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Excerpt from "There's Something Under the Bed"

by Ursula Bielski


CHILDREN'S PAST LIVES

Of most interest to serious researchers have been cases of apparent reincarnation that are revealed without hypnosis, particularly by children. Often, children who talk about previous lives grow up to actually verify the details of the lives they’ve remembered since infancy, and even to find physical correlations between their bodies and the bodies of the deceased.

Without question, the most compelling evidence for reincarnation comes from the life’s work of the late Dr. Ian Stevenson, a Montreal-born biochemist and psychiatrist who, early on, took issue with the limitations of traditional medical practice. In the late 1950s, Stevenson was first exposed to what are called “cases suggestive of reincarnation.” He was most impressed by one factor: that the first suggestion of reincarnation often occurs under the age of 10. Stevenson began actively interviewing children with such experiences. After his first paper on the subject was published, he was invited by well-known psychic Eileen J. Garrett to undertake an in-depth study of children in India and Sri Lanka. Central to Stevenson’s work was the financial support of Chester Carlson, who later created a chair at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and left $1 million to support Stevenson’s future work. With the funds, Stevenson founded the Division of Personality Studies (later, the Division of Perceptual Studies)—a departmental division dedicated to research into the still unknown relationships between matter and mind: parapsychology. Stevenson, however, was boldly opposed to the term “parapsychology” in relation to the division’s work. He believed that the efforts of he and his colleagues were, rather, an outgrowth of traditional science and medicine, and not properly termed as parapychological research.

Stevenson spent decades collecting cases of possible reincarnation, mostly those claimed by children, traveling tens of thousands of miles each year, to Europe, Africa, India and the Americas. Throughout, he found that children typically began to talk of past lives at a very young age—sometimes as early as two—with very specific detail about the way their former bodies had died. Often, the previous life seemed to be that of a family member who had passed away before the child was born. Almost always, a violent death was to blame.

Throughout his life, and after his death, proponents of Stevenson's research hold fast to his scientific propriety. Just as Stevenson himself separated his work from parapsychology, his allies maintain that his work was staunchly and traditionally scientific, and squarely launched from skepticism to the very end. This quality was lauded by journalist Tom Shroder, who followed Stevenson on his case-finding expeditions for months and documented the trip in his book, Old Souls. Shroder likened Stevenson’s methodology to that of a reporter or detective, harshly dismissing anything remotely unverifiable as useless. Still, case after case baffled him—and his companion.

When the expedition began, Shroder was a skeptic “in the gut,” an unbeliever because he could not “feel the possibility” of reincarnation:

“In my marrow, I could feel no trace, however faint, of a previous life. The universe before me was a void, a nothingness that flared into somethingness only with my earliest memories of this life. And my most profound learning about the deaths of the people I had loved the most was this: They had vanished.”

Despite reservations, as the journey progressed, Shroder became increasingly confounded by case after case. Most remarkable was the story of a Beirut woman named Suzanne Ghanem, who claimed to be the reincarnation of Hanan Mansour, a woman from a neighboring town who had died during heart surgery ten days before Suzanne was born.

At the age of sixteen months, Suzanne picked up the phone receiver and said, “Hello, Leila?” Years later, when they found the family of Hanan Mansour—a real woman who had died just the way Suzanne said—they also found her daughter, Leila, who Hanan had tried to call before her fatal surgery. As a toddler, Suzanne continued to insist she was not Suzanne, but Hanan, and when her parents asked, “Hanan who?” she said her head wasn’t big enough to remember yet. But by the time she was two, Suzanne had spoken of her “children” by name, and had longed for her “husband,” Farouk, many times.

Eventually, the two families met, and the meetings became common. The Mansour family soon became convinced that Suzanne’s story was true, and they felt responsible for her, especially in light of what appeared to be a deep sadness in the girl. When they were together, even at the age of five, Suzanne would sit in Farouk Mansour’s lap, leaning her head against his chest. When Farouk became engaged to one of Hanan’s former friends, Suzanne was heartbroken. “You told me you’d never love anyone but me,” she cried. Twenty years later, when Shroder and Stevenson revisited her, Suzanne was still alone, still very much in love with Farouk, who she yet called “my husband.”

…Stevenson also often found apparent links between the children’s behaviors and those of the people whose lives they remembered. For example, a child might carry on a previous grudge against a family member or dote on a husband as his dead wife once had, though there was no connection in the present lifetime. Many of the children also suffered from debilitating phobias reflective of the manner of death in the previous life, the majority associated with violent ends and the knives, guns, cars, or machinery that caused their deaths. Interestingly, a number of children were observed at play, pretending to be involved in the occupation of the previous life, though at the time they had no knowledge of the person’s work. Still others would eerily and often reenact their deaths.

In the end, Stevenson stated that the thousands of cases he had collected—around 3,000—certainly did more than hint at the plausibility of reincarnation. Still, he would always term them “suggestive of reincarnation” because of the absence of knowledge of a physical process or mechanism by which it occurred: the fatal scientific flaw.

Reprinted, with permission of the publisher, from THERE'S SOMETHING UNDER THE BED (c) 2010 Ursula Bielski. Published by New Page Books a division of Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ. 800-227-3371. All rights reserved.

There’s Something Under the Bed (EAN 978-1-60163-134-3, pages: 224, price: $14.99) was published by New Page Books. The book is available at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon.com, and many other booksellers.

For more information about There’s Something Under the Bed and other new releases, visit the website of publisher New Page Books at  WWW.NEWPAGESBOOKS.COM

Ursula Bielski is the founder of Chicago Hauntings, Inc. An historian, author, and parapsychology enthusiast, she has been writing and lecturing about Chicago’s supernatural folklore and the paranormal for nearly 20 years, and is recognized as a leading authority on the Chicago region’s ghostlore and cemetery history. She is the author of six popular and critically acclaimed books on the same subjects, which have sold in excess of 100,000 copies.
Ursula has been featured in numerous television documentaries, including productions by the A&E Network, History Channel, Learning Channel, Travel Channel, and PBS.


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