Children’s Past Lives.
Chapter 1: Chase and Sarah
“Sit on your Mom’s lap, close your eyes, and tell me what you see when you hear the loud noises that scare you,” Norman gently instructed Chase.
I looked down at Chase’s freckled face. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to hear.
Young Chase immediately began describing himself as a soldier-an adult soldier-carrying a gun. “I’m standing behind a rock. I’m carrying a long gun with a kind of sword at the end.” My heart was pounding in my ears and the hair on my arms stood up as I listened. Sarah and I glanced at each other in wide-eyed amazement.
“What are you wearing?” Norman questioned.
“I have dirty, ripped clothes, brown boots, a belt. I’m hiding behind a rock, crouching on my knees and shooting at the enemy. I’m at the edge of a valley. The battle is going on all around me.”
I listened to Chase, surprised to hear him talk about war. He had never been interested in war toys, and had never even owned a toy gun. He always preferred games and construction toys; he would spend hours at a time happily building with blocks, Legos and his wooden trains. His television watching was strictly limited to Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, and none of the Disney movies he had seen depicted war.
“I’m behind a rock,” he said again. “I don’t want to look, but I have to when I shoot. Smoke and flashes everywhere. And loud noises: yelling, screaming, loud booms. I’m not sure who I’m shooting at-there’s so much smoke, so much going on. I’m scared. I shoot at anything that moves. I really don’t want to be here and shoot other people.”
Although this was Chase’s little-boy voice, his tone was serious and mature-uncharacteristic of my happy five-year-old. He actually seemed to be feeling this soldier’s feelings and thinking his thoughts. He really didn’t want to be there shooting at other men. This was not a glorified picture of war or soldiering; Chase was describing the sentiments of a man in the heat of battle who had serious doubts about the value of his actions, was terrified, thinking only of staying alive. These feelings and images were coming from some place deep within him. Chase was not making this up.
Chase’s body, too, revealed how deeply he was experiencing this life. As he described himself shooting from behind the rock, I could feel his body tense on my lap. When he admitted he didn’t want to be there and shoot at other people, his breathing quickened and he curled up into a ball, as if he were trying to hide and avoid what he saw. Holding him, I could feel his fear.
Norman sensed Chase’s distress with his role as a soldier who, in order to survive, had to kill other men. He explained to Chase, talking slowly, “We live many different lives on Earth. We take turns playing different parts, like actors in a play. We learn what it means to be human by playing these different parts. Sometimes we are soldiers and kill others in a battle, and sometimes we are killed. We are simply playing our parts to learn.” Using simple language, Norman emphasized to Chase that there was no blame in being a soldier. He assured Chase that he was just doing his job, even if he had to kill other soldiers in battle.
As he listened to Norman’s assurances, I could feel my son’s body relax and his breathing become more regular. The anguished look on his face melted away. Norman’s words were helping. Chase was actually understanding and responding to these universal concepts.
Chapter 3: Musings on the playground
Over dessert, Cathy and I recalled several children we knew who had phobias. We thought of one small child we both knew who was terrified of water, whose mother could not coax him into a swimming pool. Could he have drowned in another lifetime? Would his fear go away simply by remembering his past life?
I felt excitement rising in me as we followed this line of thinking. Not just fears, but any traits could be the result of past lives. We talked of children we knew who had unusual talents, odd interests, or quirky behavior that puzzled their parents. She told me the story of a three-year-old girl in her class who sat crying in front of a small hole she had dug in the playground and covered with leaves. When Cathy asked her what was wrong she said, “I’m crying for my children who died in the flood.” Cathy questioned her parents about this, but they couldn’t explain it either.
Running with the possibilities, we jumped to another idea. How often do we find children in families who seem to be totally different from each other and from their parents? We agreed that each of us had felt the uniqueness of our own babies when we held them for the first time; the seeds of personality were already there at birth. We could feel it. Maybe this uniqueness is not solely the result of random combinations of the parents’ genes. Maybe it’s also due to traces of past life personality and experience they bring with them to this life. And maybe our children are much more than the blank slates to be written upon by experience, as science has led us to believe for so long.
In the middle of one of these grand speculations, Cathy suddenly realized that she was late and dashed off. She left me alone at the table, sipping my coffee, buzzing with ideas.
Chapter 6: Dr. Ian Stevenson
Dr. Stevenson found that in 35 percent of his verified cases (300 of 895), the children had birthmarks or birth defects that matched wounds from their previous lives.
Birthmarks are important because they offer physical evidence for the link between past and present lives. One of Stevenson’s cases is of an Indian boy who remembered being killed by a shotgun blast to his chest. On this boy’s chest was an array of birthmarks that matched the pattern and location (verified by the autopsy report) of the fatal wounds. Another boy in India was born with stubs for fingers on only his right hand – an extremely rare condition. He remembered the life of boy who had his fingers cut off by the blades of a fodder chopping machine. One woman had three separate linear scarlike birthmarks on her back. As a child, she remembered the life of a woman who was killed by three blows to her back with an ax.
Dr. Stevenson applied his usual rigorous methods to examining and recording the birthmarks and birth defects. He required that eyewitness reports verify that the marks were present at birth. He carefully measured and photographed the marks. He screened cases where the birth defect could have been genetic, caused by a family relationship between the subject and the deceased, or that could be explained by events during pregnancy. Then he documented the facts of the previous personality’s life and death from eyewitness accounts, medical records, and autopsy reports. (Remember, Dr. Stevenson was trained as a medical doctor, so he knew what he was looking at.) Finally, he would compare the verified death wounds or marks on the previous personality with the marks on the child subject.
Dr. Stevenson was very careful to guard against cases where the past life memories were fabricated as a way of retroactively explaining the birthmark. He would accept only those solved cases where the child had sufficient verbal memories – the many facts and people that Swarnlata remembered, for example – to identify and locate the previous personality. In many instances this was a person the child or his family had never seen or known about. In other words, these cases had to stand on their own merits before the birthmarks and birth defects were admitted as further evidence.
Some critics might attribute these birthmarks to chance. But a significant number of Stevenson’s birthmark cases involve two or more matching birthmarks–for example, the woman who had three scarlike marks on her back. Among the 210 cases in his volumes are eighteen cases of double birthmarks. Nine of these cases involve bullet wounds where not only do the marks match the exact site of entry and exit, but the mark corresponding to the entry wound is small and round, and the mark corresponding to the exit wound is large and irregular. This conforms perfectly to the ballistic fact that the exit wound from a bullet is always larger than the hole where the bullet entered the body.
What are the odds that two birthmarks would randomly correspond to two wounds? Stevenson did the calculation and determined that the odds are 1 in 25,600. The odds against this happening by chance eighteen times are astronomical.
Chapter 7: Children’s past life memories
I wondered if wee children ruminate about the past while still in their cribs, even before they can talk. Some of the children were so young when they first began talking about their memories, it seemed as if they had been just waiting for the words to come, frustrated that they could not tell their parents what they were thinking about. On the average, these toddlers were two years old, and many of them still in diapers when they first began speaking of their memories. They were still babies.
Elspeth was only eighteen months old and had never put words together before-had never uttered a complete sentence. One evening when her mother was giving Elspeth her bath, the baby said, “I’m going to take my vows.” Her astonished mother couldn’t believe her ears. This was Elspeth’s first complete sentence-and did she say “vows”?
When she questioned Elspeth, the little one replied, “I’m not Elspeth now. I’m Rose, but I’m going to be Sister Teresa Gregory.” Now her mother was stunned. They were not Catholics: Elspeth could not possibly have known about nuns and vows. She was only a baby!
Elspeth went on to tell her mother that “when I was here before” she had been an old lady and wore a long black dress with a black cloth over her head. That was it. Then one day, two years later, Elspeth filled in the story about the nun’s life, describing her jobs at the convent. Her day began when it was still dark; she milked goats, made cheese, and helped prepare the food. The nuns said prayers often, and when a certain bell was rung, they had to stop talking, no matter what they were doing. Elspeth saw herself as an old woman who fell over and died while saying prayers in her tiny room.
Chapter 10: The four signs
When I talk to people of children’s past life memories, invariably the first question they ask is: “How can you distinguish past life stories from fantasies?”
At first I could answer by saying only, “Well, the parent just knows.” Not a very satisfactory answer, I admit. But as I studied the cases that came in and listened to parents describe their experiences, I began to see and hear the same comments over and over, almost word for word. These comments were becoming very familiar. I found I could rely on them as a test of past life memories. When parents described their experiences to me for the first time, I found myself going down a mental check-list to help me decide if the memories they were describing were real or fantasy. This checklist evolved into the Four Signs.
The Four Signs of Children’s Past Life Memory are:
1. Matter-of-Fact Tone
2. Consistency Over Time
3. Knowledge Beyond Experience
4. Corresponding Behavior and Traits
Chapter 12: What a parent can do
If she mentions dying, concentrate on the circumstances surrounding the moment of death. Ask questions, like “How did you die?” “Who was with you when you died?” “What happened just before you died?” Use open questions, too, like “What happened next?” “How did you feel?” “What were you thinking?” Get as much information as you can, so you can discern what unfinished business might remain from the moment of death. Proceed gently, and in an unexcited, matter-of-fact tone of voice. If she resists this line of questioning, don’t push.
After she’s told you as much as she can about the moment of death, ask her, “Right after you died, then what happened?” You might be rewarded with a full description of her journey through the after-life bardos and heaven. Or your child may simply say, “And then I came to you!” By tracing this transition from past life death to rebirth, she may understand for the first time that the past life is over, that she is now in a new lifetime. This could be just the understanding she needs to help her let go of the past and ground herself in present reality. This realization alone may neutralize the effects of an incomplete death.
Chapter 16: See children differently
Once we accept the fact that our own children have lived before, we can never see any children the same way again. It changes our concept of what children are.
We can no longer see children as inferior to us simply because they are little and can’t reach the faucets or tie a shoe. For now we know that children are more than just biological beings shaped by heredity and environment. They are spiritual beings, too, who bring with them wisdom and experience gathered from other lives on earth. If we accept this view-that children are experienced souls in little bodies-we realize that they have more available to them, and more to offer us, than we ever thought possible before.
Authors Details: Carol Bowman Web Site – Excerpted from Children’s Past Lives, by Carol Bowman. Published by Bantam Books.