By Life Positive December 2002 Having accidentally encountered past lives and reincarnation, Dr Brian Weiss took time to accept what came to pass. He went on to research many such mystical and religious ideas, turning him into a doctor who has got enlightened. An interview with the author of bestselling books such as Many Lives, Many Masters, excerpted from Voices of Truth (Full Circle) Treating patients by guiding them through recollections of their previous lives is just about the last thing Dr Brian Weiss thought he would be doing. A prominent South Florida psychiatrist, before the age of 35 he was the first Chief of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center, and a professor at the University of Miami’s medical school. He was publishing papers and becoming a nationally recognised expert on psychopharmacology and considered himself the kind of guy who rarely gave much thought to anything mystical, philosophical or spiritual. One patient changed all that. Weiss calls her Catherine in his first best-selling book, Many Lives, Many Masters (1988), eight years after he began treating the young woman. He had been using routine psychotherapy to treat her and after 18 months with little improvement, Weiss finally put it very simply to her one day while she was under hypnosis: ‘Go back to the time from which your symptoms arise.’ She did. Back to the year 1863 BC when she was a 25-year-old named Aronda. Since treating Catherine, he has researched reincarnation, Eastern religions, mysticism, quantum physics, intuition and everything in between. He exudes an air of wise counsel, but does not come across as some kind of guru. Much to his surprise, Weiss’s work has been taken seriously by many in the medical community. Shortly after his first book was published, the former president of the Dade County Psychological Association said: ‘Those of us who do hypnosis are not all that shocked by Dr Weiss’s book. Many have had patients who have gone back to something-I’m not prepared to say it was a previous life. I think we are very interested and very afraid to talk about it…’ Weiss says his work on past life therapy has helped not only his patients and readers, it has also helped him. It has led him to explore a great body of knowledge, and to look inward as well. The following has been excerpted from Nina Diamond’s Voices of Truth-Conversations with Scientists, Thinkers and Healers. Are we just vessels that hold the soul?Dr Brian Weiss: Yes, exactly. We are vessels, and we contain this eternal and immortal, much more knowledgeable part of ourselves. Now, probably as you get more mystical you find out that these souls, as well as the bodies, are connected to everyone else’s, because really everything is of the same substance. Why do people find reincarnation a difficult concept to accept? People fear the unfamiliar. If only they would keep an open mind. Not just scientists, but everybody. Just observe it, watch it. Meditation can teach people to do that. If they can let go of their fears. Philosophers and mystics once incorporated reincarnation into their explanations of life, and Plato wrote about soulmates. Yes, Plato wrote about reincarnation. So, the Greeks believed in this too. And so did ancient civilizations. Reincarnation is in all religions. Where did this knowledge come from? It comes from so far back that we don’t even know where it comes from. We only lost it recently. I think we lost it for political reasons. In Judaism, belief in reincarnation or gilgul is not just ancient, but existed until early in the 1800s, and it was only with the migration out of Eastern Europe to the West, and the Age of Enlightenment and science, and the need to be accepted, that the belief went underground. But not in the Chassidic (Ultra-Orthodox) populations. They still believe in reincarnation. In Christianity it went underground much earlier, in the 6th century at the Second Council of Constantinople where reincarnation was officially declared a heresy. Christianity was becoming a state religion, and the Romans felt that without the whip of Judgement Day people wouldn’t behave, they wouldn’t follow. They would think: ‘Well, I’ll do it next time around.’ And so reincarnation was consciously made a heresy. But this was at the Council, centuries after Jesus. How is the time period between lifetimes determined? People who die violently, or children who die, often come back faster. And people who live longer lives, and die more peacefully, there can be a much longer time between lives, a hundred years or more. How many past lives do people generally have? That varies, but the numbers that come up most (in my work) is about 100. Not the thousands and thousands that the Buddhists talk about. Is there a finite number of souls? To me it doesn’t matter because ultimately we’re all connected. Are new souls being created? I’m not sure, but my inclination is to say no. We’re probably all ageless and have been (around from the beginning). Are families more spiritually connected from life to life than strangers are? Yes, and I do think that people come in groups for the working out of debts and responsibilities, the concept of karma. These are the people that we’re learning and growing with. I even put love at first sight, or hostility at first sight into that category, a recognition of souls. I know the old saying: blood is thicker than water. Well, I mention in Through Time into Healing that spirit seems thicker than blood. So people can be male in one lifetime and female in another, and vice versa? Yes, there seems to be frequent switching. You may have a preference, but you’ve tried out the other to see what it’s like. This is also true of races and religions. How do you explain souls that occupy bodies that are biologically damaged? If this is all to learn-and this is what my patients keep telling me-to grow, to become more and more Godlike, then whatever experience you have is a learning experience. Sometimes, though, it’s a teaching experience as well, so you may come back into this for others, maybe as an act of charity. How do pre-determination and free will co-exist? Someone told me this once: Life is like being on a bus. It has a certain pre-determined route. But the person you sit next to, how you act, what you say, that’s all the free will part. Why don’t we automatically, consciously remember our past lives? For one, more and more people are remembering. Through therapeutic techniques such as hypnosis, but also through dreams, spontaneously, through meditation, déjà vu. When they’re in a place they have never been before and they know their way around. This may be an evolutionary shift. I don’t know why we don’t all remember. The Greeks had a myth that when you were born again you drank from the River of Lethe, so you would forget your previous lives. So you think some of us are born with certain values and ideals? Yes, that’s the whole purpose. That it gets ingrained at a deeper level. At the level of the heart and the soul-where the real learning takes place so that you’re not dependent just on what your parents teach you. If one’s parents were bigots, and the child is able to overcome that, this is a degree of independence that transcends what we’re taught. This is your soul saying: ‘You know it’s not right to be a bigot, despite what your parents, what the church or temple is telling you. You know better. Follow your heart.’ And when you’re doing that, you’ve really learnt it. This is the soul memory. When we’re ‘out there’, will we be with all the people we knew here? I think so, and even with those who are still here. The vision is better coming from the other direction. They’re aware of more because they are not limited by a body and the brain. But we are. What’s the state of reincarnation research today? There are physicians doing this. Raymond Moody, the psychiatrist who coined the phrase Near Death Experience, is now writing about his research with past life therapy. Then there’s the Association of Past Life Reaserch and Therapy (APRT). They publish a journal. It’s a mixed group, so it’s hard to characterize them as representative of the scientific community. How can reincarnation be validated? Do you look for supporting information? It’s difficult to prove reincarnation scientifically because of what we consider scientific. As a psychiatrist I’m interested in my patients’ clinical improvement, in their welfare, so I look at two levels: of therapy and helping people, and then the other level, that of validating, or proving. Both are vital. But I function more these days at the therapeutic level. There’s no question in my mind, or in the minds of all of these physicians and psychotherapists who are writing to me, that this has a therapeutic effect. It’s quick, it’s vivid, it’s relatively inexpensive, and people get better. Physicists are now researching how one subatomic particle/wave in one location senses instantaneously what’s happening to another one. Is it similar to psychic phenomena? Yes, and physicists have proof that these particles exist, that they travel at the speed of light, and time is relative, and can stop. It’s just that we have difficulty in letting go (of our old concepts). If I told you that you’re really, physically, a mass of electrons, protons and neutrons and energy, and wave/particle phenomena, you would say, ‘but I’m solid’, and I would say, ‘yes, but that’s not really true, because at a deeper level you’re energy’. Scientists talk abo
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