There is this buzz suddenly about people going back to their past lives to find out why they are having problems this life, what do you think about this?
Occasionally people love miracles, fantasies, magic shows and even downright absurdities too. They risk being misled, divorced from reality and most likely parted from their hard earned money by swindlers. Periodically one will witness rise of some superstitious pseudoscientific activity which will attract the attention of thousands and thousands and make head lines on the print media and breaking news on the TV screens. Auras, Chakra balancing, spiritual healing, crystal healing, Vaastushastra, Karma Cola, Bermuda Triangle, pyramids, numerology, ESP telepathy, Geller effect, Reiki, spirit medium, etc are having their fine innings and may fade in due course of time.
Past life or reincarnation (and of course Yoga!) appears to be the latest pastime among social circles, perhaps people might have been inducted – dissatisfaction of science in general and medicine in particular, whims and fancy of the celebrities or sheer loneliness. It is easy to imagine what it would be like to experience earlier lives and there is a seductive temptation to suppose that if we imagine a past life then it is possible to have one. In fact under hypnotic spell one can behave very strangely and remembering the past life may be one of the manifestations of strange behavior. Reincarnation presents a lot of problems. It is generally assumed that our real ‘selves’ (or you may call it ‘soul’) can successively occupy different bodies. It supposes that our real self (soul) is somehow detachable from the body and is capable of being incarnated in one body after another.
Problem about reincarnation are being swept aside by the so called ‘Past Life Experts’ and explain that we are spirits whose purpose is to return bodily again and again to “polish the jewel” which we essentially are. Many of our hang ups are due to difficulties experienced in previous incarnations. Coming to terms with what we were is a means to accept what we are. “To relive is to relieve”.
2) Hinduism believes in past lives, how far do you think is it true?
For most people, reincarnation is a matter of faith. Millions of Hindus believe in it, and some polls show that over 20% of Christians do too, despite Christian doctrines repudiate this idea. At the moment of rebirth, Hindus believe, the infant takes its first gulp of air and becomes a breathing being. This jolts the brain and subtle body. It cuts off detailed memories of the past life. In fact, it also cuts off detailed memories of this life, which is why people don’t remember much of what happened in the first three or four years of their current life either. The soul is still completing its “hook up” to the new physical brain, and not all the data from the previous file is downloaded.
The process of reincarnation is driven by theory of karma. Where, when, and in what circumstances we next reincarnate is due, in large measure, to our thoughts, words, and actions in the past and present. To be reborn in a human body is a great blessing. Human bodies, far more so than animal and plant bodies, are capable of devoting themselves to the spiritual life. We can lose our human status, Hindu sages warn, if we don’t take advantage of our human birth but continue living like animals, and we may return an animal body in our next life. Particularly pernicious people, one holy text warns, could even be reborn as “pigs, donkeys, flies, ants, and biting insects”!
A glance at these statements will reveal that there is something downright absurd. In fact skeptics reject the existence of soul itself. The psycho-neural identity hypothesis asserts that mental functions are identical with states of the brain. The manifest dependence of all mental functions on specific brain functions makes the possibility that personal traits, knowledge, or self-awareness could skip from one incarnation to the next exceedingly remote. If this kind of transmigration of traits and knowledge is possible, the latest research in the field of behavioral neuroscience will become essentially a fool’s errand. How could this be even in principle, possible that a soul could enter or leave, take over or abandon or control the human bodies inaudibly, invisibly and altogether undetectably? Until and unless someone contrives to formulate a falsifiable reincarnation hypothesis what may appear to be memories of previous lives must be categorically dismissed as simply pseudoscience.
South India, there is this village which is rumored to have ‘ leaves’ on every being where they can tell of their past lives, what do you think of this?
Tambaram, near Chennai, is a place where this business of revealing the details of past life is flourishing. The charlatans have managed to convince the public that they possess dry palm leaves on which history of the people is written in ancient Dravidian language. The history can be read only by these experts (since it is a secret coded script; kootlipi!) based on the preliminary information like name, family details, Gotram, place date of birth, sex etc. once it is retrieved from the huge storage place.
In fact, these so called experts have a very systematic modus operandi to retrieve the information from gullible people who visit them. After charging the fees for their services they in return will show a few leaves and convince you that these were written before you were born. The details revealed are of very minor in nature like names of the relatives, places visited, birth marks, business and financial details etc. In fact all this information was supplied by you during your first visit itself and the same is passed on to you. No one has conducted the scientific tests to verify the contents and confirmed the age of the leaves by carbon dating methods. As they claim that they are in possession of details of every one who visits them on dry palm leaves, one can imagine how much storage place is required for millions and millions!
Surprisingly an air force officer from Maharashtra was a strong advocate of this fraudulent gang and even he tried to bring this gang to Pune!
As long as you approach people in the right fashion, they will just love to part with their hard earned money and make swindlers rich. Experience is often a poor guide to reality. Skepticism helps us to question our experience and to avoid being too readily to believe what is not so. These cheats’ essential message is “get other people to build up confidence in you and then bill them.”
4) There is this actress Divya Dutta who says she was hypnotized by her doctor brother and went back several past lives. What do you think of this?
The experts in the hypnotic ‘regression’ are of the opinion that hypnosis may implant erroneous memories. One topic that has aroused considerable skeptical controversy concerns the reliability of hypnosis as a source of knowledge. Is hypnosis a special “trance state” induced in a patient or is patient simply acting on the suggestion of the hypnotist? This is especially true in regard to “past life regression”. Hypnotherapist may be using the suggestion which may tend to implant ideas in a person and/or assists in conjuring fantasies.
In fact alternative healthcare is a melting pot of religion, occultism, folklore, parapsychology, pseudoscience and medical guesswork. It overflows with theoretical rubbish. The crystal/color/aroma/water/past lives therapies are gaining viable alternatives to tried and proven conventional medicines. Ms Divya Dutta and many others like her are falling prey to these therapies which are nothing but “feel good” medicines. No rational person could fail to see where an uncritical acceptance of medicines has lead in the past and continues to do today.
5) In you opinion, do you think ‘past lives’ is something that one can go back to?
Past Life Therapy is nothing but a bogus therapy which needs to be dumped forever. It had created a lot of controversies in USA and many parents suffered, jailed and punished for the child abuse based on the revelation of earlier life of their children. These therapists use the words which have magical power. For them illness is an educational opportunity, the impossible is a challenge, wishful thinking is an industry, faith is a ticket and death is a transition. Beware!