There have been approximately 107,602,707,791 people born in the history of the earth, according to estimates by the Population Reference Bureau. Are all these lives independent, or have a few souls accounted for several lifetimes? If you have ever felt that this isn’t your first ride on the Merry-Go-Round, it is possible that you have been reincarnated and have past lives.

We sometimes refer to people as having “old souls,” people whose wisdom or character is extremely mature for their age. Whether we mean it literally or not, the phrase has roots in ancient wisdom.

If you find it comforting that you might come back as another person, it might not be as fun as you think. In the Hindu religion, people spend many lives on this Earth until they can escape the arduous cycle of rebirth. Reincarnation is a sort of punishment, an indication that you are incomplete as a person in your spiritual journey. Only by attaining union with Brahman can you escape the chains of transmigration. The concept of reincarnation also functions as a justification of the caste system in India. One is born into a specific caste or role based on their actions in a previous life.

Karma is the cause of reincarnation, and it is the idea that there is no moral remainder in the physics of the universe. Just like energy cannot be created or destroyed, and every physical reaction has a reaction, all moral choices have a consequence. Here is an example: If you call someone a jerk, they won’t like you. There is no physical explanation, no law of gravity or electricity which governs this interaction. Yet we observe it every day, so the explanation is that intellectual and spiritual actions have effects in the world around us. The fruits of your labors cannot be lived during a single existence; they are spread out through multiple lives. You reap what you sow.

Dr. Ian Stevenson conducted research for the latter half of the 20th century to find evidence of reincarnation. He primarily dealt with young children who had memories of past lives. He has studied many instances of apparent reincarnation in India and other Asian countries. He found events where the young children claimed to be reincarnated from specific people, yet had no way of knowing the intimate details of the people who had lived hundreds of miles away. He also has linked some birth marks to injuries sustained in previous lives, verified by autopsy information. Often the memories are of violent and traumatic deaths. He wrote many books on the subject, including Children Who Remember Previous Lives.

Additional Resources

The Reluctant Messenger Scientific Proof of Reincarnation:

Buddhist Studies On Reincarnation:

Population Reference Bureau How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth:

Reincarnation in Hinduism:

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