Saturday, March 11, 2006

Dé Jiáo Hùi

My parents were religious people, so are most of my folks. We are not Christians, nor Muslims, but are of a mixture of Buddhist-Taoist type. The religion that we are practicing comes under the banner of Dé Jiáo Hùi, and it has temples set up in many parts of the world, including the U.S.A., and Australia. Although the temples each has it's own name, most of them end with the Chinese word Gé, meaning chamber literally. It is within the chamber that the religious activities are conducted. There are five streams of thoughts that are equally regarded in Dé Jiáo Hùi: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, and, curiously, Confucianism. However the three main Deities that are worshipped in the temple are Hé Xián Gú (Taoist, female), Liú Dòng Bin (Taoist, male), and Ji Góng (Buddhist, male).

There is an altar in the chamber. In front of the altar is an octagonal shaped "desk" the top of which is framed by an octagonal frame about four to six inches high. Inside the frame contains the mixture of fine sand and incense ashes less than half an inch thick. Resting on the altar and wrapped with a red cotton ribbon is the divine rod - which is a piece of tree branch approximately one and a half foot tall, and in the shape of Y. The thickness of the rod is even - about an inch in diameter or slightly less. The gatherings take place on the 1st and 15th day of the lunar calendar, meaning new moon, and full moon. The ritual begins with the congregation standing (there is no seat in the chamber) and facing the altar chanting the prayer which is written five words per verse in Chinese poetry style. The ritual is pretty much like the Christians chanting the Lord's Prayer. There are only two prayers, one following immediately after another. There is no priest or monk to give sermon.

After the prayers, the cover of the octagonal desk is removed and the divine rod is placed on the "desk" with two arms resting against the octagonal frame. Two appointed men would then approach the "desk". The one standing on the right would take hold of one arm of the Y rod with his left hand, and the one standing on the left would take hold of the other arm of the rod with his right hand. Both men would then raise the rod above their shoulders, pointing the third arm of the rod skyward. A third person would stand aside the "desk" with a piece of small timber that looks a bit like a ruler, his function is to smooth the ashes with the timber after each word has been written on the ashes. A fourth person would be sitting on a high chair in front of a small high table located next to the octagonal "desk", His function is to record word by word what has been received. The man standing on the right holding the divine rod is the chief writer. The one on the left serves to support the movements of the rod, and to confirm and read out each word as it is being written.

As soon as one of the deities "arrives", the divine rod would start to rock and shake while held above the shoulders, and eventually come down and hit the octagonal "desk" with a thump. Then it would (with both men holding onto it) start to move in circle, indicating it's ready to be consulted. The writings are invariably in Chinese poetry style - mostly five words per verse, but sometimes with seven words per verse. It's interesting to note that the seasoned elders could tell straight away which one of the three deities is present by the style of the handwriting, and by the manner the verses are expressed. On special occasions, all three deities would be present, one after another.

I am not sure if the words come through the "divine writer" as they are written, or the writers are guided by the divine rod itself as the words are written. Nor can I be certain if the "divine writer" is a channel or a medium, or even necessarily be one. He does not seem to go into trance to write the messages, and appears to be conscious of the surrounding at all time.

If there is no guidance to be sought by any individual, the messages would be generally of commentary nature. To those who come to seek guidance to their problems or make special requests, there are two ways for the questions or requests to be posed. The usual way is to speak out the questions or requests openly while the divine rod is moving in circle, and the answers are given when the writings commence. The second way is more private in that the questions or requests are written on a piece of paper which is sealed inside an envelop and placed on the altar. In turn the sealed envelop would be presented to the "divine writer" who uses the rod to touch the envelop to confirm the ownership of the envelop, then commences writing out the answers to the sealed questions or requests. As usual, the answers are given in poetry style, only in rare occasion that messages are written in prose.

Does it help? Well, here is the rest of the story...

My father left China at a young age to look for livelihood in South East Asia. He went through the usual hard labour period and saved every cent that he could earn. At later years he was involved in various prospective businesses such as pineapple farming and rubber plantation, but none led him anywhere. In his desperation, he had sought divine guidance and was instructed to move to the path of Chinese herbal medicine. He thought it strange as he had no knowledge whatsoever in this field, and had expressed his reluctance and concern during the divine session. The answer came when he was given a herbal formula that he was to use to make the medicine. He followed the instruction, put a lot of efforts and hard work into it over the years, and became very successful. The herbal mix still remains the top selling medicine of its kind in the market today.

After the herbal business kicked off, he brought Grandma over from China to live with us. They had not seen each other for many years. I must be about two or three years old then. When I was eight Grandma became very sick and bed confined. The doctor attending to her had advised my father that there was nothing could be done and he was to prepare for her funeral soon. She was in her late 70's. My father went to the temple and sought divine intervention. Basically he was pleading for more years to be granted so that he and grandma could spend some quality times together. He made a pledge to build a larger temple. The answer came back was that as he was a man of faith, and had done many good things, they would extend grandma's life for three years in order for him to fulfil his filial duties. Soon after the divine session Grandma became well again, no one was more surprised than the attending doctor. To fulfil his pledge, not only he had donated substantial money to the building of the new temple, he was the driving force in the fund raising campaign for the project as well. The old temple was in a small hut behind a row of shanty shops outside the town centre. I had been there several times with my parents when I was a kid, and still have a good picture in mind of what it had looked like. With the donated money, a piece of land (which was a rambutan plantation) further down the road was bought and cleared, and the eventual new temple was build. The temple was architecturally designed, though not big, it was magnificent to look at. After the project was completed, my Grandma passed away peacefully - three years as granted. I was eleven and had just started my first year in high school.

With the success of the herbal product, the business had eventually expanded. While the plan for the new factory was on the drawing board there was a fallout with the original group of people who ran the old temple and who had now sought control over the new temple in which my father was elected as the first elder. Eventually he left the new temple in disgust, along with several of his closest friends who had supported him. Two of these friends were "divine writers" - Uncle Hoon Kiang and Uncle Soon Hai (as we called them). Consequently, not only the residence of the entire family was incorporated into the design of the factory, but also a home divine chamber as well, which was built on the top floor, together with a guest room. I was in my teen then.

The divine chamber at home was used frequently, and would open to the public who came to seek help. It was from this chamber that one of my sisters was granted a baby boy on request, and two baby boys to one of my brothers later.

I left home for Australia in 1969. It was on the third year here that my homesickness had gradually deteriorated into depression. Going home for holidays was not an option opened to me at the time. My high school art teacher, Mr Campbell, was very concerned about my exclusive use of heavy black and red (only two colours) in all my art works. My English teacher, Miss Hiatt, was worried about the depressive nature of my writings. I was obviously heading towards a breakdown. At the time I had thought of becoming a "hermit" (at my age?) I was then very fond of the Chinese saying that "a wise man would act as an idiot", and I had acted out as an "idiot". Then THAT day came when I broke down in a math class. Tears just poured out from my eyes uncontrollably. Mrs Prichard tried to console me but to no avail. It was in march 1971, exactly thirty five years ago. Soon after, I was offered a two weeks trip home. In hindsight, my condition must have been reported by my concerned teachers and relayed to my family, though I had no idea at the time what was going on, let alone that I was going to spend the Easter with my folks.

Although my homesickness was cured the moment I landed in Penang Airport, I felt as if there was something veiling over my entire being. There was a dullness in my mind that I could not wipe clean. I was not as receptive as I could have been when I met up with my folks. There were concerns in their eyes as if I were a sick man. I was definitely not the person they knew before I left in 1969. I spent the first week catching up with friends and indulging in activities that I was totally deprived off - Chinese movies, local hawkers' foods, books, music, etc. Life was starting to look up - my face got a healthy shine from the tropical sun. Then my father called me aside and had a long and serious chat about me and my life here. I told him what a deprived student's life was like here in Melbourne at the time. We ended the conversation with my agreeing to seek some help from the divine source.

I cannot recall in greater details what happened that night, but I was there in the divine chamber. Uncle Hoon Kiang and Uncle Soon Hai were there. They were the "divine writers" as usual. After we finished the two prayers the consulting session commenced. While the divine rod was drawing circle, my father put forward his request for the cure of whatever I had. I was asked to kneel behind the "divine writers" to receive the instructions. I must be deep in my own thought at the time, as I had not paid much attention to what was being read out and recorded. Then the writing ceased. What followed was quite an extraordinary experience that I still remember vividly today. The two "divine" writers turned from the octagonal desk and moved past me with the rod still in their hands rocking and shaking over my head. I was asked to bow my head, which I did, and with that the third arm of the rod landed right in the middle of my neck at the back. It was not hard, just a tap, then a gentle push, and I felt a surge of force or energy coursing up my neck and went straight up into my brain, spreading over the top of my head just beneath the skull, and as if there was a spark going off in my mind, suddenly the veil was lifted and gone in a flash. My mind cleared up instantly. Amidst the chanting of the prayer, I looked up and, for the first time, really saw my father's concerned eyes.

I slept peacefully that night, like an exhausted traveler.

When I came down for breakfast the next morning, my father was sitting in his usual seat reading something. He saw me and asked me to go over to his desk. As I got near I saw that he had been reading the message record book that he had kept for all the divine sessions that were held at home. He pushed the record book in front of me and said, "This was the message received for you last night. I am not sure what this line mean. Can you explain to me?" He was pointing at the first four words in the first line of the message. I looked at the four words and was staggered by what I saw. As I said, I had not paid attention to the writing the night before, and it was the first time that I had a good look at what was written. The first four Chinese words that appeared in the message were "a wise man would act as an idiot"!

I looked up and there were questions in my father's eyes. I thought for a moment and said, "There is no real explanation. It's between the deity and me. Only Him would know what it means." I knew he was not satisfied with the answer, but he let it go. There was no point to explain to him what I had been through. And judging by how I felt that morning, the subject was certainly no longer of any concern. I felt great.

When I got back to school in Melbourne, there was a growing quiet optimism inside me. This was reflected in my writings, and the colours I used in the paintings: pastel blue, yellow, and green, washed over with lots of water, light and airy - no more heavy black and red. All the teachers who were concerned over my welfare must have noted the changes in me with a big sigh of relief.

Throughout the entire episode, there was no medical or psycholoigical consulatations. There was certainly no medicine, drug, or herbs taken at any time - before, during, or after.

It's regrettable that I have not kept the divine message received that night, and I am not sure if the record book is still with the family after my father's passing. I certainly would like to find out now who the deity was who attended my need at the time, and the message imparted.

It was Easter 1971 when I experienced what amounted to my rebirth. Now, coincidentally, I am making a trip home in Easter this year (the last trip was in 1998 for my mother's funeral). Given my spiritual journey that I have embarked on thus far, may be there is something in the coming Easter trip that I can learn...perhaps it's not coincident at all. The three deities have been on my mind for some months now, and hence this particular writing today. Hopefully I would learn more in the trip for, perhaps, a second rebirth, albeit thirty five years later.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Some Thoughts

Looking back, you will find series of events that have taken you to where you are today. Along the way, there might have been lessons there that you have learnt. But if you are not entirely at peace with yourself today, it's most likely that you have not learnt some of the lessons that were presented to you along the way, or have been avoiding them altogether. Follow your inner self that is now nagging you and face whatever you need to face, Not all lessons are happy ones, some are downright painful. But remember this: without resolving the issues that are now eating you, your soul will not grow. They are the very reasons why you are here today, and why you are what you are, and where you are.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Second Reply to Glass Slippers

"I find breaking the "cycle" is always a very challenging task as I can be greedy at times to let go certain principles, ideas, beliefs, etc. The conscience is always clear, but at times the Devil defeats the Angel on my shoulder.

But the word 'being' rings a bell when I read what you wrote. I guess when one is at peace and the being is real and present, all things come unconditionally, and effortlessly, in the spiritual sense. Being at source."
"What if lesson/s is/are not learnt and mission/s left unaccomplished? What happens next? Does one then 'pass the test'?"
Letting go is not as hard as you think. Just imagine the scenario: Seven lifetimes ago a man and a woman became a couple. The husband was jeolous, suspicious and possesive, and convinced that his wife was unfaithful to him while he was away, and she provoked him to the extent that he killed her in his anger, even though she was truly innocent of the charges. They both had lessons to learn in that lifetime together but they didn't. He needed to learn to be trusting, and she trustworthy. They were sent back to learn the lessons all over again, but again, they failed - this time she killed him in a rage over the same charges. So the cycle went on for each of the remaining seven lifetimes until this lifetime when they both learnt the meaning of unconditional love and trust, and in doing so, break the cycle of killing finally. In other words, the lessons will repeat until they are learnt, even if it takes several lifetimes of miseries.
If your principles, ideas, beliefs, etc are preventing you from letting go all the ill fellings that your are harbouring, then you really need to examine what these princples, ideas, and beliefs are. Are you sure you are not being driven by your own ego that is disguising as principles, ideas and beliefs? If you truly love someone uncontionally, you will find that you have no need of all these bits and pieces...principles, ideas, beliefs, jeolousy, suspicion, possesiveness... you name it. With unconditional love, none of these will be present in your heart. And if you project this unconditional love to all people, you will find peace in your inner self eventually.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


What do I know about lotus?
There was a small village called Fish Pond (Hoo Tee) adjacent to the town where I grew up. It was so called because there WAS a fish pond there. I used to cycle over there with a couple of friends to watch and admire the local kids playing in the pond. I never saw any fish in the pond, but the entire pond was covered with lotus. While feeling the fun and joy the kids had, I just couldn't quite bring myself to jump into it - The water was literally black in colour. It was only waist deep, but by all accounts, the bottom was sticky and full of mud, rotting vegetation and manures of all kind.
Then in Form One in high school when I had my first exposure to the Classical Chinese, one of the chapters in the Chinese text book that we studied went something like this: "Lotus rises above the mud and yet stays uncontaminated..." I can't remember the rest of the chapter, nor who the author was, but that line stuck in my mind for the rest of my life. It wasn't until now that I truly appreciate what that line really means to me in the context of my journey.
Human body has a dense mass, and, according to Dr Michael Newton's research, it would take a lot of efforts for a reincarnating soul to adapt to the body of a human. In doing so, the soul loses its lightness and freedom and remains trapped in the body for the duration of a lifetime. It has to endure the body changes as we go through life, and live with whatever abuses we heap onto ourselves. Worst, in letting our body take charge of our consciousness, instead of the other way round, we are risking the contamination of our soul. It's very easy for our body to seek comfort and pleasures through our senses that we forget what our purpose in this lifetime is. Lotus absorbs nutrients from its harsh environment and rises towards the light above the murky water to bloom. In this sense, we must absorb our lessons from the harsh environment that we are in and rise above it without getting contaminated.
Interestingly, Newton points out in his study that all souls had indicated to him that Earth ranks as one of the harshest places ever for reincarnation. By the end of our journey here, the energy of our soul would be quite depleted. But take heart, as we go through the tunnel, there is light at the end of the tunnel, literally. We will be pleased to know that the lessons in this lifetime have been well and truly learnt, and the mission accomplished.

Reply to Glass Slippers

Glass Slippers left a comment in my last post saying, "I was talking to papa last nite. He said unlike Christian, Buddhist does not work on forgiving present sins and what you receive in this life is a result of your past life. Any brownie points earned this life will only be redeemed next life. Christians only need to confess and repent."

First of all, Christians not only need to confess and repent, but also "sin no more". In other words, whatever mistake you have made, God will forgive you and that you must not commit more "sins". The whole concept is based on loving sinners unconditionally, and moving them with such love that they will see the light.

Chinese Buddhism has a saying, "Put down the butcher knife, and stand to be a Buddha." This is another way of saying that all sins can be absolved if one repents and begins to do good. By and large, the layman's concept of Buddhism has instilled fear among the commoners with Hell and Heaven, and the only simple things people can understand is that whatever sin you have committed this life, you will pay for it either later in this life or in the next one. Likewise, whatever good you have done this life you will be rewarded later in this or in the next life (...Any brownie points earned this life will only be redeemed next life...") I believe this is a gross distortion to the original purpose of the teaching, for it makes "rewards in the next life" as the condition of "doing good in this life". Doing good should be unconditional, and without thought of being rewarded.

The purpose of reincarnation is NOT about the redemption of the rewards that you earned in your past life; we reincarnate to learn more lessons. The journey of a soul through each life is to learn, through giving and receiving, not only the pleasures, but also the pains and sufferings of human emotions and desires (Buddhist's seven emotions and six desires), in order to understand ultimately what unconditional love is. There is a parallel between a soul's journey and a human's journey in that we all start from kindergarten, then primary school, high school, and eventually graduate with a tertiary degree. Through series of lifetimes a soul will advance through stages of their wisdom to attain it's enlightenment ultimately. Planet Earth is not the only place the souls would go, in the infinite space of universe, there are other places we know nothing about that the souls can go to learn, maybe learning something that we cannot possibly imagine with our limited knowledge and senses. Dr Michael Newton has explored this concept in his second book (in reference to the previous post).

The karma we talk about should not be interpreted as "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". As we cannot remember what we have done in the past lives, we cannot tell if a particular experience we are undergoing is the cause or the effect of the karma. If we are suffering under another person's wrong doing, we must break the cycle of karmic effect in this life by forgiving and letting go all the ill feelings. Do not gleefully hope that the other person will suffer in his/her next life for what he/she has done to you in this life. He/she is here in our life for the very reason that we may learn and grow. He/she will learn his/her lesson similarly in the next life. Remember, all the lessons we go through are for the advancement of our souls. Frequently, a glimpse of past lives through regression hypnosis will make us understand better the particular experience we are underdoing, and allow us to forgive more readily. This in turns will accelerate our growth spiritually.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

From Here to Eternity

The body of knowledge that I am about to write here makes sense to me, but it may not make sense to some of you. There is no "scientific" base to this knowledge, and may in parts sound delusional, wishful, or psychotic even. The knowledge is based on the clinical records of many patients who, when underwent hypnosis, narrated their experiences. It starts with the very subject that no one really wants to think or talk about: death. I guess there is a degree of fear in us that prevents us from confronting the subject. Gordon Smith, a prominent medium from the U.K., has written a book called "Spirit Messenger" (Hay House, 2003) in which he quoted a message that he received, when in deep trance, from a spirit who identified herself as "Dominica". Here is the quote (page 183-184):

"…Fear is the one major problem that humankind shares. All of our problems are born out of fear. You become afraid when you lack things, but even more afraid when you have things, fearing that you will lose what you now have. That which you fear most is death and dying. All of you life you are plagued by the thought of death, either your own or those whom you love.

"Try to accept the impermanence of the physical world in which you live. Remember that all life is in constant motion. By trying to hold on to a particular part of your life, you will become restricted and afraid of change. When first you learn not to fear, this is the first day of your true life. Let us in the Spirit teach you so that you will no longer fear and your lives can be lived blessed with freedom and peace.

However, I am not here to talk about Fear, I am here to share the body of knowledge that I have learnt over the past few months through heavy readings. I am a sane person, still a man of free will to a large degree, and holding a job that gives me enough to ward off the wolves on the door. My work performance has been well above average, and the bosses are happy with it. I am respected by my colleagues, and friends find me easy going. I am not outstanding, nor outrageous; all in all, I am really your OK guy. Because I know what I believe in, I am not worried about what anyone may think, really, least of all the skeptics of this world. I maybe vulnerable emotionally, but I am not gullible or stupid.

My journey began with the book titled "The Chicken Soup for the Grieving Souls", among several others, thanks to my loving nieces from afar. At the time I have just lost my loved one, and I was deeply affected by my grief. The books not only soothed my soul, but also whetted by appetite for more. Indeed, I was more than curious about the hereafter, and I have good reasons for it. Missing loved one(s) is the most painful experience one can endure, be it through separation or death. With separation, there is always a dim hope of getting together one day; with death, the parting is final. The longing to remain in touch was real for me, and the realisation that this was no longer possible was devastating. I hunted through book stores relentlessly and eventually found several more books in various book stores. With the books written by Gordon Smith, James Van Praag, and John Edward, each a prominent medium, I found a new hope: it is still possible to contact the departed loved one(s) afterall.

A medium acts as a messenger in the communication between "this side" and the "other side". A gifted medium can deliver the messages clearly, precisely, and, most important of all, accurately. They can tell you things that only you and your deceased loved one(s) would know. You as a sitter can "validate" the information delivered to you and experience the moving moments only you can appreciate while in contact with your loved one(s) on the other side. A medium has no control as to who may come through, but if your loved one(s) are around you, as they always will be, they will come through. Yes, your loved one(s) will always be looking over you, no matter where you are, as long as you have them in your heart. The messages are usually of no significance, just to let you know that they are who they claim to be (only you know that), and that they are still around you and doing fine. The power of healing on the broken soul on this side is unbelievably strong. One finds peace almost immediately knowing that the souls of your loved one(s) have not died, and that you will all be together again one day. This makes moving on in life less painful.

Souls are energies that live in another dimension. This concept was thoroughly explored by Dr Michael Newton in his three ground breaking books, "Journey of Souls" (1994), "Destiny of Souls" (2000) and "Life Between Lives" (2004). In his practice as clinical psychiatrist he would use regression hypnosis to take a patient back to his/her past lives to understand their current ailments. His later research, up until now, has been concentrated on the souls as a "community" living in another dimension. He collects his "data" by regressing his research subjects through hypnosis to the time just after the death in their last life when their souls go back to another dimension to join up their respective cluster groups in their community. The activities and the purposes of these souls were studied in details in the three books published which I find fascinating. The message is clear: we come here on earth to learn our lessons in order to advance our soul, and we reincarnate life after life until all lessons are learned. Frequently many from our own core cluster group may reincarnate together in order to render supports to one another on earth in our common objective to advance further. The roles we play in each life may change depending on what lessons we need to learn. Father-daughter in the last life may become two brothers or sisters. Gender is not important in as far as role play is concerned. Two soul mates may become partners again in several lives together, or may not be at all. They may also return as siblings or friends. Our souls are guided by other more advanced souls. These are the ones who whisper to us when we have a flash of intuition as we come to a crossroad and unable to decide which path to take. They are our soul protectors as well. When a soul reincarnates, its energy would frequently split, leaving a portion behind "at home". A soul can also reincarnate concurrently in two places at the same time, depending on the strength of the energy. The energy of soul vibrates at higher frequency than our physical body. To get a glimpse of the afterlife, we can raise our vibration frequency through meditation.

In a series of books published to date, Dr Brian Weiss (see earlier blog on his interview) has also used the regression hypnosis to take his patients back to their past lives in order to find out the root causes of their problems in the current life. But unlike Dr Michael Newton, Dr Brian Weiss has not explored the life of souls between earthly lives. He is more interested in the karmic effect of past lives on the patients' problems in this life. There is an interesting case that Weiss briefly mentioned in one of the books. When a couple was regressed in his office they both experienced the same past life simultaneously when they were together in that life. The details that emerged were later on compared and turned out to match with those that they experienced in the past lives.

There are other researchers in the field as well, but I have yet to catch up with their writings. It's remarkable that thousands of subjects, when undergo regression hypnosis, have shared similar experiences. All have narrated their past lives, and all have observed their surroundings as souls. There is afterlife after one dies. Souls do survive in the form of energies after the death of their physical bodies. Near Death Experiences, as reported by so many people, have shown that souls do leave their earth bound bodies behind to return to their "home" in another dimension (the other side). But when they were "told" that it's not their time yet they would return to their original bodies in order to complete the unfinished businesses here on earth.

Souls are immortal. They live in a very structured dimension that is full of light, love, wisdom and peace. They speak of "The Source" as the ultimate place where they would hope to join one day. "The Source" is the Creator of all, and what the Christians would refer to as God. To reach that ultimate state, we, as souls, would reincarnate to learn the ultimate meaning of LOVE and its embodiment. This may take many lifetimes to achieve. A lesson will repeat itself until it is learnt, in one lifetime, or several.

I am more at peace now than I was for the past decades. I have come to the crossroad where I have needed to make a choice, and I have chosen the path that will guide me spiritually from here on. I don't know where I am going, but I will get to where I am meant to go someday. As immortal soul, the destiny of our journey will always be from here to eternity,

Saturday, October 22, 2005

An Interview with Dr Brian Weiss

Having accidentally encountered past lives and reincarnation, Dr Brian Weiss took time to accept what came to pass. He went on to research many such mystical and religious ideas, turning him into a doctor who has got enlightened. An interview with the author of bestselling books such as Many Lives, Many Masters, excerpted from Voices of Truth (Full Circle)

Treating patients by guiding them through recollections of their previous lives is just about the last thing Dr Brian Weiss thought he would be doing.

A prominent South Florida psychiatrist, before the age of 35 he was the first Chief of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center, and a professor at the University of Miami's medical school. He was publishing papers and becoming a nationally recognised expert on psychopharmacology and considered himself the kind of guy who rarely gave much thought to anything mystical, philosophical or spiritual.

One patient changed all that. Weiss calls her Catherine in his first best-selling book, Many Lives, Many Masters (1988), eight years after he began treating the young woman.

He had been using routine psychotherapy to treat her and after 18 months with little improvement, Weiss finally put it very simply to her one day while she was under hypnosis: "Go back to the time from which your symptoms arise." She did.

Back to the year 1863 BC when she was a 25-year-old named Aronda. Since treating Catherine, he has researched reincarnation, Eastern religions, mysticism, quantum physics, intuition and everything in between. He exudes an air of wise counsel, but does not come across as some kind of guru.

Much to his surprise, Weiss's work has been taken seriously by many in the medical community.

Shortly after his first book was published, the former president of the Dade County Psychological Association said: "Those of us who do hypnosis are not all that shocked by Dr Weiss's book. Many have had patients who have gone back to something-I'm not prepared to say it was a previous life. I think we are very interested and very afraid to talk about it…"

Weiss says his work on past life therapy has helped not only his patients and readers, it has also helped him. It has led him to explore a great body of knowledge, and to look inward as well. The following has been excerpted from Nina Diamond's Voices of Truth-Conversations with Scientists, Thinkers and Healers.

Are we just vessels that hold the soul?

Dr Brian Weiss: Yes, exactly. We are vessels, and we contain this eternal and immortal, much more knowledgeable part of ourselves. Now, probably as you get more mystical you find out that these souls, as well as the bodies, are connected to everyone else's, because really everything is of the same substance.

Why do people find reincarnation a difficult concept to accept?

People fear the unfamiliar. If only they would keep an open mind. Not just scientists, but everybody. Just observe it, watch it. Meditation can teach people to do that. If they can let go of their fears.

Philosophers and mystics once incorporated reincarnation into their explanations of life, and Plato wrote about soulmates.

Yes, Plato wrote about reincarnation. So, the Greeks believed in this too. And so did ancient civilizations.

Reincarnation is in all religions. Where did this knowledge come from?

It comes from so far back that we don't even know where it comes from. We only lost it recently. I think we lost it for political reasons.

In Judaism, belief in reincarnation or gilgul is not just ancient, but existed until early in the 1800s, and it was only with the migration out of Eastern Europe to the West, and the Age of Enlightenment and science, and the need to be accepted, that the belief went underground.

But not in the Chassidic (Ultra-Orthodox) populations. They still believe in reincarnation. In Christianity it went underground much earlier, in the 6th century at the Second Council of Constantinople where reincarnation was officially declared a heresy.

Christianity was becoming a state religion, and the Romans felt that without the whip of Judgement Day people wouldn't behave, they wouldn't follow.

They would think: "Well, I'll do it next time around." And so reincarnation was consciously made a heresy. But this was at the Council, centuries after Jesus.

How is the time period between lifetimes determined?

People who die violently, or children who die, often come back faster. And people who live longer lives, and die more peacefully, there can be a much longer time between lives, a hundred years or more.

How many past lives do people generally have?

That varies, but the numbers that come up most (in my work) is about 100. Not the thousands and thousands that the Buddhists talk about.

Is there a finite number of souls?

To me it doesn't matter because ultimately we're all connected.

Are new souls being created?

I'm not sure, but my inclination is to say no. We're probably all ageless and have been (around from the beginning).

Are families more spiritually connected from life to life than strangers are?

Yes, and I do think that people come in groups for the working out of debts and responsibilities, the concept of karma. These are the people that we're learning and growing with. I even put love at first sight, or hostility at first sight into that category, a recognition of souls.

I know the old saying: blood is thicker than water. Well, I mention in Through Time into Healing that spirit seems thicker than blood.

So people can be male in one lifetime and female in another, and vice versa?

Yes, there seems to be frequent switching. You may have a preference, but you've tried out the other to see what it's like. This is also true of races and religions.

How do you explain souls that occupy bodies that are biologically damaged?

If this is all to learn-and this is what my patients keep telling me-to grow, to become more and more Godlike, then whatever experience you have is a learning experience. Sometimes, though, it's a teaching experience as well, so you may come back into this for others, maybe as an act of charity.

How do pre-determination and free will co-exist?

Someone told me this once: Life is like being on a bus. It has a certain pre-determined route. But the person you sit next to, how you act, what you say, that's all the free will part.

Why don't we automatically, consciously remember our past lives?

For one, more and more people are remembering. Through therapeutic techniques such as hypnosis, but also through dreams, spontaneously, through meditation, déjà vu. When they're in a place they have never been before and they know their way around.

This may be an evolutionary shift. I don't know why we don't all remember. The Greeks had a myth that when you were born again you drank from the River of Lethe, so you would forget your previous lives.

So you think some of us are born with certain values and ideals?

Yes, that's the whole purpose. That it gets ingrained at a deeper level. At the level of the heart and the soul-where the real learning takes place so that you're not dependent just on what your parents teach you.

If one's parents were bigots, and the child is able to overcome that, this is a degree of independence that transcends what we're taught.

This is your soul saying: "You know it's not right to be a bigot, despite what your parents, what the church or temple is telling you. You know better. Follow your heart." And when you're doing that, you've really learnt it. This is the soul memory.

When we're 'out there', will we be with all the people we knew here?

I think so, and even with those who are still here. The vision is better coming from the other direction. They're aware of more because they are not limited by a body and the brain. But we are.

What's the state of reincarnation research today?

There are physicians doing this. Raymond Moody, the psychiatrist who coined the phrase Near Death Experience, is now writing about his research with past life therapy. Then there's the Association of Past Life Reaserch and Therapy (APRT). They publish a journal. It's a mixed group, so it's hard to characterize them as representative of the scientific community.

How can reincarnation be validated? Do you look for supporting information?

It's difficult to prove reincarnation scientifically because of what we consider scientific. As a psychiatrist I'm interested in my patients' clinical improvement, in their welfare, so I look at two levels: of therapy and helping people, and then the other level, that of validating, or proving. Both are vital.

But I function more these days at the therapeutic level. There's no question in my mind, or in the minds of all of these physicians and psychotherapists who are writing to me, that this has a therapeutic effect. It's quick, it's vivid, it's relatively inexpensive, and people get better.

Physicists are now researching how one subatomic particle/wave in one location senses instantaneously what's happening to another one. Is it similar to psychic phenomena?

Yes, and physicists have proof that these particles exist, that they travel at the speed of light, and time is relative, and can stop. It's just that we have difficulty in letting go (of our old concepts).

If I told you that you're really, physically, a mass of electrons, protons and neutrons and energy, and wave/particle phenomena, you would say, "but I'm solid", and I would say, "yes, but that's not really true, because at a deeper level you're energy".

Scientists talk about things being connected at a sub-atomic level-what we would consider ESP-between these subatomic particles. Since we and everything in the universe are made up of these, does this explain how people can have 'paranormal' abilities?

Yes, that summarises the millennia of mystical knowledge, and solves the problems of the universe! It's true. We need to develop the skills. How to do this, how to be aware. Mystics have always been saying that there is no time, it just appears that way to us.

And when you start talking about other states, there is no space, there is no time. It's all happening now. This is our conception of God and of nature beyond the three-dimensional. That's the fascinating correlation that physics is starting to prove.

In mystical Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, this is all part of the esoteric tradition: There is not time, no space, we're all connected.

Do you believe that physicists will find that science, mysticism, spirituality, religion and parapsychology are connected through quantum physics?

Physicists are the mystics of the 21st century. They've begun to study consciousness, time moving backwards, all of these phenomena that were called occult or esoteric. I believe they'll be found to have their roots in nature, in science.

As we begin to use more of our brains through meditation and other ways, we're going to find that these things do have their basis in science, in nature. To discover the truth you have to throw out your old assumptions and old knowledge.

You wrote in Many Lives… that the most important lesson you learned with past life therapy is that there is no death. How has this changed your life, and how can this change everybody's life?

When you stop fearing death you start to live more. What I value now that I perhaps didn't value as much before are love, relationships, family-not just in the genetic sense, but in the larger sense. And what I value less now are material things. You can't take it with you. That's a cliché, but it's true.

How do our past life experiences and relationships affect our present life?

They affect us in every way. Many of your most meaningful relationships are not new. That's how you connect. Past lives also affect us in symptoms, both emotional and physical. Certain fears and anxieties carry over. Physical symptoms, where one may have been wounded or hurt in a previous life frequently come up. It affects us psychologically, emotionally, even in obesity.

Have you had patients who, while reliving a past life under hypnosis, had detailed/technical knowledge about something they know nothing about in this life?

Yes, that happens a lot. One of Dr Jarmon's cases is one of the best. A woman was seeing him for hypnotherapy for weight loss. He didn't believe in past lives. This was his first case (of past lives), and it happened spontaneously.

A Jewish woman in her 30s, she started to develop a new symptom while she was visiting him. Her periods had stopped and she developed lower abdominal tenderness, and she was becoming more anxious.

He was alarmed and thought she might have an ectopic pregnancy (in a fallopian tube), which can be dangerous because it can burst. So he referred her to a gynaecologist. She tested negative.

But she continued to see Dr Jarmon, and they were working on her anxiety, and he said: "Go back to the time from which your symptoms first arose."

His patient went back to the Middle Ages. She was five months pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy. In that life she was Catholic, and she was with a priest who wouldn't allow abortion or surgery, and so she died.

And just before she died she repeated the Catholic act of contrition to the priest, word for word. Dr Jarmon is Catholic and recognized it. It's what Catholics say to atone for their sins.

The Jewish woman had never heard of contrition. This happens all the time, but again, it's hard to prove because you can say they probably read this in school, picked up a book or learned this while they were overseas.

If we can go back to past lives, can we go forward to future ones?

There are people who are doing this work, such as Chet Snow, the president of the APRT Society. I haven't found it, and probably the reason is I'm not looking for it.

Many look at God as a force outside the universe that regulates everything.

Instead of within. I say: "Why limit God?" Perhaps God can listen to all of our prayers, all at the same time and pay infinite attention to it, because God isn't a human being.

So, you're saying that if there are an infinite number of possibilities, then nothing is impossible, and therefore, God can be everywhere.

Yes, and we can all be part of God, and yet be separate, in our own perspective. But we are all connected.

So, if we're all connected to everything, then by definition aren't we connected to God, too, since God, or a higher being, created all of this?

Yes. Now you're approaching my very simplistic way of viewing everything. That God-love-is an energy that is in everything. Intelligence, wisdom, love, compassion and more-that's all we're made of.

Tell us about your past lives.

The first time I remembered was during an acupressure massage for an old neck injury that was flaring up. At that point, Many Lives… had been written, but wasn't published yet.

And I wasn't telling a soul. I was afraid for my reputation and career. So I mentioned nothing to the therapist. I would go into this very relaxed, almost meditative state, and during the third or fourth one-hour session I saw this image.

It was me, taller, thin, wearing a multi-coloured robe, standing in a large geometric shaped building. I knew I was a priest of some sort, very powerful, with the ear of the royal family. I had some psychic abilities in that life, too.

And I was misusing it to gain more power, sex, greed, things like that. It was a very good life! Very easy, but wasted. The word ziggurat kept ringing in my head. I had no conscious memory of ever coming across that word.

It doesn't prove that I didn't, in college or something, but I didn't remember it. I didn't say anything to the therapist, went home and looked up ziggurat. It's a word for architectural structures, temples of the Babylonian era, like the hanging gardens of Babylon.

I had another experience years later. I had this dream of being imprisoned in a European dungeon, my arm chained to the wall. I was being tortured for teaching about my religious beliefs, which included reincarnation. And I died there.

I became aware, as I died, of a message: "When you had the chance to teach it, you did not." I knew that was referring back to that episode with the ziggurat. "When you didn't have the chance, you did."

And I knew that meant that I should have taught about love. I didn't have to teach about reincarnation and get killed for it. I went too far. The implication was: "Now you can have both. You have the chance, and you can teach about it." It's as if those two were the important past lives.

Who are The Masters?

This is what Catherine described as the source of the information coming to her. She would hear them, and then tell me. But she had no memory of it when she woke up.

When she was in-between remembering past lives she would go into this state. She said this was coming from the master spirits, The Masters. And out came knowledge that was very unlike her. Even the phonetics, grammar and style were different.

And she wasn't an actress, a multiple personality or schizophrenic. I've had other patients tell me things-it's coming from a more pure source that's not contaminated by our brains. I've had much contact with The Masters, but they're not identifying themselves by that name anymore.

What do you think of other alternative physical and mental therapies?

I do feel that there may be validity to many of these approaches and we need to study these. That's why I was heartened to see that the National Institutes of Health created a division that deals with alternative and holistic approaches. The government is funding and supporting this. There's a tremendous amount to gain, both in healing and direct physical and mental health.
Extracted with permission from Voices of Truth, by Nina L. Diamond, Full Circle.
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Friday, October 21, 2005

No If or But

AAMI has recently reported that there has been an increase in “road rage” here in Australia. According to the expert who was interviewed in the news, the cause can be attributed to the increase in traffic congestion and the drivers are running out of patience. In the same news broadcast that evening in the Radio ABC News, it was reported that there has been a rise in parent abuse involving children “bullying” their elderly parents into “rearranging” the parents’ financial affairs to benefit the children. Experts are urging the victims to seek legal protection… Now, these are hardly earth shattering news. The initial impression is that road rage and parent abuse would appear to be the logical conclusions to our go-faster, I-want-it-now life style which we have created for ourselves, and we talk about patience, tolerance or greed among others as immediate causes. But then I begin to wonder if these are really the culprits. The question is: what makes the same person patient/impatient, tolerant/intolerant, and greedy/generous? Is there a common thread that strings them all together? Well, there is. The word “Respect” pops into my mind. I hate “lecturing”, but this has been nagging me for some weeks now, so I am putting it in writing if just to get some decent sleep.

How often have we heard the expression, “If you want my respect, you have to earn it.”? I have said it myself a few times in my life, and to the people I didn’t particular like at the time. It was especially cool to say it behind the back of your new boss. But what did I mean when I said, “You have to earn it.”? Now that I have had time to think over it, I guess what I really wanted to say was this, “You have to do exactly what I think you should do.” In other words, I was prescribing a set of behaviors that I deemed acceptable to me in order for me to respect you, which meant that I was imposing my preconceived conditions on our relationship. The devil didn’t make me say it. What seduced me into saying it was that it sounded so good and proper at the time that I didn’t really bother to think about the underlying meaning of the expression. Now I know better.

No one has to earn his or her respect. It comes with you as a being, not more or not less than any another being, whether you are rich or poor, weak or strong, young or old, black, white, yellow or brown. You earn your esteem, your fame, your high praises, for which you work hard. Respect is something intrinsic, it comes fundamentally with you at your birth. It defines the limit that we set ourselves when we interact with others. There is a limit to what we can do and say; we do not impose our will on others out of respect, and that goes beyond mere courtesy

In exercising your free will, you may choose to be whom and what you want to be, I would respect your choice, even if I disagree with the path you have chosen. Who am I to intervene in whatever lessons you need to take in your life? If you ask me for some advice I would be glad to tell you what I think, but you do not need my approval. Just respect what I have to say, as I respect what you have to do. The questions you may like to consider are: Are you fulfilling your inner urge? Is what you are becoming enriching your inner soul? Are you at peace with your inner self in doing the things that you choose to do? There must be a reason for you to act in a certain way, and I respect that. It therefore makes no impact on me whether you want to spray-paint my white fence with your tag, tailgate me down the busy road with your horn blasting, or threaten me with violence if I don’t sign over my property to you, none whatsoever, if you think your choice of action fulfils your urge and enrich your inner soul. Just remember, you alone have to accept the full responsibility for the choice you make, and account for the action you take, no one else, even if in the process you have shown a remarkable lack of respect for me or my property.

I maybe naïve or simplistic, but somehow I feel that there would be less conflicts and damages if people show respect for one another. If you respect other drivers on the road, you would not expect them to drive the way you do; if children respect their elderly parents, they would not force them to do things they do not wish to do; if a vandal respect my property, he would not choose to spray-paint his tag on it. Imagine what it would be like in a grand scale: if a culture shows its respect for another culture, a religion for another religion, and a nation for another nation. Not everyone thinks or acts like you, it would be totally pointless to judge others or expect others to behave in accordance with your standard or believes in order for you to respect them. In this regards, respect is unconditional, no if or but.