I’ve been asked about my interest in reincarnation: why do I pursue it, besides simple curiosity or a passion to know? It would be sufficient to simply want to answer one of the “big questions”: does the soul, or an individual consciousness, travel from one body to the next through time? Many philosophers and scientists (and I’ll be more specific on who they are and what they said in another post) have said that reincarnation is the only “life after death” theory that makes sense; whereas the concept of Heaven, Summerland or the Fifth Dimension seems either like wish fulfillment or bizarre and unprovable theory, reincarnation seems to fit with how nature works–a sort of endless recycling and renewal of life.
My story is not impressive compared to the evidential histories of the children Ian Stevenson and others extensively interviewed and cataloged. In fact, my recollections would be tossed on the circular research file, but I think it merits discussion nonetheless. I have not identified who I might have been before, but from a very early age I exhibited odd behavior and a pathological fear of illegal drugs. The earliest recollection I have are the panic reactions I had to anything about hippies and drug use on television. I would utterly freak out if a show came on that had anything to do with marijuana or people overdosing; and this was long before I should have had any knowledge whatsoever of drugs or the lifestyle that accompanied them. My parents had a “special plant” on the balcony when I was five or so, and I knew EXACTLY what it was; I remember my anger at them for growing it. When I was nine, I went through all the drawers in the house looking for a pen when I found several fat joints hidden under some papers. Not only did I know it was marijuana, I also suddenly remembered myself in a drug-induced haze, sick and unable to function. My anger at my parents stemmed from a deep and intimate understanding of drug addiction, although they had never discussed marijuana use with me or any other issue having to do with illegal drugs.
I had a flashback at 13 or 14 while watching Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on television. I relived an episode where I was so high that I was on the verge of unconsciousness–I even knew exactly where I was when it happened–Haight Street in San Francisco. I had never tried an illegal substance of any kind at that point, and to this day, I am the only person I know who has reached the ripe old age of 44 without EVER taking an illegal drug into my system, in spite of the intense peer pressure to do so all through high school and college. I had and have a pathological and irrational fear of all drugs, which has since extended to prescription medication. I have never been able to visit the Haight Ashbury district without the unsettling feeling that I know every single side street, alley and storefront with a kind of familiarity that bothers me even now. It’s not about remembering previous visits or not liking drug-addicted kids, but the knowledge that I WAS a drug addicted kid and I might have even died near there.
This all might sound ridiculous, but even my parents remember my bizarre reactions to anything having to do with drugs since I was far too young to have any experience or knowledge of such things. I’ve had panic attacks almost my entire life that have to do with loss of consciousness and asphyxiation due to some ingested substance. I’m sure I’ve taken something that will kill me, even when logic tells me that I haven’t; I still relive what could be my previous death. Sadly, if I had a previous life, it was a very sad one and it ended miserably. The reincarnation theory is the only explanation that makes sense to me, the only concept of the soul that explains why I always felt as a child that I was remembering things that had not happened to me. For years, I would remember scenes and places that made no sense to my parents. I had emotional reactions to events and places that had nothing to do with my present experience. It’s hard to explain, but even now I can recall how it felt to be a child with “impossible” memories, knowing things I should not have known, behaving as if some other life were still influencing my identity and mind.
Dying of an overdose somewhere in San Francisco in the early 60s . . . not what I would have chosen for a life. But I’m not sure we have that choice to make. If reincarnation is a fact, then it’s not always pretty or happy . . . in fact, in my case, I’m fairly sure it was a miserable and short existence. I have the opportunity now to give that other me another chance at happiness.