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Director in Chief, Burma Buddhist World Mission

Vol. VII, No. 2, 1960

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        The doctrine of reincarnation, the ceaseless round of rebirths, is not, as many people imagine, confined to Buddhism and Hinduism. It is found in some form or another in many religious and philosophical systems and in many parts of the world.

       In the oldest records of man's religious thinking we find traces of a belief in the 'transmigration of souls'. Some of the forms it took were naturally primitive and crudely animistic; there is for instance a theory that the ancient Egyptians embalmed their dead to prevent the Ka, or soul, from taking another body. If idea existed in Egypt it almost certainly must have been familiar also to the Babylonians and Assyrians, who shared many of the most important religious beliefs of the Egyptians.

       Coming to later times we find reincarnation prominent in the Orphic cult of Greece in the 6th century B.C., when it formed part of the teaching of Pherecydes of Syros. In the Orphic view of life man is a dualism, part evil and part divine. Through a succession of incarnations the individual has to purge himself of the evil in his nature by religious rites and moral purity. When this is accomplished he becomes liberated from the 'circle of becoming' and is wholly divine.

       This corresponds very closely to the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain teaching, and there may have been a connection, between them; but it is not possible to establish one on historical evidence. Although by the 6th century B.C. the doctrine had already been developed in the Brahmanas and Upanishads, and may have travelled West along the trade routes, there is still a possibility that arose spontaneously in Greece. The emphasis on ritualism differentiates it from the Buddhist view, but it is significant that it was at about the same time in both Greece and India that the idea of reincarnation first became linked with a scheme of moral values and spiritual evolution. The connection of Orphism with the mysteries of ceremonial magic must not be allowed to blind us to the fact that it represented a great advance in religious thinking. Hitherto, reincarnation had been regarded in primitive cults as a merely mechanical process, to be controlled, if at all, by spells, incantations and physical devices. This is the idea still prevalent among undeveloped peoples in certain parts of Africa, Polynesia and elsewhere, where, far removed from Indian influences the idea of metempsychosis must have sprung up spontaneously.

        Through Orphism reincarnation came to be taught by, among others, Empedocles and Pythagoras. In the hand of the latter the Orphic mysticism was converted into a philosophy. This philosophical aspect of the teaching was inherited by the Platonists, while its mystical character was preserved in the traditions of Gnosticism.

        In many respects Greek Gnosticism resembled Hinduism; it was syncretic and eclectic, capable of absorbing into itself ideas from outside sources while at the same time it impregnated with its own thought the beliefs peculiar to other systems. Its influence was felt over many centuries, persisting into the Middle Ages of Europe. In the early centuries of the Christian era we find it in the teachings of men as dissimilar in the general character of their outlook as Plotinus, Cerinthus and Marcion.

       Clement of Alexandra about the second century C.E., wrote very largely from the Gnostic standpoint. He combined reincarnation with the necessity of striving for an enlightened moral elevation; a result that could be achieved only through a development taking place not merely in the present life but in past and future incarnations as well. This belief was shared by Pre-existiani, a sect that numbered among its adherents some of the roost advanced thinkers of the period, including Justin Martyr and the great theologian Origen. They represented a very powerful intellectual movement, one in which the natural freedom of Greek intellectualim was struggling for survival in a world that was sliding towards the Dark Ages. Many of their ideas survived in Neo-Platonism; but for the most part they were driven under ground to find an insecure refuge in the suppressed teachings of the so-called heretical sects that came to be known collectively as the Cathars, or 'Illuminati'.

        A not dissimilar doctrine of transmigration is found in the Kabbalah, where it goes under the Hebrew name Gilgul. It forms an integral part of the Kabbalistic system and is one of the features that distinguish Kabbalism from primitive Judaic thought. The Hekhaloth, a Kabbalistic work of the Gaonic era, gives Gnostic and Pythagorean ideas along with the orthodox stream of Talmudic teaching. The result may be regarded as Hellenised Judaism, but modern research on the Kabbalah tends to suggest that its original sources may be much older than has hitherto been granted. It may in fact preserve a very ancient Rabbinical tradition which was not intended for the masses. Much of its philosophical content is of a high order and reveals a creative expansion of Jewish thought in which reincarnation occupies a significant place.

        The idea of a transmigrating soul is the central theme of the Bhagavad Gita: "As the soul in this body passes through childhood, youth and old age, even so does it pass to another body. As a person casts off worn-out garments and puts on others that are new, so does the incarnate soul cast off worn out bodies and enter into others that are new" (Gita, Chapter II Vs. 13 and 22).

        Throughout the Upanishads the idea of "soul" (atman) in this sense persists; it is the totality of selfhood and personal identity which transmigrates, occupying successive bodies, becoming now a man, now a god or an animal, yet in some way preserving its uniqueness as the personal ego throughout. Because of certain difficulties attaching to this concept. however, it was somewhat modified in Vedanta, the last phase of Upanishadic thought. In its place arose the theory that the atman, as an unborn, unoriginated principle not in any way affected by the activities, good or bad, of the phenomenal being was not identical with the individual at all, but with the "Supreme soul", the Paramatman or (neuter) Brahman.

        Mahavira, the founder of Jainism (the Nigantha Nataputta of the Buddhist texts), held unequivocally to the "individual soul" theory. Jainism teaches that there are an infinite number of individual souls transmigrating in happy or unhappy states according to their deeds. But whereas in Vedanta release, or Moksha, comes with the realization that the "I " is really identical with the Pramatman or Brahman (the idea summarised in the formula "Tat tvam asi"— (Thou art that), in Jainism it is believed to come only with the complete cessation of rebirth-producing activities. Since automatic and involuntary actions are considered to bear resultants as well as those performed intentionally, the Jain ideal is complete inactivity. As will be seen later, the Buddhist doctrine concerning what it is that undergoes rebirth, and the nature of the moral law that governs Kamma and Vipaka, or actions and results, differs from both these theories and eliminates the teleological and ethical difficulties to which they give rise.

        The faith in survival after death which is basic to religious thought has its natural correlative in reincarnation. If life can extend forward in time beyond the grave it must surely be capable of having extended from the past into the present. "From the womb to the tomb" has its complement in "from the tomb to the womb", and to be born many times is no more miraculous than to have been born once, as Voltaire pointed out.

        The opposite view, that a being comes into existence from non-existence, implies that it can also—and most probably will— come to an end with the dissolution of the body. That which has a beginning in time can also cease in time and pass away altogether. The doctrine of a single life on earth therefore holds out no promise of a future life in any other state; rather does it make it improbable. But if we accept that there is survival of some part, no matter what, of the personality after death we are accepting also a very strong argument for its existence before birth. Reincarnation is the only form that after-death survival could logically take.

       So it is not surprising that wherever religion has developed beyond its simplest beginnings some idea of spiritual evolution through a series of lives is found to be a part of its message. The doctrine of reincarnation together with that of the moral law of cause and effect not only provides an explanation of life's inequalities and the crushing burden of suffering under which countless millions of people labour, thus disposing of the problem raised by the existence of pain and evil in the world; it also gives a rational and practical hope where none existed before. It is, moreover, the supreme justification of moral values in a universe which otherwise appears to be devoid of ethical purpose. It is evident that the Orphic and Gnostic cults recognised this fact when they introduced the concept of moral values into their theology.


        In all these systems of thought rebirth is seen, as it is in Buddhism, to be the only means of spiritual purgation. It is necessary for the moral and spiritual evolution of the individual that he should, through a variety of experiences, by his consciously-directed efforts struggle upwards from the lower planes of sensuality and passion to a state of purity in which his latent divinity becomes manifest. That the Cathars, the Kabbalists and others mixed up this reasoned and enlightened doctrine with the practice of what was later to become known as ritual magic, and with theories of the immortal soul that were frankly animistic, is no argument against the essential truth of their belief. Reason has to emerge slowly and painfully from unreason. It was in like manner that the true principles of science were unfolded at the time when scientific method was growing up alongside the occult practices of the astrologers and alchemists. We may smile at the alchemist's faith that he could find a means of transmuting base metals into gold, but in this age of nuclear physics the idea does not seem quite so crazy as it once did. The alteration of atomic patterns in the structure of metals is no longer entirely outside the range of possibility. The alchemist's methods may have been hopelessly wrong; his basic assumption was not. Similarly, the transformation of the base metal of human nature into the pure gold of divinity is still a possibility. It is only a question of finding the right key to unlock the doors of the mind.

        To understand how the Buddhist doctrine of rebirth differs from all of those that have been mentioned, and why the term "rebirth" is preferable to "reincarnation" or "transmigration", it is necessary to glance at the main principles of Buddhist teaching.

        These are summed up in the Four Noble Truths:

  1. The Truth concerning Suffering
  2. The Truth concerning the cause of Suffering
  3. The Truth concerning the cessation of Suffering
  4. The Truth concerning the Way to the cessation of Suffering.

        The first proposition is nothing more than a self-evident fact: that suffering is inherent in all forms of existence. No one can go through life without experiencing physical pain, sickness, disappointment and grief; none can escape old age and death. Suffering is even more prevalent in the life of animals than in that of human beings, and Buddhism takes into account all forms of sentient life. But aside from these obvious aspects of the universal world-suffering there is the fact that all conditioned existence is unstable, restless and lacking in fulfillment. It is a process of becoming which never reaches the point of completion in being. This in itself is suffering. In brief, life even at its best is unsatisfactory.

        In the formula of the Three Characteristics of Being, all phenomenal existence is defined as being impermanent, fraught with suffering, and devoid of self-essence. These three characteristics derive from one another; because existence is transitory it is painful; because it is transitary and painful it can have no enduring essence of selfhood. There is no "soul" in the sense of a total personality-entity, for what we call the self is merely a current of consciousness linked to a particular physical body. This current of consciousness is made up of thought-moments of infinitesimal duration succeeding one another in a stream of inconceivable rapidity. The psychic life of the individual is just the duration of a single moment of conscious ness, no more. We are living all the time what is in reality a series of lives. The life-stream is the rapid succession of these consciousness-moments, or momentary existences, resembling the running of a reel of film through a projector. It is this which gives the illusion of a static entity of being where nothing of the kind exists. The general characteristics of personality are maintained, but only in the same way that a river maintains the same course until some thing diverts it or it dries up. Thus there is no "immortal soul" that transmigrates just as there is no river, but only the passage of particles of water flowing in the same direction. Anatta, soullessness, is therefore bound up with Anicca, impermanence, and Dukkha, suffering. The three Characteristics are the three aspects of the same central fact.

        Yet this state of soullessness is capable of producing rebirth. How can this be so, if there is no transmigrating entity—no "soul" to reincarnate? The answer is to be found in the Buddhist system of ethico-psychology, the Abhidhamma. There it is shown that the act of willing is a creative force, which produces effects in and through the conditions of the physical world. The thought-force of a sentient being, generated by the will-to-live, the desire to enjoy sensory experiences, produces after death another being who is the causal resultant of the preceding one. Schopenhauer expressed the same idea when he said that in rebirth, which he called "Palingenesis", it is the will, not an ego-entity, which re-manifests in the new life. The being of the present is not the same as the being of the past, not will the being of the future be the same as the being of the present. Yet neither are they different beings, because they all belong to the same current of cause and effect. Each is part of an individual current of causality in which "identity" means only "belonging to the same cause- effect continuum". Since mind and body are alike continually undergoing change —or, more precisely, they are made up of constituent factors which are arising and passing away from moment to moment— this is the only kind of self-identity which connects the various stages of a single life through childhood, youth, maturity and old age. Buddhism presents a dynamic view of existence in which the life-continuum is merely the current of momentary existences, or successive units of consciousness, linked together by causal relations, both mental and physical. The process may be likened to a current of electricity, which consists of minute particles called electrons. An electron is much lighter in weight than an atom of the lightest chemical element, hydrogen, yet waves of these particles in the form of an electric current can produce many different effects in heat, light and sound, and can produce them on a tremendous scale. In the same way the units of consciousness constitute an energy-potential which in the Buddhist view is the basic energy of the universe, operating through and in conjunction with natural laws.

       So we see that mental force is a kind of energy, which Buddhism has linked with moral principles by way of Kamma, actions, and Vipaka, moral resultants. Buddhism maintains that the physical universe itself is sustained by this mental energy derived from living beings, which is identical with their Kamma. The energy itself is generated by craving. It operates upon the atomic constituents of the physical world in such a way as to produce bodies equipped with organs of sense by means of which the desire for sensory gratification, produced by past experiences, may be satisfied again. In this world the mind-force which produces rebirth has to operate through the genetic principles known to biology; it requires human generative cells and all the favourable physical conditions of heat, nutrition and so forth, to produce a foetus. When it does so, the foetus and the infant that it later becomes bear both biologically- inherited characteristics and the characteristics carried by the past Kamma of the individual whose thought-force has caused the new birth. It is not the question of a "soul" entering the embryo, but of the natural formation of the foetus being moulded by an energy from without, supplied by the causative impulse from some being that lived before. It is only necessary to conceive craving-force as an energy- potential flowing out from the mind of a being at the moment of death, and carrying with it the kammic characteristics of that being, just as the seed of a plant carries with it the botanical characteristics of its type, and a mental picture is formed that corresponds roughly to what actually takes place. Mind force is creative, and its basis is desire. Without desire there can be no will to act; consequently the "will" of Schopenhauer is identical with the Buddhist Tanha, or Craving.

       The second of the Four Noble Truth's, therefore, is that the cause of suffering in the round of rebirths is Craving. But one cause alone is not enough to give rise to a specific result. In this case, craving is con joined with ignorance. The mind generates craving for sensory experience because of ignorance of the fact that these experiences are impermanent, unsatisfactory and so themselves a source of suffering. So the circle of becoming, without discernable beginning and without end, is joined. This wheel of existences does not exist in time; time exists in it. Hence it does not require a point of beginning in what we know as time. It is the perpetuum mobile of cause and effect, counter-cause and counter-effect, turning round upon itself.

        But although, like the revolution of the planets round the sun, it goes on perpetually simply because there is nothing to stop it, it can be brought to an end by the individual of himself, through an act of will. The act of will consists in turning craving into non-craving. When this is accomplished and Nibbana, the state of desirelessness, is reached, there is no more rebirth. The life- asserting impulses are eliminated and there is no further arising of the bases of phenomenal personality. This is the objective set forth in the third of the Noble Truths; that concerning the cessation of suffering.

       The Way to that cessation, which is the Noble Eightfold Path of self-discipline and meditation leading to perfect purity and Insight-wisdom, is the subject of the last of the Four Noble Truths, and gives epistemological completeness to the whole.

        The Buddhist system of thought is thus presented as a reasoned progression from known facts to a conclusion which is ascertainable by the individual and is also accessible to him as a personally-experienced reality. The round of rebirths, or Samsara, does not come to an end automatically, neither is there any point at which all beings revolving in it gain their release by reason of its ceasing, for it has not temporal boundaries. But anyone can bring to an end his own individual current of cause and effect, and the whole purpose of the Buddha's Teaching was to demonstrate the theoretical and practical means by which this can be achieved. The painful kind of "immortality" conferred by rebirth in conditioned existences is not to be regarded as a blessing, but rather as a curse which man pronounces upon himself. Nevertheless, by understanding it we are able to gain assurance that there is in truth a moral principle governing the universe; and by learning to use its laws in the right way we become able to control and guide our individual destinies by a higher spiritual purpose and towards a more certain goal.



        Of late years interest in the doctrine of rebirth has been greatly stimulated by the publicity given to several cases of people who have remembered previous lives. For a long time past it has been known that under deep hypnosis events in very early infancy, outside the normal range of memory, could be recovered, and this technique has been increasingly employed for the treatment of personality disorders. It cannot be used with success on all patients because of the involuntary resistance some subjects show to hypnotic suggestion, which inhibits the cooperation necessary to obtain deep trance. But where it can be applied it has definite advantages over the usual methods of deep psychoanalysis, one of them being the speed with which results are obtained.

       The technique is to induce a state of hypnosis and then carry the subject back in time to a particular point in childhood or infancy at which it is suspected that some event of importance in the psychic life may have occurred. In this state, known as hypermnesia, the subject becomes in effect once more the child he was, and re-lives experiences that have long been buried in the unconscious. Memories of earliest infancy, and in some cases pre-natal memories, have been brought to the surface in this way.

       Some practitioners have carried experiments in regression even further, and have found that they were uncovering memories that did not belong to the current life of the subject at all, but to some previous existence. In cases where nothing could be proved, the rebirth explanation has been contested, and various theories such as telepathy, fantasies of the unconscious, and even clairvoyance, have been put forward to account for the phenomena. But apart from the fact that many of the alternatives offered call for the acceptance of psychic faculties which, if what is claimed for them is true, themselves bring rebirth nearer to being a comprehensible reality, none of them alone covers all the phenomena which have been brought under observation. If, for example, xenoglossy, the ability shown by some subjects under hypnosis to speak languages unknown to them in their normal state, is to be explained by telepathy we are brought face to face with a supernormal faculty of the mind which itself contributes to our understanding of the manner in which mental energy may operate processes of rebirth. But although telepathy has now been acknowledged as one of the unexplained phenomena of parapsychology, along with clairvoyance, telekinesis and psychometry, it cannot legitimately be expanded to include all the phenomena these experiments have disclosed. To account for all of them on these lines it would be necessary to combine every one of the known extra-sensory faculties into one concept, that of a freely-wandering, disembodied intelligence, independent of spatial and temporal limitations, if we are to apply here the scientific law of parsimony, the more likely alternative is the obvious one that they are simply what they purport to be— memories of previous lives.

        As to the theory that the memories are products of the unconscious mind, it cannot survive the proof to the contrary which comes from the revelation of facts that could not have been known to the subject in his present life. These are objective and circumstantial and they exist in abundance, as any reading of the literature on the subject will confirm.

        The best-known example of this kind is the case of Bridey Murphy in America, which raised a hurricane of controversy when it broke into the news a few years ago. It was followed some time later by a similar case in England in which the subject Mrs. Naomi Henry, remembered under hypnosis two previous existences. The experiments were carried out under test conditions by Mr. Henry Blythe, a professional consultant hypnotist. In the presence of several witnesses tape recordings were made of the sessions, which were held under the supervision of a medical practitioner, Dr. William C. Minifie, who testified that the hypnotic trance was genuine. It has been said of these recordings that they provide "what must surely be the most thought-provoking, absorbing and controversial angle ever offered" on the subject.

       What happened was this. Mrs. Naomi Henry, a thirty-two-years-old Exeter house wife, the mother of four children was cured of smoking habit by hypnotic treatment given by Mr. Henry Blythe, of Torquay, Devon. He found her to be "an exceptionally receptive hypnotic subject", so much that without informing her of the purpose of his experiment he began a series of sessions in which he succeeded in taking her back beyond her present life.

        Mrs. Henry remembered two previous existences. In the first she gave her name as Mary Cohan, a girl of 17 living in Cork in the year 1790. Among other circumstances she told how she was married against her wishes to a man named Charles Gaul, by whom she had two children, Pat and Will. Her husband ill-treated her, and finally caused her death by a beating which broke her leg. Whilst describing these events in the trance she was evidently re-living the intense emotional experiences of the past with the vividness of a present reality rather than of a mere memory. Intervening time had been obliterated and she was once more the illiterate Irish girl she had been over a century and a half before. Her marriage, she said, took place in St. John's Church, in a hamlet named 'Grenner'. Several of the facts at she related were afterwards verified on the spot, but no village of the name of 'Grenner' could be traced. Eventually, however, some records dating back to the 17th century were found in the possession of a parish priest, and in them mention was made of a Church of St. John in a village named Greenhalgh. The name is pronounced locally just as Mary Cohan gave it—"Grenner".

       Next she remembered a life in which she was Clarice Hellier, a nurse in charge of twenty-four children at Downham in 1902. After relating what she remembered of this life she went on to describe her last illness, her death and her funeral, which it seems she had been able to witness. She was even able to give the number of the grave, 207, in which she had been buried.

When Mrs. Henry emerged from her trance she had no recollection of what had taken place and it was only        when she heard the recording that she learned the purpose of the experiments. The authenticity of this case has been established beyond reasonable doubt.

        One of the most remarkable men of recent times, Edgar Cayce, obtained evidence of an even more striking nature. Born in Christian Country, Kentucky, in 1877, he suffered as a young man from psycho-somatic constriction of the throat which deprived him of his voice. Orthodox medical treatments having failed, he was treated by hypnotic suggestion, which was not a recognised form of therapy in those days. In deep trance his voice returned to normal and he diagnosed his own condition. Not only did he describe the physiological symptoms in terms of which he knew nothing in his waking state, but he also prescribed treatment.

        His self-cure was so remarkable that he was persuaded, rather against his will, to try prescribing for others whose illness would not respond to medical treatment. This he did with great success, using technical terms and prescribing remedies, which, as a man of only moderate education, he was quite unfamiliar with in his normal state. Some times the medicines he prescribed were conventional remedies in unusual combinations; sometimes they were substances not found in the standard pharmacopoeia. Cayce himself was puzzled and somewhat dismayed by his abnormal faculty, but since it was proving of benefit to an increasing number of sufferers he continued to use it, only refusing to take any payment for the help he rendered. He soon found that a hypnotist was unnecessary; his trances were really self-induced, and he worked thereafter solely through auto-hypnosis.

        One day while Cayce was giving a consultation a friend who was present asked him whether reincarnation was true. Still in the trance, Cayce immediately replied that it was. In answer to further question he said that many of the patients who came to him for treatment were suffering from afflictions caused by bad Kamma in previous lives. It was because of this that they resisted ordinary treatment. Asked whether he was able to see the past incarnations of his patients and describe them, he said that he could.

        When he was told what he had said in the trance, Cayce was more disturbed than before. The thing was getting decidedly out of hand. He had never heard the word "Kamma," and his only idea of reincarnation was that it was a belief associated with some "heathen" religions. His first reaction was to give the whole thing up, as being some thing supernatural and possibly inimical to his Christian faith.

        It was with great difficulty that he was persuaded to continue. However, he consented to be questioned further under hypnosis, and after having given some readings and more successful treatments he became convinced that there was nothing irreligious or harmful in the strange ideas that were being revealed. From that time onwards he supplemented all his diagnoses by readings of past Kamma of his patients. It was then found that he was able to give valuable moral and spiritual guidance to counteract bad Kammic tendencies, and his treatments became even more effective. He was now treating the minds as well as the bodies of the patients who sought his help.

        When Cayce discovered that he was able to treat people living at great distances, whom he had never seen, the scope of his work broadened until it ultimately extended all over the United States and beyond. Before he died in 1945 Cayce, with the help of friends and supporters, had established an institution, the Cayce Foundation, at Virginia Beach, Virgina. It is now operating as a research institute under the direction of his associates. Cayce left a vast number of case-histories and other records accumulated over the years, and these are still being examined and correlated by the Foundation. For further information on Edgar Cayce, his work and the light it throws on rebirth the reader is refereed to Many Mansions by Gina Cerminara, "Edgar Cayce, Mystery Man of Miracles" by Joseph Millard, and numerous publications issued by the Cayce Foundation.

        There is a great deal in the evidence to suggest that Cayce in his hypnotised state had access to lost medical knowledge, as well as the power to see the previous lives of others. In the Buddhist texts of a very early date there are references to advanced medical knowledge and techniques of surgery in some ways comparable to our own. Jivaka, a renowned physician who was a contemporary of the Buddha is recorded as having performed a brain operation for the removal of a living organism of some kind. But there are still older records. The Edwan Smith Papyrus (c.3500 B.C.) describes the treatment of cerebral injuries, and the writing attributed to Hippocrates include directions for opening the skull. The great Egyptian physician, Imhotep, who lived about three thousand years before the Christian era and was a many-sided genius comparable to Leonardo da Vinci, had such skill in medicine that he become a legend. He was deified under the Ptolemies and identified with Asklepois, the god of healing, by the Greeks; but there is no doubt whatever that he was an actual historical personage. Without venturing beyond what is naturally suggested by Edger Cayce's statements concerning rebirth, and their linking up with the often unusual but brilliantly successful treatments he prescribed, it is possible to see that there might be a direct connection between the knowledge possessed by these ancient physicians and the abnormal knowledge released from Cayce's unconscious mind tinder hypnosis.

       But even Cayce was not altogether unique. Egerton C. Baptist, in "Nibbana or the Kingdom?" quotes the following from "Life and Destiny" by Leon Denis:

        "In 1880 at Vera Cruz, Mexico, a seven- year-old child possessed the power to heal. Several people were healed by vegetable remedies prescribed by the child. When asked how he knew the things, he said that he was formerly a great doctor, and his name was Jules Alpherese. This surprising faculty developed in him at the age of four years."

        In Buddhism, the faculty of remembering previous lives and of discerning the previous lives of others is one that is developed in the course of meditation on selected subjects. But it is acquired only when a certain precisely-defined stage of Jhana, or mental absorption, has been reached. The subject is dealt within the Canonical Texts of Buddhism, and at considerable length in the Visuddhi-Magga of Buddhaghosa Thera**. Those who have practised meditation to this point in previous lives without having attained complete liberation from rebirth may be reborn with the faculty in a latent form. In the case of others, hypnosis seems to provide a short-cut technique to releasing some at least of the dormant memories of former lives, just as it provides a short cut to result ordinarily reached by deep psychoanalysis. There is much to be done in the way of more extensive and systematic investigation before definite conclusions can be tabulated. The chief difficulty is to obtain suitable subjects or the tests.

       * The WHEEL, Publications Nos. 12-13, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Ceylon.

       ** Please see Visuddhi-Magga by Bhikkhu Nanamoli.

       Note—For chapters IV, V and VI please see The WHEEL Publications Nos. 12—13

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