Whether you believe in reincarnation or think that it’s a far-fetched fantasy of underdeveloped communities, there are simply too many of these stories to ignore them as nonsense.
They don’t only occur in nations where people have a history of accepting reincarnation like India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Lebanon, Thailand, and Myanmar. Research have found cases on all continents except Antarctica.
In fact, the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia has investigated more than 2,500 cases of people worldwide who remember their previous lives. The founder and director was Dr. Ian Stevenson. When he retired in 1996, Dr. Jim Tucker took over as the leader of the division’s past-life research.
In 2008 Tucker published a review of an investigation by his predecessor into cases that seemed to point to reincarnation.
Stevenson, when he was chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, worked on a review of 44 cases of individuals who had reported memories of previous lives which was published before 1960.
While he was working on his review he heard about other cases and took a trip to India and Sri Lanka where he investigated a number of cases.
Stevenson came to the conclusion that the phenomenon of people who remember their past lives was much more common than anyone had realized.
Researchers have found several common threads running through these cases.
Usually it’s young children that remember they have been someone else. This happens typically around age two or three. The memory is spontaneous and doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything in the current family.
Interestingly, the research has found that there is an average of only 16 months between the birth in the current life and the death of the previous personality. In the majority of cases (70%) the death involved unnatural circumstances like violence or drowning.
If these children who usually stop making past life statements by age six or seven can remember details about their previous life circumstances like an address or names of family members, people have often gone and followed it up. Regularly they find that the details can indeed be confirmed.
For many people this is proof that the person had a previous life and has been reincarnated. For others, it proves nothing.
But there is more.
“In addition to the purported memories, a number of the children have had birthmarks or birth defects that appeared to match wounds, usually fatal ones, suffered by the previous personalities,” writes Tucker.
He references a 2,200-page report by Stevenson that documented over 200 such cases.
One case is of a boy from Thailand: Chanai Choomalaiwond. When he was three years old he remembered being a teacher named Bua Kai. He remembered that he had been shot and killed one day as he rode his bike to school. He begged to be taken to his parents (Bua Kai’s parents). He knew the name of the village.
His grandmother took him to the village, he then found the address and appeared to recognize the people living there as his “previous” parents. Upon investigation Stevenson found out from the teacher’s widow that her husband had been shot from the back because the small, round wound on the back of this head was consistent with an entry wound whereas the larger wound on his forehead was typical of an exit wound.
Here’s the kicker: Chanai was born with two birthmarks, a small, round birthmark on the back of his head, and a larger, more irregularly shaped one on the front.
Today 24% of Americans, or more than 75 million people, across all religions believe in reincarnation, according to a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life poll.
You can find out more about famous recent cases in America here.