Evidence for Reincarnation

It is clear that as evidence for reincarnation we can only expect the claimant to reveal certain facts which he has hitherto not known or been exposed to and has no means of inferring it until the examiner allows him to. Without such pointers, it is easy for the sceptic to dismiss his claims as mere imagination. Nor can belief in reincarnation stand wholely on the basis of its necessity regarding adequate explanations of fortune. The importance of verifiable historical facts that subjects reveal while under regressive hynotism cannot be dismissed by emphasis on other minor inaccuracies which may be a result of “cultural filtering” on the part of the subject — the knowledge of historical events without having known them consciously or exposed to unconsciously is definite evidence of extrasensory perception (if not directly reincarnation) and therefore weighs in on the modern scientific paradigm to reconsider its metaphysical assumptions.

As far as the Western New Age movement is concerned, reincarnation is still not much of a researched topic and authors have impatiently reached ontological conclusions. Nevertheless, it is compelling enough to warrant a serious change in naive realist worldviews. A few recent Western pointers that strongly suggest the existence of a soul independent of the body are to be found in The Varieties of Religious Experience (William James) and Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (Ian Stevenson). The research reported by K Ramakrishna Rao, Hereward Carrington, Dean Radin, et al is worthy of further study. This kind of evidence involves anomalous communication or influence observable in the physical domain but supposedly without the ordinary physical processes required for the happening (which is then interpreted to have been because of forces beyond physical reality), due to which fraud can never be ruled out in third-person reports.

There are those in the modern scientific establishment who attribute such accounts to imagination, self-deception or fraud. If they adhere to such scepticism even in what they claim to be their scientific investigations, no progress in it would be possible. There is a greater need in the field of parapsychology and paranormal phenomena to investigate personally rather than “sceptic” dismissal of the reports of other inspectors. On the other hand, although research has to rely on pratyakṣa and anumāna, there inevitably arises the need to extend them into reliance on āgama/āptavākya. In this domain one needs to examine one’s temperament for faults relating to stubborn presumptions of possibilities and mould it accordingly to adhere to ratiocinative inquiry rather than one’s idiosyncratic sentimental clinging to certain probabilities over others. The ancient tradition of yoga reveals to us the methods by which one may verify the fact of reincarnation for oneself rather than having to rely on authority. They who abandon egoistic presumptions about the truth and seek open-mindedly rational proof for the reality behind the appeareances will find plenty of evidence by following the method of the ancients. It is then a matter of one’s willingness to discover the truth. It is perhaps this most crucial presence of willingness in the temperament, which eventually leads one either to support his seed-like faith by evidence or to set himself to indulge repeatedly and increasingly in doubt (refusing to discern rationality from cynicism), that makes the difference between the āstika and the nāstika.

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