As we age the prospect of dying becomes a reality we must deal with. For some, this prospect is very frightening. Many of my clients start worrying about growing old or dying during their middle age. Others tell me they just put off the thought until a later time. Yet others try to distract themselves with any number of activities. As I write this the August cover of Time Magazine depicts a worried man in his fifties, with the footnote, “two billion dollars are being spent annually on testosterone treatments.” The money spent on anti-ageing products could probably feed all of the world’s impoverished people, yet we use it to ward off fear of dying.
We have difficulty accepting aging due to the way our mind works. The part of our mind known as the ego is designed to keep us safe from physical harm. It does a good job of keeping us safe from danger – and when threatened, creates a fear response to physical harm or loss of life.
Most of us identify with our ego and the thought of dying is obviously very frightening. That is why our greatest fears center around survival —whether it be the threat of starvation, of bodily harm, or the threat of death. This faulty identification with ego causes us much grief. We are much more than our egos. We have an intellect that is capable of abstract and symbolic thinking and can solve all of life’s most difficult challenges – AND — we have a soul or Self that is eternal.
In this article I will offer an argument that we continue as a conscious entity after the demise of our body. I want to demonstrate through scientific study that there is irrefutable proof of life after death.
In the past thirty years or so, since the work of Elizabeth Kubler Ross on near death experiences (NDE’s), more and more stories reach us about people who were pronounced clinically dead — then revived — and tell stories of a spiritual after life. Most notable amongst these was a recent experience by Dr. Eben Alexander a highly trained neurosurgeon. Dr. Alexander knew from patient reports that NDEs feel real, but thought they were simply fantasies produced by brains to ease the thought of death. One day, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness — a part of the brain that controls thought and emotion. His brain shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s opened his eyes and reported a profound after death experience.
While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met and spoke with the divine source of the universe as brilliant light and all-embracing love. Dr. Alexander wrote a book, “Proof of Heaven, a Neurosurgeon’s Journey Into the After Life.”
Yet in spite of his story and countless others, doubt remains. The dogged question constantly asked is; “Might the brain have released some euphoric chemical that could have counted for this experience?” Rather than respond to these questions I want to discuss what I consider an irrefutable method that can verify the reality of life after death —reincarnation.
The University of Virginia
Over the last fifty years the University of Virginia studied approximately 2500 cases of reported reincarnation. Perhaps the most notable of their research was the study of Shanti Devi — a case so intriguing that it came to the attention of Mahatma Gandhi who paid a visit to the nine year old child.
The story of Shanti Devi is unique amongst reincarnation research. Unlike most reported cases Shanti Devi’s reincarnated a short fourteen months and seven days following her death as Lugdi Devi. This uniquely short time allowed investigators to confirm everything she reported about her previous life with members of Lugdi Devi’s family.
As a little girl Shanti hardly spoke a word until she was about four years old. As her parents began to worry that she might have been born dumb Shanti began to talk. To their dismay Shanti didn’t talk or act like the other little girls. She talked incessantly about her husband and kept pestering them for a picture of Krishna that she “always” carried with her. She shocked her parents to the point that they were embarrassed and tried unsuccessfully to silence her. Shanti spoke in a dialect foreign to her parents and talked of things way beyond the understanding of a young child. She kept saying she wanted to be with her real parents in Matura and rejoin her husband.
After being teased and embarrassed in her village for four years her headmaster decided to send a telegram to Matura and see if, in fact, there was a man named Kedar Nath who live there. Her parents and headmaster thought this tactic would silence her and finally prove to Shanti that she had been making up stories and was now time to stop her fantasy life. To their surprise the telegram was answered and Kedar Nath did exist and worked as a merchant in the location Shanti described. Furthermore he reported that his wife died in childbirth at the time and in the hospital that Shanti constantly talked about.
When Kedar Nath received the telegram he thought that someone was perpetrating a hoax and sent his brother disguised as someone else to meet Shanti Devi. Upon arriving at Shanti’s house she immediately knew her brother-in law and began to describe details about him that only he knew. Embarrassed he wrote Kedar that he was convinced Shanti was indeed Ludgi Devi reincarnated.
As news of this unique story reached New Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi decided to visit Shanti himself. The streets were lined with villagers as the great Mahatma arrived to visit nine year old Shanti. While her parents stood in awe, Ghandi spoke with the child and was convinced that a thorough investigation was necessary.
Ghandi set up a commission to investigate the case. He appointed men of impeccable character well known throughout India in their respective fields. The commission went to Mathura with Shanti. There she met her former husband and proved beyond a doubt that she had been his wife. Moreover she was upset that Kedar had not kept his deathbed promises. She asked him if he gave 150 Rupees to a Krishna Temple or why he remarried after he vowed he never would. Kedar had done neither. Kedar, greatly ashamed, asked for forgiveness. Nine year old Shanti forgave her husband from a previous life who was now in his mid-thirties married to another woman!
The commission’s report concluded that Shanti was indeed the reincarnation of Ludgi Devi the wife of Kedar Nath. The newspapers heralded this special story which everyone in India talked about. Over time the story was gradually forgotten.
In 1986, the case was brought to Ian Stevenson’s attention at the University of Virginia. Dr. Stevenson was a scientist investigating cases suggestive of reincarnation. He became intrigued by Shanti Devi’s story and decided to reinvestigate it. Applying rigorous investigative methods he confirmed the earlier commission’s report that Lugdi Devi did reincarnate as Shanti Devi.
Metempsychosis is a Greek word meaning rebirth. Many early Greek philosophers taught rebirth. Most notable amongst them were Pythagoras, sixth century B.C.E., known for his mathematical formulations, and Plato, who contributed greatly to the Alexandrian School of Philosophy. This school of thinking continued into the second century A.D. with the work of Plotinus.
Prior to the birth of Christ a schism developed in philosophy which affects the West to this day. Following Plato, Aristotle reasoned that mind and spirit are separate. The Eastern School on the other hand taught that consciousness permeates everything and there is no division between mind and spirit. Aristotle who expounded the Western School had a profound effect on the early Christian theologians, notably St. Thomas Aquinas, who is consider by the church as one of its theological fathers.
Interesting enough though, the idea of reincarnation was accepted by the Christian Church for more than five hundred years. In 553 A.D. the Council of Constantinople narrowly voted down the concept of reincarnation. Anecdotal stories abound that the Church Fathers declared reincarnation a heresy because they were concerned by accepting it — it would suggest to Christians they could put off their spiritual work to a future life – and the church would be able to exercise more control over their lives. Whether these stories are true or not is not important. What is important is that there is irrefutable proof of life after death as the story of Shanti Devi and countless others have proved.
Consciousness can never be diminished nor destroyed. It is an attribute of the Infinite. Each of us experience varying degrees of awareness or consciousness. The purpose of our lives is to plumb the depths of our individual consciousness until we find that we truly are a microcosm of the Infinite. It is a time consuming process. The fruits of this experience are not yielded easily. Our conscious life continues long after our body’s demise until we reach this realization.
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