I’m now about a week deep in year two of the Nowhere To Be Project and the second year of early retirement. Most days are inordinately occupied even when I’m not traveling. It is amazing how busy one can become while “doing nothing” in particular. Last evening I had the pleasure of attending a seminar offered by the Vail Symposium. The event featured Child Psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Jim B. Tucker, M.D. For the past twenty years, the focus of his research has been on children’s unprompted memories of past lives.
If I had to guess, I’d say that most people would find this topic at best nonsensical and at worst fraudulent. I, however, have a very different perspective. If you’ve read this blog before, you know that my education and career was in the field of psychology. When I attended graduate school for the first time in the early 1990’s, research on past lives was considered parapsychology. At that time, most institutes of higher education heavily frowned upon such study. Back then we were still fighting for validity in many ways within the profession. If I had a nickel for each time someone asked me if I was “reading their mind” upon learning of my focus of study, I’d be in possession of a very hefty piggy bank. Even my research interest of near-death experiences was not something that I could discuss readily for fear of the dreaded “parapsychology” label. My, how times have changed!
Dr. Tucker spent an hour at the Vail Interfaith Chapel (yes, a house of worship!) presenting details about his efforts at verifying the stories proffered by young children who claim to have lived previous lives. His time is largely spent fact-checking tales of downed fighter pilots and 1950s Hollywood players, among many others. Much of what he’s found is undeniably indicative of authenticity. In other words, there is no way that these four and five year olds could have known what they did about the lives of those they professed to be by chance and chance alone.
Interestingly, the children’s reports share some elements with near-death experiences. For example, they almost always talk of connecting with loved ones who have passed in a bright and warm place. They also speak of a prevailing sense of peace. Some of the kids even state that they had the ability to choose their current parents, while others come back within the same family.
Regardless of what you believe, it is hard to deny the research and work of a trusted and reputable scientist like Dr. Tucker. My son attended the Dr. Tucker’s talk with me and we discussed the content at length later in the evening. We definitely have more questions than answers, but we both agree that people are energy. According to the first law of thermodynamics, energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but can be transferred. So, who were you before?