help movement, or science fiction franchise. Whichever it is, I think I can retire on the proceeds.

  25. #25 Craig
    August 30, 2010

    To play Devil’s Advocate, one could argue that you wouldn’t remember all of the lives as a cow, bird, or whatever; your brain wasn’t sophisticated enough in those lives to form memories. It’s not like these people have a past life for every generation going back through history or anything.

    Of course, the odds that one of those human lives would coincide with Dr. Quack’s five doors is pretty small, but still.

  26. #26 kb
    August 30, 2010

    There was a short-lived TV show on this summer that was supposed to be a mystery-drama thingie based one people having past lives and needing to work through a previous trauma. I think I would have liked it for its entertainment value, but in the first episode this kid is having something-I-don’t-remember that’s putting him in the hospital, and the doctors think it might be conversion disorder. So the past-life detective comes in and tells the kid she thinks he’s having physical reactions to past life memories. So the kid’s like, “So you think it’s all in my head?” and the past-life lady’s like, “No, the doctors think it’s all in your head, I think that you’re having real physical reactions to head-memories,” and I was like THANKS FOR DISSING A REAL MEDICAL CONDITION THAT PEOPLE HAVE AS JUST “ALL IN YOUR HEAD” YOU JERK. Seriously, she acts like this kid has a conversion disorder to past life memories, and then is all like, oh, conversion disorders to real-life memories just mean you’re crazy. It bothered me.

  27. #27 John Novak
    August 30, 2010

    Maybe there’s soul fission. So, when a soul is reincarnated, it’s split and reincarnates into two bodies!

    You know, there’s a good short story in there, if it hasn’t already been done.

  28. #28 g724
    August 30, 2010

    When I ran into all this past life woo in the 80s, my reaction to it was “So many dukes, and so few dustmen!” Meaning, lots of people claiming to remember past lives doing something glamorous, and almost none who claimed to remember being common workers.

    However, I made good use of it:

    I’ve always found the sound of cracking knuckles to be highly irritating, this by way of an audio/tactile synaesthesia (a fairly common minor brain abnormality that blurs the distinctions between certain senses).

    So when in the company of a woo-ster who liked to crack his knuckles (this happened more than once), I would say “Cut it out! In my past life I was a petty thief who got hanged by the neck until dead. The last thing I remember was falling through the gallows trapdoor and hearing *that sound* as my neck broke!” This always worked and brought an end to the irritating knuckle-cracking.

    So yes, I’ve claimed to be a petty crook in a past life.

    Not seriously, of course.

    But now let’s get serious about babies and bathwater:

    First of all, any philosophical system that makes claims about deities or souls, is by definition a form of religion. So what Dr. DeBell is doing, is basically a form of religious ritual, with the hypnotic induction of religious experiences. If he wants to offer his services to the public on that basis, I have no problem with it.

    Psychodynamic therapies necessarily deal in all manner of subjective experiences that have few or no objective correlates. When I was doing research in consciousness studies, we ran across that sort of thing all the time: symbolic content that occurred in altered states, and used all mythic constructs as representations of various mental processes and individual circumstances. Much of this can be induced with a high degree of repeatability, for example with meditation, hypnosis, and psychedelic drugs; and there is a large body of peer-reviewed literature on these subjects.

    What’s important is to make the distinction between what can be said about this as a matter of research findings, vs. what can be said about it as a matter of personal benefit to individuals who are having these experiences. For example one should be aware of the risk of what I call “psychedelic fundamentalism,” whereby one tends to literalize these types of experiences (I coined that term to be deliberately provocative; and of course it can happen with meditation and hypnosis as well as with psychedelic drugs or other means of inducing altered states). There is a subtle but significant distinction between saying “I had the experience of becoming a tree; now what can I learn from this about empathy for others?” vs. “I became a tree, and now I’m convinced that I can speak for the trees.” As a research issue, one might ask, “My subject had the experience of becoming a tree; what can we learn from that about the ways in which people experience empathy?”, which is yet a different question.

    (Empathy as a research issue is notoriously difficult: I thought I had a good operationalization for it, but instead of getting nice clean answers from the subjects, I got something that looked more like free-verse poetry that couldn’t be used. Back to the proverbial drawing board!, yet a part of me still believes (admittedly despite the evidence to the contrary) that the theoretical basis for my operationalization is somehow still valid. Wonders never cease!:-)

    This brings us to the cultural stuff. Yes, Hindu and Buddhist cultures, among others, take reincarnation as seriously as Abrahamic cultures take their particular varieties of heavens, hells, and purgatories. All of it is religion, which is to say none of it is science; but the enlightened perspective (in the Western sense of the word) on this is to treat all of it objectively rather than treating one’s own culture’s version of it as somehow superior to that of everyone else. Blessed are the atheists and the mystics alike, for they tend to treat all of it equally: either with equal respect or with equal disdain, as the case may be.

    There was an interesting study performed by a guy at U.VA, on reincarnation experiences among young children in India. Apparently those kinds of cases are very common there, though often disconcerting to parents when their kids announce that they are from some other family in some other village. There was also an interesting study on near-death experiences (NDEs) that found that, as we would expect, most peoples’ NDEs match up with their own religious upbringing. However, the study also found that childrens’ NDEs are more likely to go cross-cultural. One instance involved a child of Christian parents whose NDE consisted of what was clearly recognizable as Islamic symbolism. What are we to make of all this? Writing it up as anoxic hallucinosis doesn’t get us any closer to answers about the actual content (vs. the form) of these experiences.

    There’s a wide-open field for legitimate research on these topics, so long as one doesn’t succumb to believing in the literal truth of symbolic experiences. It’s important to parse the religion from the science, and the woo from the rest of it. But let’s not indulge in making all of it taboo, because taboos, after all, are just another form of superstitious nonsense.

  29. #29 Birger Johansson
    August 31, 2010

    Raka @ 24
    -This is a science fiction novel waiting to be written… Philip Jose Farmer loved investigating the literary possiblities of such ideas, but he passed away last year, alas.

    BTW, where have all the beetle souls gone? There must be a million of those to every human one. Maybe they have gone to a separate “Riverworld” :) http://www.amazon.com/Your-Scattered-Bodies-go/dp/B000OMEXRK/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1283243470&sr=1-3

  30. #30 Chad Orzel
    August 31, 2010

    This soul division might have something to it. Consider that the world’s population has roughly tripled since 1930. Which means that James Brown, born in 1933, had three times the soul of anybody born today.

    That sounds about right.

  31. #31 bomoore
    August 31, 2010

    Where does it say that humans can’t reincarnate as ants or slime mold? This would solve the looming numbers problem; earth’s population would decrease every time a human “came back” as a squid or porcupine. We might even resurrect extinct species! The food supply would also increase if people reincarnated as tuna, blueberry muffins, and Big Macs.

  32. #32 Jane
    August 31, 2010

    Professor Orzel: We get it. You’re smart, glib and articulate. But your contention that the article in the Times was “deeply silly” and that people’s belief in, or interest in, a concept of past lives, reincarnation or karma is deeply silly is, in fact, disrespectful. Most civilized, thoughtful people understand that disdain for others’ religious beliefs is dismissive and biased. Belief in past lives, like religion, is a belief-system that many take seriously. It’s important to recognize, too, that no harm–and no hate crime–is done to others by this belief.

    While I personally found the Times article more a superficial zeitgeist piece than in-depth, informative coverage, the concepts of karma, reincarnation and past lives is, for many, a thought-provoking belief system that aligns with an interest in comparative religion.

    I hold both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, and I don’t consider my personal interest in comparative religion and the mysteries of alternative concepts of soul or consciousness “deeply silly” at all. In fact, I found your post to be overtly insensitive toward a concept that spans millennia and that has held my interest philosophically for a very long time. As I understand what I have read over two decades, in the belief-system of reincarnation, the human soul reincarnates as a human being, not as an animal–and that Western misinterpretation of Sanskrit scripture is to blame for the common notion that people, even Buddha, reincarnate as animals; rather, lesser-evolved souls spend life energy and interest in lower, more animalistic desires.

    I don’t spend time judging whether or not intellectual psychiatrists or other educated, thoughtful adults from the northeast–I myself reside in and was educated in the northeast–are intentionally ripping off clients financially by offering alternative avenues of therapy. There are countless people in our time seeking knowledge, enlightenment and relief of emotional suffering. It’s hardly for us to judge someone else’s quest to find peace of mind, enlightenment, or a different avenue of study.

    I found your remarks to be flippant and insensitive–quite common, in fact. I’m surprised. I’m not familiar with your academic credentials or your presence as a blogger, but your screed here is an adolescent rant about a topic with which you clearly have little familiarity. I’m surprised you didn’t think (and your professional area does involve thinking) to back up your remarks with a bit of research. Here you plainly betray your own shallow grasp of academic domains other than your own. The argument that no one ever remembers being an unsavory person, or a cow, is the oldest joke in the book.

  33. #33 Pieter
    August 31, 2010

    It is apparently quite common to have vivid memories of things that didn’t actually happen to the person having the memory, but told to him/her or seen on TV or similar. One could imagine that for the more imaginative amongst us, having memories from the 1850s isn’t all that much different.

    But of course I much prefer the theory of eternally recycled soul material (it’s not that inconsistent with the law of conservation of energy, if life=energy…), some shreds of which have some residual memory left on them, exactly because it was ‘etched’ so strongly.

    What I don’t believe is that you can blow up an airplane with 200mls of still mineral water.

  34. #34 Me too
    August 31, 2010

    Simply because 99.9% population of human beings are unable to recollect their past life memories , it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist at all. Mostly Hindus and Buddhists do not rely upon science to recollect their past life memories . They always prefer religious practices like Kundalini yoga .
    This is my story:
    I met a realized soul who knows his past lives . He would tell others’ too . I asked him not to tell mine and I wanted to know how he knows about his own . He agreed and trained me in yogas and it took 25yrs. to me to know my past births by my own . He is intelligent . When I told my past lives to others my other colleagues told me that my Guru already told them and asked them to keep it a secret because I requested him so .

    I do not know how to prove it to others because for me it took 25 yrs.

    It is quite natural people whose minds are preoccupied with Abrahamic belief of one birth , will always try to disprove several births by all means and ways.
    And also I remember Buddha’s saying : People are denying higher order spiritual truths , because it is easy to deny !

  35. #35 g724
    September 1, 2010

    Re. Me Too, #34:

    To translate a personal experience of that kind into a research project, you’d want to do something like the following, with individuals who were born & raised in Hindu culture:

    Person A claims to be able to perceive the past lives of others. Persons B through N, however many there are, each claim to be aware of their own past lives. Each of B through N write out their own accounts, and then each sits quietly in view of A while A writes out an account of their individual past lives.

    Now you take all of these accounts and submit them to a blind panel, where each member of the panel works independently to attempt to match A’s accounts with B through N’s accounts. Only the cases where all panel members independently agree on a match, count toward possible hits. Only the cases that match under those conditions are counted as hits. Then you score the probability of that number of hits occurring by chance, compared to the number of possible matches. The hypothesis under test here is that A’s performance will significantly exceed chance. Set the threshold at p less than .01 to be safe (for some reason this blog doesn’t allow the use of the “less than” symbol). And see what happens.

    Strictly speaking, this is not proof of reincarnation, only proof that A has the ability to perceive, by whatever means, even nonverbally via facial expressions, something about B’s through N’s personalities that they themselves are also able to perceive. In that sense it demonstrates a degree of perceptual acuity or emotional empathy, that might be compared to a normal person acting in the role of A.

    You can probably see why it doesn’t prove reincarnation.

    But it might be suggestive of the idea that the practice of meditation, and familiarity with states of enlightenment, could heighten an individual’s sensitivity toward the subjective experiences and personality traits of others. That by itself would be worthwhile regardless of anything else.

    And this is why consciousness research is at once so fascinating and at the same time so potentially frustrating.

  36. #36 Nico
    September 1, 2010

    approaching religious believes in a scientific way is always very silly, because religion has nothing to do with an honest and objective search for the truth.

  37. #37 Me too
    September 1, 2010

    @g74#35:
    / each claim to be aware of their own past lives /
    No. Hardly one or two can be successful in this project . It is not the thing that we are strongly believing something and verifying with others’ beliefs . Mere beliefs are not enough here . A student must challenge himself with what he perceives and reveals the truths if at all he is 100 % sure about it .

    Actually I am not in line with the hypnotizing method . Spiritual experiences are something like evolution within evolution .

    @Nico #36:
    /approaching religious believes in a scientific way is always very silly/
    Yes you are right in a way. Because most of the scientists do not give honest and open approach to religious truths . Actually the scientists are the strong believers , strongly believing that the spiritual truths can not be truths . Take this article itself .The headline reads that it is the silliness of the society. They are preoccupied with the thoughts that perceiving previous incarnations are definitely a silliness .

    Btw: I am not a supporter of all blind beliefs of the religions . Because I wanted to have proof for my reincarnations by my own experience I went through a tedious process patiently and satisfied with my spiritual experiments .
    To accept that other persons will also be honest and true to their conscience or not …….you will need to have a deep thinking patiently .

  38. #38 nico
    September 2, 2010

    @Me too #37:
    /Yes you are right in a way. Because most of the scientists do not give honest and open approach to religious truths ./

    for the same reason no scientist ever researched the flying sled of santa claus. why would they?

    /Actually the scientists are the strong believers , strongly believing that the spiritual truths can not be truths./

    believes have nothing to do with science. if there is one good solid prove of these ‘spiritual truths’ or (whatever) religion or anything that people might believe, than it would be seen as a fact and not a believe anymore. like that the earth is shaped like a ball instead of a pancake, what people used (or forced) to believe.

    good scientists do not believe, they simply see things as true (when proved) or as something we don’t know yet (that needs to be proven).

    /Take this article itself .The headline reads that it is the silliness of the society. They are preoccupied with the thoughts that perceiving previous incarnations are definitely a silliness./

    I wouldn’t call this article good science, but it does try to approach the matter with a little more logic than what most people would do. I give it credit for that.

    By the way, aren’t we all more or less preoccupied?

    /Btw: I am not a supporter of all blind beliefs of the religions . Because I wanted to have proof for my reincarnations by my own experience I went through a tedious process patiently and satisfied with my spiritual experiments .
    To accept that other persons will also be honest and true to their conscience or not …….you will need to have a deep thinking patiently ./

    your preoccupation is that I haven’t done that. my preoccupation is you didn’t find any solid prove of your reincarnations.