began at the end of the nineteenth century, a remarkable number

of Westerners have come to accept the Hindu and Buddhist

knowledge of rebirth. One of them, the great American industrialist

and philanthropist Henry Ford, wrote:

I adopted the theory of reincarnation when I was twenty-six. Religion

offered nothing to the point. Even work could not give me

complete satisfaction. Work is futile if we cannot utilize the experience

we collect in one life in the next When I discovered reincarnation

... time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to

the hands of the clock.... I would like to communicate to others

the calmness that the long view of life gives to us. 2

A Gallup poll taken in 1982 showed that nearly one in four

Americans believe in reincarnation. 3 This is an astonishing

statistic considering how dominant the materialist and scientific

philosophy is in almost every aspect of life.

However, most people still have only the most shadowy

idea about life after death, and no idea of what it might be

like. Again and again, people tell me they cannot bring themselves

to believe in something for which there is no evidence.

But that is hardly proof, is it, that it does not exist? As

Voltaire said: "After all, it is no more surprising to be born

twice than it is to be born once."

"If we have lived before," I'm often asked, "why don't we

remember it?" But why should the fact that we cannot

remember our past lives mean that we have never lived

before? After all, experiences of our childhood, or of yesterday,

or even of what we were thinking an hour ago were vivid as

they occurred, but the memory of them has almost totally

eroded, as though they had never taken place. If we cannot

remember what we were doing or thinking last Monday, how

on earth do we imagine it would be easy, or normal, to

remember what we were doing in a previous lifetime?

Sometimes I tease people and ask: "What makes you so

adamant that there's no life after death? What proof do you

have? What if you found there was a life after this one, having

died denying its existence? What would you do then?

Aren't you limiting yourself with your conviction that it

doesn't exist? Doesn't it make more sense to give the possibility

of a life after death the benefit of the doubt, or at least be

open to it, even if there is not what you would call 'concrete

evidence'? What would constitute concrete evidence for life

after death?"

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