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  • Writer's pictureBernard Beitman, MD

Reincarnation Research: Just a Coincidence?

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Kids tell stories about deceased others, claiming to have lived before.

Jim B. Tucker, MD (Used with permission of Jim Tucker, MD)

When people die, nature sometimes reacts.

At a picnic, a woman grieving the loss of her 5-day-old child sees a small bird land on her breast. The bird stays there until she shoos it away. The act symbolizes her letting go of the baby. (Connecting With Coincidence, p. 124)

A woman’s favorite flower blooms after her death in the dead of winter (Connecting With Coincidence, p. 126). The Pulse Massacre

The Orlando vigil, outside Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, was attended by thousands of people. A bell tolled for each of the 49 victims killed when a man opened fire in the Orlando gay club Pulse on June 12, 2016.

As the names were being read, a photographer snapped a picture of a flock of exactly 49 birds flying overhead. The birds had not been released and were an apparent freak occurrence at the vigil which left the crowd “stunned.”

The Transition From Life

What happens when to us when we die? An age-old question for which religions have provided answers with faith and little proof. Our government spends millions on health and scientific research but almost nothing on the death transition we will all go through. What do you believe? The Tibetan Book of the Dead helps prepare the soul for the experience of after body death. In one version, the soul goes through several transitional states, or bardos, on the way out. With enough preparation, there may be a portal out into the next level of being. If not, there will be a return to this life in some form or other. Maybe We Become Part of Everything

Perhaps we become part of all that is around us as suggested by this poem, composed by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning's hush I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die.

Reincarnation Research

Some young children tell their parents that they were someone else, someone who had died. Research at the University of Virginia has found remarkable correlations between the details reported by these children and deceased people. These correlations are among the most amazing coincidences. Skeptics do their usual "oh, that is just a chance event." Researcher Jim B. Tucker, MD collects data that demands a more nuanced answer. The probabilities of the correlations are too incredibly low to ignore. Coincidences were involved in bringing Dr. Tucker to this work and in promoting it.

Ian Stevenson, MD needed someone to carry on his reincarnation work at the University of Virginia. He was 77 years old. His time was coming. Jim Tucker, a child psychiatrist in private practice was looking for something more stimulating. While reading one of Ian's books, his wife saw an article in the local newspaper about a grant that Ian's division had received. She nudged Jim to look into the division. Jim was a perfect fit. He was experienced and comfortable in interviewing young children and their families. He was a careful thinker and scientifically minded. And enthusiastic. Ian had a desperate need. Jim showed up (with his wife's help) in creating the timely match for a need fulfilling coincidence. Ryan, one of the subjects in the reincarnation research, remembered working in Hollywood on stage. He insisted that he had been someone else. To help him along, his mother got some books about old Hollywood. As she was turning the pages, Ryan said "that's George." George turned out to be George Raft a well-known actor in gangster movies in the 1930s and 40s. Then Ryan pointed to someone else—Marty Martin—saying, "that's me." To listen to Dr. Tucker recount this story and describe his reincarnation research, please click here.

Books by Dr. Tucker

  • Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children’s Memories of Previous Lives

  • Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives

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