John Van Auken (www.johnvanauken.com) is a former director of the Association of Research and Enlightenment, the Edgar Cayce Research Foundation. He is editor of the newsletter Living in the Light and author of many books, audio tapes, and videos. He’s an expert in Egyptian, Hebrew, and Christian mysticism, and is a skillful teacher of meditation from kundalini to his unique passage in consciousness. He practices the techniques he teaches and has become a popular speaker, leading retreats, workshops, and tours, and writes regularly as a columnist.
The following is a discussion concerning consciousness and how it relates to reincarnation. It is an excellent explanation of reincarnation that dispels many myths that people have about it. One particular myth is that people are forced to reincarnate immediately after death in the manner that some eastern religions teach. This myth is dispelled by many NDE testimonials which suggest that reincarnation is not bound by time nor is it necessarily a linear cycle. Time as we know it does not exist in the realm of the NDE. A soul can spend an “eternity of eternities” in the afterlife realms after death before deciding to incarnate again. Below is an excerpt from John Van Auken’s outstanding book, Reincarnation: Born Again and Again.
1. Introduction to consciousness and reincarnation
This source of answers to the mysteries of life has no unifying name for its body of knowledge. Various parts of its principal concepts are actually scattered throughout different cultures and countries with no central collection point for the ideas. Because of this, and because many of its ideas are not widely known (often the adherents of these ideas have purposefully withheld them from the public), this school of thought can be referred to as the “secret teachings.” But it is not a single school of thought; rather, it’s a hodgepodge of concepts from many diverse and often unrelated sources that reveal a very similar view of life and its meaning.
2. The beginning of consciousness
Science might categorize the secret teachings as metaphysical, meaning “beyond the known laws and observations of physics.” Religion might refer to them as mystical, meaning that they belong to a collection of thought considered too mysterious to consider or of dubious origin.
Science, too, has had its adherents to concepts held by the secret teachings. Many quantum physicists have written about theories of life beyond the physically observable. In the field of medicine, doctors have found that some patients, who have been declared dead and later revived have had near-death experiences that confirm many of the concepts found in the secret teachings.
According to the secret teachings, the universe was not first created out of matter, but existed prior to material creation in spirit form. Imagine a consciousness similar to our own, except that this first consciousness was boundless, a Universal Consciousness. This is God. At some point, the Universal Consciousness desired to express itself. It began to conceive, to imagine, and to express Its inner promptings. And so the creation began light, sound … eventually stars, galaxies, trees, and rivers. This point in creation was still prior to the physical creation of the universe that science records. This was a realm of thought; no physical forms existed, only thoughts in the consciousness of the Universe. The physical universe had not yet been created.
According to the secret teachings, there came a point in this creation where the Creator’s Consciousness desired to bring forth companions, creatures like unto Itself that would share in this expression of life. In order for the creatures to be more than creations, they had to possess individual consciousness and freedom so that they could choose to be companions. Otherwise, they would only have been servants of the Original Consciousness. So within the One Universal Consciousness many individual points of consciousness were awakened and given freedom.
It’s important for us to realize that at this point in our existence we did not have physical bodies. All of what has just been described occurred within the Mind of God. Consequently, its “form” resembled that of thought rather than physical objects. In the very beginning we were individual points of consciousness within the one great Universal Consciousness.
At first we were quiet, our wills content to observe the wonders of the spiritual creation as they flowed from the Mind of God. In these early periods we were so much a part of the Creator’s Consciousness that we were one with It, virtually indistinguishable from It. However, it wasn’t long before some of us began to use our wills and express ourselves. At first, we simply imitated the Creator, but eventually we gained experience, and with experience came knowledge and confidence. Then, we truly began to create on our own, adding new realms to the spiritual creation, much like a second voice adds to a song by singing harmony with the main melody.
This was exactly why we had been created to share in and contribute to the great expression of life and to be Its companions. To fulfill this purpose we were created in the image of the Creator: consciousness with freedom, capable of conceiving, perceiving, and remembering; capable of communicating directly with the Creator and the other companions.
Consciousness and free will were the greatest qualities given any creation, but they came with equally great responsibility for their use or misuse. Of course, the all-knowing Universal One knew the potential dangers in giving beings complete freedom to do as they desired. However, the potential joy of sharing life with true companions, not servants, was deemed worth the risk. Therefore, each of these new free-willed beings would simply have to learn to take charge of themselves and to subdue harmful desires in order to live in harmony with the other companions and the Creator. To do otherwise would only bring chaos, suffering, and separation.
Unfortunately, chaos came. As we continued to use our godly powers, we became more fascinated with them. We began to focus more and more on our own creations and became less concerned with and attentive to their harmony with the Creator, with the Whole. The more we thought of just ourselves and our own desires with less regard for the Whole, the more self-centered we became, eventually perceiving ourselves as separate from the Whole.
Of course, this sense of separation was all in our minds, so to speak, because there really was no way we could exist outside of the Whole because everything was of spirit. It was more a result of our sustained focus of attention on ourselves and our self-interests that resulted in a heightened sense of a distinct and separate self.
This was the beginning of trouble. It led to a very long fall for us. A fall that eventually left us feeling alone and separated from the rest of life, even to the point that we, who were actually companions and co-creators with the Universal Creator, today come to think of ourselves as little more than dust-like creatures, descendants of apes and inhabitants of a planet on the outskirts of a typical galaxy in the endless and diverse universe.
3. The universal law of karmic memory
This chaos occurred in spirit when no physical universe existed. To know ourselves and yet be one with the Whole was the ideal condition, but the centering of awareness on self alone resulted in a sense of separation from the Whole. The more we exercised our individual consciousness and free will for self-interest, self-gratification, self-glorification, and self-consciousness, the more we heightened our sense of self apart from the Whole.
The resulting loss of contact with the Source of our life and the purpose of our existence was the beginning of darkness and evil, which is ignorance. Without a clear sense of our relationship to the rest of life, many of us began to use free will in ways that were never meant to be. Others simply let themselves be carried along with the current of life, abdicating their free will to the will of others. In both cases, these were things that would make it very difficult for us to be companions to the Creator.
However, the Creator foresaw this potential and, prior to creating companions, It created a Universal Law: Whatever one did with its free will, it must experience the consequences. The law was not intended as punishment or retribution for offenses, but as a tool for education and enlightenment. Thus, as we used our freedom, we experienced the effects. In this we came to understand and learn.
Interestingly, both science and religion recognize this law. In science it is often stated, “For every action there is an equal and opposing reaction.” Its religious counterparts are, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”; “As you sow, so shall you reap”; and “As you do unto others, it will be done unto you.” Even today’s common knowledge expresses this principle in the saying, “What goes around, comes around.”
This is the law of karma, of cause and effect. It was, and is, the great teacher of the companions-to-be and it is an integral part of the secret teachings. Once this law was established, the Creator conceived and freed countless independent points of consciousness within Its own infinite consciousness and the companions came into being, each conscious and free. What a trembling wonder it must have been in those first moments!
Again, it’s important to realize that the companions were not physical bodies. They were like “ideas” in the mind of the Creator that were given freedom to be independently conscious. As they used their freedom, they developed into unique points of thought, feeling, desire, expression, and memory. Each was slightly different from the other by virtue of its different vantage point within the Universal Consciousness. Each companion had a spirit, mind, and a soul. Spirit is the essence of life. Remember the condition of the Creator before the creation; alive yet still. This is Spirit. It is the living stillness in the midst of activity. So often we identify life with motion, but the essence of life was there before the motion. Spirit is the essence of life.
Life in motion, or the power to move and shape ideas and even physical forms out of spirit, is mind. Mind is the sculptor, the builder who conceives, imagines, and shapes ideas out of the essence of life. Spirit is life; Mind is the power to use it.
Each of the companions had spirit and mind. As they used their life forces, they developed experiences, memories, desires, fears, etc. This caused them to become unique from one another each having its own collection of experiences and aspirations; each its own story. This individual aspect of the companion is its soul. Soul is the sum total of all that the companion had done with its free-will consciousness. It’s the companion’s story, its complex of memories. All of the companions have spirit and mind, but each developed a unique soul, because each built a different collection of memories and experiences, resulting in different desires, hopes, and attitudes about life. Thus, spirit is the life force, mind is the power to use it, and soul is the being that develops. All are one in consciousness.
4. The division of consciousness
The creation then progressed from essence to thought, thought into thought-form, and from thought-form into particle-form or atomic-form; in other words, matter. There are many realms to life. One of these realms is the three-dimensional physical form, as we know it today.
The companions, filled with their newfound consciousness and freedom, went out into the vast universe to experience life and to learn about themselves, the Creator, and their relationship to it. In their travels through the cosmos, some of the companions entered the three-dimensional influences of the planet Earth where they entered into physical form for the first time. Here they became so encapsulated in the physical that they began to identify themselves more with their form than with their consciousness. They began to think of themselves as physical entities rather than free, living consciousness. Incredibly, they began to think they were only terrestrial beings and their celestial origins began to be forgotten. Form was so substantial, so captivating that it was difficult to hold on to the more delicate reality of spirit-thoughts, pure point of consciousness in a Universal Consciousness.
To have an individual body was also the ultimate in self-identity and self-expression. It then had the power to separate the individual from the Whole and the formless spirit-thoughts of higher realms.
Strong identification with the physical made the companions subject to the laws of nature, and, of course, a part of nature’s cycle is death. The body would come to life according to the laws of nature, live for a time, and then die. In their original state, the companions were continually alive, but those that began to strongly identify with their physical bodies were now affected by death. Since they thought they were their bodies, they considered themselves dead when their bodies died.
This led to great confusion, and when the companions who had not become involved in the material universe saw what had happened to the others, they decided to help those in the flesh regain their former state. However, it was not going to be easy.
In addition to the influences of the physical dimension, the souls were building reaction patterns (karmic patterns) with their willful activities in the physical universe. According to Universal Law, these actions had to be met properly met in the physical universe where they had been initiated. The more one acted in the physical dimension, the more one built debts that had to be met in the physical. Death changed nothing except those with karmic debts to be paid had to pay them by incarnating into another physical body. The result of this was reincarnation.
Another effect of entering the physical dimension was the division of consciousness. According to the secret teachings, as an individual entered deeper into the physical, its consciousness separated into three divisions of awareness. Two of these divisions we acknowledge today: the conscious and subconscious. The first entails the physical realm where the human body required a three-dimensional consciousness to function. It has become the part of our consciousness we are most familiar with, what we have come to call the conscious mind. Many of us would consider it to actually be the “I” or “me” of ourselves. It is within this part of consciousness that we experience physical life, and our personalities are developed.
The second part of consciousness is shadow-like while one is incarnate in the physical dimension. It lives life as a shadow, always there, listening, watching, remembering, and only occasionally making its profound and sometimes frightening presence known. We have come to call this part of our consciousness the subconscious mind. From out of this area come dreams, intuitions, unseen motivations, and deepest memories.
According to many teachings, the subconscious is the realm of the soul that uses the conscious mind as a mechanism for manifesting in the physical realm through the five senses. Often the thoughts and interests of the conscious mind, combined with the desires of the body, become so strong and dominant that only its activities seem important and real; the subconscious seems illusionary and unrelated to outer life. But in truth, the real life is occurring in the subconscious.
The third area of the now divided consciousness is the most universal. It is the part we can perceive and commune with the Universal Consciousness. We have different names for it: the Collective Mind, the Universal Mind, the Collective Unconsciousness, and the superconsciousness (spirit).
The more one’s attention moves into the conscious mind, the more narrow and limited the focus and awareness becomes. The more one moves toward the superconsciousness, the more one becomes aware of the Whole, the Universal Forces, the Creator.
It may be more difficult to perceive the infinite when one is grossly involved in the finite, but the Universal Consciousness and the potential for attuning oneself to It remains. Curiously, access to it is through the inner consciousness of the incarnate individual and not outside of it, making it a very mysterious passage for a physical being.
In time, however, the companions trapped in the physical dimension could again become aware of the difference between terrestrial and celestial life. They could again come to know their original state and purpose, and regain their celestial birthright of companionship with the Creator. In time they could again come to realize that the conditions in their present physical life were the result of their free-will actions and choices before the present life.
If the companions trapped in the physical dimension could genuinely begin to believe that the physical cannot possibly be all there is to life, they could begin the long journey back from form to spirit, a very difficult journey. In many ways we, as human beings, are no longer spirit. Flesh has become very much a part of us, not just physically but mentally as well. Even when we are out of the body (through death, deep sleep, or some altered state such as meditation), bodily manifestation is still very much a part of us. Otherwise, there would certainly be no reincarnation. We would simply leave the physical dimension and never return.
The great paradox of humankind is that we are now both spirit and flesh. That’s like saying we are a combination of oil and water, two substances which do not combine. The mystical analogy would more properly be fire and water; these, too, don’t combine. How can anything be made up of two substances that are impossible to combine? Yet, such is the nature of humanity. We are constantly forced to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable: mercy with justice, cooperation with independence, unity with diversity, tradition with change, feeling with thought, love with truth, and on and on.
5. The consequences of the division
In order to fully appreciate the secret teachings, we need to understand how the Universal Law of cause and effect works. It’s easy to say that the experiences in one’s life are the result of past activities, but the forces of this law are greater than we may first imagine.
Every action, every thought, every idle word sets up reactions, according to the Universal Law. When one thinks a thought, that thought makes an impression on the Universal Consciousness. Nothing is lost or done in secret. Everything is done within the Universal Consciousness, and the Whole is affected by it (as well as all others within the Whole).
This isn’t easy for us to believe, living in our own little worlds. The words “secret”, “private”, “alone”, and “separate” are active words in our vocabulary. This is due to our current separation in consciousness from the Whole. In the higher realms of consciousness, there is no space. Things and people are not separate, but part of a Whole. All is actually One. All is within the Whole. By increasing the focus on self, we have created the illusion of a self separated from the rest of life, but it just isn’t so. Our individual actions and thoughts make an impact on the Mind of the Universal One (the Whole).
6. Thoughts are things. Thoughts are real.
Reactions to past thoughts and actions become our fate, destiny, and karma. An individual’s fate is simply the rebounding effects of previous choices remembered by its soul. The reason the effects of these previous choices often seem unfair to the conscious mind is because the personality doesn’t see beyond its own life for sources of current conditions.
As companions of God, we are free to live and choose and grow almost as we desire, but not without being subject to the Universal, Spiritual law. Through meeting our thoughts, actions, and words we learn to discern wisdom from folly, lasting strength from weakness, and true life from illusion. In turn we become more able to fulfill our ultimate purpose for existing: to be a companion to the Universal Creator. The law is actually a magnificent tool for perfect learning. It is completely impersonal everyone experiences it equally and for the purpose of enlightenment.
The law of karma is not some fierce god in the sky keeping track of everything so that it can zap people when they least expect it. Most karmic reactions, in fact, come from the individual’s own deep memory of what it has done.
Karma has been described as memory. Karma is memory coming to consciousness again. What has occurred in the past is recalled and has an effect on the present. Now, the recollection may not surface to the conscious level; the personality may have no awareness of the memory, in fact. Yet, it exists at the deeper, soul level. Nevertheless, the soul sees through the same eyes as the personality and is reminded of its past use of free will and consciousness. Naturally, some of these memories will be compatible with the Universal Mind and some will not. Memory is an important concept in understanding how the law of karma works.
As a soul draws closer to the Universal Mind, it becomes aware that some of its memories are not compatible with the Creator, and since its ultimate purpose for being is companionship with the Creator, it seeks out opportunities to resolve these incompatible memories.
Suppose a soul criticizes another soul among its peers and behind its back. As it becomes more aware of its true nature, it will recall this wrong and, because of its incompatibility with the Creator, will seek to correct it. Now, the resolution could take many forms. The soul might seek out an opportunity to work closely with the injured soul as a supporter, assistant, publicist, agent, or the like. Or perhaps it would seek to re-create the original scene putting itself in a position to criticize the other soul again in front of the same peers. The test would be to see if the soul would choose not to criticize this time, even if it meant a certain loss of position for itself. Throughout all this the soul grows wiser and more compatible with the Creator.
If, however, a soul has gotten so far away from its true nature that it has no conscience, then the law of karma can become a formidable obstacle to any further free-will action. Such a soul becomes surrounded by its karma; everywhere it turns, it meets the terrible effects of its previous action and thoughts. Yet, even a soul who has gotten in this pathetic situation can return to perfection because there is no total condemnation from the Creator or the law. If the soul turns away from its self-centeredness and begins acting, reacting, thinking, and speaking like a companion to the Universe, then the law is just as perfect as it is with error; and the reactions begin to build and establish a new destiny for that soul.
Karma is memory. As one recalls or relives situations, one meets self again, and a new decision point, or crossroads, is presented to the soul. In life, “good” would be equated with compatible, harmonious actions and thoughts which consider the needs and desires of others, along with self’s needs and desires. “Evil” would be equated with actions and thoughts that are motivated by a self-orientation that pays little or no attention to the needs and desires of others and the Whole. Metaphysically speaking, good results in oneness, and evil results in a sense of separation. Decisions in one’s life could be approached by evaluating which choices promote greater oneness and which promote separation.
One must meet every bit of one’s karma. However, there is a way that it can be modified, softened, even ameliorated. If a soul, knowing another soul has wronged it, forgives that soul and holds no lingering resentment perhaps has even forgotten the wrong in the depths of its forgiveness and understanding then it begins to take hold of the power of forgiveness. The more it forgives, the more it perceives and understands forgiveness. Then, when it approaches the Universal Consciousness and realizes it possesses memories that are incompatible with It, forgiveness is much more viable, removing the barrier of separation. The law is so precise (what one gives one receives; no exceptions) that if one begins having mercy on and forgiveness of others, one begins to receive mercy and forgiveness upon oneself. Unless, of course, one refuses to forgive oneself.
All of one’s karma has to be met. And yet, no soul is given more than it can bear to carry this is the paradoxical blessing hidden in the limitations of time and space. A soul is given the time it needs to turn away from its selfish ways and, like the prodigal son, return home to a feast of joy and welcome from our Creator. Reincarnation is not a way to avoid judgment and responsibility; it is a way to allow the soul enough time to correct its mistakes and develop itself.
When Dr. Michael Newton (1931-2016), a certified Master Hypnotherapist, began regressing his clients back in time to access their memories of former lives, he stumbled onto a discovery of enormous proportions: that it is possible to see into the spirit world through the mind’s eye of subjects who are in a hypnotized or superconscious state; and that clients in this altered state were able to tell him what their soul was doing between lives on Earth. His book, Journey of Souls, presents ten years of his research and insights to help people understand the purpose behind their life choices, and how and why our soul – and the souls of those we love – lives eternally. His follow-up book, Destiny of Souls, is highly recommended as well. In May of 2004, Dr. Newton’s new book entitled Life Between Lives: Hypnotherapy for Spiritual Regression was released. Dr. Newton was also the founder of The Society for Spiritual Regression. The following is an excerpt from Journey of Souls describing the nature of the afterlife.
There are souls who have been so severely damaged they are detached from the mainstream of souls going back to a spiritual home base after death. Compared to all returning entities, the number of these abnormal souls is not large.
There are two types of displaced souls: (1) those who do not accept the fact their physical body is dead and fight returning to the spirit world for reasons of personal anguish, and (2) those souls who have been subverted by, or had complicity with, criminal abnormalities in a human body. The first type we call ghosts. These spirits refuse to go home after physical death and often have unpleasant influences on those of us who would like to finish out our human lives in peace. These displaced souls are sometimes falsely called demonic spirits because they are accused of invading the minds of people with harmful intent.
Those subverted by criminal abnormalities do undergo separation in the spirit world, and this happens at the time of their orientation with guides. They are not activated along the same travel routes as other souls and will go into seclusion upon reentering the spirit world. These souls don’t appear to mix with other entities in the conventional manner for quite a while.
Because wrong-doing takes so many forms on Earth, spiritual instruction and the type of isolation used is varied for each soul. The nature of these variations apparently is evaluated during orientation at the end of each life. The relative time of seclusion and reindoctrination is not consistent either. For instance, I have had reports about maladjusted spirits who have returned back to Earth directly after a period of seclusion in order to expunge themselves as soon as possible by a good incarnated performance.
All souls, regardless of experience, eventually arrive at a central port in the spirit world which I call the staging area. Once past the orientation station there seems to be no further travel detours for anyone entering this space of the spirit world. Apparently, large numbers of returning souls are conveyed in a spiritual form of mass transit. Spirits are brought in, collected, and then projected out to their proper final destinations similar to a central terminal of a metropolitan airport that has the capacity to fly people out in any direction. The most outstanding characteristic of this world is a continuous feeling of a powerful mental force directing everything in uncanny harmony. People say this is a place of pure thought.
Group placement is determined by soul level. After physical death, a soul’s journey back home ends with debarkation into the space reserved for their own colony, as long as they are not a very young soul or isolated for other reasons. The souls represented in these cluster groups are intimate old friends who have the same awareness level. Members of the same cluster group are closely united for all eternity. These tightly-knit clusters are often composed of like-minded souls with common objectives which they continually work out with each other. Usually they choose lives together as relatives and close friends during their incarnations on Earth.
2. The Levels of Soul Groupings
a. The Beginner Soul
There are two types of beginner souls: (1) souls who are truly young in terms of exposure to an existence out of the spirit world, and (2) souls who have been reincarnating on Earth for a long period of relative time, but still remain immature.
I believe almost three-quarters of all souls who inhabit human bodies on Earth today are still in the early stages of development. Souls end their incarnation on Earth when they reach full maturity.
The beginner soul may live a number of lives in a state of confusion and ineffectiveness, influenced by an Earth curriculum which is different from the coherence and supportive harmony of the spirit world. Less developed souls are inclined to surrender their will to the controlling aspects of human society, with a socio-economic structure which causes a large proportion of people to be subordinate to others. The inexperienced soul tends to be stifled by a lack of independent thinking. They also lean towards being self-centered and don’t easily accept others for who they are. Every soul was once a beginner.
b. The Intermediate Soul
Once our souls advance into the intermediate ranges of development, group cluster activity is considerably reduced. This does not mean we return to the kind of isolation that occurs with novice souls. Souls evolving into the middle development level have less association with primary groups because they have acquired the maturity and experience for operating more independently. These souls are also reducing the number of their incarnations.
These souls are at last ready for more serious responsibilities. The relationship we have with our guides now changes from teacher-student to one of colleagues working together. Since our old guides have acquired new student groups, it is now our turn to develop teaching skills which will eventually qualify us for the responsibilities of being a guide to someone else.
This is a significant stage for souls in their development because now they are given increased responsibilities for younger souls. The status of a guide is not given to us all at once, however.
As with many other aspects of soul life, we are carefully tested. The intermediate levels are trial periods for potential teachers. Our mentors assign us a soul to look after, and then evaluate our leadership performance both in and out of physical incarnations.
Only if this preliminary training is successful are we allowed to function even at the level of a junior guide. Not everyone is suited for teaching, but this does not keep us from becoming an advanced soul. Guides, like everyone else, have different abilities and talents, as well as shortcomings. By the time we reach the advanced level, our soul aptitudes are well known in the spirit world. We are given occupational duties commensurate with our abilities. Different avenues of approach to learning eventually bring all of us to the same end in acquiring spiritual wholeness.
c. The Advanced Soul
I believe that people on Earth who possess souls which are both old and highly advanced are scarce. A person whose maturity is this high doesn’t seek out a regression therapist to resolve life-plan conflicts. In most cases, they are here as incarnated guides. Having mastered the fundamental issues most of us wrestle with daily, the advanced soul is more interested in making small refinements toward specific tasks.
We may recognize them when they appear as public figures, such as Mother Teresa; however, it is more usual for the advanced soul to go about their good works in a quiet, unassuming manner. Without displaying self-indulgence, their fulfillment comes from improving the lives of other people. They focus less on institutional matters and more on enhancing individual human values.
The mark of an advanced spirit is one who has patience with society and shows extraordinary coping skills. Most prominent is their exceptional insight. This is not to say life has no karmic pitfalls for them, otherwise they probably wouldn’t be here at all. They may be found in all walks of life, but are frequently in the helping professions or combating social injustice in some fashion. The advanced soul radiates composure, kindness, and understanding toward others. Not being motivated by self-interest, they may disregard their own physical needs and live in reduced circumstances.
3. Returning to the Physical
There comes that time when the soul must once again leave the sanctuary of the spirit world for another trip to Earth. This decision is not an easy one. Souls must prepare to leave a world of total wisdom, where they exist in a blissful state of freedom, for the physical and mental demands of a physical body. Once back in the spirit world, souls have misgivings about even temporarily leaving a world of self-understanding, comradeship, and compassion to go to a planetary environment of uncertainty and fear brought about by aggressive, competing humans. Despite having family and friends on Earth, many incarnated souls feel lonely and anonymous among large impersonal populations.
The rejuvenation of our energy and personal assessment of one’s self takes longer for some souls than others, but eventually the soul is motivated to start the process of incarnation. While our spiritual environment is hard to leave, as souls we also remember the physical pleasures of life on Earth with fondness and even nostalgia. When the wounds of a past life are healed and we are again totally at one with ourselves, we feel the pull of having a physical expression for our identity. Training sessions with our counselors and peer groups have provided a collaborative spiritual effort to prepare us for the next life. Our karma of past deeds towards humanity and our mistakes and achievements have all been evaluated with an eye toward the best course of future endeavors. The souls must now assimilate all this information and take purposeful action based upon three primary decisions:
(1) Am I ready for a new physical life?
(2) What specific lessons do I want to undertake to advance my learning and development?
(3) Where should I go, and who shall I be in my next life for the best opportunity to work on my goals?
Once a soul has decided to incarnate again, the next stage in the return process is to be directed to the place of life selection. Souls consider when and where they want to go on Earth before making a decision on who they will be in their new life. While some spiritual locales for life selection are difficult for my subjects to describe, they use remarkably similar descriptions. He is told it resembles a movie theater which allows souls to see themselves in the future, playing different roles in various settings.
In this place of life selection, our souls preview the life span of more than one human being within the same time cycle. When we leave this area, most souls are inclined toward one leading candidate presented to us for soul occupation. However, our spiritual advisors give us ample opportunity to reflect upon all we have seen in the future before making a final decision.
After souls have completed their consultations with guides and peers about the many physical and psychological ramifications of a new life and body choice, the decision to incarnate is made. It would be logical to assume that they would then go immediately to Earth. This doesn’t happen before a significant element of preparation occurs. The space souls go to for this in the spirit world is commonly called the place of recognition, or recognition class. I am told the activity here is like cramming for a final exam.
One of the last requirements before embarkation for many souls is to go before the Council of Elders for the second time. The spirit world is an environment personified by order and the Elders want to reinforce the significance of a soul’s goals for the next life. Some return to their spirit group after this meeting to say goodbye while others say they leave immediately for reincarnation. Those souls getting ready for embarkation to Earth are like battle-hardened veterans girding themselves for combat. This is the last chance for souls to enjoy the omniscience of knowing just who they are before they must adapt to a new body.
Amber Wells is a former student at the University of Connecticut and wrote a research paper based on her study of the near-death experience for her senior honors thesis under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Ring. Her paper was published in the Journal of Near-Death Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1 (PDF) in the fall of 1993. In her study, 70 percent of the group of near-death experiencers demonstrated belief in reincarnation. In contrast, a Gallup Poll found that only 23 percent of the general population endorse this belief. Previous research has indicated that, following a near-death experience, the group tended to exhibit a significant shift in their beliefs on a wide range of subjects including a general tendency toward an increased openness to the idea of reincarnation. Ms. Wells’ study was designed to examine the factors underlying this belief shift. The following are some excerpts from her study reprinted by permission.
Several researchers have found that near-death experiences (NDEs) tend to increase belief in reincarnation. This study was designed to examine the factors underlying this belief shift. I used a questionnaire to compare the tendency toward belief in reincarnation among NDErs, individuals merely interested in NDEs, and a non-experiencer, non-interest control group. In addition, I interviewed 14 NDErs to gain insight into the factors influencing NDErs’ beliefs. NDErs’ reincarnation belief shift appeared to be due to (a) direct knowledge of reincarnation gained by some NDErs in the NDE itself; (b) knowledge of reincarnation gained through a general psychic awakening following the NDE; or (c) exploration of alternative perceptions of reality following the NDE.
2. Reincarnation Beliefs Among NDErs
Previous research has indicated that following a near-death experience (NDE), experiencers tend to exhibit a significant shift in their beliefs on a wide range of subjects, including an increased acceptance of others, a significantly greater belief in life after death, and a decreased emphasis on material success. These belief changes have also included a general tendency toward an in creased openness to the idea of reincarnation (Gallup and Proctor, 1982; Ring, 1980, 1984, 1992; Sutherland, 1992). It is this belief shift that was the focus of the present study. The question of what precipitates the shift toward belief in reincarnation has not yet been systematically addressed in the literature. In this study, I attempted to answer this question and, additionally, to determine if a consistent picture of the purpose and process of reincarnation would emerge from the accounts of near-death experiencers. Previous researchers such as Kenneth Ring have suggested that near-death experiencers’ increased openness toward the idea of reincarnation may be less a factor of the NDE itself than a result of life changes following the experience:
“Of course, there is no reason why an NDEr’s openness toward reincarnation must stem directly from his NDE. In fact, I am quite convinced that in many cases it is more likely to be a response to an NDEr’s reading and other life experiences following an NDE.” (Ring, 1984, p. 160)
Ring’s study also suggested that belief in or openness to reincarnation among NDErs was often accompanied by a more general endorsement of Eastern religions. This has also been noted in the work of Cherie Sutherland (1992). Other researchers (Twemlow, Gabbard, and Jones, 1982) found a similar shift in religious beliefs among individuals having not near-death experiences but out-of-body experiences. Thus it is possible that the NDE is simply one of many catalysts for an increased openness to reincarnation. In fact, it has been suggested that simply an interest in near-death phenomena can serve as a catalyst for many of the value changes expressed by NDErs, including an increased openness to the idea of reincarnation (K. Ring, personal communication, 1991).
If it is true that the NDE influences individuals’ reincarnation beliefs simply by causing them to consider new religions or spiritual ideas, then one would expect that individuals who exhibited an interest in the NDE would also be prompted to undergo a similar belief shift. If, on the other hand, it is something inherent in the NDE itself that leads individuals to consider the possibility of reincarnation, then one would expect that individuals who were merely interested in such phenomena but who had not experienced it themselves would have reincarnation beliefs that differed significantly from those of near-death experiencers and would instead be similar to those of individuals who have no such interest in NDEs.
In this study, questionnaires were used to determine the reincarnation beliefs of a group of NDErs, a group of subjects who were interested in near-death experiences but had not had an NDE, and also a group of subjects who were chosen to represent the general non-experiencer, non-interest population. Interviews of NDErs were also conducted to gain a deeper insight into the origins and structure of their beliefs concerning reincarnation.
3. Interview Data: NDErs’ Belief in Reincarnation
A review of my interview data revealed that 13 of the 14 NDErs either believed in reincarnation or were at least open to the idea. Seven of the NDErs I interviewed did not believe in reincarnation before their experience, but did believe in it afterwards. Four individuals did not believe in reincarnation before their NDE or afterwards. However, although these respondents did not definitely believe in reincarnation, they were at least open to the possibility. Two individuals had considered reincarnation prior to their NDE, but the experience led them to change the way they looked at it; one subject now believed in reincarnation on more of a collective level rather than as an individual process, and the other came to think about reincarnation more seriously and consider it more in depth following his experience. One subject did not believe in reincarnation before her NDE, and the experience had no effect on her views.
No strong common pattern of beliefs about the process or purpose of reincarnation surfaced in my interviews. However, a few commonalities were seen in some of the respondents’ answers. No one claimed to have gained any direct understanding of the nature or process of reincarnation during his or her NDE. Three of the 14 respondents, however, claimed a “sense” or “perception” during their experience of having lived before. Only one respondent claimed to have had a past lives review, in which she re-experienced events from a past life, during an NDE.
4. The Nature of Reincarnation
In response to the question about the general process of reincarnation, four respondents mentioned one consciousness separating into individual souls to be embodied in matter. One respondent took this idea further, to state that reincarnation takes place more on a collective rather than an individual level. In other words, she felt that a collective energy recycles itself through matter and that our sense of individuality is a product of our present incarnation only. One respondent believed that a higher power created a finite number of individual souls, some of which then are placed in human embodiments in order to learn lessons.
A strong minority of respondents, six of 14, saw individual choice as the initiating force behind the reincarnation process. Three other individuals mentioned karmic patterns or ties to other souls as influencing the reincarnation process.
Eight of 14 subjects mentioned learning or enlightenment as the main purpose underlying reincarnation. One respondent said:
“The spirit needs to embody itself in matter to experience it and learn. There are karmic patterns to learn lessons and to work spirit in matter.”
Another commented, “Life itself is a series of learnings. The lessons are universal, the two most important being truth and forgiveness.”
Ten of 14 interviewees believed it is possible to remember past lives, while two remained unsure and one saw claims of past life remembrances as most likely the result of fantasy.
Eleven of 14 subjects believed in the concept of karma or at least were open to it. Five of the 11, however, qualified their affirmation with further explanation of their beliefs:
“Yes, but not in that sense. We progress at our own rate to reach the light. If you do things that take you away from the light, then you are perpetuating your time here.”
“[I] don’t believe in karma as some people do – that it is pre-destiny. We have karma but we can change it.”
“Karma is misunderstood; it’s not just negative. Everything is karma, even thoughts.”
“Consequences carry over to some degree, but the emphasis is not so much on the physical act, but more on what is going on inside.”
“Definitely, but there are no rights or wrongs – it just is. We all have light and dark and we need to balance them out.”
When asked what goes on during the period between incarnations, seven subjects mentioned learning as the main activity of the soul. Four mentioned resting, rejuvenation, and/or connecting with God, and one subject indicated that individuals are involved in setting up the circumstances of their next life during this time. When asked if one’s personal awareness and sense of personal identity remained intact in the afterlife realm and for how long, two subjects answered affirmatively, one believing that the personality would continue forever and the other unsure as to how long this sense of “self’ would remain.
The majority of respondents, however, eight out of 14, gave more qualified endorsements of this proposition. Here are three examples of their responses:
“Not intact. The inner quality is there, the inner self remains, but the external aspect that may have seemed very strong is dissolved.”
“Individuality wasn’t the same there. I was the same as everybody and everybody was me.”
“Your spirit is always you. You are not the personality that you are on earth. In the other realm you are everything, light is everything.”
Finally, eight of the 14 respondents said that they felt the cycle of reincarnation would eventually come to an end. They indicated that at this point there would be existence as pure spiritual being and/or a merging with God. One respondent said:
“Then you exist as pure spiritual form, as a pure spiritual being.”
Another responded, “You become an integral part of God. When everyone reaches that point it is nirvana.”
Two of 14 subjects indicated that the cycle of reincarnation would probably come to an end for earthly embodiments, but that one would continue to incarnate into other realms or dimensions.
5. Factors Underlying the Shift Toward Belief in Reincarnation
A more definite pattern emerged in the subjects’ responses to the question about which factors led to the change in their reincarnation beliefs. Three causes for changes in beliefs in a direction favorable to reincarnation were mentioned.
One cause for this belief shift, for which I found only limited evidence in this study, is direct knowledge imparted during the NDE itself. Three of my 14 interview subjects claimed to have a “sense” that they had lived before during their NDE. For two of my subjects this factor would qualify as the main event influencing their reincarnation beliefs. One subject, however, had several NDEs and also exhibited a significant psychic awakening, involving direct information concerning reincarnation, following her experiences. She claimed to have had a past-lives review during one NDE, but did not indicate which one. Therefore, I do not know which came first: the direct reincarnation knowledge through her psychic awakening, or the past-lives review. Thus, I do not know for certain which was the influencing factor in her belief shift. However, because her post-NDE experiences were so many, so extensive, and obviously so influential in her beliefs, it is more likely these experiences, rather than her NDE past-lives review, that shaped her beliefs, and she is consequently categorized as such.
The second cause for the reincarnation shift was found in events taking place after the NDErs’ experience that seemed to be part of a general psychic awakening. This general psychic awakening has been documented by other researchers as well (Greyson, 1983; Ring, 1985). Ring presented this idea as his “spiritual catalyst” hypothesis, which implies that NDEs tend to lead to psychic development. For five of the 14 subjects in this study it was this psychic awakening following their NDE, rather than the experience itself, that provided them with direct knowledge of reincarnation. One subject explained:
“Before any of these events, I call mine kind of a two-part event, because I had the NDE in 1979, and then another car accident in 1985 that brought about what I call a kundalini awakening, which is similar to an NDE without the death part of the physical body. So, what happened to me is, before either of these experiences happened I didn’t believe in reincarnation at all … After these experiences what one of the things that happened to me was I started getting memories of my own past lives. A lot of times just spontaneously something would trigger it and I’d get this memory, and I see visions, and then I started getting them of other people’s lives.”
Two other experiencers noted similar phenomena:
“This didn’t come about from the experience but afterwards, since then. [I’ve received] messages, my brother-in-law [deceased] had a message … that his soul would be reincarnated into my sister’s son.”
“I had ongoing experiences after the near-death experience. In that after process I experienced souls. On one occasion it’s like I followed a soul, went through a process with a soul, in how they were reborn, how it came about that they were reborn.”
Finally, as the third source of the reincarnation belief shift, the NDE opened the individual up to greater possibilities in his or her perception of reality. It made them more willing to explore a wider range of spiritual possibilities, including reincarnation. This exploration was manifest in the form of reading, discussions with others, and personal reflection. Six of my 14 subjects fell into this category. One respondent said of her NDE:
“It opened up a dimension that I never really knew existed.”
Another commented: “It [his NDE] didn’t help me conclude anything, it just threw the doors of possibility wide open.”
Still another said: “I didn’t even know what reincarnation was before I had an NDE. It was afterwards that I was led to find out what it was. Some of the things I’m telling you [about reincarnation] came out in other conversations and some in the reading that I’ve done, and some just thoughts I’ve had. And it made total sense to me.”
And finally one woman I interviewed said: “[I] hadn’t given it [reincarnation] much thought before that [her NDE]. I was brought up in a fairly conventional religion – Catholicism. I was not a particularly practicing Catholic at the time, but more or less hadn’t explored much Eastern philosophy. After the experience, I did. I read a great deal of different philosophies, not just Eastern, but all of them, and found that it [reincarnation] was plausible.”
In this study, 70 percent of the sample of NDErs demonstrated belief in reincarnation. In contrast, a Gallup Poll (Gallup and Proctor, 1982) found that only 23 percent of the general population endorse this belief, while 30 percent of my control group help views favorable to reincarnation. These data confirm the findings of earlier studies with respect to NDErs’ reincarnation beliefs. While I found that the near-death experiencer group exhibited a significantly greater tendency toward belief in reincarnation than my general public sample, I also found that my NDE interest group exhibited beliefs that did not differ significantly from those of the NDErs. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that there is nothing inherent in the near-death experience itself that causes the shift in experiencers’ beliefs about reincarnation.
Additionally, my data failed to reveal any consistent pattern among NDErs’ beliefs about the purpose or process of reincarnation. There were, as I already noted, many similarities, but no one “truth” emerged. Furthermore, the beliefs expressed by the NDErs in my study are not unique; they tended to follow the standard view of reincarnation as expressed in much of the New Age literature. By way of example, the following excerpts taken from Irving S. Cooper’s book, Reincarnation.: A Hope of the World (1979), are representative of this view and are quite similar to many of the statements made by my NDE sample:
“The chief purpose of reincarnation is education. To this end we are born again and again on earth, not because of any external pressure, but because we, as souls, desire to grow.” (p. 14)
“It is a universal process, and prevails not only in the human kingdom but throughout the whole of nature. Whenever we find a living form, the consciousness of that form is also evolving, using temporarily for that purpose the physical form in order that it may gain physical experience.” (p. 19)
“In each incarnation we have a different physical body, a different name, and may have different souls acting as parents, but these changes do not in the slightest imperil our individuality.” (p. 24)
“Reincarnation is not an endless process, and when we have learned the lessons taught in the World-School we return no more to physical incarnation unless we come back of our own accord to act as Teachers of humanity or as Helpers in the glorious plan of evolution.” (p. 47)
With respect to the question of what in fact underlies the reincarnation belief shift, I can offer three possibilities suggested by my data, but which would require further research to verify. First, in some cases, it does seem to be the NDE itself that influences one’s reincarnation views. Although I did not find extensive evidence for this in my study, it has been documented by other researchers (Morse and Perry, 1992; Ring, 1985). In those cases, individuals claimed to have received direct knowledge of reincarnation during the NDE itself. An example of this type of knowledge can be seen in a letter written to Ring by John Robinson:
“It is a matter of personal knowledge from what the Being with whom I spoke during my NDE told me about my older son, that he had had 14 incarnations in female physical bodies previous to the life he has just had.”
Ring has also heard testimony of this kind of direct knowledge in some of his interviews. One NDEr, whose account is recorded in Ring’s audiotape archives, commented:
“My whole life went before me of things I have done and haven’t done, but not just of this one lifetime, but of all the lifetimes. I know for a fact there is reincarnation. This is an absolute. I was shown all those lives and how I had overcome some of the things I had done in other lives. There was still some things to be corrected.”
Another NDEr whose testimony is included in Ring’s audiotape archives gave this account:
“I had a lot of questions, and I wanted to know what they [light beings she encountered in her NDE] were doing – why are you just kind of milling around here? And someone stepped forward … it wasn’t just one … I got information from a number of them … that they were all waiting for reincarnation.”
Additionally, in a case documented by Melvin Morse, a girl who had her NDE when she nearly drowned at the age of 7 reported seeing during her experience two adults waiting to be reborn (Morse, 1983).
Second, some NDErs may gain direct knowledge of reincarnation through other psychic or mystical experiences following their NDE. In this way, the NDE becomes a catalyst for openness to reincarnation through its ability to propel the experiencer into a general psychic awakening.
Finally, for other NDErs their experience serves mainly to spark their interest in various “New Age” phenomena that leads to often extensive outside reading and research. It makes sense that when one becomes open to the idea of life after death, the idea of life after life becomes much more plausible.
The fact that my NDE interest group exhibited reincarnation belief scores so similar to those of my NDE sample can be explained by two hypotheses. First, it is possible that some of my NDE interest subjects may have gained direct knowledge of reincarnation through other psychic or mystical experiences even though they have not had an NDE. Second, my NDE interest group may be very similar to those in my NDE sample who were prompted to explore “New Age” material following their experience. Both groups became interested in the near-death phenomenon, one group through direct experience and the other through unspecified means, and thus were led to explore the concept of reincarnation. My study is limited by the fact that I have no data on the factors influencing the beliefs of the subjects in the NDE interest group.
Future research would be well directed towards determining what it is about an interest in near-death experiences that promotes an openness to reincarnation, or if in fact both the interest in NDEs and openness to reincarnation are the result of some other factor or occurrence. Using a larger, more randomly assigned subject pool would also help to strengthen the findings.
Dr. Stevenson’s reincarnation research began in 1960 when he learned of a case in Sri Lanka where a child reported remembering a past life. He thoroughly questioned the child and the child’s parents, including the people whom the child recalled were his parents from his past life. This led to Dr. Stevenson’s conviction that reincarnation was possibly a reality. That same year, Dr. Stevenson published two articles in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research about this child who remembered having a past life. The more such cases he discovered, the greater became his ambition to scientifically quantify the possibility of reincarnation – one of the world’s greatest mysteries – which had been virtually ignored by science in the past.
During his original research into various cases involving children’s memories of past lives, Dr. Stevenson did note with interest the fact that these children frequently bore lasting birthmarks which supposedly related to their murder or the death they suffered in a previous life. Stevenson’s research into birthmarks and congenital defects has such particular importance for the demonstration of reincarnation, since it furnishes objective and graphic proof of reincarnation, superior to the – often fragmentary – memories and reports of the children and adults questioned, which even if verified afterwards cannot be assigned the same value in scientific terms.
In many cases presented by Dr. Stevenson there are also medical documents available as further proof, which are usually compiled after the death of the person. Dr. Stevenson adds that in the cases he researched and “solved” in which birthmarks and deformities were present, he didn’t suppose there was any other apposite explanation than that of reincarnation. Only 30% to 60% of these deformities can be put down to birth defects which related to genetic factors, virus infections or chemical causes (like those found in children damaged by the drug Thalidomide or alcohol). Apart from these demonstrable causes, the medical profession has no other explanation for the other 40% to 70% of cases than that of mere chance. Stevenson has now succeeded in giving us an explanation of why a person is born with these deformities and why they appear precisely in that part of their body and not in another.
2. The Five Common Characteristics in Most of Dr. Stevenson’s Study
Most of the cases, where birthmarks and congenital deformities are present for which no medical explanations exist, have one to five characteristics in common.
In the most unusual scenario, it is possible that someone who believed in reincarnation expressed a wish to be reborn to a couple or one partner of a couple. This is usually because they are convinced that they would be well cared for by those particular people. Such preliminary requests are often expressed by the Tlingit Indians of Alaska and by the Tibetans.
More frequent than this are the occurrences of prophetic dreams. Someone who has died appears to a pregnant or not as yet pregnant woman and tells her that he or she will be reborn to her. Sometimes relatives or friends have dreams like this and will then relate the dream to the mother to be. Dr. Stevenson found these prophetic dreams to be particularly prolific in Burma and among the Indians in Alaska.
In these cultures the body of a newborn child is checked for recognizable marks to establish whether the deceased person they had once known has been reborn to them. This searching for marks of identification is very common among cultures that believe in reincarnation, and especially among the Tlingit Indians and the Igbos of Nigeria. Various tribes of West Africa make marks on the body of the recently deceased in order to be able to identify the person when he or she is reborn.
The most frequently occurring event or common denominator relating to rebirth is probably that of a child remembering a past life. Children usually begin to talk about their memories between the ages of two and four. Such infantile memories gradually dwindle when the child is between four and seven years old. There are of course always some exceptions, such as a child continuing to remember its previous life but not speaking about it for various reasons.
Most of the children talk about their previous identity with great intensity and feeling. Often they cannot decide for themselves which world is real and which one is not. They often experience a kind of double existence where at times one life is more prominent, and at times the other life takes over. This is why they usually speak of their past life in the present tense saying things like, “I have a husband and two children who live in Jaipur.” Almost all of them are able to tell us about the events leading up to their death.
Such children tend to consider their previous parents to be their real parents rather than their present ones, and usually express a wish to return to them. When the previous family has been found and details about the person in that past life have come to light, then the origin of the fifth common denominator – the conspicuous or unusual behavior of the child – is becoming obvious.
For instance, if the child is born in India to a very low-class family and was a member of a higher caste in its previous life, it may feel uncomfortable in its new family. The child may ask to be served or waited on hand and foot and may refuse to wear cheap clothes. Stevenson gives us several examples of these unusual behavior patterns.
In 35% of cases he investigated, children who died an unnatural death developed phobias. For example, if they had drowned in a past life then they frequently developed a phobia about going out of their depth in water. If they had been shot, they were often afraid of guns and sometimes loud bangs in general. If they died in a road accident they would sometimes develop a phobia of traveling in cars, buses or lorries.
Another frequently observed unusual form of behavior, which Dr. Stevenson called philias, concerns children who express the wish to eat different kinds of food or to wear clothes that were different from those of their culture. If a child had developed an alcohol, tobacco or drug addiction as an adult in a previous incarnation he may express a need for these substances and develop cravings at an early age.
Many of these children with past-life memories show abilities or talents that they had in their previous lives. Often children who were members of the opposite sex in their previous life show difficulty in adjusting to the new sex. These problems relating to the “sex change” can lead to homosexuality later on in their lives. Former girls who were reborn as boys may wish to dress as girls or prefer to play with girls rather than boys.
Until now all these human oddities have been a mystery to conventional psychiatrists – after all, the parents could not be blamed for their children’s behavior in these cases. At long last research into reincarnation is shedding some light on the subject. In the past, doctors blamed such peculiarities on a lack or a surplus of certain hormones, but now they will have to do some rethinking.
The following paper by Dr. Stevenson was presented at the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration held at Princeton University. June 11-13, 1992. The title of the paper is “Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons” (PDF) and provides perhaps the most compelling scientific evidence suggestive of reincarnation. Dr. Stevenson’s paper presents evidence that physical characteristics, such as birthmarks and deformities, may be carried over from a past life to a present life.
3. Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons
SOURCE:Dr. Ian Stevenson, Department of Psychiatric Medicine, University of Virginia, School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908
ABSTRACT: Almost nothing is known about why pigmented birthmarks (moles or nevi) occur in particular locations of the skin. The causes of most birth defects are also unknown. About 35% of children who claim to remember previous lives have birthmarks and/or birth defects that they (or adult informants) attribute to wounds on a person whose life the child remembers. The cases of 210 such children have been investigated. The birthmarks were usually areas of hairless, puckered skin; some were areas of little or no pigmentation (hypopigmentedmacules); others were areas of increased pigmentation (hyperpigmented nevi). The birth defects were nearly always of rare types. In cases in which a deceased person was identified the details of whose life unmistakably matched the child’s statements, a close correspondence was nearly always found between the birthmarks and/or birth defects on the child and the wounds on the deceased person. In 43 of 49 cases in which a medical document (usually a postmortem report) was obtained, it confirmed the correspondence between wounds and birthmarks (or birth defects). There is little evidence that parents and other informants imposed a false identity on the child in order to explain the child’s birthmark or birth defect. Some paranormal process seems required to account for at least some of the details of these cases, including the birthmarks and birth defects.
INTRODUCTION: Although counts of moles (hyperpigmented nevi) have shown that the average adult has between 15 and 18 of them (Pack and Davis, 1956), little is known about their cause — except for those associated with the genetic disease neurofibromatosis — and even less is known about why birthmarks occur in one location of the body instead of in another. In a few instances a genetic factor has been plausibly suggested for the location of nevi (Cockayne, 1933; Denaro, 1944; Maruri, 1961); but the cause of the location of most birthmarks remains unknown. The causes of many, perhaps most, birth defects remain similarly unknown. In large series of birth defects in which investigators have searched for the known causes, such as chemical teratogens (like thalidomide), viral infections, and genetic factors, between 43% (Nelson and Holmes, 1989) and 65-70% (Wilson, 1973) of cases have finally been assigned to the category of “unknown causes.”
Among 895 cases of children who claimed to remember a previous life (or were thought by adults to have had a previous life), birthmarks and/or birth defects attributed to the previous life were reported in 309 (35%) of the subjects. The birthmark or birth defect of the child was said to correspond to a wound (usually fatal) or other mark on the deceased person whose life the child said it remembered. This paper reports an inquiry into the validity of such claims. With my associates I have now carried the investigation of 210 such cases to a stage where I can report their details in a forthcoming book (Stevenson, forthcoming). This article summarizes our findings.
Children who claim to remember previous lives have been found in every part of the world where they have been looked for (Stevenson, 1983; 1987), but they are found most easily in the countries of South Asia. Typically, such a child begins to speak about a previous life almost as soon as it can speak, usually between the ages of two and three; and typically it stops doing so between the ages of five and seven (Cook, Pasricha, Samararatne, Win Maung, and Stevenson, 1983). Although some of the children make only vague statements, others give details of names and events that permit identifying a person whose life and death corresponds to the child’s statements. In some instances the person identified is already known to the child’s family, but in many cases this is not so. In addition to making verifiable statements about a deceased person, many of the children show behavior (such as a phobia) that is unusual in their family but found to correspond to behavior shown by the deceased person concerned or conjecturable for him (Stevenson, 1987; 1990).
Although some of the birthmarks occurring on these children are “ordinary” hyperpigmented nevi (moles) of which every adult has some (Pack and Davis, 1956), most are not. Instead, they are more likely to be puckered and scarlike, sometimes depressed a little below the surrounding skin, areas of hairlessness, areas of markedly diminished pigmentation (hypopigmented macules), or port-wine stains (nevipammri). When a relevant birthmark is a hyperpigmented nevus, it is nearly always larger in area than the “ordinary” hyperpigmented nevus. Similarly, the birth defects in these cases are of unusual types and rarely correspond to any of the “recognizable patterns of human malformation” (Smith, 1982).
METHODS: My investigations of these cases included interviews, often repeated, with the subject and with several or many other informants for both families. With rare exceptions, only firsthand informants were interviewed. All pertinent written records that existed, particularly death certificates and postmortem reports, were sought and examined. In the cases in which the informants said that the two families had no previous acquaintance, I made every effort to exclude all possibility that some information might nevertheless have passed normally to the child, perhaps through a half-forgotten mutual acquaintance of the two families. I have published elsewhere full details about methods (Stevenson, 1975; 1987).
I did not accept any indicated mark as a birthmark unless a firsthand witness assured me that it had been noticed immediately after the child’s birth or, at most, within a few weeks. I enquired about the occurrence of similar birth marks in other members of the family; in nearly every instance this was denied, but in seven cases a genetic factor could not be excluded.
Birth defects of the kind in question here would be noticed immediately after the child’s birth. Inquiries in these cases excluded (again with rare exceptions) the known causes of birth defects, such as close biological relationship of the parents (consanguinity), viral infections in the subject’s mother during her pregnancy, and chemical causes of birth defects like alcohol.
4. Correspondences Between Wounds and Birthmarks
RESULTS: A correspondence between birthmark and wound was judged satisfactory if the birthmark and wound were both within an area of 10 square centimeters at the same anatomical location; in fact, many of the birthmarks and wounds were much closer to the same location than this. A medical document, usually a postmortem report, was obtained in 49 cases. The correspondence between wound and birthmark was judged satisfactory or better by the mentioned criterion in 43 (88%) of these cases and not satisfactory in 6 cases. Several different explanations seem to be required to account for the discrepant cases, and I discuss these elsewhere (Stevenson. forthcoming). Figure 1 shows a birthmark (an urea of hypopigmentation) on an Indian child who said he remembered the life of a man who had been killed with a shotgun fired at close range. Figure 2 shows the location of the wounds recorded by the pathologist. (The circles were drawn by an Indian physician who studied the postmortem report with me.)
The high proportion (88%) of concordance between wounds and birthmarks in the cases for which we obtained postmortem reports (or other confirming documents) increases confidence in the accuracy of informants’ memories concerning the wounds on the deceased person in those more numerous cases for which we could obtain no medical document. Not all errors of informants memories would have resulted in attributing a correspondence between birth marks and wounds that did nor exist; in four cases (possibly five) reliance on an informant’s memory would have resulted in missing a correspondence to which a medical document attested.
5. Cases with Two or More Birthmarks
The argument of chance as accounting for the correspondence between birthmarks and wounds becomes much reduced when the child has two or more birthmarks each corresponding to a wound on the deceased person whose life he claims to remember. Figure 3 shows a major abnormality of the skin (verrucous epidermal nevus) on the back of the head of a Thai man who, as a child, recalled the life of his uncle, who had been struck on the head with a heavy knife and killed almost instantly. The subject also had a deformed toenail of the right great toe (Figure 4). This corresponded to a chronic infection of the same toe from which the subject’s uncle had suffered for some years before he died.
The series includes 18 cases in which two birthmarks on a subject corresponded to gunshot wounds of entry and exit. In 14 of these one birthmark was larger than the other, and in 9 of these 14 the evidence clearly showed that the smaller birthmark (usually round) corresponded to the wound of entry and the larger one (usually irregular in shape) corresponded to the wound of exit. These observations accord with the fact that bullet wounds of exit are nearly always larger than wounds of entry (Fatteh, 1976; Gordon and Shapiro, 1982). Figure 5 shows a small round birthmark on the back of the head of a Thai boy, and Figure 6 shows a larger, irregularly shaped birthmark at the front of his head. The boy said that he remembered the life of a man who was shot in the head from behind. (The mode of death was verified, but no medical document was obtainable.) In addition to the 9 cases I have investigated myself, Mills reported another case having the feature of a small round birthmark (corresponding to the wound of entry) and a larger birthmark corresponding to the wound of exit (both verified by a postmortem report) (Mills, 1989).
I have calculated the odds against chance of two birthmarks correctly corresponding to two wounds. The surface area of the skin of the average adult male is 1.6 meters (Spalteholz, 1943). If we were to imagine this area square and spread on a fiat surface, its dimensions would be approximately 127 centimeters by 127 centimeters. Into this area would fit approximately 160 squares of the size 10 centimeters square that I mentioned above. The probability that a single birthmark on a person would correspond in location to a wound within the area of any of the 160 smaller squares is only 1/160. However, the probability of correspondences between two birthmarks and two wounds would be (1/160)2 i.e. 1 in 25,600. (This calculation assumes that birthmarks are uniformly distributed over all regions of the skin. This is incorrect [Pack, Lenson, and Gerber, 1952], but I believe the variation can be ignored for the present purpose.)
6. Examples of Other Correspondences of Detail between Wounds and Birthmarks
A Thai woman had three separate linear hypopigmented scarlike birthmarks near the midline of her back; as a child she had remembered the life of a woman who was killed when struck three times in the back with an ax. (Informants verified this mode of death, but no medical record was obtainable.) A woman of Burma was born with two perfectly round birthmarks in her left chest; they slightly overlapped, and one was about half the size of the other. As a child she said that she remembered the life of a woman who was accidentally shot and killed with a shotgun. A responsible informant said the shotgun cartridge had contained shot of two different sizes. (No medical record was obtainable in this case.)
Another Burmese child said that she remembered the life of her deceased aunt, who had died during surgery for congenital heart disease. This child had a long, vertical linear hypopigmented birthmark close to the midline of her lower chest and upper abdomen; this birthmark corresponded to the surgical incision for the repair of the aunt’s heart. (I obtained a medical record in this case.) In contrast, a child of Turkey had a horizontal linear birthmark across the right upper quadrant of his abdomen. It resembled the scar of a surgeon’s transverse abdominal incision. The child said that he remembered the life of his paternal grandfather, who had become jaundiced and was operated on before he died. He may have had a cancer of the head of the pancreas, but I could not learn a precise medical diagnosis.
Two Burmese subjects remembered as children the lives of persons who had died after being bitten by venomous snakes, and the birthmarks of each corresponded to therapeutic incisions made at the sites of the snakebites on the persons whose lives they remembered. Another Burmese subject also said as a child that she remembered the life of a child who had been bitten on the foot by a snake and died. In this case, however, the child’s uncle had applied a burning cheroot to the site of the bite — a folk remedy for snakebite in parts of Burma; and the subject’s birthmark was round and located at the site on the foot where the bitten child’s uncle had applied the cheroot.
7. Three Examples of Birth Defects
Figure 8. shows the right side of the head of a Turkish boy with a diminished and malformed ear (unilateral microtia). He also had underdevelopment of the right side of his face (hemifacial microsomia). He said that he remembered the life of a man who had been shot (with a shotgun) at point-blank range. The wounded man was taken to a hospital where he died 6 days later — of injuries to the brain caused by shot that had penetrated the right side of the skull. (I obtained a copy of the hospital record.)
Figure 9. shows fingers almost absent congenitally on one hand (unilateral brachydactyly) in a child of India who said he remembered the life of another child who had put his right hand into the blades of a fodder-chopping machine and lost his fingers. Most cases of brachydactyly involve only a shortening of the middle phalanges. In the present case there were no phalangeal bones, and the fingers were represented by mere stubs. Unilateral brachydactyly is exceedingly rare, and I have not found a published report of a case, although a colleague (plastic surgeon) has shown me a photograph of one case that came under his care.
Figure 10. shows congenital absence of the lower right leg (unilateral hemimelia) in a Burmese girl. She said that she remembered the life of a girl who was run over by a train. Eyewitnesses said that the train severed the girl’s right leg first, before running over the trunk. Lower hemimelia is an extremely rare condition, and Frantz and O’Rahilly (1961) found it in only 12 (4.0%) of 300 cases of all congenital skeletal deficiencies that they examined.
Because most (but not all) of these cases develop among persons who believe in reincarnation, we should expect that the informants for the cases would interpret them as examples according with their belief; and they usually do. It is necessary, however, for scientists to think of alternative explanations.
The most obvious explanation of these cases attributes the birthmark or birth defect on the child to chance, and the reports of the child’s statements and unusual behavior then become a parental fiction intended to account for the birthmark (or birth defect) in terms of the culturally accepted belief in reincarnation. There are, however, important objections to this explanation. First, the parents (and other adults concerned in a case) have no need to invent and narrate details of a previous life in order to explain their child’s lesion. Believing in reincarnation, as most of them do, they are nearly always content to attribute the lesion to some event of a previous life without searching for a particular life with matching details. Second, the lives of the deceased persons figuring in the cases were of uneven quality both as to social status and commendable conduct. A few of them provided models of heroism or some other enviable quality; but many of them lived in poverty or were otherwise unexemplary. Few parents would impose an identification with such persons on their children. Third, although in most cases the two families concerned were acquainted (or even related), I am confident that in at least 13 cases (among 210 carefully examined with regard to this matter) the two families concerned had never even heard about each other before the case developed. The subject’s family in these cases can have had no information with which to build up an imaginary previous life which, it later turned out, closely matched a real one. In another 12 cases the child’s parents had heard about the death of the person concerned, but had no knowledge of the wounds on that person. Limitations of space for this article oblige me to ask readers to accept my appraisal of these 25 cases for this matter; but in my forthcoming work I give a list of the cases from which readers can find the detailed reports of the cases and from reading them judge this important question for themselves. Fourth, I think I have shown that chance is an improbable interpretation for the correspondences in location between two or more birthmarks on the subject of a case and wounds on a deceased person.
Persons who reject the explanation of chance combined with a secondarily confected history may consider other interpretations that include paranormal processes, but fall short of proposing a life after death. One of these supposes that the birthmark or birth defect occurs by chance and the subject then by telepathy learns about a deceased person who had a similar lesion and develops an identification with that person. The children subjects of these cases, however, never show paranormal powers of the magnitude required to explain the apparent memories in contexts outside of their seeming memories.
Another explanation, which would leave less to chance in the production of the child’s lesion, attributes it to a maternal impression on the part of the child’s mother. According to this idea, a pregnant woman, having a knowledge of the deceased person’s wounds, might influence a gestating embryo and fetus so that its form corresponded to the wounds on the deceased person. The idea of maternal impressions, popular in preceding centuries and up to the first decades of this one, has fallen into disrepute. Until my own recent article (Stevenson, 1992) there had been no review of series of cases since 1890 (Dabney, 1890); and cases are rarely published now (Williams and Pembroke, 1988). Nevertheless, some of the published cases — old and new — show a remarkable correspondence between an unusual stimulus in the mind of a pregnant woman and an unusual birthmark or birth defect in her later-born child. Also, in an analysis of 113 published cases I found that the stimulus occurred to the mother in the first trimester in 80 cases (Stevenson, 1992). The first trimester is well known to be the one of greatest sensitivity of the embryo/fetus to recognized teratogens, such as thalidomide (Nowack, 1965) and rubella (Hill, Doll, Galloway, and Hughes, 1958). Applied to the present cases, however, the theory of maternal impression has obstacles as great as the normal explanation appears to have. First, in the 25 cases mentioned above, the subject’s mother, although she may have heard of the death of the concerned deceased person, had no knowledge of that person’s wounds. Second, this interpretation supposes that the mother not only modified the body of her unborn child with her thoughts, but after the child’s birth influenced it to make statements and show behavior that it otherwise would not have done. No motive for such conduct can be discerned in most of the mothers (or fathers) of these subjects.
It is not my purpose to impose any interpretation of these cases on the readers of this article. Nor would I expect any reader to reach even a preliminary conclusion from the short summaries of cases that the brevity of this report entails. Instead, I hope that I have stimulated readers to examine the detailed reports of many cases that I am now in the process of publishing (Stevenson, forthcoming). “Originality and truth are found only in the details” (Stendhal, 1926).
I am grateful to Drs. Antonia Mills and Emily W. Cook for critical comments on drafts of this paper. Thanks are also due to the Bernstein Brothers Parapsychology and Health Foundation for the support of my research.
Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Ian Stevenson, M.D., Division of Perceptual Studies, Box 152, Health Sciences Center, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908
• The Explanatory Value of the Idea of Reincarnation (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson. (Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 164:305-326, 1977). A consideration of the ways in which the concept of reincarnation might supplement those of heredity and environment in explaining some poorly understood aspects of human behavior and development.
• A Preliminary Report on an Unusual Case of the Reincarnation Type with Xenoglossy (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson. (Journal of the American Society of Psychical Research 74: 331-348, 1980). A report of a case of a woman who periodically assumes a second personality, speaking only a language she does not know in her normal state. She has also given verified details about another life she claims to have lived.
• The Belief in Reincarnation Among the Igbo of Nigeria (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson. (Journal of Asian and African Studies XX:13-30, 1985.) A summary of the belief in reincarnation among the Igbo with a description of the repeater children, called ogbanjes by the Igbo people.
• Characteristics of Cases of the Reincarnation Type Among the Igbo of Nigeria (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson. (Journal of Asian and African Studies XXI:204-216, 1986). A description of the principle features found in 57 cases of the reincarnation type occurring among the Igbo people. Several tables compare the incidence of the main features of the cases in nine or ten different cultures.
• Indian Cases of the Reincarnation Type Two Generations Apart (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson and Dr. Satwant Pasricha. (Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 54(809):239-246, 1987). Cases of the reincarnation type from the early years of this century show features closely resembling those of cases whose subjects were born after 1965.
• Two Correlates of Violent Death in Cases of the Reincarnation Type (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson and Dr. N. K. Chadha. (Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 55(811):71-79, 1988). In the cases of children remembering previous lives that ended violently the interval between death of the deceased person whose life is remembered and the subject’s birth is shorter, on average, than in cases having a natural death in the previous life. Also, children remembering violent deaths tend to speak about the previous life at an earlier age than do children who remember lives that ended naturally.
• Phobias in Children Who Claim to Remember Previous Lives (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson. (Journal of Scientific Exploration 4:243-254, 1990). A discussion of the phobias that occur among many children who seem to remember a previous life, and some possible explanations for these phobias.
• Does the Socio-Psychological Hypothesis Explain Cases of the Reincarnation Type? (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson and Dr. Sybo Schouten. (Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorder. 186:504-506, 1998). Cases of the reincarnation type (in India and Sri Lanka) in which a written record of the subject’s statements was made only after the families concerned had met did not have more statements and more correct ones than cases in which a written record was made before the statements were verified.
• The Phenomenon of Claimed Memories of Previous Lives: Possible Interpretations and Importance (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson. (Medical Hypotheses 54(4):652-659, 2000). The hypothesis of previous lives can contribute to the further understanding of several conditions, disorders, or abnormalities (such as phobias observed in early infancy, gender identity disorder, and behavioral and physical differences in one-egg [monozygotic] twins) that are not adequately explained by genetic and/or environmental influences.
• The Stability of Assessments of Paranormal Connections in Reincarnation-Type Cases (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson and Dr. Jürgen Keil. (Journal of Scientific Exploration 14 (3): 365-382, 2000). Fifteen cases of children who claimed to remember a previous life were investigated twice and independently with an average interval of 22 years between the investigations. The reports were evaluated for evidence of a paranormal process. With the lapse of time informants lost some details; but with one possible exception there was no evidence of increased claims of paranormality in the later investigations.
• A Scale to Measure the Strength of Children’s Claims of Previous Lives: Methodology and Initial Findings (PDF) by Dr. Jim B. Tucker. (Journal of Scientific Exploration 14(4):571-581, 2000). 799 cases of children who claim to remember a previous life were analyzed using a scale that measured the strength of the claims. The analysis showed that in the stronger cases, the children tended to start talking about the previous life at an earlier age; they demonstrated more emotion in recalling the past life; and they showed greater facial resemblance to the deceased individual that they were said to have been.
• Unusual Play in Young Children Who Claim to Remember Previous Lives (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson ( Journal of Scientific Exploration 14(4):557-570, 2000). Children who, when they learn to speak express memories of previous lives, frequently engage in play that is unusual and has no model or other obvious stimulus in their family. The play seems to repeat the vocation or an avocation of the person whose life the child seems to remember. Sometimes the play reenacts the cause of death, such as drowning, of that person.
• Ropelike Birthmarks on Children Who Claim to Remember Past Lives (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson (Psychological Reports 89:142-144, 2001). Description of birthmarks having the pattern of strands of a rope in a second known case includes some verification of the correspondence between the birthmarks and injuries from ropes on an identified deceased person.
• Can Cultural Beliefs Cause a Gender Identity Disorder? (PDF). by Dr. Jim B. Tucker and Dr. Jürgen Keil. (Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality 13(2):21-30, 2001). Report of a child in Thailand who was born with a birthmark that matched a mark made on the body of his deceased grandmother. As he got older, he claimed to be his grandmother reborn, and he demonstrated cross-gender behavior.
• The Similarity of Features of Reincarnation Type Cases over Many Years: A Third Study (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson and Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson. ( Journal of Scientific Exploration 17(2):283-289, 2003). The principal features of two series of cases suggestive of reincarnation in Lebanon were compared. The series were investigated about a generation apart by two different investigators. In three important features the two series were closely similar; in other features they were not similar, probably because of differences in the thoroughness of investigation in the two series.
• Cases of the Reincarnation Type with Memories from the Intermission Between Lives (PDF). by Poonam Sharma and Dr. Jim B. Tucker. (Journal of Near-Death Studies 23(2):101-118, 2005). A minority of children who claim to remember previous lives also claim to remember events between lives. This analysis of statements from 35 Burmese subjects reveals patterns in the memories that they described. A comparison of these reports to reports of near-death experiences indicates significant areas of overlap.
• Children of Myanmar Who Behave like Japanese Soldiers: A Possible Third Element in Personality (PDF). by Dr. Ian Stevenson and Dr. Jürgen Keil. (Journal of Scientific Exploration 19(2): pp. 171-183, 2005). Among 750 children of Myanmar who claimed to remember a previous life 24 spoke about having been Japanese soldiers killed, presumably during World War II. None gave verifiable information, but they all showed unusual behavior, such as insensitivity to pain, dislike of hot weather and, distaste for spicy food, which are typical of Japanese soldiers, but not of Burmese persons. Genetic factors cannot explain these cases; neither can encouragement of such behavior by the children’s parents. Reincarnation is suggested as a third component of human personality illustrated by these cases.
• Some Bodily Malformations Attributed to Previous Lives (PDF). by Dr. Satwant K. Pasricha, Dr. Jürgen Keil, Dr. Jim B. Tucker, and Dr. Ian Stevenson. (Journal of Scientific Exploration 19(3):359-383, 2005). This two part article examines cases in which children were born with abnormalities that were attributed to wounds from a previous life. Part I presents three cases in which evidence indicated a close correspondence between a child’s birthmark and a wound on a particular deceased person. Part II describes four cases of birth defects that were attributed to previous lives and looks at the evidence supporting that attribution. Photographs of the malformations are included.
• Ian Stevenson and cases of the reincarnation type (PDF). by Dr. Jim B. Tucker (Journal of Scientific Exploration, 22 (1); 36-43, 2008). Ian Stevenson began studying children who claim to remember previous lives — an endeavor that will surely be remembered as the primary focus of his life’s work — almost by accident. Enjoying a successful mainstream career with some 60 publications in the medical and psychiatric literature to his credit, he had become chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of Virginia in 1957.
• Children’s reports of past-life memories: A review (PDF). by Dr. Jim B. Tucker, (EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, 4(4):244-248, 2008). Researchers have studied young children’s reports of past-life memories for the last 45 years. The children usually describe a recent, ordinary life, and many of them have given enough details so that one particular deceased individual has been identiﬁed to match the children’s statements. These cases occur worldwide, and although they are easiest to ﬁnd in cultures with a belief in reincarnation, many cases have been found in the West as well. This review explores the facets of this phenomenon and presents several recent American cases.
• Review by Dr. Jim B. Tucker of “Can the Mind Survive beyond Death? In Pursuit of Scientific Evidence” (PDF). by Satwant K. Pasricha. (Journal of Scientific Exploration 24:133-137, 2010). This two-volume set is divided into 22 chapters, each consisting of a previously published article, with Pasricha being sole author or lead author of 17 of them. (Full disclosure: I am one of four authors of one paper.) Though most deal with what are called cases of the reincarnation type, related areas such as near-death experiences (NDEs) are addressed as well.
• Experimental Birthmarks: New Cases of an Asian Practice (PDF). by Dr. Jim B. Tucker and Dr. Jürgen Keil. (Journal of Scientific Exploration 27:263-276, 2013). Experimental birthmarks involve a practice in several countries in Asia in which the body of a dying or recently deceased person is marked with a substance, most often soot, in the belief that when the individual is reborn, the baby will bear a birthmark corresponding to the mark. This is usually done with the expectation that the rebirth will occur in the same family as the deceased individual. A field study was undertaken in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) to examine such cases. Eighteen cases were found in which a baby was born with a birthmark that corresponded to a marking made on the body of a deceased person; in six of these, the child also made statements that the family believed were related to the life of the deceased individual. Possible etiologies for these cases are explored..
• A Case of the Possession Type in India with Evidence of Paranormal Knowledge (PDF). by Ian Stevenson et al. (Journal of Scientific Exploration. Vol. 3, No. I, pp. 81-101, 1989). A young married woman, Sumitra, in a village of northern India, apparently died and then revived. After a period of confusion she stated that she was a person named Shiva who had been murdered in another village. She gave enough details to permit verification of her statements, which corresponded to facts in the life of another young married woman called Shiva. Extensive interviews with 53 informants satisfied the investigators that the families concerned had been, as they claimed, completely unknown to each other before the case developed and that Sumitra had had no normal knowledge of the people and events in Shiva’s life. The authors conclude that the subject demonstrated knowledge of another person’s life obtained paranormally.
• Psychological Evaluation of American Children Who Report Memories of Previous Lives (PDF). by Jim Tucker et al. (Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 583–594, 2014). Some young children claim to have memories of a previous life, and they often show behaviors that appear related to the memories. This pilot study examined the psychological functioning of such children in the United States. Fifteen participants, ages 3–6 years, underwent testing with the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (fourth edition) and the Children’s Apperception Test. The children’s composite intelligence scores on the Stanford-Binet were greater than one standard deviation above the mean, with relative strengths in verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning.
Another incarnation of Jesus is the Old Testament figure known as Melchizedek, the High Priest and King of Salem. It is clear from the Book of Hebrews that Melchizedek was not an ordinary man, assuming he even was a man. A careful examination of the evidence concerning the existence of Melchizedek reveals him to be a previous reincarnation of Jesus. There are strong parallels between Melchizedek and Jesus: both are the Son of God, priest of the Order of Melchizedek, King of Righteous, King of Peace, the Messiah, appointed by God, eternal priesthood, and pre-existent. Besides the Biblical evidence, there exists evidence from the discoveries of early Christian texts in 1945 and the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. There is also extra-Biblical revelations that support this Melchizedek-Jesus connection.
1. Identical Characteristics of Melchizedek and Jesus
a. Identical Sonship: Son of God
In the Bible, the only individuals who have the title of the “Son of God” are Jesus, Adam and Melchizedek:
ADAM: “…the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.” (Luke 3:38) MELCHIZEDEK: “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3) JESUS: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1)
The Bible also states that Melchizedek was made in the image or likeness of the Son of God. This could be taken as the image of the son of God (the second in the trinity) or as the image of the begotten son of God, when the Lord took on a fleshly body. But they are one and the same:
JESUS: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:6)
Note: The word “order” is translated into Greek as “aphomoioo” which means: (a) a facsimile, (b) an exact copy or exact reproduction, (c) a duplicate.
JESUS: “And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears.” (Hebrews 7:15)
Note: The phrase “another priest like” is translated into Greek as “kata ten homoioteta” which means: (a) in every respect, (b) after the similitude of, (c) according to the likeness of, (d) a thing so like another as to be indistinguishable from it.
b. Identical Order of High Priesthood: Melchizedek
MESSIAH: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4)
JESUS: “You are a priest forever, in the order [facsimile] of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:6)
Note: The word “facsimile” translated into Greek means: (a) an exact copy or exact reproduction, (b) duplicate.
Notice how Paul described a deep mystery concerning Jesus and Melchizedek but is reluctant to tell the uninitiated who are not ready for it:
MELCHIZEDEK and JESUS: “[Jesus] was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:10-14)
Paul indicates the Priest(s) of Order of Melchizedek were to last forever and that the system of priests through the Tribe of Levi would eventually come to an end. These men were chosen by God for the office. They would give sacrifices to God which symbolically atoned, or paid for the people’s sins. We see this principle at work very early in the story of Job:
MELCHIZEDEK: “After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’ So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.” (Job 42:7-9)
c. Identical Symbol of Rule: King of Righteousness
Melchizedek as the King of Righteousness:
MELCHIZEDEK: “To whom Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being by interpretation King of Righteousness and after that also King of Salem, which is King of Peace. (Hebrews 7:2)
The Messiah as the King of Righteousness:
MESSIAH: “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” (Jeremiah 23:5)
Melchizedek, as the King of Righteousness, fulfilled this scepter promise:
MELCHIZEDEK: “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” (Genesis 49:10)
Jesus, as the King of Righteousness, fulfilled this scepter promise:
JESUS: “But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)
d. Identical Right to Rule: Appointed by God
Jesus and Melchizedek’s priesthoods are similar because they did not depend upon genealogy as the Aaronic priesthood did. The human lineage of Jesus was from Judah – a tribe that Moses did not associate with the priesthood.
JESUS: “For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.” (Hebrews 7:14)
Jesus Christ is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, not because he came from the right line, but because he comes as one who has indestructible life – the only one who can be an eternal priest! The priesthood of both is a royal priesthood. The priesthood of both is based on personality, not legality. Both are universal priesthoods for Gentile and Jew because the priesthood of Melchizedek was before the Law was given. Melchizedek illustrates an eternal priesthood of which the Jesus is the reality.
e. Identical Title: King of Peace
Melchizedek and Jesus are the Kings of Peace.
MELCHIZEDEK: “First, his name means “King of Righteousness”; then also, “King of Salem” means “King of Peace.” (Hebrews 7:2)
JESUS: “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Melchizedek is the “King of Peace” and Jesus is the “Prince of Peace.” Who could be King of Peace over Jesus?
f. Identical Term of Priesthood: Eternal
Melchizedek and Jesus are eternal priests.
MELCHIZEDEK and JESUS: “…like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3)
MELCHIZEDEK and JESUS: “You [Jesus] are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:6)
Melchizedek and Jesus are priests forever with an unchangeable priesthood. This indicates they are the same priest – just different times.
JESUS: “And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come.” (Hebrews 7:15-16)
Note: The translation of the word “likeness” into Greek is “homoios” which means: (a) after the similitude of. Therefore, Hebrews 7:15-16 does not mean Jesus is “similar to Melchizedek.” In context, it means Jesus IS Melchizedek. The proof of this can be found in another Bible verse where the word “equality” in Greek used for “likeness”:
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:6-7)
“The gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David.” (Romans 1:2-4)
(1) Jesus was more than just the likeness of Melchizedek.
(2) Jesus was Melchizedek.
Why would Jesus be compared to Melchizedek if his status was not equal to or greater than Jesus? He certainly would not be compared to anyone lesser than himself. This suggests that both Melchizedek and Jesus were of the same nature and of similar purpose and, therefore, the same person.
h. Identical Age: Pre-Existent
Melchizedek, the Messiah and Jesus are described as pre-existent (i.e. they existed before birth):
MELCHIZEDEK: “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3)
MESSIAH: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
MESSIAH: “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water … Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” (Proverbs 8:22-31)
JESUS: “‘Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’ ‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham?’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!'” (John 8:56-59)
JESUS: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2) “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.” (Revelation 19:13)
i. Identical Association with: Abraham
Both Melchizedek and Jesus were both associated with Abraham:
MELCHIZEDEK: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abraham, saying, ‘Blessed be Abraham by God Most High, Creator of heaven and Earth.’ (Genesis 14:18-19)
JESUS: “‘Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’ ‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham?’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!'” (John 8:56-59)
Melchizedek and Jesus are one spirit who incarnated many times and who transcended death. They could enter and leave the world at will without having to go through birth and death.
JESUS: “Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.” (Hebrews 7:23)
j. Identical Use of Ritualistic Symbols: Bread and Wine
Melchizedek’s offering of bread and wine to Abraham is the first incidence where bread and wine appear in the Scripture. Melchizedek provided a priesthood which gave the symbols of bread and wine. Jesus also provided a priesthood which gave the symbols of bread and wine:
MELCHIZEDEK: “And Melchizedek King of Salem brought forth bread and wine…” (Genesis 14:18)
JESUS: “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29)
JESUS: “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’ ‘Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ ‘Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:48-59)
k. Identical Title: Anointed One, the Messiah
The Messiah is the “anointed one”:
MESSIAH and JESUS: “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9)
The Messiah and Melchizedek, by extension, are “anointed ones” priests of the Most High:
MESSIAH and MELCHIZEDEK: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You [the Messiah] are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'” (Psalm 110:4)
Jesus is the “anointed one:”
JESUS: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the Earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his anointed one.” (Acts 4:25-26)
Note: The word “anointed” is translated into Greek as “chrio” which means: to contact between the one being anointed and the one doing the anointing. The Greek word “Christos” which is translated as “Christ” is derived from the Greek word “chrio”.
2. Christian Gnosticism Affirms Jesus to be Melchizedek Reincarnated
On December, 1945, in Upper Egypt, ancient texts revealing that the early Christians and Jews believed that Melchizedek was a previous reincarnation of Jesus the Messiah.
These long lost texts were discovered by an Arab peasant was digging in the ground in search of fertilizer when he discovered large jars containing books which have been buried since around 390 A.D. These books where hidden by monks from a nearby monastery to escape destruction under the order of the emerging orthodox Church in its violent expunging of all heresy. These texts were one of the greatest archaeological discovery ever discovered. It was only eclipsed by the Dead Sea Scroll discovery in Israel two years later in 1947. It is a strange coincidence that these ancient discoveries containing valuable information of early Jewish and Christian theology and history should appear around the same time.
One of the Christian Gnostic texts discovered is entitled “Melchizedek“. The following quote is from this text. […] indicates missing fragments or illegible wording.
“And you crucified me from the third hour of the Sabbath – eve until the ninth hour. And after these things I arose from the dead. My body came out of the tomb to me. […] They did not find anyone greeted me […] They said to me, Be strong, Melchizedek, great High Priest of God Most High” (Melchizedek)
There is little doubt that this quote attributed to Melchizedek refers to him being crucified and resurrected. Commenting on the above text, noted authority Birger A. Pearson states:
“Furthermore, the tractate’s apparent identification of Melchizedek with Jesus Christ … is also documented elsewhere in early Christianity, particularly in Egypt. We are drawn to the conclusion that, in the revelation which the priest Melchizedek has received, he has seen that he himself will have a redemptive role to play as the suffering, dying, resurrected and triumphant Savior, Jesus Christ! … From what we read … it seems that the victory of Jesus Christ is the victory of Melchizedek and that, in fact, they are one and the same. I did and do understand the text of the first tractate to imply that Melchizedek was prophesied to return again, as Jesus.”
3. Dead Sea Scrolls Revealed the Messiah to be a Reincarnation of Melchizedek
In 1947, scrolls from the Jewish Essenes were discovered which affirmed that they believed Melchizedek would reincarnate as the Messiah.
These ancient scrolls of profound importance were discovered by young Bedouin shepherds, searching for a stray goat around the Dead Sea in Israel entered an undiscovered cave and found jars filled with ancient scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls were scrolls from a monastic group known as the Essenes, dated to be about two thousand years old. The Essenes were an apocalyptic Jewish sect who withdrew from society and established a monastery on the shores of the Dead Sea. It is believed that sometime during the Roman-Jewish war of 66-70 A.D. the Essenes hid their sacred writings.
The Essenes believed in the doctrine of pre-existence and reincarnation and appeared to have been influenced by Gnosticism. The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that the Jewish mystical tradition of divine union went back to the first, perhaps even the third, century B.C.
Biblical scholars were not disturbed by what they found in the Dead Sea Scrolls because they had known all along that the origin of Christianity was not what was commonly supposed to have been.
The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus stated that the Pharisees were believers in reincarnation. Josephus has several long passages dealing with the reincarnation beliefs of both the Essenes and the Pharisees. Josephus writes that the Jews in their secret or esoteric doctrines called the Kabbalah taught reincarnation openly.
The caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found yielded a series of thirteen fragments on Melchizedek which identifies Melchizedek as the one who will carry out the vengeance of God’s judgments and the one who delivers the people from the hand of Belial and the spirits of his lot.
The belief that Melchizedek was the Messiah was a strongly held conviction among the Qumran community, as well as among some other Jewish and Gnostic sects in the first century A.D. This becomes apparent in the text entitled “The Last Jubilee” (Dead Sea Scroll: 11Q13, Column 2) about the coming of Melchizedek as the Messiah.
“The Last Jubilee” is a sermon within the “Melchizedek Texts” (also known as “I IQ Melchizedek Text” or ” I I Q Melchizedek”). The following is a summary of this sermon:
The Last Jubilee text refers in messianic terms to a future King of Righteousness. In the text, this King of Righteousness is described as passing judgment on Belial [Satan] and his followers. After the judgment in heaven comes the destruction of those who have followed Belial rather than God. The text states that “the one designed, by God’s favor, for the King of Righteousness (which is what, by his very name, Melchizedek prefigures) will come into his dominion.” The time of his coming “into his dominion” is identified as the period which Isaiah termed the year of favor or “acceptable year of the Lord” (“The Last Jubilee“)
The Biblical reference for this can be found in Isaiah 61:1-2:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn …” (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Jesus made his first appearance in Nazareth and spoke at the synagogue there, and the Book of Isaiah was handed to him. Luke 4:17-19 records that he then found and read the two verses quoted above but stopped after the phrase “acceptable year of the Lord.” Bible scholars concluded that by suspending reading without referring to God’s day of vengeance, Jesus was distinguishing between his present ministry of grace and the second advent when he would carry out God’s judgments. On the other hand, his stopping after that phrase may have been for the purpose of emphasis, for it truly was the “year of the Lord.”
After Jesus had concluded his reading, verse 21 adds:
“And he began to say unto them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'” (Luke 4:21)
Thus in Luke 4:21, Jesus seems to identify himself as the one promised by Isaiah “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” when he said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And the Melchizedek Texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls identify Melchizedek as the person who will fulfill that prophecy.
At least one respected Dead Sea Scroll authority stated that Jesus in these documents “appears in many respects as an astonishing reincarnation of the Teacher of Righteousness.”
The Qumran “Melchizedek Texts” contain several comments which seem clearly to identify the so-called “King of Righteousness,” a title referring to Melchizedek, as the promised Messiah. They discuss the role of this future King in overthrowing Belial and executing God’s avenging judgment and clearly state that this King will be “Melchizedek redivivus” (reincarnated). One scholar has summarized the document thusly:
“In this fragment, written in Hebrew, Melchizedek appears as an eschatological savior who has a heritage. His mission is to bring back at the end of days the exiles to announce to them their liberation … and the expiation of their sins.” (Melchizedek)
4. NDEs of Edgar Cayce Reveals Jesus to be Melchizedek Reincarnated
Edgar Cayce received volumes of information from his near-death experiences from a heavenly so-called “Hall of Records.” Much of the revelations he received concerned Jesus and his many incarnations including Adam and Melchizedek. Cayce received these revelations years before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Gnostic find. These discoveries agree with the Cayce revelations concerning Adam, Melchizedek and Jesus.
This parallel between Melchizedek and other incarnations from the ancient Christian Gnostic texts also supports the Cayce revelations that Enoch and Melchizedek were the same spirit. Cayce also provided the interesting revelation that the Dead Sea Essenes grew out of the teachings of Melchizedek as propagated by prophets, such as Elijah, Elisha, and Samuel. Cayce also identified Melchizedek as a previous incarnation of Jesus.
According to Cayce, it was necessary that the very advanced spirit of Melchizedek reincarnate in order to reach Christhood as Jesus. The Cayce revelations show us why the Master spirit again incarnated after the experience as Melchizedek:
“The Christ spirit incarnated as Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek, then took on flesh to teach and lead. After several more incarnations such as Joseph (prince of Egypt), the Christ spirit realized it was necessary to set a pattern for humanity and to show the way back to God. Thus, the Master spirit assumed the mission of through his final incarnation as Jesus. By resurrecting his body, he made the Jesus-Melchizedek priesthood eternal.” (Edgar Cayce)
This priesthood, according to the Encyclopedia Judaica‘s interpretation of Hebrews, “is excellent, superior to that of Abraham’s descent, and transcends all human, imperfect orders.”
In view of such evidence found in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the Christian Gnostic texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls and extra-Biblical sources such as Cayce, the early Christian veneration of Melchizedek and the rich Messianic tradition about him, Christians should in no way find it demeaning to link the soul of Melchizedek with that of Jesus. Certainly both individuals were important instruments of God, and each life marks an historic step in the spiritual evolution of humanity.
According to the Book of Exodus and the Book of Numbers, the Biblical character named Joshua is mentioned in a few passages as Moses’ assistant. Joshua is the central character in the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Joshua who became the leader of the Israelite tribes after the death of Moses. According to Bible Chronology, Joshua lived between 1500-1390 BCE, or sometime in the late Bronze Age. There several identical characteristics between Joshua and Jesus including: having the same name Hebrew name “Yehoshua” which means “Yahweh is salvation,” having the same role as leader of Israel, having the same mission of peace, having the same number of appointed men (twelve), and having the same representations of twelve stones for the appointed twelve.
1. Identical Name: Yehoshua, “Yahweh is Salvation”
The English name “Joshua” is a rendering of the Hebrew language “Yehoshua”, meaning “Yahweh is salvation”. The vocalization of the second name component may be read as Hoshea – the name used in the Torah before Moses added the divine name (Numbers 13:16). “Jesus” is the English of the Greek transliteration of “Yehoshua” via Latin. In the Septuagint, all instances of the word “Yehoshua” are rendered as “Iesous” which is the closest Greek pronunciation of the Aramaic “Yeshua” (Nehemiah 8:17). Thus in Greek Joshua is called “Jesus son of Nun” to differentiate him from Jesus Christ.
Note that “Joshua”, “Jeshua”, and “Jesus” are really the same name. That is, the name “Jesus” is a Latinization of the Aramaic Jeshua or Yeshua, which is in turn taken from the Hebrew Yehoshua, or Joshua. Thus, Jesus was named after the Old Testament hero.
2. Identical Roles: Leader of Israel
JOSHUA: “Because of you the Lord became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either. But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it.” (Deuteronomy 1:37-38)
JESUS: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.‘” (Matthew 2:6)
3. Identical Mission: Peace
JOSHUA: “The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.” (Joshua 9:14-15)
JESUS: “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
4. Identical Number of Appointed Men: Twelve
a. Joshua appointed twelve men from each tribe:
“So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites.” (Joshua 4:4)
b. Jesus appointed twelve apostles:
“These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” (Mark 3:16-19)
c. Jesus twelve apostles will judge the twelve tribes of Israel:
“Jesus said to them [twelve apostles], “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28)
d. Considering how families and friends tend to reincarnate together, perhaps the twelve apostles were reincarnations of the twelve rulers of the tribes of Israel.
5. Identical Representations: Twelve Stones
a. Joshua choose twelve men from each tribe and represented each one by a gemstone:
“The Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” (Joshua 4:1-3).
Israel’s Twelve Tribal Leaders: “In the first row there shall be a ruby, a topaz and a beryl; in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and an emerald; in the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; in the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. Mount them in gold filigree settings. There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.” (Exodus 28:17-21).
Gemstones in the Book of Exodus of the Twelve Tribes of Israel
b. Jesus choose 12 apostles with each apostle represented by a gemstone in the Book of Revelation:
“It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb … “The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.” (Revelation 21:12-20)
3. Chalcendony (Agate)
5. Sardonyx (Onyx)
6. Carnelian (Ruby)
Gemstones in the Book of Revelation of the Twelve Apostles
c. The types of gemstones representing the 12 tribal leaders of Israel are the same as the 12 gemstones representing the 12 apostles but in different order:
If the top half of the matrix of the 12 tribal leaders is rotated by 180 degrees, and the bottom half turned upside down, with Onyx additionally swapping places with Topaz, the lists become extremely similar with only four differences. See this Wikipedia article.
6. Edgar Cayce’s View of Joshua as a Previous Incarnation of Jesus
Note that the Greek names for “Joshua”, “Jeshua”, and “Jesus” are really the same name. The name “Jesus” is a Latinization of the Aramaic “Jeshua” or “Yeshua,” which is in turn taken from the Hebrew “Yehoshua,” or Joshua. Jesus was named after the Old Testament hero Joshua. Edgar Cayce assigned the soul-entity of Jesus to the same name for three separate incarnations: Joshua, Jeshua, and Jesus. Cayce elsewhere reports that Jesus was registered by his Essene school under the name of “Jeshua” [Cayce Reading 2067-7].
The ides of Jesus as a reincarnation of Joshua is more difficult to account for given Joshua’s genocidal tendencies in securing a nation for the Israelites. In Glenn Sandurfur’s book entitled, “Lives of the Master: The Rest of the Jesus Story,” (page 110), he makes an interesting observation that the lives of Jesus and Joshua followed remarkably similar paths geographically: including memorable stops at Jericho/the Jordan, Hazor/Capernaum, and Aijalon/Emmaus. But unlike Joshua, Jesus did not fear entering the city of Jerusalem. Sandurfur’s explanation is that Jesus met his previous karma by healing people in those very places where Joshua had killed.
Cayce viewed Joshua as a member of a family who produced many spiritual teachers [Cayce Reading 1737]; and also as the scribe named Jeshua, who psychically dictated much of the material from the books traditionally attributed to Moses [Cayce Reading 5023-2]. This explains how Moses could have managed to include such details as the creation of the universe and his own death. The readings give little information about Asaph, the music director and seer who served under David and Solomon and who authored Psalms 50, and Psalms 73 through 83. Jeshua, the high priest who helped organize the return from exile and the rebuilding of Solomon’s Temple (as recounted in the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah) is claimed by Cayce to have compiled and translated the books of the Bible [Cayce Reading 5023-2]. If these characters, as Cayce describes them, have anything in common, it is their role as psychic revelators. In line with his speculations about Jesus’ fulfillment of Joshua’s karma. Glenn Sandurfur (Lives of the Master, p. 129) notes that whereas Jeshua made a point of rejecting Samaritan generosity (towards the rebuilding of the temple). Jesus centered a parable around it.
Another past life of Jesus apparently is Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel in the Old Testament. Joseph is an important figure in the Book of Genesis and also in Islam’s Quran. Joseph’s father was Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. Jacob fathered twelve sons from whom have sprung the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Because of this, Jacob’s name was later changed to Israel. Joseph was Rachel’s firstborn and Jacob’s eleventh son. Of all the sons, Joseph was preferred by his father, and this is represented by a “long coat of many colors.” When Joseph was seventeen years old he had two dreams that made his brothers plot his demise. In the first dream, Joseph and his brothers gathered bundles of grain, of which those his brothers gathered, bowed to his own. In the second dream, the sun (father), the moon (mother), and eleven stars (brothers) bowed to Joseph himself. These dreams, implying Joseph’s supremacy, angered his brothers who sold him into slavery. But Joseph rose to become the second most powerful man in Egypt next to Pharaoh, where his presence and office caused Israel to leave Canaan and settle in Egypt. Joseph, the Hebrew Prince of Egypt, has some of the most interesting parallels to the life of Jesus suggesting Joseph was a previous incarnation of Jesus. In Judaism, the Messiah was thought of as the “son of Joseph” (Messiah ben Joseph) as well the “son of David” (Messiah ben David).
Jewish tradition actually alludes to four messianic figures. Called the “Four Craftsmen” discussed in the Babylonian Talmud, each will be involved in ushering in the Messianic age. They are mentioned in the Talmud and the Book of Zechariah (Zechariah 2:1-17). Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (aka “Rashi”) in his commentary on the Talmud gives more details. His commentaries which covers nearly all of the Babylonian Talmud has been included in every edition of the Talmud since its first printing. Rashi explains that Messiah ben Joseph is called a craftsman because he will help rebuild the temple. Nahmanides also commented on Messiah ben Joseph’s rebuilding of the temple.The roles of the Four Craftsmen are as follows. Elijah will be the herald of Jewish eschatology. If necessary, Messiah ben Joseph will wage war against the evil forces and die in combat with the enemies of God and Israel. According to Saadia Gaon the need for his appearance will depend on the spiritual condition of the Jewish people. In the Sefer Zerubbabel and later writings, after his death a period of great calamities will befall Israel. God will then “resurrect the dead” and usher in the Messianic Era of universal peace. Messiah ben David will reign as a Jewish king during the period when God will resurrect the dead. With the ascendancy of Rabbinic Judaism the Righteous Priest (Melchizedek) has largely not been the subject of Jewish messianic speculation. Most Jews believe that the Third Temple will be built during this era.
The course of the lives of Joseph and Jesus were dramatically changed by the power of dreams. Joseph became an interpreter of his own dreams and the dreams of others which he used to save everyone’s life including his own. It was also a dream which led Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, to flee Israel for their lives to Egypt. In the same way, it was a dream of Joseph while acting as prince of Egypt which led his family out of Israel and into Egypt. After the danger was over, God called both Joseph’s family and Jesus’ family out of Egypt and back to Israel as an act of salvation. (Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15).
Joseph and Jesus were hated because of their greatness. Joseph had a dream which made it clear that he would rule over his brothers some day and for this they hated him:
“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it. His brothers said to him, Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us? And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.'” (Genesis 37:5-8)
Jesus encountered the same reaction from his brothers and everyone in town. After preaching in his own hometown, Jesus received the following response:
“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things? And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (Matthew 13:55-57)
While the religious leaders were rejecting Jesus, even some of Jesus’ own family rejected him. In John 7:5, his own brothers asked Jesus for more signs because:
“Even his own brothers did not believe in him.” (John 7:5)
But ultimately, Joseph and Jesus attained great authority and inspired confidence in those around them. When the famine arrived and the grain ran out in Egypt, the Pharaoh told the Egyptians:
Joseph miraculously gave bread to the people around him because he received God’s revelation which saved the people from dying during the famine. Jesus miraculously gave bread to the people around him because he received God’s revelation which saved the people from the spiritual famine.
Joseph and Jesus were both sent by their fathers to their brothers who hated them and rejected their claim to preeminence. In the seventh chapter of Acts in the New Testament, the martyr Stephen gives a speech before he is stoned to death. In it, Stephen draws a parallel between Joseph and Jesus:
“The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and rescued him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him governor over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan and great affliction and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent forth our fathers the first time. And at the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. And Joseph sent and called to him Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five souls.” (Acts 7:9-14)
The purpose of Stephen’s speech was to show how the enemies of Jesus were jealous of him in the same way that Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him. This theme of jealousy is also used in three other places in Acts and they always describe the jealousy of the apostle’s opponents due to the success of the apostle’s gathering around them more people who become believers. (see Acts 5:17, Acts 13:45, Acts 17:5).
Because of envy, Joseph’s brothers conspired to kill Joseph:
“So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. ‘Here comes that dreamer!’ they said to each other. ‘Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.’ (Genesis 37:18-19)
In the same way, the religious leaders hated Jesus because through his actions and words demonstrated that he was greater than them. Jesus’ claims to come from heaven, be greater than Abraham, have God as his own Father, and be the one of whom Moses wrote about, caused hatred and envy which caused them to conspire to kill him:
“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him.” (Matthew 26:3-4)
Joseph was sold into Egypt on the advice of his brother Judah. Jesus was handed over to the Romans by the hand of his disciple Judas.
Joseph did not utter a word to his brothers when they sold him. Jesus did not utter a word to the judges when they judged him.
Joseph asked the imprisoned chief cup bearer not to forget him when he is released and reinstated at court. He said:
“Be sure to remember me when things go well for you.” (Genesis 40:14)
In the same words, the thief on the cross said in karmic fashion to Jesus:
“Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)
One could even extend this parallel to include the fact that Jesus was bearing the “cup” which his Father gave him to drink in the same way the cup bearer did for the Pharaoh.
Two other prisoners were with Joseph suffering the same punishment. Two other prisoners were with Jesus suffering the same punishment. In Joseph’s case, it is written: “Two other prisoners were with Joseph suffering the same punishment.” Two other prisoners were with Jesus suffering the same punishment. In Joseph’s case, it is written:
“After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men – the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison – had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.” (Genesis 40:4-5)
The two prisoners told Joseph their dreams for which Joseph interpreted. As a result of these two dreams, death would come to one of the prisoners but release and exaltation for the other. In Jesus’ case, it is written that:
“Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.” (Matthew 27:38)
As it was in Joseph’s case, one prisoner would be condemned while the other prisoner would be released and find salvation:
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him, ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him, ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'” (Luke 23:39-43)
In persecution, Jesus and Joseph were stripped of their robes and placed in a pit for three days where they ultimately arose victorious to be great princes and became exalted by God for their great suffering. In the pre-Christian apocryphal Jewish text called “Testament of Joseph,” Joseph’s suffering is described in a way that could easily apply to Jesus as well:
“My brothers hated me but the Lord loved me. They wanted to kill me but the God of my fathers preserved me. Into a cistern they lowered me, the most High raised me up. They sold me into slavery, the Lord of all set me free. I was taken into captivity, the strength of His hand set me free. I was overtaken by hunger, the Lord Himself fed me generously. I was alone and God came to help me. I was in weakness and the Lord showed His concern for me. I was in prison and the Savior acted graciously on my behalf. I was in bonds and He loosed me. Falsely accused, and He testified on my behalf. Assaulted by bitter words of the Egyptians, and He rescued me. A slave, and He exalted me.” (Testament of Joseph 1:4-7)
Both Joseph and Jesus were persecuted because of false witnesses. The wife of Potiphar bears false witness against Joseph before the members of her household and before her husband (Genesis 39:14-19). Witnesses falsely accused Jesus before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:60-62, Mark 14:55-59) and before Pilate (Matthew 27:12-14, Mark 15:3-5). Joseph went to prison because of the false witnesses. Jesus went to hell after being crucified because of false witnesses. The words “prison” and “hell” are often used interchangeably in the Bible.
Joseph becomes a model of sexual purity in the early Church as found in the early Christian apocryphal texts of the Protevangelium of James and the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. They record how Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was falsely accused of having had sexual relations with the virgin Mary before their marriage and how he was arrested by the religious authorities and forced to submit himself to a test to prove his purity. In the same way, Joseph refused the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife and this made him a model of the sexual purity praised by many Church Fathers such as Origen who wrote:
“Joseph, refused to give in to passion, despite the entreaties and threats of the one who was legally his mistress Joseph preferred prison to the loss of his chastity.” (Against Celsus IV,46).
In this sense, Joseph is shown as a man who resisted the seduction of a woman and reversing the karmic debt for the sin of Adam who was tempted by Eve. Origen credited Joseph’s ultimate rule over Egypt to Joseph’s mastery over his own body:
Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, was also seen as a model of this same purity as was the virgin Mary whose purity reversed the karmic transgression of Eve thereby attaining perfection as a mother.
Joseph’s brothers smeared his robe with goat’s blood in order to blame Joseph’s demise on wild animals. On the day of Jesus’ death, it was Passover and a goat is sacrificed for the atonement of sins.
Both Joseph and Jesus were men among many brothers who rejected them but was saved by God and raised to be the judge of their brothers. This same theme can be found in Jesus’ parable of the murderous tenants in the vineyard. It is a parable which can be found in all three synoptic gospels. The parable is an important key to understanding how Jesus’ rejection and death is to be understood (see Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-11, Luke 20:9-19). In the parable, evil men plot to kill the son of the vineyard owner, saying:
These words are even similar to the words of Joseph’s brothers when they plotted to kill Joseph:
“Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns” (Genesis 37:20)
Both were sold for the price of a slave. Joseph was sold for 20 shekels of silver and Jesus was sold for 30 pieces. Both were assigned with two other prisoners. Church Father Tertullian (145-220 AD) wrote explicitly about the parallels between Joseph and Jesus and their suffering:
“Joseph himself was made a figure of Christ in this point alone, that he suffered persecution at the hands of his brethren, and was sold into Egypt on account of the favor of God. Likewise, Christ was sold by Israel according to the flesh, by his brethren, when he is betrayed by Judas.” (Tertullian 7,10)
The stories of Joseph and Jesus are both a kind of “rags to riches” story. Joseph was brought out of the pit and prison to be exalted to the Pharaoh’s right hand:
“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you. So Pharaoh said to Joseph, I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as His second in command.” (Genesis 41:39-41)
Jesus was brought out from the pit after death and exalted to the Father’s right hand:
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-11)
Forgiveness and reconciliation are the major aspects concerning the lives of both Joseph and Jesus. Caesarius of Arles, in his Sermon XC, drew this parallel between Joseph and Jesus:
“He [Joseph] embraced them one by one and shed tears over each one of them. Watering the neck of each one of them, who feared him, he washed away the hate of his brothers by the tears of his love.” (Caesarius of Arles XL,4).
The actual Bible verse referred to here is Genesis 45:14 when Joseph’s dramatic revealing of his true identity to his brothers and their reconciliation and his forgiveness is the dramatic climax of the story of Joseph:
“Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you … So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God … Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.” (Genesis 45:5-14)
In a similar vein, Jesus was revealed as the Son of God while on the cross when he forgives his brothers:
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
When Mary announced Jesus’ resurrection to the disciples, they didn’t believe it:
“But these words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24:11)
Likewise, Joseph’s father is unbelieving when his sons announce to him that Joseph is alive:
“But he was as one stunned for he did not believe them.” (Genesis 45:26)
When Joseph’s father finally did see Joseph, he stated he is now ready to die:
“Now I can die, now that I have seen you again, and seen you still alive.” (Genesis 46:30)
The same thing was said by Simeon the Elder, awaiting the Messiah in the Temple when he meets Jesus and recognized him as the long awaited Messiah. He exclaimed:
“Lord, let your servant now depart in peace according to your word. My eyes have seen your salvation.” (Luke 2:29-30)
The brothers of Joseph recovered his bones from Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land. God the Father of Jesus resurrected his body from Hades and brought him to heaven.
Even more interesting parallels between Joseph and Jesus can be found at this website.
2. Scriptural Comparisons Between Joseph and Jesus
(22) Joseph asked one of the other prisoners to “remember him” when he is released and reinstated to Pharaoh. Jesus had one of the other prisoners ask to “remember him” when he is released and reinstated to the Kingdom of God (Joseph: Genesis 40:12-14) (Jesus: Luke 23:42)
(40) Both of their families were called out of Egypt and back to Israel as an act of salvation (Joseph: Hosea 11:1) (Jesus: Matthew 2:14-15)
3. Edgar Cayce Affirmed Joseph and Jesus were Different Incarnations of the Same Soul
Edgar Cayce identified Joseph, the son of Jacob, as one of the incarnations of the Jesus-entity soul. According to Cayce, Joseph’s escape from the pit was not only a literal event, but a symbolic anticipation of Jesus’ resurrection. In John Van Auken‘s excellent article entitled “Toward a Universal Christ” he wrote:
Edgar Cayce asked us, “What will you do with this man Jesus of Nazareth Jeshua of Jerusalem, Joshua in Shiloh, Joseph in the court of Pharaoh, Melchizedek as he blessed Abraham, Enoch as he warned the people, Adam as he listened to Eve?” In a reading for a person who had both Jewish and Christian training and was wrestling to decide which religion he preferred, the Source of Cayce’s readings asked, “Have you not found that the essence, the truth, the real truth is ONE? Mercy and justice; peace and harmony. For without Moses and his leader Joshua (that was bodily Jesus) there is no Christ. Christ is not a man. Jesus was the man; Christ the messenger; Christ in all ages, Jesus in one, Joshua in another, Melchizedek in another; these be those that led Judaism! These be they that came as the child of promise, as to the children of promise; and the promise is in you, that you lead as He has given you: Feed my sheep.” (John Van Auken)
The concept of an End of Days resurrection of corpses originated with the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism (of Magi fame) and was adopted by the Hebrews during the Babylonian exile. The Pharisees believed in this doctrine of an End of Days resurrection as well as reincarnation. Reincarnation was also a widely held belief throughout Israel in those days. More evidence of reincarnation being a teaching of Jesus can be found in the belief systems of the early Judeo-Christians. One group, known as the Ebionites, believed the Holy Spirit had incarnated first as Adam and then later Jesus. Other groups, such as the Elkasaites and Nazarites, also believed this. The Clementine Homilies, an early Judeo-Christian document, also taught of Jesus having many previous incarnations. The Jewish sect of Samaritans in Jesus’ day, believed the spirit of Adam had reincarnated as Seth, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Even today, Orthodox Judaism teaches reincarnation (gilgul). Also, many Church Fathers and leaders were believers in reincarnation. Most bishops of the early Church were pagan by birth and were well educated in reincarnational ideas. But ideas concerning reincarnation were later suppressed by the Church in the West because the Church of Rome viewed pre-existence (a teaching held by the great Church Father Origen and others) as heresy. But despite the historical changes of New Testament canon, a large amount of references to reincarnation can still be found there. Some early Judeo-Christians were Christian Gnostics who claimed to possess the secret or “hidden” teachings and mysteries of resurrection handed down directly from the apostles of Christ. According to these Christian Gnostics, the “resurrection” was not a physical event at all; but rather a spiritual event of spiritual rebirth and regeneration by the Holy Spirit which liberates people from the cycle of bodily birth, death and bodily rebirth (reincarnation). The Christian Gnostics were eventually persecuted by the established Church in Rome whose bishops preferred Paul’s teachings to the Gentiles over the teachings of the Church in Jerusalem led by James, the brother of Jesus. The Judeo-Christian proto-Gnostics in Jerusalem believed that the Church of Rome‘s doctrine of “bodily resurrection” – which excluded reincarnation and included only an End of Days bodily resurrection – was a misinterpretation of the “hidden” teachings of Christ which he taught only to the Twelve Apostles and not the public at large. These “hidden” mysteries, which even Paul mentions in his epistles, concerns a believer’s liberation from death through a spiritual “resurrection” – a resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life – by the Holy Spirit. With the successful persecution of “unorthodox heretics,” the Church of Rome’s concept of bodily resurrection, which excluded bodily reincarnation, became the established orthodoxy. As a result, the concepts of pre-existence and reincarnation were effectively removed from Church doctrines.
Edgar Cayce (pronounced “Kay-see”) was a simple Sunday School teacher who, over the span of his lifetime (1877-1945), had more near-death-like experiences than anyone ever documented. Cayce learned at a young age that when he was hypnotized, he could leave his body and journey into the afterlife realms. His self-induced out-of-body experiences were identical to near-death experiences. Cayce made over 14,000 otherworldly journeys in his life and the information he gained from these journeys has astounded people all over the world. Part of Cayce’s revelations deal with the many reincarnations of the Christ soul which is the subject of this article.
1. Introduction to Cayce’s Revelations of the Christ
The system of metaphysical thought which emerges from the Cayce material can be described as a “Christianized” version of the mystery religions of ancient Egypt, Chaldea, Persia, India, and Greece. It fits Christ into the mystical tradition of one God for all people, and places Christ in his proper place, at the apex of the philosophical structure – the capstone of the pyramid.
Cayce was a fundamentalist Christian who was raised in strict nineteenth century Bible tradition. When he discovered that his subconscious information declared the ancient mystic religions to be true and acclaimed Jesus as their crowning glory, he suffered the greatest mental and emotional shock of his life. Cayce had only a seventh grade education and consciously knew nothing of what he said while in a deep trance-like state. He was only versed in the Bible and had no high school or college background of any kind. Up until his revelations, Cayce had never heard of the mystery religions. Yet the Cayce material agrees with everything about them that is known to be authentic. He spoke at length on Christian Gnosticism well before the Gnostic writings were discovered in Egypt after his death. Cayce affirmed that Christian Gnosticism is the type of Christianity that was taught by Jesus. Much of the information from Cayce has solved some of the greatest mysteries of humanity, some of which were later validated after the discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the early Christian writings discovered in Egypt.
Cayce’s descriptions of the Essenes of Mount Carmel reveal the religious sect to be an ideal for others who would prepare the way for the Second Coming of Christ. Cayce’s revelations of Jesus’ so-called “lost years” as a youth studying in Egypt, Persia, and India suggest an important compatibility of between the eastern and western religions. Cayce’s Christology also makes the Christ soul not only an ideal and pattern toward which everyone should aspire, but a living presence to guide people toward “at-onement” with God – the perfect divine-human unity which Jesus attained.
According to the Cayce material, Jesus and Adam were different incarnations of the same Christ soul. Eve and the Virgin Mary (Jesus’ twin soul) were also different incarnations of the same soul. This karmic connection between Adam and Jesus explains why Jesus was able to pay the “karmic debt” by atoning for the “sin of Adam.” This Adam-Jesus connection can be seen in the following excerpt from the Cayce readings:
Question: “When did the knowledge come to Jesus that he was to be the Savior of the world?” Cayce: “When he fell in Eden.” [Cayce Reading 2067-7]
According to Cayce, many other personalities from the Old Testament and history were also incarnations of Jesus. The Cayce material describes the entire Christian Bible as part of the story of Jesus’ long struggle to attain “Christhood” and provide humanity a pattern to do the same.
2. The Incarnations of Jesus According to Cayce
The following is a list of the incarnations of Jesus according to Cayce. Note that all these incarnations of Jesus, as Cayce describes them, have in common their role as psychic revelators:
Amilius was the first expression of Divine Mind (the Logos); the Christ-soul before his incarnation into a physical body (corresponding to Genesis 1) and incarnation into a physical body (corresponding to Genesis 2). He was the entity Cayce identified as Amilius living in the lost civilization of Atlantis who redirected the process of human evolution by creating a more appropriate physical form for the influx of souls to incarnate into rather than incarnating into the ape-like human form which souls had entangled themselves in. The first wave of souls (known as “the sons of men“) became entrapped in the physical plane accidentally through their misuse of free will. These events gave rise to the legend of the “fall of the angels.” The second wave (“the sons of God“) consisted of those souls led by Amilius (the Christ-soul) who voluntarily became entrapped in flesh as Adam in order to assist the first wave.
Adam was the first “son of man” and “son of God”; the Christ-soul after his incarnation into a physical body (corresponding to Genesis 2). Cayce sometimes used the word “Adam” to refer to the entire group of souls which had accompanied the Christ-soul’s incarnation into the Earth realm. These “Adams” incarnated as the five races on five separate continents. Eventually, the Christ-soul, as Adam, joined his twin soul (the Eve–Virgin Mary soul) by allowing himself to be seduced by materiality as symbolized by his acceptance of the forbidden fruit. The other “sons of God” followed suit and, as a result, interbred with the “daughters of men” (Genesis 6:2). In this light, humanity’s banishment from “the Garden of Eden” was actually a great blessing, because death, reincarnation, and karma are all designed to teach us to move away from materiality and toward our true spiritual nature.
Enoch is mentioned in several pseudepigraphal works (The Book of Enoch (1 Enoch), 2 Enoch, and 3 Enoch) as well as some Kabbalistic writings, in addition to his brief mention in Genesis 5:18-24 which concludes, “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him.” The Book of Enoch describes the fall of the “Watchers” into materiality and Enoch’s heavenly sojourns as well as his transfiguration into the angel Metatron. It is revealed to him the future up to the time of the Messiah as well. Enoch also learns about the hierarchy of the angelic realm and the divine “throne-chariot” of Ezekiel. The Book of Enoch introduces a messianic figure referred to as “the Son of Man.” In the canonical New Testament, Enoch is mentioned in Hebrews 11:5 and Jude 14-15. The passage in Jude quotes directly from the pseudepigaphal Book of Enoch which shows the author of the Epistle of Jude, the brother of Jesus, considered the Book of Enoch to be sacred scripture.
“Hermes” of the Cayce readings is the one who designed and build the Great Pyramid under the direction of Ra Ta. There is another historical connection between a “Hermes” and Egypt which is found in the Hellenistic writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus – the sage who began the Hermetic tradition. Hermes is also referred to in the Poimandres, as the “shepherd of men” who teaches that “the Word which came forth from the Light is the Son of God.” Accordingly, Hermes also taught that human nature consists of such divine elements as Nature, Light, Mind, and Life; and that by recognizing them we may return to the invisible, immaterial world of Truth.
Melchizedek was the “king of Salem” and “priest of the most high God” who shares bread and wine with Abraham in Genesis 14: 18-20.) He is also mentioned both in the Dead Sea Scrolls (11QMelch) and the Melchizedek in the Nag Hammadi codex where he appears as a cosmic angelic figure, the risen Christ. Hebrews 5:8-10 calls Jesus “a high priest after the order of Melchizedek,” which explains how Jesus was a priestly Messiah without being a Levite. According to Cayce, Melchizedek wrote the Book of Job, which contains many mysterious passages that Cayce liked. Cayce once said, “For, as the sons of God came together to reason, as recorded by Job, “WHO recorded same? The Son of Man! Melchizedek wrote Job!.”
Joseph was the son of Jacob who became the Prince of Egypt. The story of Joseph appealed to Cayce, not only for its Egyptian location, but its endorsement of dream guidance and also for Joseph’s escape from the pit (anticipating Jesus’ resurrection). In fact there are many parallels between the life of Joseph and Jesus.
Joshua was the warrior who led the Israelites into the Promised Land. However, this incarnation of the Christ-soul is more difficult to account for given his military campaigns described in the Bible. Jesus’ suffering on the cross would certainly have paid his karmic debt for this transgression as well. But Cayce also saw Joshua as a member of a family which had produced many highly-skilled spiritual counselors. One of Joshua’s roles was as a scribe for Moses who psychically dictated much of the material from the books traditionally attributed to him. This explains how Joshua could have remembered to include such details as the creation of the universe and Moses’ own death. Hebrews 4:8-10 identifies Jesus as a better Joshua, as Joshua led Israel into the rest of Canaan, but Jesus leads the people of God into “God’s rest,” salvation. Among the early Church Fathers, Joshua is considered a type of Jesus Christ.
The Cayce readings give little information about Asaph except that he was the music director and seer who served under David and Solomon. However, there is much more evidence of David as being a past life of Jesus than his music director Asaph.
Jeshua (Joshua) was the high priest who helped organize the return from exile and the rebuilding of the temple (as recounted in the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah) and who is claimed by Cayce to have compiled and translated the books of the Bible
Jesus was the man who attained complete “at-onement” and human-divine unity and therefore became “the Christ.” Note that “Joshua”, “Jeshua”, and “Jesus” are really the same name. The name “Jesus” is a Latinization of the Aramaic “Jeshua” or “Yeshua” which is in turn taken from the Hebrew “Yehoshua” or “Joshua.” So the name “Jesus” refers to many heroes in the Hebrew Bible. Cayce therefore assigned the soul-entity Jesus to the same name for three separate incarnations. Cayce also revealed that the Jesus of the New Testament was registered by his Essene school under the name of “Jeshua.”
(12) ????? of the Second Coming
The Christ-soul will walk the Earth again as the Messiah foretold by the Hebrew prophets in order to usher in the so-called “Throne of David” (i.e., the kingdom of heaven) on Earth as revealed in Revelation 11:15. Cayce sometimes interpreted the Second Coming of Christ as being an internal, psychic event within the individual seeker (as in Cayce’s Commentary on the Book of Revelation), and sometimes as the actual return of Jesus Christ in particular. In discussing the massive geological changes predicted for the “last days,” he adds that “these will begin in those periods from 1958 to 1998. when these will be proclaimed as the periods when His light will be seen in the clouds.” While this passage might be interpreted psychologically, elsewhere Cayce insists that Jesus will return in the flesh and rule for one thousand years as mentioned in Revelation 20:1-3. During this thousand-year time period, Cayce states that souls from the lower afterlife realms will not be permitted to reincarnate in order to establish the kingdom of God on Earth. Afterward, when the kingdom of God is established, souls from the lower afterlife realms will be permitted to reincarnate. According to Cayce, “As given, for a thousand years he will walk and talk with men of every clime. Then in groups, in masses, and then they shall reign of the first resurrection for a thousand years; for this will be when the changes materially come.” Although Cayce gives the year date of the “entrance of the Messiah into this period as 1998,” he also admits that no one knows the exact time of the Second Coming, since it cannot occur “until His enemies (and the Earth) are wholly in subjection to His will, His powers.” A future incarnation of Jesus into flesh may not be necessary because Jesus has already transcended the necessity of reincarnating through his obedience of going to the cross.
3. The Incarnations of Jesus in Detail
According to Cayce, the “fall of man” was an event recorded symbolically in Genesis where souls from heaven first descended to the Earth plane to began incarnating as humans. The first wave of souls to incarnate (known in the Bible as “the sons of men“) became entrapped in the Earth plane accidentally, through their misuse of free will. These events gave rise to legends of the “fall of the angels” and to mythical beasts of the kind described in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”
The second wave of incarnations (known in the Bible as “the sons of God”) consisted of those souls led by Amilius – the Christ soul – who voluntarily became entrapped in order to assist the first wave of trapped souls. They accomplished this by steering the process of physical evolution in a way that created more appropriate physical forms for these souls. Cayce places Amilius on Atlantis, but says that he did not physically incarnate until the human physical form had been created, at which time the Genesis accounts of Adam and Eve begin. Cayce sometimes used the word “Adam” to also refer to the entire group of souls which had accompanied the Christ soul into incarnating into the Earth plane and who incarnated as the five races of humanity on five separate continents.
Adam (as the Christ soul) joined his twin soul Eve in allowing himself to be seduced by materiality himself. This is symbolized by his acceptance of the “forbidden fruit.” The other sons of God followed his lead and incarnated, and as a result were moved to express their materiality by interbreeding with the “daughters of men” (Genesis 6:1-2) who were the homo sapiens that evolved from ape-men according to Darwin’s theory of evolution. According to the Cayce material and Christian Gnosticism, their banishment from the Garden of Eden was actually a great blessing because death and reincarnation are designed to draw our attention away from materiality and the flesh, and toward our true spiritual nature.
Cayce also identified Melchizedek as an incarnation of the Jesus-entity. Melchizedek was the “king of Salem” and “priest of the most high God” who shares bread and wine with Abraham in Genesis 14:18-20. Melchizedek is also mentioned both in the Dead Sea Scrolls (11QMelch) and the Nag Hammadi codices (NEC IX 1), where he appears as a cosmic angelic figure similar to the risen Christ. Hebrews 5:10 refers to Jesus “a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” According to Cayce, Melchizedek wrote the Book of Job which contains many unusual verses that Cayce would often quote from while in trance. For example, Cayce stated, “For, as the sons of God came together to reason, as recorded by Job, “WHO recorded same? The Son of Man! Melchizedek wrote Job!”
Cayce also identified the Biblical personality named Enoch to be a Jesus-entity incarnate. Enoch is described in several pseudepigraphal writings as well as some Kabbalistic writings. The modern Bible has a brief mention of Enoch:
“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:18-24)
The Book of Enoch describe the fall of the angels into materiality – the beginning of the incarnation of souls from heaven. It also describes Enoch’s several heavenly journeys where it is revealed to him the future until the time of the Messiah. Enoch is also taught traditional topics as angelology and the divine throne-chariot. The Ethiopic Enoch introduces Enoch to a messianic figure referred to as “the Son of Man.” The Hebrew scripture known as “Apocalypse of Enoch” describes Enoch transfigured into an angel named Metatron. In the New Testament, Enoch is mentioned in Hebrews 11:5 and Jude 14-15, with the latter passage apparently quoting from the pseudepigaphal Enochian literature. The fact that the Bible itself quotes from the Book of Enoch is evidence that Cayce was correct about the book being a valid source for higher spiritual knowledge.
Cayce also identified the Biblical personality named Joseph (son of Jacob) as an incarnation of the Jesus-entity soul. Accordingly, Joseph’s escape from the pit was not only a literal event, but a symbolic anticipation of Jesus’ resurrection. Cayce’s identification of Joshua, the notorious genocidal leader of Israel in the Old Testament, as an incarnation of the Jesus-entity is a little more difficult to believe. But Cayce viewed Joshua’s claim to fame as being the scribe for Moses who “psychically” dictated much of what is attributed to Moses. This interesting bit of information explains how “Moses” wrote about his own death. Another Biblical personality named by Cayce to be a Jesus-entity incarnate is the high priest named Jeshua who helped organize the return from exile and the rebuilding of the temple (see the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah). According to Cayce, this Jeshua is the one who compiled and translated the books of the Bible. In essence, Cayce identifies all these Biblical personalities to be psychic revelators.
An interesting fact is that “Joshua”, “Jeshua”, and “Jesus” are really the same name. The name “Jesus” is a Latin version of the Aramaic name Jeshua or “Yeshua.” And Yeshua is Hebrew for Joshua or “Yehoshua.” Thus, Cayce has assigned the soul-entity Jesus to be incarnations of the three Biblical characters having the same name. Cayce also mentions that Jesus was an Essene who was registered by his Essene school under the name of “Jeshua”.
Concerning the so-called “Second Coming” of Christ (which is really not the second, but many) Cayce sometimes interpreted it to be an internal spiritual and psychic event within the individual (see Cayce on the Book of Revelation). On other occasions, Cayce interpreted it to be an actual return of Jesus Christ in physical form. When Cayce gave his prophecies about the massive geological changes predicted to being around 2000 AD, he stated that:
“These will begin in those periods from ’58 to ’98 when these will be proclaimed as the periods when His light will be seen in the clouds” [Cayce Reading 3976-15].
This reading from Cayce suggests that Jesus will appear in the sky and return to Earth in bodily form. Cayce stated that Jesus will walk the Earth again:
“As given, for a thousand years he will walk and talk with men of every clime. Then in groups, in masses, and then they shall reign of the first resurrection for a thousand years; for this will be when the changes materially come.” [Cayce Reading 364-8]
Cayce gave the year of the “entrance of the Messiah into this period -1998.” [Cayce Reading 5748-5] He also mentions that no one knows the exact day of event because it cannot occur “until His enemies – and the Earth – are wholly in subjection to His will, His powers.” [Cayce Reading 5749-1]. So this suggests that Jesus’s return may not be a future incarnation in the flesh since Jesus has already transcended the need to reincarnate.
4. The Christ Soul Incarnation as Jesus in Detail
Two years after Cayce’s death in 1945, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in Qumran. This remarkable archaeological discovery revealed a large amount of information about a religious sect around the time of Jesus referred to as the Essenes and affirmed information provided by Cayce. The word “Essene” is never used in the Dead Sea Scrolls but most scholars accept that the Qumran sect was either identical or closely related to the Essenes of the classical authors such as Josephus and Pliny. According to Cayce, Jesus was an Essene along with Mary and Joseph who was affiliated with an Essene community based on Mount Carmel which was a continuation of a “school of the prophets” begun by Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, and Melchizedek. Cayce described the Essenes as an pious religious community of men and women whose purpose was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. Archeology does not reveal the meaning behind the word “Essene” but Cayce mentioned that it means “expectancy.” According to Josephus, the Essenes were known for divination (foretelling the future) which agrees with Cayce’s descriptions of them spending their time recording experiences of “the supernatural or out of the ordinary experiences; whether in dreams, visions, voices, or what not” [Cayce Reading 1472-1]. Cayce also mentioned that the Essenes were students of astrology, numerology, and reincarnation.
The Dead Sea Scrolls describe the Essenes as an authoritarian, highly disciplined community that controlled every facet of member’s lives. They had to give all their money and property over to the community after a year’s probation. Their theology stressed a good versus evil duality. It also describes a conflict between a “Teacher of Righteousness,” a “Wicked Priest,” and “the Liar.” They separated themselves from the outside world in an anticipated final war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness. As for the Jesus connection to the Essenes, scholars believe the idea of Jesus being an Essene does not fit the personality and teachings of Jesus despite the many interesting similarities between Jesus and the Qumran community. For example, scholars believe the Essenes wouldn’t have approved of Jesus’ bending of the moral standards such as associating himself with prostitutes and tax collectors. It is also believed that John the Baptist was an Essene because of the similarities between himself and the Essene community.
According to Cayce, Jesus’ mother Mary was chosen by the Essenes at the age of four to begin intensive spiritual training lasting three years in preparation for the conception of the Messiah. Her election as the mother of the Messiah occurs during a special ceremony in the temple at Mount Carmel in which an angel leads her by the hand to the altar. Remarkably, this Cayce reading agrees with an apocryphal book entitled the Infancy Gospel of James where Mary is presented to the Lord at the age of three when her father Joachim “set her on the third step of the altar, and the Lord God gave grace to her … and she received food from the hand of an angel.” (325) Cayce and the Infancy Gospel of James agree that Joseph was chosen to be Mary’s husband by lot. They also agree that Joseph was much older than Mary. Cayce gives their ages at the time of their marriage as thirty-six and sixteen, respectively. Cayce and the Infancy Gospel of James agree that Jesus was born in a cave.
5. Jesus and Eastern Mysticism
According to Cayce, Jesus was sixteen years old when his education about the ways of the ancient teachers began. First, he traveled to Egypt where, as an infant, Jesus was taken after his birth by his parents to flee Herod as the Gospel of Matthew states. After spending time learning in Egypt, Jesus spent three years in India and finally a year in Persia.
The idea that Jesus had spent his “lost years” wandering Asia did not originate with Cayce. Its first proponent seems to have been the Russian war correspondent Nicholas Notovitch (1858-1916), who described his travels in British India in a book entitled “The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ” published in 1894. According to his book, Notovitch was told by the “chief lama” of a monastery that their library contained records of a visit by Jesus in ancient times. The chief lama finally relented to Notovitch’s requests to examine the records. From two large bound volumes written in Tibetan, Notovitch translated them through his interpreter as “The Life of Saint Issa: Best of the Sons of Men.”
The text begins by summarizing the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, Israel’s lapse into sin during the prophetic period, and the subsequent Roman occupation. But God has mercy on one poor couple (Mary and Joseph), whom he rewards by giving them a son, Issa (which is the Quranic name for Jesus). All is well until the boy turns thirteen and the parents arrange a marriage for him. Issa “… left the parental house in secret, departed from Jerusalem, and with the merchants set out towards Sind, with the object of perfecting himself in the divine word and of studying the laws of the great Buddhas. [IV. 12- 13]
At fourteen, he encountered the “erring worshippers of Jaine” a reference to Jainism. Then he spent six years studying the Vedas and learned the art of exorcism and intercessory prayer. Issa rebuked Brahmin priests for upholding the caste system. Issa also would violate their customs by giving teachings to the lower castes. He is seen rejecting the authority of the Vedas and Puranas, denying the Trimurti and the incarnation of Brahma as Vishnu, Shiva, and other gods. It is written that Issa belittled idolatry and barely escaped India with his life. In Nepal, he grew proficient in Pali and spent six years studying Buddhist sutras. He condemned human and animal sacrifices, sun-worship, the dualism of good and evil, and the Zoroastrian priesthood. The Zoroastrian priests seized him and abandoned him to the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts but he escapes anyway.
6. Jesus the Man and Jesus as the “Christ”
Cayce made a distinction between Jesus and “the Christ.” He said that “Christhood” is the goal which every human should strive for. Jesus was simply the first evolved human to attain it. Cayce referred to Jesus as our “elder brother” and “the pattern” for our own spiritual growth. The Bible states that Christ fulfilled the law and, according to Cayce, so can we. That is the entire purpose of Jesus’ teaching. Cayce wrote:
“The law of God made manifest [that] He becomes the law by manifesting same before man; and thus – as man, even as you becomes one with the Father” [Cayce Reading 1158-12].
Because of Jesus’ triumph over “flesh and temptation”, Jesus:
“became the first of those that overcame death in the body, enabling Him to so illuminate, to so revivify that body as to take it up again, even when those fluids of the body had been drained away by the nail holes in His hands and by the spear piercing His side.” [Cayce Reading 1152-1].
In essence, Cayce described the Christ soul as the impelling force and core of truth behind all religions that teach that “God is One.”
Jesus asked his disciples the following question: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13-16). The disciples’ reply was that people were saying he was one of the Old Testament prophets such as Elijah or Jeremiah. The nature of Jesus’ question, and his disciples’ reply, reveals the question was assumed to be one about who the people were saying Jesus was in a past life. His disciples knew this and so they gave a reincarnational answer. And Jesus made no comment against the popular belief in reincarnation and his question sealed it with his approval. Belief in reincarnation during the time of Jesus was almost universal including in all the so-called pagan religions. Nowhere in the New Testament is reincarnation denied, disputed or questioned. If reincarnation was a false doctrine it would almost certainly have been denounced in the same harshest terms as idolatry, sorcery and evil throughout the entire Bible. Instead, as we have seen, reincarnation is referenced throughout the Bible and taught by Jesus.
More evidence of reincarnation as a teaching of Jesus can be found in the belief systems of the early Judeo-Christians. One group, known as the Ebionites, believed the Holy Spirit had incarnated first as Adam and later as Jesus. Other early Judeo-Christians, such as the Elkasaites and Nazarenes, also believed this. In the Clementine Homilies, an early Judeo-Christian document, also taught of Jesus having many previous incarnations. The Jewish sect of Samaritans in Jesus’ day, believed the spirit of Adam had reincarnated as Seth, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Even today, Orthodox Judaism teaches reincarnation (gilgul).
All human beings are participating in an evolving, reincarnational, perfecting process toward sanctification and holiness. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, it states that Jesus himself, as a human being, also needed perfecting and it was through his suffering on the cross which accomplished this (Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 5:9). This implies Jesus himself had enduring the perfecting process of past lives, and the biblical evidence shows this. One of those past lives is King David (1000 BC) who was anointed the king of Israel and Judah. David conquered Jerusalem, took the Ark of the Covenant into the city, and established the Kingdom there. David is mentioned in the prophetic Hebrew literature as an ideal king and Messiah. The Hebrew word translated as “Messiah” comes from the Hebrew noun meaning “the anointed one.” In the First Book of Samuel, the young shepherd David is anointed King (“Messiah”) of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1,10-13). In the Second Book of Samuel, the dying King David is called “the anointed (“Messiah”) of the God of Jacob (2 Samuel 23:1). As we will see, the Hebrew Bible is filled with references of David as God’s first Messiah and references of Jesus as the reincarnation of David.
In Jewish eschatology, the Messiah also came to refer to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line who will be the king of God’s kingdom and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age. In Judaism, he is referred to as “Messiah ben David,” which means “Messiah, son of David.” Belief in the eventual coming of a future Messiah is a fundamental part of Judaism and Christianity. The early Church believed the life of David foreshadowed the life of Christ; Bethlehem is the birthplace of both; the shepherd life of David points out Christ the Good Shepherd; the five stones chosen to slay Goliath are typical of the five wounds on Christ; the betrayal by his trusted counselor, Achitophel, and the passage over the Cedron remind us of Christ’s sacred Passion. Many of the Davidic Psalms, as we learn from the New Testament, are clear references to Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, the archangel Gabriel informs the Virgin Mary she will give birth to Jesus whom God will give the throne of “his father David.”
“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31–33)
The “Son of David” is a clear title of the Messiah is the New Testament (See also Matthew 1:1; Matthew 15:22; Mark 10:47). Jesus confounded the religious leaders who were persecuting him by asking them a question about the son of David:
“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, ‘What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?‘ ‘The son of David,’ they replied. He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?‘ No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:41-45, See also Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44)
“The Lord says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'” (Psalm 110:1)
Although Jesus doesn’t give us the answer to his question on how the Messiah can be David’s son when David calls him “lord,” we already know the answer. Jesus knew that he himself, as the Messiah, was not a genetic son of David because he was the only “begotten son of God” — the title given to the soul whom God first gave to David:
David as God’s only begotten son: “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to me, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you.'” (Psalm 2:7) Jesus as God’s only begotten son: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus’ human father, Joseph, was a genetic descendant of David; but because Jesus was not a genetic descendant of Joseph — and therefore not of David — the only way he could be the “son of David,” David’s “lord,” and God’s “only begotten son” would be if David’s soul was a past life soul of Jesus.
2. David and Jesus as Firstborn, Seed, Root, Melchizedek, Savior
And as the “only begotten son,” both David and Jesus are said to be the “firstborn” of God:
David as firstborn of God: “I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand shall be established; also My arm shall strengthen him… He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ And I will appoint him to be My firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.” (Psalm 89:20, 26-27) Jesus as firstborn of God: “And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.'” (Hebrews 1:6; See also Romans 8:29, Colossians 1:15-18, Hebrews 12:22-23, Revelation 1:5)
In the gospels and in Paul’s epistles, the soul (spirit) is metaphorically referred to as a “seed” (See Matthew 13:24-30; 1 Peter 1:23). God promised David that his “seed” and throne would be established forever to all generations suggesting his “seed” would be his reincarnation:
The seed of David established with David: “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to my servant David: ‘Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations.'” (Psalm 89:3-4) The seed of David established with Jesus: “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” (John 7:42)
An even more direct reference to the soul of Jesus as a reincarnation of the soul of David is the Messianic title “Root of Jesse.” Jesse was the father of David and a direct descendant from Judah, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham. So “Root of Jesse” is the literal son of Jesse, who is David himself. Isaiah the prophet, whose ministry was active hundreds of years after David’s death from 740 BC to 698 BC, prophesied of a “Branch” which will rise from the “Root of Jesse” (David) of whom “the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him” during a time when “the wolf will live with the lamb.” The apostle Paul confirms that Isaiah’s prophesy applies to Jesus:
Root of Jesse anointed Messiah: “Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king (David) among his sons.” (1 Samuel 16:1) Messiah as Branch from “Root of Jesse”: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit… In that day the Root of Jesse (David) will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:1,10) Jesus as One from the “Root of Jesse”: “And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse (David) will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.'” (Romans 15:12)
Again, because Jesus was not the genetic descendant of David, he could only be the “Root of Jesse” if his soul was a reincarnation of David who WAS a genetic descendant of Jesse. And genetic ancestry is critical in Judaism. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is also referred to as the “Root of David” (Revelation 5:5) which is also a Messianic title. Concerning the “shoot” and “Branch” rising from the “Root of Jesse,” as previously mentioned, the gospels and epistles use the metaphor of a “seed” for the soul (Matthew 13:24-30; 1 Peter 1:23). From the seed arises the “shoot” — the “resurrected” body — which we’ve already made the case is the reincarnated soul in a new body (a fetus). The prophet Jeremiah, whose ministry was active from 626 BC until 587 BC, like the prophet Isaiah, also prophesied of a future “Branch” — another Messianic reference to Jesus — whom God will one day “raise up” (reincarnate) as King to rule after the Jews are brought back to their homeland from all the nations:
“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise upfor David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” (Jeremiah 23:5)
Another connection between David and Jesus is their “Priesthood of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek was a king and priest appearing in the Book of Genesis whose name means “King of Righteousness” — a name echoing kingly and priestly functions. He is the first individual to be given the title of “priest” in the Hebrew Bible. The majority of Chazalic literature attributes the primary character of the following Psalm as King David who was a “righteous king” of Salem (Jerusalem) and, like Melchizedek, had certain priest-like responsibilities:
David as “priest of Melchizedek”: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You (David) are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'” (Psalm 110:4) Jesus as “priest of Melchizedek”: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19-20)
As we will also see, there is also biblical evidence of Jesus, and therefore David, as having a past life as Melchizedek. Other Messianic titles shared between David and Jesus include “King of Israel,” “King of Righteous,” “Servant of the Lord,” and “Shepherd.” In Psalm 22, David also demonstrated his ability as a prophet when describing — in uncanny detail — the experience of Jesus on the cross:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?… (v.1) But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone despised by the people… (v.6) All who see me mock me; they hurl insults… (v.7) ‘He trusts in the Lord,’ they say, ‘let the Lord rescue him’… (v.8) From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God… (v.10) Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me… (v.12) I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint… (v.14) My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me… (v.14) My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth… (v.15) You lay me in the dust of death… (v.15) Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me… (v.16) They pierce my hands and my feet… (v.16) All my bones are on display… (v.17) People stare and gloat over me… (v.17) They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment… (v.18) For he (God) has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one… (v.24) He has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help (v.24) (Psalm 22:1-24)
3. David Will Be Reincarnated in the Last Days
The prophet Hosea‘s ministry was active just before the destruction of Israel in 722 BC — several hundred years after the death of King David. Hosea prophesied that “in the last days” Israel will be restored and King David himself will rule over them:
“For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their King. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.” (Hosea 3:4-5)
The prophet Ezekiel (622-570 BC) prophesied incessantly for five years and acted out the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple several hundred years after the death of David. Like Hosea, Ezekiel prophesied the future return of the Jews to Israel and the reincarnation of David himself to rule them:
“I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land… I will place over them one shepherd, My servantDavid, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and My servantDavid will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.” (Ezekiel 34:13, 23-24)
“I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.” (Ezekiel 37:22-24)
The prophet Jeremiah was a contemporary of Ezekiel whose prophetic ministry was active from 626 BC until after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 587 BC. During that time, Babylon conquered Jerusalem and began taking Jews as captives to Babylon. Jeremiah prophesied that the Jews would be scattered from their homeland and persecuted; but God would protect them from total destruction and one day return to their homeland. He also prophesied a day when Israel will no longer be enslaved by foreigners and God would “raise up” King David himself to rule over them:
“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess… In that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and Davidtheir king, whom I willraise upfor them.'” (Jeremiah 30:1-3; 8-9)
Notice also Jeremiah 30:9 says that King David himself will be “raised up” (reincarnated) sometime after Israel is restored. As previously mentioned, “raised up” is a reference to reincarnation. Notice also that even if we assume a corpse resurrection interpretation, Jeremiah says it will be King David himself who will be “raised up.” From this information, we can conclude that the so-called “Second Coming” of Jesus will actually be the “Third Coming” of King David assuming Jesus and King David were the same soul. See also Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Jeremiah 33:15-16 for more support.
The prophet Zechariah began his ministry in the second year of Darius, king of Persia (520 BC), about sixteen years after the beginning of the Jews returning to Israel from their Babylonian exile and hundreds of years after the death of David. Jeremiah prophesied of a future time when all the nations of the world will be against Jerusalem causing God to destroy all Israel’s enemies and establish the House of David (the Davidic line of kingship):
“I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves… On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house ofDavid and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zechariah 12:2-3; 8-10)
The “Angel of the Lord” (in Hebrew “Messenger of Yahweh“) is an entity appearing 65 times in the Old Testament on behalf of God (Yahweh). In some instances it is made clear that the reference is to an appearance of Yahweh himself rather than a separate entity acting on his behalf. The Angel of the Lord is identified by the early Church Fathers, such as Justin Martyr and Tertullian, as the pre-incarnate Christ whose appearance is recorded in the Old Testament. Zechariah’s prophecy reveals it will be a reincarnation of the “house of David” (David himself) — the Angel of the Lord (Jesus), the one who was pierced, who will save Israel in the latter days.
4. More Evidence of David as a Past Life of Jesus
The following biblical comparisons show David and Jesus as having the same identity. Both are “the most exalted king of the Earth”:
David as the most exalted king of the Earth: “I have found My servantDavid; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand shall be established; also My arm shall strengthen him…. He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ And I will appoint him to be My firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the Earth.” (Psalm 89:20, 26-27) Jesus as the most exalted king of the Earth: “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (Revelation 19:16)
Both David and Jesus are “the Holy One”, the Messiah:
David as the “Holy One”: “For our shield belongs to the Lord, and our kingto the Holy One of Israel. Then You spoke in a vision to yourHoly One, and said: ‘I have given help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found My servantDavid; with My holy oil I have anointed him”. (Psalm 89:18-20) Jesus as the “Holy One”: “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are theHoly Oneof God.'” (John 6:68-69) (See also Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34)
David said God would not leave his soul in Sheol, nor allow God’s “Holy One” to see corruption:
“I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For you will not leave my (David’s) soul in Sheol, nor will You allow your Holy One (Messiah) to see corruption.” (Psalm 16:8-10)
The above Psalm of David corresponds with the Acts of the Apostles where Peter revealed Jesus to be a past life of David during his sermon at Pentecost when he explained how Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of David concerning how God would not leave David’s soul, as Jesus, in Sheol:
“For Davidsays concerning him (Jesus): ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For you will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will you allow your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarchDavid, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, he would raise upthe Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that his (Jesus’) soul was not left in Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.” (Acts 2:25-31)
In the above verse, Peter equated David mentioning his soul would not be allowed to be left in Hades (Sheol) with Jesus’ soul not allowed to be left in Hades.
In the next verse, James (the brother of Jesus) quotes an end time prophecy in Amos 9:9-12 concerning David’s fallen “tent” being restored as a metaphor for the resurrection of Jesus’ “body” which implies David and Jesus were the same soul:
“The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. When they finished, James spoke up. ‘Brothers,’ he said, ‘listen to me. Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ — things known from long ago. It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:12-19)
In the Bible, the word “tent” is used as a metaphor for the physical body, such as in the New Testament, by both the apostles Paul and Peter for example:
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)
“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.” (2 Peter 1:12-13)