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Reincarnation/how to refute this counter argument on past life memory?


many people who strongly reject the doctrine of reincarnation hold the idea that the people who claim to have past life memory are actually possessed by evil spirits and their memories were actually implanted by the spirits.most people who hold this idea are Christian fundamentalists because the doctrine of reincarnation seem contradict to their doctrine of salvation.many spiritualist keep this idea too because they practice talking to the spirits of the dead. if reincarnation is real and dead people don't stay in spiritual world forever,it could mean that their religion is fake.I even saw a person on yahoo who don't believe in immortal soul nor afterlife (but believe in God and spiritual being)also hold a idea that the memories don't belong the people but belong to the spirits that possess the people.can this theory be the alternative explanation for past life memory? how to refute this anti-reincarnation argument?

Hi Robbie,

It is black-and-white thinking, or polarized consciousness, which is the real troublemaker in this kind of confusion. Fundamentalists, by definition, tend to be polarized in their consciousness. Fundamentalist religion selects for people with this outlook. One needs to simply understand the polarized state in order to have the touchstone to answer all these dilemmas.

The trick is, there is Truth in all teachings. Whether we can see the whole truth or not, parts of it are in *this* argument, and parts of it are in *that* argument. I think I have given you the story of the blind men and the elephant twice before, correct? That is the root answer here, as well. Fundamentalists cannot see the wisdom in this parable. "My way or the highway" is their attitude.

So, it does, in fact, sometimes happen that an attached spirit creates what subjectively seem to be past-life memories. However, to assign *all* past-life memories to attaching spirits is reductionistic. It is to say that all past-life memories are *merely* influence from spirits. Any time someone implies "merely" in this reductionistic sense, it's a red flag.

An objective person, with a scientific approach, takes note of the question, "To what extent are past-life memories genuine, vs. to what extent are they created by attaching spirits?" He then attempts to tease out the distinction with theories, observations and tests.

Fundamentalists, however, assume an infallible source of knowledge--the written scriptures, *as they interpret them*. If this supposedly infallible source says past-life memories are all bogus, they must, to remain loyal, twist their logic to accommodate. That's all. Their loyalty is making them irrational. Loyalty is a good quality. There is truth in it. Do you see? Truth expresses itself in loyalty, so the fundamentalists have hold of this part of the elephant, as it were. The skeptics are loyal to logic; the fundamentalists are loyal to scripture. Both are expressing loyalty, and to that extent, they are both touching part of the same elephant.

Truth can be found within logic; truth can be found within scripture. Logic can be distorted; scripture can be distorted. When distorted logic clashes with distorted scripture, you have a fight! But both are remaining loyal to the glimpse of truth they have had through each route.

One must rise above the polarized consciousness of the world in order to understand these conundrums. Your question itself, "How to refute...," in a sense, is itself coming from a polarized place. It should properly be, "How can I see the truth in both sides of this argument?"

To answer your question, it is patently absurd that this explanation "explains away" past-life memory. This is easily distinguished by an honest investigator. Real past-life memory is deeply integral to the karmic patterns of the person concerned. Overlaid memory from spirits is memory that tells the "spirit's" story, as it were, and does not dovetail with the deeper, broader story of the person himself. I do not actually know of cases of spirits maliciously faking memories to fool a person into believing in reincarnation. They have their own memories, which are sensed and mistaken for one's own memories, is more like it.

Besides, once you believe in spirits, why not believe people can reincarnate? What's the big deal, anyway? The only reason it is so distasteful is that over thousands of years, scripture got distorted so that reincarnation was taken out of it. Trying to prove this to fundamentalists is another matter. Because they are (admirably) loyal to a scripture which has been adulterated, they are very defensive on this point. It's understandable. It's like telling someone their sister has been compromised. Try doing that, even if it's true, and avoid getting punched in the nose! You have to cut them some slack--it's a very awkward situation for them.



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Stephen Sakellarios


I can answer questions about reincarnation (from both Eastern and Western perspectives) and life after death, and how these topics relate to religion and spirituality.


I produced a documentary entitled "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America" which aired on PBS station KBDI in Denver, CO, Jan. 2003
I have a masters in counseling from FSU, and over thirty years' study of Eastern mysticism from carefully selected sources, plus eight years' study of contemporary Western reincarnation studies. I've published nine related articles online and in print. I offer an online class on the subject and maintain an extensive educational website at, as well as giving talks and radio interviews (archived on the website).

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