If Consciousness Survives the Death of The Physical Body, how does it relate to Past Life Regression?
by Delilah Rohman – West Midlands, UK
In 1975 I read a book called The Bloxham Tapes, by Arnold Bloxham, a Hypnotherapist who regressed his subjects back to previous lives.
This book intrigued me because one of his subjects Jane Evans, recalled the life of Rebecca, a Jewish lady, She described hiding in a crypt in York Minster and dying a violent death during a massacre of the Jews in the year 1190. These facts were verified by an expert, except the crypt was not discovered until years after the Past Life Regression had taken place, when workmen did indeed discover a crypt under York Minster.
This book fascinated me however, I did not have a belief in Reincarnation as it raised too many questions against my traditional upbringing, therefore all thoughts of Reincarnation and Past Lives rested on the back burner.
After the death of someone close in 1988 I wanted to know more. Do we simply cease to exist or does our consciousness survive the death of the physical body? So began my search. I scoured book stores and libraries for literature on Spiritual, Psychic and Paranormal subjects which twenty years ago was quite limiting. However everything I read contained a common theme. We are all made of mind, body and soul and our soul has always existed living many incarnations in different physical bodies.
The Law of Karma Or the Law of Cause and Effect made sense to me. This explained the reason for the seeming inequality that exists in mankind. Why some people live in the lap of luxury whilst others live in poverty. Why some people can live through to old age fit and healthy while others suffer terrible diseases or may be born with abnormalities. Why do some people have genius qualities and others have low IQ intellect and why some people have a life seemingly blessed and others seemingly cursed. All this could account for the fact that to evolve and learn, our soul needs to experience many life’s experiences. The belief that the law of Karma can be carried over even from a remote past life, shows that we are ultimately responsible for our own destiny and fate. We create our future Karma according to how we live our lives. The law of Karma is exact and every action has a reaction, whether in present, past or future time, until Karma is transcended. If we continue to exist and to experience Karma throughout many life times in order to evolve, what is it that continues to exist? Certainly it is not the physical body, but could it be our consciousness? This search led me to study Past Life Regression. What is consciousness? Here are some varying definitions:
Descartes 1596-1650. “I think, therefore I am”. I am thinking, therefore I exist, concludes that he was sensing being conscious and that the ability to think with sentient awareness is that which differentiated the individuals from other individuals, with the ability to observe the external world.
Sigmund Freud divided consciousness into three levels of mind:
- The Conscious Mind, our immediate awareness, in which we are paying attention and include only our current thinking process.
- The Preconscious Mind, includes those things around us that we are aware of but not paying attention to, however if we expand our consciousness we could bring them in to focus.
- The Subconscious Mind, the contents of which are not in our consciousness. Our behaviour is driven directly from the subconscious mind which thinks and acts independently of our conscious mind.
Freud believed that personality is divided into the ID, EGO and SUPEREGO and all thoughts and behaviours come from the interaction of id, ego and superego.
Carl Jung 1871-1961 – Jung differed from Freud in that he believed that the human psyche is by nature religious. He felt that modern man relies too much on science and logic and that he would benefit by integrating spirituality and the appreciation of the unconscious realms. Although his model of the personal unconscious was the same as Freud’s, Jung believed in a deeper unconscious underlying the personal, which he called, “The Collective Unconscious.” He believed in the concept of archetypes.
Archetypes or symbols are memories universal to the whole of mankind. Archetypes are of a religious nature and have positive effects to inspire the human psyche.
Robert Assagioli 1888-1974 gave us psycho synthesis, which is the combination of the spiritual and religious aspects of man’s consciousness. He introduced the model of “The Higher Self”. Assagioli combined Freud’s methodology (that man had to be aware of ego and fields of consciousness) but also awareness of the higher self. Assagioli also combined the transpersonal realms of consciousness with psychology.
John Searl consciousness refers to the states of sentience and awareness that typically begin when we awake from a dreamless sleep and continue to go to sleep again, or fall in to a coma, or die or otherwise become unconscious.
Buddhism, consciousness, life force or simply mind
The concept of consciousness being able to exist independently of the physical body is a difficult one. Our physical bodies are the central point of our focus of wellbeing. We are concerned about our physical health, even about our looks. Our physical body directed by the brain, nerves and a myriad of chemical reactions combined with the more intangible parts of us e.g. memory and mind, constitutes the sum of our being.
Everything we believe we are is enveloped within flesh, blood, bone and nerve endings. We are therefore convinced that we exist within our body and that our consciousness directs and oversees the bodies functions, therefore, consciousness is connected to the physical body and one is inconceivable without the other. The science of the physical body is an argument against the survival of physical death. However consciousness is intangible, yet we know it exists, (“I think, therefore I am”.) So is it therefore possible that intellect, reason, imagination, memory, perception and all other functions of consciousness can exist in pure form independently of the physical body?
Can The State Of Consciousness Survive The Death Of The Physical Body?
In recent times medical technology has advanced to the point where successful resuscitation from conditions such as cardiac arrest, has allowed many people to survive clinical death. Reports of near death experiences have been scientifically investigated by scientists and doctors such as Raymond Moody, Elizabeth Kubler Ross and Dr Ken Ring. Techniques to collate near death experiences from people who had survived clinical death, found that all the experiences contained common themes. They found that the dying patients continued to have conscious awareness of their environment after being pronounced clinically dead. All experienced a floating out of their physical bodies associated with a great sense of peace and wholeness.
It is now common practice in emergency hospital rooms to strategically place an unusual object on a high vantage point. E.g. a shoe may be placed on top of a high cupboard, or a symbol painted on top of a light shade, so that if a patient experiences floating out of his body during a near death and recovered, he would be able to confirm the objects he could see from the high vantage point. A description of the complete experience which embodies all the common elements found in the near death experience in which it is typical for them to occur are, a dying person is sentient. He can hear himself being pronounced dead by the doctor. He may hear a ringing or buzzing noise and instantly feel himself moving through a long dark tunnel, after which he finds himself outside his physical body but still in his immediate physical environment. He can see his own body, as though a spectator and watches his resuscitation usually from a vantage point and is in a state of emotional upheaval. He becomes accustomed to his condition and notices he still has a body but one with a very different nature and different from the one left behind. Other things begin to happen. He meets spirits of deceased friends and loved ones and encounters a warm spirit of light.
He is asked to evaluate his life (non verbally) and is shown a review of all major events of that life. He then approaches a barrier or border which represents the limit of no return to earthly life. He finds he must go back as his time for death is not yet. He resists as he is overwhelmed by intense feelings of joy, love and peace. Despite this he unites with his physical body and lives. A near death experience usually affects a person’s life profoundly. A person may experience some or all of these elements of NDE, (near death experience.) However, some people who came through the NDE, did not recall any of the above elements.
Thirty years ago when these first NDE studies were carried out, the scientific view was that people experiencing NDE, were hallucinating from drugs given, or lack of oxygen to the brain, or that the brain cells were dying. Now however, mainstream scientific researchers are acknowledging the work of Raymond Moody and others. People are now talking more openly of their experiences of near death, without the fear of being ridiculed or thought of as being mentally ill. A positive side effect is that having such an experience transforms people’s lives positively.
OOB’S (Out Of Body) During forms of deep relaxation such as meditation or when awakening from sleep, people have reported floating out of their physical body spontaneously. Whilst in that state, they have found themselves looking down at their physical body. Often when returning to their physical body they can experience a state of paralysis for a while. Oob’s can occur at any time, to any healthy person and is another example of consciousness existing outside of the physical body.
How Consciousness Relates to Past Life Regression
If consciousness has been experienced by people outside of their physical body, can this be the essence of who we are and is it this essence that continues beyond the death of the physical body. Is consciousness all that it has experienced, learned and evolved, that which has incarnated previously within a physical body and that which will continue to do so in the future. Therefore if consciousness survives to reincarnate, why do we not remember consciously our previous existences? Could it be that in our every day lives, our conscious mind has to deal with the here and now. Our conscious mind is restricting it’s focus on the physical world and it’s conditions, whilst the memories of previous lives are stored in the deeper levels of the subconscious. However the effects of emotions, issues, trauma and any memories that have been repressed deep in the subconscious can produce problems, phobias, relationship patterns and even physical ailments in the present life’s body.
Children and Reincarnation
Children recalling past lives can be valuable studies, as they are not tainted by the possibility of false memories.
Dr Ian Stevenson, head of the University of Virginia, researched over 3,000 cases of children’s past life memories. His research was carried out for the scientific and academic community. His studies were worldwide, although the majority were in the Far East. The children were between the ages of two to four years, as by the time the children reached the ages of seven to eight years, the memories had faded. Dr Stevenson gathered the testimonies from children who recalled past lives spontaneously without the use of hypnosis. He gathered data of birthmarks, birth defects and other physical evidence.
What Happens When Past Life Memories are Recalled from the Subconscious Mind?
In the mid sixties, therapists such as Dick Sutphen found that past life regression worked as a therapy and instructed the medical profession in these life changing techniques. He felt that 95% of human problems had their roots in a past life. Issues and traumatic memories become repressed stored in the deep subconscious and manifest in to physical or emotional problems in the present life. Through Past Life Regression Therapy, recalling and remembering past lives, painful repressed memories are brought forward, abreaction takes place followed by healing. As the memory is no longer repressed, the knowledge can be used to change negative even destructive life patterns.
Case Study 1
Peter Hunt. Age – 46 years. An Engineer. He was adopted and only found his blood family 5 years ago. He discovered that he had a brother and a sister. He feels very close to his brother and trusts him above any body else.
During his past life regression, his first impression was that he was lying in a field with his leg broken and there was a battle going on all around him. He was wearing a brown uniform and as he looked around he could see other people wearing the same uniform. He was a white male, aged 15 years old, his name was Albert. He was lying in a wet damp hole. When asked if he had any family, he replied, “My brother is lying dead beside me.” He was in the British army and he felt afraid. I asked him to go forward in that life but he replied, “It’s dark, I’m not here.” I asked him to return to the battle, he was shot in the stomach and died. He described his death as “Just like the lights going out, it went dark.” Reviewing that life, he said, “It wasn’t right, I wasn’t aware, I shouldn’t have been there.” I asked him what he had learned from that life, he answered, “Love for my brother, we died together and we will always be together, nothing can ever part us.”
Upon being released from hypnosis, he was very emotional. He said he felt the shot as it entered his stomach, he could smell and hear the noise of the battle and he recognised his brother from his past life as being the recently discovered brother in this life. He now understood why he felt such a close bond with his brother and that nothing could part them, not even adoption or death.
Case Study 2
Nick Margerrison, age 34 years. He presents a late night talk show for a national radio station. He requested past life regression as research for one of his broadcasts.
As the regression began, he described himself as a young athletic male, with shoulder length hair. He was wearing “slick” boots and an all in one outfit. He was conscious of the fact that he was not very bright and was teased and taunted by his family. He was on a pathway going somewhere with an important message, although he wasn’t sure what the message was but he knew it was for someone who held a high position. He passed a pile of stones, which were a landmark so he knew he was going in the right direction. He was in Scotland and was aware that there was a King on the throne but wasn’t sure which one. He loved horses and lived with them in a stable. He had a father and older brothers but said” He had killed his mother.” When I asked him to explain how? He said she died giving birth to him. His father and brothers blamed him for his mother’s death. I asked him what the weather was like. He replied “It’s the waning part of the year, but not raining.” I asked him to go forward in that life, he replied, “I don’t get that old.” He gave the name Josh, then said, “No, Hosh,” He repeated that he was not very bright and had no friends and that something happened when he was taking the message. I told him to look at his death scene instructing him to view it as though watching a TV screen so that it would not be so traumatic. He described a lot of fighting and drunkenness going on around him. He was hit on the right side of the head by something heavy and metal like a spear. He fell to the floor, he said it was an accident, people were drunk and didn’t realise that he was dying. It took him a long time to die and he was still being teased by his brothers as he lay dying.
During the life review, he said “That he was pushed around too easily and that he should have asserted himself more.” Talking to him after the session, he recalled that he could feel the pain to the side of his head as he was hit. He noticed that his speech was slower and he could feel that he had a young athletic body. He also felt the guilt of “killing his mother.” However as a national radio presenter he has to be assertive and confident, showing that he seems to have learned some of the lessons of his previous life.
Note: Afterwards he discovered that the term “the waning part of the year,” is a figure of speech from the middle ages. Hosh is a place that does exist in Scotland and that stones used in burial sights, were also used as landmarks. (Permission was given to use these case studies).
Conclusion: The mind and consciousness are so tangible that it is impossible to prove scientifically that consciousness can exist outside the physical body.
When dealing with past life regression, one must be aware that other phenomena could be occurring. These could be:
- Cryptomnesia, Absorbing knowledge without being aware of it. It could be the recalling of a book read or a film viewed, long forgotten and this could be what is being recalled.
- Tapping in to the collective unconscious, Carl Jung’s theory of shared memories and experiences that are universal to mankind.
- Genetic cell memory, which is the theory that each cell contains memories that are inherited and passed down genetically.
However, when knowledge comes forward, that can be verified and the client can make sense of feelings and emotions that have always haunted them, then in all probability the client is recalling memories of another life.
Studies by Raymond Moody, Ken Ring, Elizabeth Kubler Ross, Dr Ian Stevenson and Dick Sutphen are pioneers that look beyond the scientific boundaries for evidence and like Assagioli and Jung before them, they believe in the whole aspects of the human psyche.
The body is composed of physical matter and can be studied with scientific proof. Consciousness and mind, however is subjective, impossible to see and therefore to prove but we know it exists. However that is not to say that consciousness ceases to exist, once the body does. Could the body be a vehicle for consciousness to reside in, in order to experience life or lives on the physical Earth. One thing is certain, past life regression therapy allows insight and produces positive results in helping people to transform their lives.
1) The Bloxham Tapes – Arnold Bloxham
3) Life after Life – Raymond Moody
4) Astral Projection – Anthony Martin
5) Remembering Past Lives – Edgar Cayce
6) Past Life Regression – Ursula Markham