Past life memories and information retention
This is a discussion about the retention of information of past lives or past life memories in childhood reincarnation claims.
One of the arguments for reincarnation is the retention of childhood memories of a past life, specific knowledge of how the previous life ended, and physical marks or childhood phobias attributed to past life experiences.
Since by age seven the child would begin to forget the memories of the past life, the retention would not be genetically encoded. However, coding of skills acquired in a previous life seems able to be transmitted through reincarnation, i.e., a person who claims to be the reincarnation of a previous person who had acquired a certain skill does demonstrate such skills.
The reincarnated writing proficiency of Barbro Karlen of Sweden who is recognized as the reincarnation of Ann Frank is one illustration of reincarnated skills.
There are many such stories. A young man in his thirties claims to be a reincarnation of a militia member in a previous life and can demonstrate skills in driving tractors and disassembling and reassembling rifles without having any such experience in his current life.
The difference in the apparently permanent retention of “reincarnated” skills of the person of the previous life and in the temporary memory retention in childhood reincarnation cases is interesting. What would be the reason for such a difference in retention?
Skills are series of physical movements acquired through repetitive practice, and skillfulness and fluency are acqiured when conscious thought and conscious thinking are no longer involved in the performance of such movements.
Ben McMahon, the 22-year-old Australian who woke up from a week-long coma speaking Mandarin fluently he has learned but without any fluency said: “I was not consciously thinking I was speaking Mandarin, it was what just came out and it was what was most natural to me”.
One explanation was that the accident and coma damaged the “English language circuit” of the brain and the learned “Mandarin language circuit” became fully engaged as he woke up.
This theory of separate language circuits in the brain can also explain multilingual skills of many of us. We can speak fluently in different languages and in different dialects without thinking. Fluency in multiple languages comes naturally.
Linguistic memory and fluency are what the mind retains through study or through hearing and picking up sounds and meanings in a foreign language environment.
The “language circuits” are formed through study and hearing, conscious and subconscious formation of memory of pronunciation, word order, meaning, reference, and conscious and subconscious manipulation of such bits of information provides the basis for fluency.
These circuits are virtual. They are not hardwired in the brain. This virtual nature of language circuits would then explain the temporary loss of the ability to speak English in the case of the Australian young man.
In Alzheimer’s cases, the loss of the ability of verbal association and memory retention indicate a regressive degeneration of memory retention. The virtual but relatively permanent memory fades away as Alzheimer’s progresses.
In reincarnation cases, the child possesses a temporary memory of past life experiences. One explanation is that the “soul” of the deceased can retain the experiences in memory and this memory can manifest itself in childhood.
Children who claim to be reincarnated make such a claim based on the retained memory of a previous life.
This seems to indicate that personal identity, personal experience, personal knowledge as well as physical skills can be retained through reincarnation.
This is different from trans-generational genetic transmission of skills which does not involve provable “memory retention”. An example of this is trans-generational musical talent and musicianship within a family. The musical environment would also nurture such talent in the offspring.
However, in the case of the reincarnation of Ann Frank as Barbro Karlen of Sweden, the writing talent seems to have been “reincarnated”.
This would also indicate that the “soul” might be a non-physical electromagnetic and optical holograph or a holographic entity that can retain information.
We know that information can be transmitted by all forms of visible and measurable energy such as light including all visible light and infrared, ultraviolet light, and acoustical waveforms such as ultrasound, sonar, etc. Black does not seem to be able to carry information.
In dreams, we “see”, and dream images have visible contrast, and some have color. Dreams are mental or virtual images. They are essentially holographic.
It has been demonstrated that electrodes delivering 40 volts to the frontal lobe during REM sleep can stimulate lucid dreaming and the brain’s electrical activity changes. Lucid dreams which are holographic images can therefore be induced by electrical current to the frontal lobe. Lucid dreams are those which one can remember and recall after waking up.
Many people can recall dreams decades later. Human memory seems to be able to retain such dreamt information even though the dreamt information was “unreal” and induced by electrical stimulation or by mental will.
The retention of such “unreal” information seems to indicate a retention of holographic memory within our mind.
Experience is retained as two-dimensional memory like the images of a movie projected onto a wide screen in a conventional movie house. Physical skill is retained as holographic memory which involves three dimentional movement.
Childhood memories of past life experience would then pertain to a two-dimensional memory. Physical skills transmitted either trans-generationally or through reincarnation would be three-dimensional memory.
We know that a holograph can be viewed from different angles, and from certain viewpoints, only one dimension is visible, somtimes two dimensions are visible and sometimes three dimensions are all visible.
Permanency of the language circuits and of motor skills such as driving are retained by virtual circuitry in the brain. In order for memory and acquired skills of a person who had died to be reincarnated, they would have to be virtual two-dimensional memory or three-dimensional memory, i.e., motor skills in three-dimensional space.
One observation here is about timeline. In childhood memories of reincarnation, the child seems to be claiming his or her past life “in the present”. The child seems to indicate a parallel timeline of “being a past life in the present.” In the reincarnation cases in India, the children have been quoted as saying, I am not your son or daughter. I am the husband or wife or mother of so-and-so in the other village.
This would indicate that timelines can be parallel, and that time is an intangible dimension that can be continuous through reincarnation or discontinuous in most cases. It seems to be continuous only in cases of reincarnation. The cases of reincarnation in India seem also to indicate that the reincarnated memory of the child emerges as reversed in the child’s current life.
Post traumatic stress syndrome in reincarnation
A common characteristic of reincarnated children who remember their past life and their traumatic death in their previous life is post traumatic stress syndrome.
In past life regression, those who recall their traumatic deaths seem to harbor a consciously unexplained post traumatic stress syndrome, such as being burned at the stake after being accused as a witch in the middle ages, the death of a WWI soldier who reincarnated, the WWII pilot who reincarnated, and young men murdered in their previous lives and reincarnated, the Indian girl who remembered her own drowning, the Israeli border patrol guard’s death being recalled by a boy, etc.
This may indicate that emotional and physical trauma in a previous life is retained through reincarnation, and the reincarnated children who remember their past lives and their deaths exhibit post traumatic stress syndrome related to such trauma, often a violent death, in their previous lives.
The traumatic experience is retained as an emotional imprint on the psyche at the moment of death. This imprint is kept intact through reincarnation.
In some cases, the trauma is manifested physically as a peculiar birth mark, and in some cases, the birth mark fades as the child’s past life memories fade. In other cases, the birth mark remains through adulthood.
The retained trauma has mostly been intense fear and pain felt at the moment of death in the previous life.
Other reincarnation cases indicate that learned skills and language are also retained through reincarnation. One example is the man who, under hypnosis, wrote Egyptian hieroglyphs.
The retained traumatic emotions, learned skills and knowledge as well as language of one’s previous lives are mental imprints. They can be described as holographic memories and are carried through reincarnation.
The case of Uttara Huddar of Nagpur, India, seems to be a good example of holographic retention and possession.
At age 32, Uttara Huddar took on the personality of Sharada and spoke only an ancient form of Bengali used 150 years ago. Sharada is described as a “discarnate personality”.
To me, this may be a “possession” by Sharada’s holographic language skill and holographic personality.
Since it is recorded as a case of “personality possession” of an adult aged 32, the “personality” of Sharada seems to have willfully chosen Uttara Huddar, a highly educated adult to manifest itself.
Old lady remembered her three past lifetimes
In the village of Peigou in Shilou county in Shanxi province lived an old country woman named Niu Wenqi who was born on the third day of the second month of the lunar calendar in 1916, and died on the 29th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar in 2012, at age 96. She was interviewed in 2010 by Chang Dalin, chief editor of Guang Ming Daily News [*] when she was 93 years old.
[*] Guang Ming Daily News is a Hong Kong pro-Communist newspaper that had been using classical Chinese characters, and the interviewer, being a modern editor in Hong Kong, would be more familiar with classical Chinese characters [**] than with the simplified characters used on the Chinese mainland. Classical Chinese characters [**] are used both in Hong Kong and on Taiwan.
Old lady Niu Wenqi did not have any education in this lifetime. But, she was able to recite lengthy poems and was able to write classical Chinese characters[**].
[**] In 1956, Chinese Communist authorities implemented the simplified Chinese character writing system and the pinyin system. Since then, Chinese mainland students were not taught to write in classical Chinese characters.
Old lady Niu Wenqi also did not speak Mandarin. She spoke her village dialect. Her grandson who was 15 years old in 2010, thus born in 1995, speaks Mandarin so he acted as interpreter for grandma Niu Wenqi and the interviewer who speaks Mandarin. Surprisingly, the old lady was able to communicate with the interviewer very easily by writing classical Chinese [**].
According to old lady Niu Wenqi, she had not had any education in this lifetime. Her ability to write classical Chinese characters, her ability to recite lengthy classical Chinese poems in both Xian and Henan dialects all come from her previous lives when she studied and scored the highest in the imperial exam in 1660 and was awarded the title “Zhuang Yuan”, and assigned a government post. In 1660, she won the title of “Literary Zhuang Yuan” and a Fan Wubing won the title of “Military Zhuang Yuan”. “Zhuang yuan” is the title given to the person who scored the highest in the imperial exam.
Old lady Niu Wenqi began telling stories of her three past lives when she was 8 years old (1924). She said that her first life was that of a man named Zhou Gui-tsai, a horse and mule trader who died at the age of 37. He was from Yanta village in Xian city in Shaanxi province [no dates were given].
Her second life was that of a daughter named Yeh Wenguo of the Yeh family of a court official named Yeh of ancient Loyang in Henan province. She disguised herself as a man and took the imperial court exam at age 29 (1660), scored the highest in the exam, and was assigned an official post in Xining, Qinghai province. [She would have been 29 years old in 1660]. She died of typhoid fever [no date given].
In this life, she said she reincarnated into a farm family in Huangshiyu village in Shilou county in Shanxi province. She was married into a farm family in Peigou village about 5 li away. She had never had any education in this third life, but she was able to recite lengthy classical poems and write in classical Chinese characters. This was because, according to her, she still remembered her studies and retained the skills she acquired in her previous life as a “Literary Zhuang Yuan”.
She also built a Henan style stove by hand, a one of a kind stove in Huangshiyu village where she lived.
Renowned Chinese Buddhist scholar Nan Huaijin said in his “Seven days of Southern Zen” lecture that the “spirit enters the womb, resides in the womb, and emerges from the womb”. The spirit may choose to enter a particular womb, and the spirit would remain inside the womb for nine months as if imprisoned, and would emerge nine months later, after all life memories have been wiped clean and washed away. Only spirits that “take over the bodies of a recently deceased baby” [***] would be able to retain their past life memories.
[***] The Buddhist term for “taking over the bodies of a recently deceased baby” is “duo she”, literally meaning
“seizing and taking over the shack or house”. There have been reported cases of reincarnating spirits taking over the bodies of dying babies and dying adults and emerging as a new healthy baby or adult with an entirely different personality and linguistic skill sets.
Old lady Niu Wenqi also said that her present third life was only supposed to last for 25 years but she dedicated her current life to building a shrine to Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, and she was able to see her shrine completed when she was 88 years old in 2004.
The ability of old lady Niu Wenqi to write classical Chinese characters without having had any education, her ability to speak the Xian and Henan dialects without having been there in her current life, and her ability to recite lengthy classical poems without having had any education, are, to the modern interviewer, unexplainable except for reincarnation and the retention of learned skills through reincarnation.
In the province of Shanxi, there is a 30-year-old woman named Ze Guo’e who claimed to be a man in her previous life with a son. The son is now 40 years old, but he calls the 30-year-old woman named Ze “Dad”.
[Master Chen says]
Buddhist scholar Nan Huaijin described the reincarnation process and the loss of memory of our previous lives as going through the process of “entering the womb”, “residing in the womb” and “emerging from the womb”, like a fly flying into an electric fan and being tumbled around and then emerging. What he had described is the reincarnating process of “reconstitution of the reincarnating spirit in bardo through the 7×7=49 ‘days’ in bardo or the multiple 7-year cycle on earth” which Buddhist Master Hsing Yun had explained. I prefer his explanation of the multiple 7-‘day’ cycles of the reincarnating soul in bardo.