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Another view of reincarnation

The story this tweet points to may seem convincing that the belief in reincarnation is real or at, least, something worthy of serious study. I agree that it’s an idea worth looking at. But I question how people interpret stories like these.

Reincarnation Parade in Hannover 19 August 200...

Reincarnation Parade in Hannover 19 August 2006. Infront of Hannover RatHaus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human beings are interpreting animals. Something comes to us, either from inside or outside, and our minds interpret what it means. I stress the word interpret because it seems many lay and scientific people, alike, tend to overlook this obvious point.

Okay, so we interpret reality. Fine. But how might that apply to the belief in reincarnation?

I’ve written about this over the years at and in several places. So I’ll try to boil it down here.

Basically, we have no idea if the alleged memories, even if factually correct, are coming from a child’s past life. There are other possible explanations. Here are some, off the top of my head:

  • a dark or evil spirit who never was human knows about this data and implants it in a child’s head
  • a departed spirit our soul who actually lived a human life implants the data in the child’s head – but that spirit our soul differs from the child’s spirit or soul

These other explanations might sound far-fetched to some. But isn’t the idea of reincarnation just as far out?

I think so. — MC

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Henry Ford believed in reincarnation

Henry Ford in 1919 via Wikipedia

I don’t really believe in reincarnation, myself. The theory seems too simplistic and limiting. Also, whenever I consider it, my consciousness tends to drop a few levels to something other than the Christian spirituality that I prefer.

But I was bored tonight with my usual pursuits so browsed through my library. I came across a book,  Reincarnation: An East-West Anthology (1961) and found the passage by Henry Ford, tweeted below.

The last two paragraphs at 67 Not Out appear in reverse order in the book. I don’t know who made the mistake, the blogger or the book publisher. But other than that, everything else checks out. So this tweet isn’t some silly internet hoax. Ford really did give the interview mentioned.

There’s also another Ford interview reproduced in the book. This isn’t included in the tweet but both are in the book:

Henry Ford in Joseph Head and S. L. Cranston, Reincarnation: An East-West Anthology, The Julian Press New York, 1961, p. 270.

Henry Ford cited in Joseph Head and S. L. Cranston, Reincarnation: An East-West Anthology, The Julian Press: New York, 1961, p. 270 (Click image for larger size).

A bit of a wonky scan, I know. I did it with the hand scanner I blogged about yesterday. It’s hard to hold the book and the iPad at the same time. But I chose this version because scanning it with my real scanner would have meant bending back the cover of an old book. I tried it and bad noises started coming from the spine, so I stopped and settled with this scan.


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A fresh look at reincarnation

Part two of this article is at the author’s blog. Just follow the links.

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A Case for Reincarnation


'2'_Dharma_Wheel,_The_Wheel_of_Life_at_Sun_Temple_Konark,_Orissa_India_February_2014 Wheel of Life: Sun Temple, Konark Orissa, India 2014

“The Journey of a thousand miles begin begins with a single step.”
Lao Tzu

A healing journey which had begun with Japanese herbal remedies from the super-market, now had me lying on a padded table in the treatment room of a certified Japanese Reiki master. He had been silently removing what I then only had the vocab to describe as, “dirty big knots of bad mojo,” from my energy meridians. Dredging me up from the depths of a sublime state of semi-consciousness, he intoned casually: “You lived a past life in Japan, about one thousand years ago.”

Later that week, after a few pints of beer down at a local bar, I decided to hazard a half-humorous retelling of the Reiki master’s claim to a group of my foreign teaching buddies: bad idea. A couple of them laughed their asses off…

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Confessions of a Skeptic

The reincarnation of Elizabeth: Vincent Bernier

The reincarnation of Elizabeth: Vincent Bernier via Flickr

By Ken Gross

How shall I put this? I do not believe in reincarnation. Not in this lifetime. I think Fitzgerald got it right; there are no second acts. One day I will die and that will be that.

Thus stands like a rock my unflinching opinion on the subject.

So, when my agent — who believes in everything except me — asked me to write a book about reincarnation, I said, “Sure.”

Why pick a hard-core skeptic, a journalist, (for God’s sake!), a Cassandra marinated in the smoky cynicism of H.L. Mencken to write a book about something as gauzy and hopeful as faith. It would be like turning the rationalist fox (no relation to the irrational media Fox) loose in the paranormal henhouse?

Obviously, he needed a doubting Thomas, a disbeliever, a cranky cynic to demonstrate that the fix wasn’t in. Who better to vouch for the integrity of Disney World than a certified grouch?

And then there’s this interesting other question: why would I take such a job?

The answer is simple. I don’t know. I do like to look into forbidden rooms, I watch Hannity (just to scream at the set), I poke at a sore tooth. I once told Ed Koch how I thought he was doing; (he didn’t appreciate the opinion, but as I always say, don’t ask and I won’t tell.)

Who should ghost the book? Bridey Murphy? Some gullible slave to the outré opinions of the occult?

No, me, a reliable nay-sayer. I saw my duty and backward into the past I marched.

There was, of course, a catch. In order to do this book, I would have to sort of “pass over,” in a manner of speaking. That is, the child who is the subject of this book lived in Lafayette, Louisiana — the Deep South — a part of the country in which I have had more than one near-death experience.

In 1971, when I was a reporter for Newsday on Long Island, I rode with Charlie Evers (the brother of the slain NAACP civil rights leader, Medgar Evers,) as he campaigned for governor of Mississippi. We rode all over the Mississippi Delta and as we drove across the exposed highway, I heard the sound of bullets whizzing past our windshield. Snipers in the trees. Charlie kept a loaded pistol on the seat of the car in case we got a flat. A spare tire in that part of Mississippi in the early ’70’s was not enough.

So that’s how I remembered the south. With fear and disbelief.

But this was 2007 and James Leininger lived in the quiet coastal plain of Louisiana — a town called Lafayette. There were no Obama posters, but there were storefront poker palaces and fast-food stretches and a decent hotel. (At one chicken restaurant, as I waited in line for lunch, the manager loudly fired the entire staff, then came out and asked if anyone on the line wanted a job. I went to find a McDonald’s.)

Bruce and Andrea Leininger were a handsome couple. Not unsophisticated. She had been a ballet dancer in New York and he studied political science at Columbia University under Zbigniew Brzezinski. Now he was working in human relations in the oil industry.

When I got down there, and we started to work on the book, they did not have a clear idea of how this story unfolded — just that something miraculous had taken place to their son James under their roof. It was a painful and awkward process — putting it all together, getting the sequences right, checking out the details, finding the right structure. Together, we drew up timelines and made charts and put it down on paper:

In the year 2000, when James had just turned two, he began to shout in his sleep — not always coherent — but it seemed to be about a World War II pilot killed in the battle of Iwo Jima. At first, it was just a kid having nightmares. But slowly, over a period of time, the child, James Leininger, began to deliver incredible accurate details, speak coherently, add uncanny facts — minutiae about the pilot — James Huston — his life and history. The information he divulged was of such breadth and diversity that it became impossible to dismiss, and even now, even as I still do not believe in reincarnation, I have no reasonable explanation for that unwinding story.

I’ve heard people say, oh, he must have been coached, or influenced by watching TV. But this was a child in his diapers, still sucking on a bottle. How could he be coached to know the flight characteristics of World War II era fighter planes? How could he know the names of the ships and the sailors who had taken part in a certain battle at a certain time?

James Leininger had been examined and tested by Carol Bowman, an authority on the subject of children who have supposedly experienced “past lives.” She vouched for his authenticity. James had already appeared on television (a media vetting that has popular, if not scientific standing), and was recognized by the paranormal community as the most authentic case of an American “past life.” Children experiencing “past lives” is a well-established (albeit controversial) field of paranormal studies. Several universities have departments devoted solely to its study.

It was always Bruce’s intention to debunk his son’s story. He was an evangelical Christian and thought that proof of reincarnation would damage his faith — one life, one soul, everlasting. Andrea accepted her son’s claims and didn’t attach any particular religious significance to the whole thing. But Bruce was dogged. Over time, he found that there was an annual reunion of members of the ship that his son had named as his own in his sleep. If he could prove that there were no Corsairs (the plane that James insisted he had flown in the war), he would have made his case that the story was not true and his faith was safe. Bruce began to attend the reunions of surviving crew members of Natoma Bay — an escort carrier that took part in the battle. He gathered up facts, all confirming the data fed by his son James, all also confirming that there were no Corsairs on Natoma Bay. He held onto that discrepancy as a holy chalice.

But something odd happened. During the course of his quest to debunk the story, Andrea tracked down the families of the dead crew members and eventually found James Huston’s sister, Ann. The sister had never had any contact with the ship or with the reunions. Still, she was curious about James Leininger, and, finally, sympathetic to his claims to be her brother. She was old and it was hard for her to travel from California, however, so she sent a batch of photographs of her brother taken during the war. And in a couple of the photographs, there was James Huston standing in front of a Corsair.

There were other odd things — when she sent James Leininger a drawing that her mother made of James Huston — the child asked where was the other picture? The other picture — buried up in the attic for sixty years — was a drawing of Ann. Her mother had made two drawings when they were children. How could James Leininger have known that? Ann was stunned. No one knew about that other picture. Except her dead brother.

As I say, I don’t believe in reincarnation. I hardly believe in carnation. I am a secular, rationalist skeptic. But I have no reasonable explanation for James Leininger/Huston.

©2009 Ken Gross, co-author of Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot

About the Author:

Ken Gross, co-author of Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot, is a novelist and nonfiction writer who lives in Brooklyn, New York.

For more information please visit

Article Source: ArticlesBase.comConfessions of a Skeptic


Changing Gender, Religion and Reincarnation

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By Rabbi Allen Maller

If people reincarnate, they usually do so within their own religion, gender and culture. But there are always some who change one, two, or even three of these categories.

According to the Kabbalah -the Jewish mystical tradition – some Jewish souls are born into non-Jewish families, because one of their parents had a Jewish ancestor three or four generations previously.

When those people return to Judaism they of course, change religion and culture. And sometimes they change their gender too; for when a Jewish man marries a non-Jewish woman and helps to raise his children in a non-Jewish religion, after his death, his soul will reincarnate (Gilgul in Hebrew) in one of his own female descendants three or four generations later, and then be drawn toward becoming a Jewish male again.

Take as a example Kadin Henningsen, who grew up female and Methodist in the Midwest. As a preteen she was inexplicably drawn to Judaism, empathizing with Jewish characters in Holocaust documentaries on TV.

Then in junior high, Henningsen had a revelation while reading Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen”: “I remember thinking I was supposed to grow up to be a Jewish man.”

Less than two decades later, the premonition came true. At 30, Henningsen transitioned genders and converted to Judaism, all within the span of a single summer. “It was a circular process,” he said. “The more entrenched I became in Jewish knowledge, the more comfortable I started to feel with my masculine identity.”

Henningsen’s conversion certificates were the first documents that referred to him with male pronouns. Today, at 35, he is an active member of Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim, a Reform congregation in Los Angeles.

According to Naomi Zeveloff’s article in the Jewish Daily Forward (8/16/13) Henningsen is not alone in his trajectory. Transgender converts constitute a growing minority within the small community of LGBT Jews. For some transgender converts conversion was intrinsically linked to gender transition; the process of soul-searching unearthed one insight after another.

For others, Judaism was a lifeline during a time of immense vulnerability and isolation. When friends and family members grew distant, transgender individuals found community at the Hillel House or at a local synagogue.

Some transgender converts to Judaism came from strong Christian backgrounds and wanted to supplant their childhood religion with one that would be more accepting of their new gender identity. Others came to Judaism from a nonreligious background.

“In one way it is a search for personal authenticity,” said Rabbi Jane Litman, a congregational consultant with the Reconstructionist movement who has converted close to two dozen transgender Jews. “People who are transitioning in terms of gender are looking for a way to feel most authentically themselves.”

Jesse Krikorian, a 24-year-old engineer, began exploring Judaism as a senior at Swarthmore College, shortly after she began her gender transition.

Unhappy with her decision to take hormones, her parents threatened to withdraw their financial support. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, and there was a lot of chaos and uncertainty,” he later recounted. “I found that I really needed community and ritual and all those good things.”

Though he was raised Methodist, Krikorian was always interested in the Old Testament. A visit to the campus Hillel confirmed that Judaism might provide him with the community he was seeking: The Hillel director at the time, Jacob Lieberman, was also a transgender man. “I didn’t have any questions of whether I could be transgender and Jewish,” Krikorian said. “It was really clear that the combination could work.”

Krikorian attended Friday night services at Hillel each week and began to recite a prayer about transformation each time he bound his chest to appear more masculine. After graduating from college, he moved to Philadelphia. There he joined Kol Tzedek, a Reconstructionist synagogue. He converted in June, and hopes to go to rabbinical school.

Unlike Buddhism and Hinduism, Kabbalah does not teach that reincarnation (gilgul) occurs over the course of millions of years to millions of different sentient species.

According to Kabbalah, only the souls of self conscious moral creatures like human beings reincarnate; and they reincarnate only when they have not fulfilled the purpose of their creation in their present incarnation.

Since Judaism is an optimistic religion, Kabbalists teach that most people can accomplish their life’s purpose in one or two lifetimes. A few souls may need as many as 3-7 lifetimes.

The bright souls of great religious figures like Moses or Miriam can turn into a dozen or more sparks that may each reincarnate several times.

The tragic souls of Jews whose children or grandchildren have been cut off from the Jewish people, either through persecution or conversion to another religion, will reincarnate as one of their no longer Jewish descendants.

These souls will seek to return to the Jewish people, and a majority of people who end up converting (or reverting) to Judaism and the Jewish people have Jewish souls from one of their ancestors.

It is possible to see this form of reincarnation occurring in the world today in the experience of thousands of non-Jews who become Jewish.

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Every human on earth has 8 great grandparents and 16 great great grandparents. Each of these 24 individuals contributes an equal amount of genetic material to each of their descendants. Nevertheless, brothers or sisters who share the same 24 ancestors do not have identical genomes.

Unless they are identical twins their physical, mental and personality traits always differ, sometimes greatly, from their siblings who share the same physical genetic heritage.

This difference is the result of the unique physical combination of genes that occurs at conception; and the unique soul-personality that enters the body sometime during the second trimester.

Every year many hundreds of people find out that one or two of their 24 great grandparents and great great grandparent ancestors might have been Jewish.

For most of them this discovery is an interesting fact of little significance. For many of them it might be an embarrassment to be ignored.

But for some of them; initial curiosity becomes a life changing discovery. They feel drawn to Jewish people and seek to learn about Jewish music, food, literature, culture and religion. They feel more and more attached in some mysterious way to the Holocaust and the struggle of Israel to live in peace in the Middle East.

Many of these people eventually are led to become Jewish either by formal conversion or by informal reversion within Reform synagogues.

According to a mystical 14th century Jewish Kabbalistic teaching found in Sefer HaPliyah, those people who do feel this powerful attraction to Jewish things and Jewish people, have a Jewish soul that is a reincarnation (gilgul) of one of their own Jewish ancestors from 3-7 generations in the past.

That explains why they react to the discovery of some Jewish heritage in such a unusual way. It also explains why some people who do not even know that they have Jewish ancestors follow a similar path; and only discover a Jewish ancestor years after they have returned to the Jewish people.

The Hebrew word for reincarnation- gilgul, means recycling. Many people are born with new souls; they are here for the first time. Others have a soul that has lived on this planet before. Most people do not reincarnate after their life on this earth is over.

Of those who do reincarnate, most do so in one of their own descendants. Most non-Jews who end up becoming Jewish; especially now after the Jewish people have experienced several generations of assimilation, marriage to non-Jews, or hiding from anti-semitism , are descendants of people whose children, in one way or another, have been cut off from the Jewish People. Among their non-Jewish descendants a few will inherit a Jewish soul that will lead them to return to the Jewish people.

Leiah Moser, a 31-year-old student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, wrote on her blog about why “being transgender is a lot like being a convert to Judaism.”

Many people who convert to Judaism do so out of a sense that they were born with a Jewish soul and that only now they are finally coming home,” she wrote. “Being trans is also all about that uncomfortable separation between your truest soul and the outward circumstances of your birth.”

Moser, who grew up in a secular home, traces her interest in Judaism to reading “Yearnings” by Rabbi Irwin Kula. The book describes Judaism as a faith that embraces rigorous skepticism and questioning, a tenet that resonates with many trans folks.

When she moved to Tulsa, Okla., she sought out a Conservative synagogue to begin the process of conversion. “That initial period of finding a synagogue community and getting plugged in and becoming engaged in the Jewish traditions sort of had an air of inevitability, of rediscovery of something I had forgotten, even though I had never discovered it before,” Moser said.

“I think that is an experience that a lot of Jewish converts have, the uncanny experience of feeling more at home in this environment that they were incredibly new to.”

Moser began her gender transition last year, after her first year of rabbinical school. She began to experience her new religion in a new way, shedding certain traditions that were typically assigned to men, and embracing aspects of Jewish femininity.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is:


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