Updated June 1, 2003
They all arrived at once; two sets of beaming grandparents, a shell-shocked father, and a four year old sister. The father held his daughter in his arms to allow her to see her new brother through the nursery window, while the newborn baby, on the other hand, appeared to be content to ignore his relatives and their gushing. Instead, the first son of the young family was more intent on coping with the new world and doing everything possible to sleep through it.
It was the maternal grandmother who first brought up the question foremost in the adult’s minds. Surely, naming the baby after her own father was the best idea. And just as surely, the two votes against such an idea came from the father’s parents. Each of the grandparents was very cordial, but casually insistent concerning their own views, while the father merely smiled and tried to be as diplomatic as possible. Everyone, it seemed, had now lost interest in the appearance of the baby, and was instead, intent upon his future nomenclature.
Except, of course, for the baby’s sister. To her it was her baby brother’s moment. In a child’s typical, direct fashion, she asked her new brother: “Did you enjoy being born, little baby?”
Cute. Just like a little girl to ask such a question. We adults, of course, all know that the baby is very unlikely to answer. But perhaps we should recall the old wisdom, “Out of the mouths of babes....”
For it really is a rather good question. How did the baby feel about being born? Was he pleased? Disappointed? A little shell-shocked perhaps? What was the baby’s view? Wouldn’t it be interesting to know?
Naturally, it would be pointless to ask at this early time; the baby would have obvious difficulties in answering. But why not ask later, when the boy had grown into a man and could then answer? Consciously he is unlikely to remember, just as few people recall their past lives. But under hypnotic regression, could he be taken back to the time of his birth, relive the birth experience, and then relate his newly discovered memories?
Another Source of Information
A nice feature of this idea is that we can tap into a whole new source of information concerning what happens before and during the time of birth. If the boy, whose name is yet to be determined, is reincarnated from a previous existence, why not investigate the circumstances of his entry into the world? By doing this, we can compare our results with the so-called wisdom being handed down to us in the form of quotable quotes and long, rambling descriptions.
Earlier in this book we determined to treat, at least for the moment, the ancients as reasonably intelligent human beings. But lest we overshoot the mark and give them too much credit for figuring out the status of the universe, let us gather a little skepticism and avoid buying wholesale everything that has been written by our distant ancestors. We are, after all, reasonably intelligent ourselves. Well, some of us anyway! [Okay, just you and me.] Nevertheless, on the basis of investigations and what we are able to learn today, we should be able to substantiate or formulate theories of reincarnation and psychic phenomena.
We do have, for example, many sources of information from literally thousands of individuals, which can enable us to come up with an up-to-date theory. Through hypnotic regressions into past lives and other important periods in a soul’s evolution, we can gain insights into what came before, what will come after, and what seems to happen in the meantime between lives.
A logical first step in discovering our origins would be to extend just a bit further the modern therapeutic technique of hypnotically regressing an individual into childhood. Instead of searching for a specific cause that may be causing current-day problems, the purpose would be to inquire directly about the birth experience. In fact, to inquire about what has happened from the time of conception until the moment of birth (and in some cases, shortly thereafter).
Validity of Data
The potential flaw in this method is the mind’s ability to imagine whatever the therapist requests, particularly under an hypnotic suggestion. If, for example, a therapist asks a person what he or she is experiencing in the womb, the hypnotized person may attempt to respond to the therapist’s “demand” and imagine some sort of experience, despite the fact the individual has no memory of this period in his or her life. On the other hand, if a thousand or more subjects independently describe very similar experiences, then the credibility of the method would be considerably more valid.
Regressions to the birth experience have been done and reported in several excellent texts. In Rebirthing in the New Age, authors Leonard Orr and Sondra Ray describe their experiences in taking subjects beyond hyperventilation into altered states of consciousness, where they are able to recall and relive the birth experience. Thomas Verney’s The Secret Life of the Unborn Child provides for an exploration of the reported memories from the last trimester in utero and the effects of these memories on the adult. In Life Before Life, Dr. Helen Wambach, a psychologist, reports on her success in regressing 750 subjects to the birth experience. Dr. Wambach not only details many of the individual and specific birth experiences of her subjects but also provides a wide range of intriguing statistics.
The data from these reported investigations is validated in part by the sheer number of reported cases, including those that were unsuccessful. In Dr. Wambach’s Life Before Life, nearly 40% of her subjects did not recall anything from the time she began the regression. Slightly more than 10% had no answers to her questions (even though they were quite relaxed) or they were simply not hypnotized. In spite of the fact Dr. Wambach received detailed answers from 750 subjects (nearly 50% of those attempted), the null reports are significant in the evaluation of the data.
It is noteworthy that nearly 90% of Dr. Wambach’s subjects managed to recall past lives, but only 50% recalled the birth experience. In attempting to explain this statistic, Dr. Wambach noticed the people giving answers regarding their birth experiences were usually better versed in spiritual matters, had attended several transcendental meditation classes, or had done meditation on their own. According to Dr. Wambach, “It was the veterans of the consciousness movement who tended to get the answers on the birth trips.”
This portends the possibility of a significant flaw in the findings, and Dr. Wambach was well aware of this problem. While she could not rule out the possibility of her subjects simply responding to a common set of conscious beliefs, she did note several important factors. For example, her discussions with subjects indicated their conscious beliefs were much more diverse than the responses obtained under hypnosis. Also, many subjects were quite surprised by their own responses and typically felt themselves to be out in left field. Finally, Dr. Wambach felt the depth of emotion expressed during the birth experience also argued for the credibility of the results.
Nevertheless the possibility persists that her subjects are unknowingly reporting from the basis of common beliefs. This point is not easily decided one way or the other. But it is worth keeping it in mind, as we discuss Dr. Wambach’s and other’s results in the following pages. The results do tend to be consistent with other sources of information and internally consistent with reincarnation theory, but some skepticism on specific data points may still be in order.
According to Dr. Wambach’s research, of the 750 subjects who did report recalling the birth experience, 81% said they chose to be born, and that it was their choice to make. While a majority made the choice, many did so reluctantly and only after consultations and encouragement by others. The subjects indicated they had the right to refuse to be reborn into another lifetime, but that they normally felt a duty to do so. It was, apparently, the “correct thing to do,” but the majority were not eager to undertake the task.
Of those subjects who were aware of the choice, virtually all agreed that others helped them in their decision. Forty one percent of the subjects, however, reported an inability to identify their advisors or counselors. They were just aware of instructions and counseling, and that they would receive guidance and advice once they were alive in the body chosen by them. Conversely, 19% reported that they were either unaware of the choice or received no clear answer to the question.
Only 0.1% of the subjects felt that God or some other deity was the force that led them into birth. On the other hand, 10% of those counseled before birth indicated that their advisors or counselors were people in the lifetime in which they were about to be born! 59% of all of the subjects mentioned more than one counselor.
These counselors or advisors seem to be a consistent theme through a variety of techniques to discover what lies before, after and between lives. Because these other entities often offer guidance and advice during a soul’s sojourn in a lifetime, they are typically referred to as “Guides.” We will hear more about these guides in later chapters.
The seeming reluctance to be born is exemplified by the statistic that only 28% of the subjects felt enthusiastic about being alive again, felt that they had planned carefully, and were ready for rebirth. On the other hand, 68% felt reluctant, anxious, or resigned to the prospect of living another lifetime. Even more noteworthy was the fact death was experienced as pleasant by 90% of Wambach’s subjects, but that being born and living another lifetime was unhappy and frightening to the clear majority.
So why did they choose to make the trip again? If karma is playing a role, were the choices made to settle karmic debts? Or was the rebirth intentional in order to undergo some experience that the soul felt was important for further development? Helen Wambach’s subjects provided a wealth of information.
The Twentieth Century
Fifty-one percent chose to be born in the twentieth century, because of the great potential of this time for spiritual growth. Forty-one percent, on the other hand, had no response or reported “No.” This latter fact may be related to the concept of Time in unearthly existences (see Chapter XII), or may be as one person reported, she felt it was time to return because recess was over.
The subject’s interest in the twentieth century seemed to tie in with their purposes for being reborn. In Wambach’s words: “If we are here on earth to learn, as my subjects so strongly suggest, then it is the learning of the heart, the emotions, that is important.” Over 70% of her subjects indicated that the “last half of the twentieth century would be characterized by a new development of spiritual awareness.” In one subject’s words: “I chose the last half of the twentieth century because of the transition of history from a religious to a scientific view, and at the end of this age, a spiritual awakening.”
An Age of Ego?
Before we make too much of the importance of our present day lives, it is perhaps instructive to note that people virtually always think of their age as an important, if not a critical one. Ages and localities can be just as ego-oriented as individuals, and it is all too common for people to embellish their own worth by ascribing great value to the time (and/or the place) of their lives. Even though the subjects’ statistics argue for the latter part of the twentieth century being of great significance, the common bond of ego may be misleading.
There is undeniably a feeling among members of the New Age that things are not only happening, but accelerating in their haste to bring about change. At this point in our narrative, however, the evidence may be viewed as circumstantial and slim. We will find other indicators of imminent momentous events in the latter portion of this book [and in other parts of this website, et al], but the tendency of people to add significance to their lives by adding significance to their age cannot be ignored.
Now for the subject you’ve all been waiting for: Sex. Do we, for example, choose our sex in different lives? From Dr. Helen Wambach’s subjects, we find 24% felt they had not chosen their sex, or that the sex in the coming lifetime was not of importance. Alternatively, 48% had chosen to be female in their current life times. Nearly a third of these indicated the reason for their choice was to have children. Others chose their sex in order to be with known others in opposite sexual roles, as in one case, the female chose to be a woman because her mate wanted them to be the same sex they were in 1503. [Imagine, if you will, a soul hovering about her(?) future parents, and exhorting, at the moment of conception: “Swim you mutha! I wanna be a girl!”]
Interestingly enough, our sexuality appears to be more of a left brain, superficial aspect of our being. While most people feel our sex is a deeply innate part of our personality, the right brain seems to be taking a different view. In Wambach’s words:
“Yet the striking result from the answers to this question in my survey is that not one of my 750 subjects felt their “true, inner self” to be either female or male. The growing entity self, moving and gathering experiences through many lifetimes, is truly above sexual distinctions and must incorporate both experiences -- yin and yang, male and female -- to reach deeper understanding.”
Sexual relationships do appear, however, to determine our selection of parents and other people who will be important in our forthcoming lives. Husbands and wives in this lifetime often appear to have had ties of a sexual nature in prior lives, indicating a trend for people to work out sexual relationships by assuming the same sex roles in several lifetimes. Such a trend may, in part, be explained by karmic ties or just the need for completion of unfinished relationships.
An additional, rather curious observation by Dr. Wambach is that the birth of boys increases during times prior to wars! Think about that one for a moment.
Dr. Wambach’s subjects reported an astonishing variety of relationships between souls over the course of many lifetimes. Fathers in this lifetime may have been brothers, sisters, lovers, mothers, or friends in past lives. There was no consistency to the changing combinations, nor was there any evidence to suggest Freudian theories of fathers and daughters wishing to be lovers, or otherwise.
Fully 87% of the subjects reported that people important in this lifetime were well known to the subjects in past lives. Even more noteworthy was the fact that some of the relationships were from the state between lives and not just from past lives.
The essential result, in Helen Wambach’s view, was that:
“We come back with the same souls, but in different relationships. We live again not only with those we love, but with those we hate and fear. Only when we feel only compassion and affection are we freed from the need to live over and over with the same spirits, who are also forced to live with us!”
Later, Dr. Wambach adds:
“Our relationships to people in this life do not seem to be based primarily on blood ties. We can feel even closer to a friend than to a brother or sister or parent in this life. Judging from results on karmic ties under hypnosis, this is because we may have known these friends much more intimately in past lives than we have known blood relatives. Blood may be thicker than water; and judging by my results, past life ties are a lot thicker than blood.” [emphasis added]
Such repetitions of relationships have been observed by many psychologists in terms of a single life. Past-life influences on parental and other selections may be mirrored by what is viewed as the forces creating patterns in love and marriage in today’s world. This tendency for people to replicate the themes of early life or of previous generations in the context of later, intimate relationships has long been commented upon by many theorists and therapists. As the social worker Lily Pincus, founder of the Tavistock Institute for Marital Studies, and the therapist Dr. Christopher Dale have observed; there is a tendency for people to develop repetitive patterns of relationships, in order to satisfy certain needs. Examples include the woman whose childhood included an alcoholic father, marrying a man who becomes an alcoholic himself. Even after divorcing the man, the same woman may marry yet another alcoholic! Alternatively, a man may continually find himself becoming involved with women with congenital heart trouble.
This is not to imply that these psychologists in any way are addressing the question of reincarnation, but to show that the same tendency to replicate certain patterns may well be extrapolated to include the effects of multiple lives. Additionally, a life’s plan might include the necessity of experiencing a certain type of relationship (such as an alcoholic family member), and the repetition in this life is accomplished in order to fully exhaust the possibilities of this type of relationship. Or it may be akin to the situation typified by the elementary school teacher who tells her lover: “If you don’t get it right the first time, you’re going to have to do it over and over again, until you do get it right!”
In addition to the selection of parents, there were also reports that some subjects knew, before they were born, of their relationship with adoptive parents, and chose not to come to them as their own genetic child, but rather chose adoption as a means to reach their parents. In one case a subject reported that she had chosen one set of parents for genetics and another for environment.
One other connection is that of twins. If, according to one theory of reincarnation, the DNA molecules that carry the basic blueprints of our mind and body also carry the memories of past lives, then identical twins may be able to remember the same past lives. Unfortunately for the statistics, Dr. Wambach only had one pair of twins regressed. Ten others were twins whose twin was not present at any regression.
The results were nonetheless consistent. Twins invariably reported having known each other intimately in past lives and in the period between lives. Their relationships were extremely close, but not because they were twins. Instead, they had decided to enter this life as twins, because they were close.
The prospect of spending another lifetime with an ex-mate or spurned lover might not be the best news you’ve heard so far. But the apparent existence of karmic ties in Dr. Wambach’s results does give one pause. One implication might very well be that it is advisable to work out the problem in this lifetime and thus find relief in a future life. After all, surely there are better things to do in that future life than rehash the unresolved problems from this one.
Twenty-five percent of Dr. Wambach’s subjects reported that the purpose of their living their current lifetime was to gain additional experience. In fact this experience was often personified in the need to learn and relate to others, as well as love without being demanding or possessive. Twenty-eight percent also felt the need to act as a teacher in helping others to understand the basic unity of mankind and to develop a higher consciousness for mankind as a whole.
There was little or no evidence to suggest that wealth, status, power or the development of talents was the motivating force for rebirth into another lifetime. Furthermore, the Golden Rule appeared subconsciously as the basic law of the universe. In many respects reincarnation and karma enforce this rule by insisting that we will, in fact, be treated as we have treated others.
If the thought we actually chose our parents, our sex, and our potential for a return date with an ex-mate, tends to cast a chill over your demeanor, then consider the logical extrapolation of that train of thought: We probably chose our basic personalities as well.
How might this be accomplished? One answer lies within the purview of astrology. A basic aspect of astrology is that the time and place of our birth determines our basic personality. If this is true, then the relatively simple selection of conception and then the time and place of birth would allow for a rather precise determination of a person’s personality in the coming life.
While most people are aware of the importance to astrology of our time of birth, the significance of the birthplace is less obvious. Astrology, however, maintains that the position of the sun and planets (but not necessarily the stars) in the overhead sky at the time of our birth is the main determinate, and because these planetary and solar positions are determined at any specific moment by our location on the planet’s surface, the birthplace is important to any in-depth review of our “astrological charts.”
In Chinese astrology, the year of one’s birth ranks first in importance, followed by the hour and then the month. The extent of the belief in astrology by the Chinese is best exemplified by the fact that abortions in certain years are at an all time high because such birth years are considered extremely undesirable. On the other side of the coin, the Chinese believe their leaders must be born in the year of the Dragon (or at the very least, the Year of the Tiger) in order to be effective as leaders.
Astrology, as viewed by the Westerner, tends to place the emphasis on the time of birth in terms of the astrological month. These times extend from Aries (beginning March 20) through Pisces, and represent, according to astrology, the evolution from the infant (Aries) to maturity (Pisces). These “Sun Signs” represent the position of the Sun with respect to our month of birth, and supposedly have the greatest effect on our personalities.
Also important to the Western astrologer are the exact positions of the planets in our “astrological natal charts.” The planetary positions provide for a much greater diversity in personalities and allow for subtle (and not so subtle) variations in the over-all effect of whatever our Sun Sign is.
The applicability of astrology to reincarnation would appear to be related primarily to our selection of the environment and our personality in a forthcoming life. Our apparent choices of parents, sex, birthdates, etc, during our time between lives, may be a means to further set the stage for our next life.
Such a concept might imply the desirability of natural child birth. Premature or induced-labor babies may be arriving prior to their planned entrance and may be having their predetermined or planned personalities altered. If the early arrival is over a period of days, there is the potential for major differences. For example the distinction between a Pisces and an Aries personality is quite substantial, but is separated in time by less than a day—in some views the separation is as little as four minutes either way. Whether or not such contingencies for premature arrivals are being considered in our pre-birth choices and deliberations has not yet been addressed in the statistical research thus far conducted.
The possibility remains, however, that a child coming in with a pre-planned astrology may have anticipated the potential for an early birth. In addition, the tendency of a child to be born at their convenience -- rather than that of the parents or medical assistants -- makes considerable sense in the choosing of birth times by the child.
Another important result of Dr. Wambach’s research was that all of her 750 subjects were unanimous in their feelings the fetus was not truly part of their consciousness and the existence of a fully conscious entity was quite apart from the fetus. Furthermore, 89% of the subjects did not become a part of or otherwise involved with the fetus until the last trimester of the pregnancy (or after six months of gestation). Fully 33% of the reports said that they did not join the fetus, or experience inside the fetus, until just before or during the birth process.
Such results may be of significance with respect to abortion. Duh.
Furthermore, only 11% indicated any awareness of being inside the fetus at any time between conception and the first six months of gestation, while 12% reported being in the fetus after the first six months. 19% described themselves as being in and out of the fetus during the period before birth. And yet, virtually all of the subjects reported being aware of the “first kick” (which typically occurs during the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy), even if only 11% perceived themselves as inside the fetus at this time. This latter group’s description indicated they might also have been experiencing being in and out of the fetus.
Also relevant to the subject of abortion are the subjects’ pre-birth awareness of mothers’ feelings, emotions and, in some cases, the mothers’ thoughts before their children were born. Fully 86% of the subjects reported this phenomenon, and indicated their awareness was because they weren’t fixed into the fetus, but were able to hover around it. Many of these subjects were quite surprised at becoming aware of their mothers’ feelings under the hypnotic state. Those not obtaining any impressions of their mothers’ feelings, felt that they may have blocked it out of their minds because of their general resistance to being born.
It is difficult to draw conclusions from these statistics in regard to abortion. The tendency is to latch on to those points that seem to be most supportive of one’s preconceived opinion. It is noteworthy that one subject reported hearing people discuss an abortion or trying to talk her mother into an abortion. The subject, however, felt quite determined to be born. Apparently, she was successful.
Dr. Wambach’s observation was that:
“One impression that emerges from these 750 cases is that birth -- and indeed living another lifetime --- is perceived as a duty and not a pleasure. The soul apparently has a choice of which fetus to enter. If one fetus is aborted, apparently it is possible to choose another.
“In some cases, the soul who will occupy the fetus is in contact with the soul of the mother and can influence her decision regarding abortion. My data also indicates that souls can elect to leave the fetus or the infant’s body and return to the between-life state. Perhaps the sudden death syndrome in infants may be the result of a soul’s decision not to go ahead with a life plan.”
Moment of Birth
The birth experience itself, as investigated by Dr. Wambach, was less open to statistical analysis. Apparently the moment of birth caused disturbing and unpleasant sensations as the soul left a quite different environment and was immediately besieged by the physical senses. Ten percent reported they were sad or actually cried at this point. Many felt cut off or diminished or “drowned” in light, cold air and sounds. In their new body they felt alone and unconnected. According to Dr. Wambach, no matter how enthusiastically they chose to enter the world, most of her subjects found the actual experience to be one of loneliness and alienation, alienation from the heaven-like light that they lost upon entering the physical world.
Loss of Memories
Another aspect of the birth experience is the fact a soul apparently goes from a state of knowing its life’s plan and all of the events leading to its decision to be reborn and, then shortly after birth, these memories fade away. These “fade outs” as they have been called, deserve some comment.
Various traditions describe the return to earth in physical form as passing through a veil or etheric barrier, which erases the memories of past lives and the events between lives. This “River of Forgetfulness” serves to block the memories of the pre-birth time and space and its inherent appeal.
Dr. Ian Stevenson has reported on subjects in Thailand who had maintained their past life and birth memories. The subjects told of being offered in the space between lives, the “fruit of forgetfulness” before rebirth, but they had avoided this erasure of their past life memories by managing to avoid the tempting offer -- but such reports seem rare.
We may in fact need the “fade outs,” if only to reduce the number of memories that we carry from life to life. After all, a confusion or proliferation of memories could be distracting, to say the least. In some cases of children remembering past lives in considerable detail, the children soon discovered that it was best to let sleeping dogs lie, in order to be able to live their current lives.
There is also the possibility that the before life state is significantly better than life itself, and a remembrance of it might lead only to regrets. Perhaps the happiness of death is concealed from us, so that we can endure life.
In Life Between Life, Joe Fisher and Joel Whitton, point out that:
“This amnesia is invaluable in that it prevents endless pining and homesickness for the grandeur that has been left behind and allows the individual to embark on the new life unhindered by confusing echoes of past deeds and misdeeds. Equally importantly, knowledge of any plan the soul may have made for the forthcoming life is necessarily subjugated.”
Dr. Whitton also noted that several of his subjects reported their concern that conscious knowledge of approaching events might impair their karmic unfoldment. In one case, the subject asked Dr. Whitton to erase a particular memory: “Please do not let me remember this when I wake. I might be tempted to tamper with my karma.” Dr. Whitton even noted that some of his subjects could censor their recall by withholding information (despite the fact they could not lie).
Mohandas K. Gandhi once remarked, “It is nature’s kindness that we do not remember past births. Life would be a burden if we carried such a tremendous load of memories.” This idea of too many memories being more a burden than a benefit, has also arisen in connection with a human’s potential creativity.
The concept has been neatly described in Jean Auel’s book, The Clan of the Cave Bear. Ms. Auel’s novel describes members of the Neanderthal species as having prodigious memories, generated over countless lives and passed along from generation to generation. The problem which arose was that the inclusion of this vast array of memories required an ever larger brain until the skull had grown so large as to defy passage through the birth canal. Conversely Ms. Auel’s Cro-Magnon man did not have past life memories, but made up for this handicap by his creativity. The result was the demise of Neanderthal man and the rise of Cro-Magnon man. Such a theory might offer an additional explanation for the need of fade outs at our birth.
Many proponents of reincarnation and its related theories also point out the ready accessibility of our Guides, for help and advice, should the need arise. Admittedly the accessibility is not so apparent to many, but the combination of Guides and creativity would seem to imply a better learning situation than a mass of past memories.
On the other hand... the recent appearance of Indigo Children and others with an extraordinary sense of themselves, their purpose, and their relationship to the world might suggest the possibility of the cleansing veil being more selective -- perhaps eliminating past life memories, but maintaining memories of purposes and decisions made in the space between lives!
Nothing in Dr. Wambach’s findings, or those of other investigators into the birth experience, contradicts any aspect of reincarnation. Instead, the regressions to the birth experience supports the concept of reincarnation and provides many answers to questions of detail in reincarnation theory. Dr. Wambach’s findings also support in general terms the concept of karma and, more specifically, directly support the concept of soulmates. Finally, it is noteworthy that Dr. Wambach’s findings are consistent with much of the ancient wisdom as contained in the Bible and other historical and/or religious documents.
Chapter Five: Plus a Few Twists of Lime
Chapter Seven: Beyond Death
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]