Our guest blogger Dr Bronwen Rees is a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, a UKCP-accredited core process psychotherapist, and Director of the Centre for Tranformational Management Practice at Anglia Ruskin University. She has led retreats in UK and internationally, and also has written several books and articles. She is the founder of the East West Sanctuary, and is exploring connections between ancient wisdom and contemporary evolutionary science including physics, molecular biology and depth psychotherapy.


Towards a Scientific Meaning of Past and Future Life work

by Bronwen Rees (Sinhagupta)

Working with field energies: past and future regressions

For many people, the idea of past, let alone, future, regressions is absurd, or completely whacky. Certainly to any scientist who requires evidence of his or her senses from the empirical world for validation, anything that goes beyond the material would, by definition, not exist. Therefore those who participate in such activities must be, by definition, out of this world, mad.

I am in the fortunate position of being both a scientist, and also have undergone both past and future regression. I do not see this as communing with ghosts, past incarnations, necessarily, but in my experience this is what it can feel like. Whatever I do know is that what happens provides me with more information and guidance on how I live my life more fully and purposefully in the present.

It did take me some time, as a management scientist, used to employing the scientific method, to release my rational judgement of the exercise as it being something that I had completely made up, or fantasised. Firstly, from an experiential point of view, when an experience became real, there was always an embodied emotional counterpart. Working with this emotion in my everyday life and relationships, I would come to understand how I might repeat dynamics and experiences that were often left unresolved. Whether this was a past life incarnation speaking to me or no – the effects were palpable and transformational. The danger with such experiences is to cling to them, and fail to understand them in the present. The many people who have reincarnated from Cleopatra  or Joan of Arc, lay testimony to this tendency not to want to address problems in the current life! The Buddha himself on the night of his enlightenment, saw a series of visions of his past lives, and understood the nature of interconnectedness more deeply, but there is a constant warning in the scriptures not to ‘believe’ in these. The apparent paradox here is precisely this: these experiences can feel very strong and real, but by identifying with them, it is more likely to continue with the karmic cycles in this lifetime, rather than learning and moving on.

However, as humans, we understand stories, and we need these to make meaning of our lives, and work out future actions. And there are many people who cannot understand some of the patterns in the current life from the conditioning that they remember in this lifetime. So the value of going back to past lives can heal these woundings, and burn out the old karma.

Having always struggled with my own rationality taking over from and dismissing my ‘unusual’ experiences, I have since found a way of understanding these that could persuade any open-minded scientist of the value of past life regression and the possibilities in future regressions. There are several strands to this, and these have been discoveries and interconnections made in new physics, evolutionary biology and depth psychotherapy, in particular the works of David Bohm, Rupert Sheldrake and Carl Jung – to name in a way the sources of these continuing exciting connections.

Just for now, I am interested in the discoveries of new physics, and the differing behaviours of particles and waves, and their implications for aspects of the ‘field’, and how this may provide some useful interpretations of what happens in past and future life regressions for the benefit of those of you who think this may be wacky (mind you, if you did you would probably not be reading this page!)

It was the famous double-slit experiment that first showed physicists that the behaviour of electrons was not as anticipated, and brought into question the whole thorny question of: what is matter?

At the level of matter, if small pieces of matter, such as , say marbles, are fired randomly through a single slit, on a screen the other side, they hit as a single stream. When fired through a double slit, two lines appear as they have gone through each of the slits. If a wave was sent through, however, they hit the screen as an interference pattern, with a series of parallel lines. In going through the slit, the wave has separated out and cancelled each other out – the interference pattern showing as a line where they meet at the top, and nothing is seen where they meet at the bottom. So the behaviour of the wave is different from that of the particle when going through two slits.

What happens if we take this at a quantum level? An electron is a tiny particle. If a stream of electrons are fired through a single slit, and hit an opposing wall, a single line of electrons appear. So far, so good. When they are fired through a double slit however something strange happens, and the pattern transforms into an interference pattern as though it were a wave. Thinking that perhaps the electrons were bouncing off each other, the experimenters shot the electrons through one at a time so that they could not possibly interfere with each other. The same interference pattern arose.  So the only thing that could have happened is that as it approaches the slit, each electron separates out, and acts as a wave of potential, and appears to go through both slits. Mathematically, it appeared to go through, one, through both, through neither, so they decided to observe what was happening. They put up a measuring instrument at one of the slits to see which it was going through. As soon as a measuring instrument was set up at one of the slits the electron went through just one, thereby turning itself back into a particle. So, the conclusion was clear: as soon as it was observed the electron decided to act differently, as though it was aware it was being watched. So this raised the questions, what is matter, and what is the observer doing? It seems that the observer collapsed the wave potential simply by observing.

Metaphysically, this has huge implications for the way in which we view the world. It is not divisible into tiny pieces of matter – for at this quantum level, the particles appear to act like waves of potential – and it takes an observer for this to appear as matter. Waves turn into particles, and particles into waves! The world is not what we experience it as!

So what has this to do with past and future life regression? At the very least, it suggests that the materialist argument which has dominated thought for over 400 years is incorrect. And there are other strange happenings at the quantum level. Here, beyond measurement, we cannot predict what will happen with matter, but we do have probability equations, which suggests that at one point in time and space, matter, determined by time (which measures it) will act in a probablistic fashion – there is always predictability in the world. Things go on as normal, and we all repeat our usual patterns of behaviour.   However, we all know of those times when the unpredictable arises – our partner does not act as expected. We jump out of our comfort zone. Often this can result in positive transformation.  Jung called manifestations of this phenomenon, synchronicity – and they were always accompanied by increased emotional intensity.

All his life, Jung struggled to find some positive evidence for his quest after the so-called ‘paranormal’, which was part of his own inner experience – especially in the salons of Vienna, with table turning, book cases moving ( in one of his encounters with Freud)  and his own inner journey which was rich in visions. Towards the end of his life, and after a long dialogue with the physicist Pauli, Jung finally wrote his ‘Theory of Synchronicity’ in which he argued that causality, and non-causality stood in a mutual relationship and represented two orders of manifestation. Synchronicity is when two events take place outside of place and time yet which correlate with one another – as when a patient recounted a dream of a scarab beetle, just at the moment as a scarab beetle appeared at his window. For Jung the psychologist, the difference between a causal and acausal manifestation is that the latter is felt with great emotional intensity, and holds great meaning for the person involved. As it is outside time and space, it is acausal, cannot be measured or predicted.

So back to this quantum universe which only comes into manifestation when observed ( measured). The physicist David Bohm described this as a holographic universe, represented by infinite movement between one pole of and another (holomovement)  – just as the wave comes back and interferes with itself when going through the slits. The implicate (potential) universe is enfolded within the explicate (manifest) universe, and only when consciousness comes into contact with the implicate does it collapse into form or manifestation. In the explicate universe things seemingly act in a predictable way, but at times these change, and everything around changes. So, there are physics laws which work at the Newtonian level – that of matter, measurable by time and space, and there is a quantum universe below and within this which interweaves in and out. This may be described as the enfolding of the implicate and the explicate. They are in a constant co-creation – one brings the other into being.

Now, this implicate universe only comes into being when it is observed, or measured. So (now we’ve got there) when undergoing past or future regression what we are looking at is karma and potentiality. Back to the waves/particles again – when electrons have gone through the slit, they remain forever correlated with one another across time and space. When one is affected, the other will feel it – at a non-local space. This is similar to what is called telepathy. When, for example in a relationship, one party is thinking about something, it is possible that the other will also experience it – we will all have had experiences of this – synchronicity. It only happens when the parties are correlated in some fashion or another. This correlation can be compared at a human level to karma – people are correlated, and thus there will be a lingering memory that will come into potential at the right time ( Buddhists would call this the alaya vinahayan – the storehouse consciousness). Amit Goswami suggests that this very process can be compared with the progress of the soul across lifetimes. The soul is not a monolithic entity but is what he calls a ‘quantum monad’. In the enfolded and enfolding universe, however, all these events exist as transcendent potentia – it will manifest when consciousness collapses it. The individualised quantum monad has various human themes that need to unfold and become conscious before enlightenment, and the monad is correlated across different incarnations. At times of great stress, trauma, or strong concentration, these themes and lifetimes can be called back into conscious – thus acting as a non-local quantum, and can therefore inform the current lifetime.

So, following this, when we undergo past life regression we are calling back into our ‘quantum monads’ and seeking out that which remains to be healed or resolved, so connections can be released. When we are doing a future regression, we are looking at the future potential from the quantum monad, and so we can speed up our conscious spiritual journey at this moment in time.

I see these as unfolded waves within which lay nodes of experience, bodies of knowledge, old woundings, that surface unexpectedly. If we can contact these, then that can clarify and therefore transform our current behaviour, which takes us further along the road to freedom. If we can contact our future potentia, then by collapsing it through consciousness in the present, we can make more informed choices, thus relieving ourselves of unnecessary suffering in the present lifetime.

Such a process is what seems to happen in past and future life regressions, and I call it in my practice ‘field’ energies. In both cases, the process is somewhat the same. Lana may work with Western archetypal figures such as Archangels, or I may experience these as Buddhist symbols which I have been meditating on for years. However it is done, there is a lowering of the consciousness at a rational, fixed level, and an evocation of these deeper energies – deeper penetration into the implicate order. In this way the conditions are created for non-local phenomena to arise, which when held in conscious compassion can be related to and released. In my experience leading groups and therapy I would often have occasion to feel the presence of an ancestor, or spiritual support in the therapy room. This may manifest as a vibration, or a light, or simply a felt sense. That would depend on the person, and their individual qualities. The great thinker and scientific spiritualist Steiner would say the same – this is the manifestation of the implicate within the explicate, an interweaving of evanescent subtle form available only with those who have the eyes to see, and ears to hear. And above all, an intention for this to be an opportunity for movement and release.

I’ve attempted here to articulate past and future life regression in this way to try and convince doubters, or those immersed in more rational themes, that it is not just a feat of the imagination. The universe is a vast and complicated mechanism – anything that can shed light on, and thereby bring compassion to, will help each of us on our individual and collective journeys towards enlightenment.

Copyright Bronwen Rees 2012


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