Grave & Courtyard v2

We’ve had another meeting of the Death Cafe again – only 11 people this time, but still a good solid number.

The main topics we covered were assisted dying, suicide and, towards the end, reincarnation.

The latter was triggered by my recent reading of James G. Matlock’s book, Signs of Reincarnation. Give that I have dealt with this topic at some length already on this blog, why did I go back to look at it again.

Well, basically, I felt I would implementing a double standard if I criticised, as I frequently do, materialists for refusing to look at the evidence for a spiritual reality because they have ruled it out in advance as impossible, and I then refused to look at newly described evidence organised under a different model for a concept like reincarnation because I have decided I do not believe in. That would smack of hypocrisy.

So I bit the bullet and bought the book. We are hopefully going to have another look at that at a later meeting of the Death Cafe as I was only half way through the book when I brought the matter up at the end of the meeting.

I’ve now finished it and he has not changed my mind, but I respect his careful review of the most convincing evidence and his preference for letting the evidence shape the theory not the theory warp the evidence.

He summarises his basic position near the end of the book by stating (page 258):

The workings of reincarnation are often presumed to lie in metaphysical obscurity. In reality, as I have tried to show, the process is probably fairly simple, at least in outline. The stream of consciousness that animates a body during life continues into death, and persists through death, until it becomes associated with (possesses) another body, generally one not yet born. The consciousness stream is composed of both subliminal and supraliminal strata, the former bearing memories and various traits we may subsume under the heading of personality, the latter representing conscious awareness. Once in possession of its new body, the reincarnating mind customises it by adding behavioural and physical effects through psychokinetic operations on its genome, brain, and underlying physiology. At the level of conscious awareness, there is a reset, as the mind begins to interact with its new body and brain. Amnesia sets in, the subconscious blocking conscious memory of the past in what it considers to be its own best interests. The influence of the past is expressed behaviourally, however, and at times the subconscious permits memories to erupt into conscious awareness.

I must thank him also for pointing me in the direction of another model that seems at first sight to map more closely only my own perspective (page 233 – my emphasis):

The [Archetypal Synchronistic Resonance – Mishlove & Engender 2007] model emphasises the hidden nexus of meaning underlying seemingly disparate events and may have some utility in explaining unverified past-life memories, past-life regression, and past-life readings that tap into a client’s mind if these relate to deep psychological processes and psychic connections between people rather than to the memory of previous lives.

Matlock feels this model is inadequate to explain ‘solved reincarnation cases.’

The middle paragraphs of the second of two posts on reincarnation show how closely I t corresponds to the clause in bold.

Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick, in their excellent book Past Lives, have a whole section on this very issue. . . .[T]hey refer to (page 278) . . . the ‘Cosmic Memory Bank.’ They describe ‘field theories’ and refer to Rupert Sheldrake’s idea of ‘morphic resonance.’ They add (page 279):

If memories (information) are held in this way they would exist independently of the brain and therefore be accessible to another brain which ‘resonated’ with them.’

A model along these lines is still my preference, even though Mishlove is clearly a convert (page xiv), and even though I’ve ploughed through some of Stevenson’s work, as I indicated I would, and now Matlock’s sophisticated theory as well.

I may have time to explain that more fully later. For now, suffice it so say that I cannot see quite why the kind of affinity between a deceased consciousness and a newly generated one that the Fenwicks describe could not psychically impact upon a developing foetus just as strongly as a migrating soul might do. The only data that needs some explanation are the experiences people report of a soul in transit visiting them to declare where they intend to be reborn. Given that communications from a spiritual realm tend to be experienced in ways that are influenced by culture, that may not hole my hoped for theory below its waterline. I’lll be giving more thought to that as time goes on.

The next meeting of the Death Cafe will be at 6 pm on Wednesday 14 August at the Courtyard Theatre Hereford.



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