Author: John Taylor
Past Life Regression Therapy (PLRT) may, in simplicity, be defined as the alleged journeying into one’s past lives under hypnosis.
“In essence Past Life Regression Therapy involves the use of hypnosis and the hypnotic trance to assist the subject in moving their mind back through time to a point before they were born. On reaching the point the hypnotherapist may then carry out a question and answer session with the subject drawing from them the impressions that they are forming in this (putative) time before birth.” – School of Natural Health
The hypnotherapist will attempt to enable a client to access a past life by either re-living the events or, ‘floating above’ the events and viewing it (this has been compared to watching your previous life histories on video camera).
Although the belief in a history of past lives is certainly not a new concept, particularly to followers of many eastern religions, the application of past life regression for therapeutic purposes is a relatively new phenomena:
“Many Hindus believe in reincarnation but for them it is an intellectual belief, part of their religion. Its use as a therapeutic tool is virtually unknown.” – Weiss, p.86.
“The therapist of today was once known as a priest or shaman. Perhaps in the future, such healers will be known as ‘soul doctors’.” – Bolduc.
Also in its history we discover connections between PLRT and both Freud and Jung. Freud and Jung are now known as two of the fathers of psychology, the science of the mind. However their views are opposed to Scripture and are derived from the Occult.
“Past life regression was first used as a therapeutic tool by a French doctor in Paris in the 1890’s called Pierre Janet. The famous psychologist Sigmund Freud and Dr. Janet at one time collaborated by experimenting on past life regression. The subject was for sixty years regarded as taboo because it was thought to be unbelievable at best something approaching occult philosophy or worse.” – Knight
“Deeper yet in the psyche, according to Jung hidden beneath the layers of the personal unconscious, are other layers that have been formed over the millennia and in every member of our species. Here, Jung says, lies the deposited residue of the experience of pre human evolutionary forms. Images retained in the human psyche from our long, uphill, evolutionary struggle.” – School of Natural Health.
Why do people use PLRT?
Many will have heard in the news of someone claiming to be King Arthur or Joan of Arc,in a previous life. Some will dismiss this as the latest fad, psycho- spiritual fashion, or an over active imagination regarding popular historical figures. Whether we dismiss it as nonsense or not, the fact is many people are thrilled by the possibility of being someone famous or indeed many famous ‘someones’ in previous lives? PLRT is therefore one way to discover this. It is very user-friendly and is compatible with most religions. It has roots in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, New Age, Greek and Egyptian religious thought, Jainism and the Occult.
However, whilst the reincarnation of Hinduism could be viewed as fatalistic, PLRT supposedly provides liberation instead of torment. Both reincarnation and PLRT may argue that this life is a product of a succession of previous lives but PLRT enables the participant to become a more active agent in determining their immediate circumstances. The subject feels empowered to improve this life and the next one. Again both concepts consider it necessary to regress to past lives to uncover the present, yet PLRT places a greater emphasis on future lives. Skilled hypnotherapists claim they can progress their clients into future lives also!
Who is likely to seek the assistance of a Past Life Therapist?
PLRT is used to treat, among others, those with physical complaints, fears, phobias, compulsive behaviour patterns, weight loss, bulimia, anorexia, obsessions, jealous behaviour, addictions to narcotics, drugs or alcohol. It can be used on its own or alongside other therapies for most things.
PLRT isn’t limited to people with physical or psychological problems. Some people are just curious. The prospect of accessing one’s past lives can appear intriguing or adventurous. Also those seeking the competitive edge in business may deem it worthwhile if it can help them achieve results.
The costs involved can restrict those to whom PLRT is accessible. A quick search of the internet revealed that anything between £50 -£100 per hour appears to be the going rate for therapy. Additionally the therapist many attempt to regress the patient through numerous past lives going back centuries or even millennia. Furthermore if the past life history has been exhausted the therapist can guide the client to investigate future lives!
How does it work?
Before we can answer the question, “Does it work?” , we need to understand how PLRT is supposed to work. Say for example that a person has a fear of heights and is also suspicious that their spouse is having an affair, then they might seek therapy for those issues. The dutiful husband goes to a PLR therapist and whilst uncovering two past lives he discovers in the first one he was pushed off a ladder. The therapist explains to him that his fear of heights results from that incident and, in order to deal with the fear, may choose to progress him into a future life where heights aren’t an issue and he is working on a construction site and has no concerns that any of his colleagues will attempt to harm him. On the therapist’s advice the client seeks the help of a sympathetic rock climbing instructor; he embarks on a climbing course and maintains a healthy fear of heights but is free from the paranoia of using ladders!
The therapist then takes the client back into another past life where his current wife was also his wife at that time. She was raped in her past life but was unable to explain that to her husband, due to the trauma involved. She felt guilty even though it was not her fault and hence her husband is now suspicious of her whereabouts. Nevertheless, she is now still fiercely loyal to her husband and his over protective manner is causing her resentment. When the husband believes the above to be the cause of the problem he has an increased love and devotion for his wife and is not constantly looking over his shoulder. Case closed and problem solved?
Does it work?
Interestingly, most past life recall experiences occur in India or South America, where reincarnation is fully accepted. Arguably the greatest predictor of whether a subject would have a past life memory whilst under PLR is whether they believe in reincarnation. From a rationalist perspective those who are more open to suggestion even, if the treatment itself is nothing more than a placebo effect, are likely to improve their condition. Feeling more positive about a given situation will probably trigger constructive behavioural patterns and the person involved sees a noticeable improvement.
Another argument for the proof for PLR is the testimony of young children. The testifier claims to be able to recall past life histories of their relatives that are now deceased, that they couldn’t possibly have known. However, the testimonies are usually from those under ten years of age, often under five and while this may appear to be initially impressive, it should be noted that those giving evidence rarely relate similar experiences on reaching maturity. Not surprisingly, in a court of law, if a witness was exceptionally young, their age would be a determining factor concerning the validity of their report for various reasons! Young children have more imaginary friends than grown adults.
The population structure also appears to be at odds with the concept of everyone living a succession of lives. The world population has exploded since around 1900 and is ever increasing. Surely if the same people were being reborn again and again the global population would have stabilised long ago? Also if we appear as other humans or even animals, how is it that animals that have become extinct never re-emerge?
Not all PLR therapists concern themselves with objective truth maintaining that the end justifies the means. In other words a past life regression under hypnosis might not be real but if the client is freed from their addiction that is acceptable.
“Even if people could gain from exploring ‘past lives’ little evidence exists to support using hypnotic regression to do so. Many hypnotists can place subjects under hypnosis and get them to recall apparent memories from the past, often with great detail and emotion. The hard part comes in trying to verify that these ‘memories’ are events that actually happened. In many cases the subject has appeared to remember a life from ancient times, so determining whether it actually occurred is impossible.” – Dr Jim Tucker.
PLR could be imagination, confabulations or induced false memories similar to stressful situations such as near death experiences or déjà vu. Finally where can the solution for justice be found and how can Karmic justice be reconciled with the Hindu morality of non-violence? When Biblical proof refutes reincarnation why is it often ignored?
Past Life Regression and the Bible
When John wrote his epistles between AD 80-89, Gnostic heresies were prevalent, including the belief in reincarnation. Hence he wrote:
“Beloved do not believe every spirit but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.” – 1 John 4:1-2.
The Gnostics thought they had uncovered deeper, secretive knowledge and they denied that Jesus the Messiah was fully human, whilst fully God. In particular
“[Stoic philosophers] understood the soul to be corporeal and at death somehow absorbed into this blurry ‘God’. All the major Eastern religions and certain seemingly Western offshoots have at the bottom line a similar theology, there is no transcendent God who created and rules the universe independently of human beings and their imaginings.” – Stern, p.288.
In addition the Early Church Fathers, including Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Tertullian, refuted reincarnation despite the fact that reincarnation was taught by some Gnostics and Neo-Platonists.
Interestingly, some Past Life Progression Therapists argue that the Bible actually supports reincarnation! They do this by taking selected verses out of the context of the passage in which it is found and of Scripture as a whole. The same methods of incorrectly interpreting Scripture are used by various cults and religions to espouse their beliefs. When interpreting Scripture, if the plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense. Also, Scripture is the best commentary on Scripture; often difficult passages can be explained by reading another passage of Scripture which comments and expounds on the meaning of the original text you were reading. Let’s have a look at a few examples of the Scriptures they seek to use.
Matthew 11:14 & 17:11-13
These verses are used to argue that John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elijah. However other scriptures demonstrate that this is clearly not the case. Dr Paul R Eddy writes
“Several factors serve to show that Jesus was not claiming that John was the reincarnation of Elijah. First and most importantly, John was asked this very question, and his answer was an emphatic ‘no’! (John 1:21). Secondly the Bible explains the way in which John was connected to Elijah. Zacharias was told by the angel Gabriel that John his son would move in ‘the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luke 1:17) Here we see an example of typology commonly found in the Bible. John is portrayed as a ‘type’ of Elijah, one who functions much the way the prophet did in his own day.”
Notice also Elijah preceded Elisha who received a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. (1 Kings 2:9-11) John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus “whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” (John 1:27)
“Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was I AM.’”
Past Life Regression Therapists will attempt to use this verse as a case for both reincarnation and the elevation of human beings to the level of God. But what does Isaiah 45:5 say?
“I am the Lord and there is no other; There is no God besides Me.” (See also Isaiah 44:6 and 46:9)
“John 8v58 cannot be interpreted to mean that all human beings have an ‘I AM presence.’ In this verse, Jesus implicitly and uniquely ascribed the divine name Yahweh to himself. The backdrop of this is that I AM and Yahweh are equated in Exodus 3:14-15. Jesus was here equating himself with the God Almighty as God revealed Himself in Exodus 3.” – Geisler & Rhodes, p.174.
Dr Brian Weiss in his book Same Soul, Same Bodies contends:
“The Old Testament says that the sins of the father are visited on the children into the third and fourth generation, that we are being affected negatively by what our fathers did before us. But we are our fathers, just as we will be our children. The sins of our own past will haunt our presence until we can understand them and earn absolution.” – p.55.
Is the above statement true in its entirety? What happened to God’s grace so we don’t have to earn our salvation? What did Ezekiel write about the son bearing the guilt of the father?
“The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” – Ezekiel 18:20.
The Bible teaches that the rainbow was set as a sign between God and the earth and that never again shall the whole earth be flooded (Gen 9:8-17); yet New Agers have adopted the rainbow as one of their symbols. Similarly other names or symbols have had their meanings altered by Past Life Regression Therapists. For example:
“We must first understand what kinds of information are available to us at each level of the Tree of Life. These levels of the subconscious can be used to explore any issue, relationship or ability- positive or negative-that may have had its origin or pattern established in a past life.” – Andrews, p.97.
According to the Bible no-one has had access to the Tree of Life yet!
There are also some specific Bible verses that deny the possibility of Past Life Regression.
2 Sam 12:23 – “But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
Job 7:9-10 “As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, so he who goes down to the grave does not come up. He shall never return to his house, nor shall his place know him anymore.”
Psalm 78:39 “For he remembered that they were but flesh. A breath that passes away and does not come back again.”
Ecc 12:6-7 “Remember your creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain or the wheel broken at the well. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”
2 Cor 5:1 “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Hebrews 9:27-28 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
How can we reach out, effectively, to those involved with PLRT? Certainly not by wading in with a dozen Bible references condemning PLRT. Before we let the other person have their say it is likely that they won’t be receptive to what we have to say! If you force someone into a corner, invariably they will fight against you rather than reason with you. Initially ask non-offensive open questions to understand why the person believes they need Past Life Regression Therapy. Once the discussion has become a two-way process ask them the following questions.
If we are eternal beings then why is there still so much suffering in the present when we have been granted ample time to pay off our karmic debts? If we have existed previously for aeons what guarantee is there that the future will be any brighter in view of the current state of the world?
Does PLRT actually work given that some therapists readily admit that certain experiences of Past Life Regression under hypnosis aren’t actually real?
Why don’t countries that have held the belief in reincarnation for centuries utilise Past Life Regression for their benefit?
Who is the authority that decides whether we have paid our Karmic debts and what form we will manifest in the next life?
If PLRT was scrutinised under a court hearing using objective evidence would there be sufficient proof to justify its claim as a reasonable form of therapy?
These questions are not proposed to conclusively win an argument but to point out the inconsistencies in the worldviews of those in favour of PLRT.
When explaining to the Reincarnationist what you believe, if you use ‘theological terms’, explain exactly what you mean. For example being born again will mean completely different things to the Christian and to the Reincarnationist. One will understand it as relating to their salvation while the other will think you are referring to reincarnation!
Move on to tell them that the Christian is saved by grace not through endless works. Explain what grace is. God’s Redeeming Act at Christ’s Expense.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9.
Ask them why they pay money for therapy when there is a free invitation to abundant life?
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat. Yes, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.” – Isaiah 55:1.
“Salvation is a free gift to us from God which must be accepted, not achieved. Jesus bought our salvation by taking all our sin upon himself on the cross, dying as a sacrifice for us, and then rising from the dead three days later. Salvation begins the moment we accept Jesus and continues for ever, even after death.” – AMG, p.206.
Explain that Christ’s death was sufficient for all our sins past, present and future.
”And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:11-14.
Past Life Regression Therapy The School of Natural Health www.naturalhealthcourses.com
Dr Brian Weiss Same Soul, Many Bodies Weiss Family Limited Partnership 2004
Geoffrey Knight http://newconnexion.net/articles/index.cfm/2001/09/gknight.html
Past Life Regression Therapy: Reflections in the face of time by Henry Leo Bolduc & Majorie V. Ryenolds www.creativespirit.net/henrybolduc
Dr Jim B. Tucker Life Before Life: A scientific investigation of Children’s Memories of Previous Lives
David H. Stern Jewish New Testament Commentary Jewish New Testament Publications Inc (1992)
Dr Paul R. Eddy Reincarnation and the Bible http://www.dwaddle.com/focus/Pages/reincarnation.html
Norman L. Geisler & Ron Rhodes Correcting the Cults Baker Books (2005)
Ted Andrews How to: Uncover your past lives Llewellyn Publications (2004)
AMG’S Encyclopedia of World Religions, Cults & the Occult Compiled by Mark Water AMG Publishers (2006)