Reincarnation. It is the cyclical existence of the human soul. According to this theory/ idea/ myth/ metaphysical truth (depending on your point of view, when one person dies, the soul gets passed down from generation to generation and from person to person.
The idea of reincarnation is quite antithetical to the vast majority of Christian denominations and completely rejected in Islam. However, to the vast majority of people on the planet – Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Druze, and many other religions around the world – reincarnation is a part of the life and death cycle.
When one person dies, according to people who believe in reincarnation, the soul goes into another person’s body. In Hinduism the soul moves up and down social classes depending on how you were in your past life. If you were a good person, your soul moves up a class, and reaches another step on the way to being joined in with the greater being of the universe.
In Buddhism, they also believe in reincarnation. In fact, the Dalai Lamma, or the leader of the Buddhist religion, is reincarnated. Interestingly, the person who is responsible for pointing out and discovering the new Dalai Lama is himself reincarnated as well.
It’s worth it to note that the person who is supposed to pick out the next Dalai Lama has already been born, but has been kidnapped by the Chinese government, as they view the Dalai Lama as a threat to their authority.
But many times, children are born in the United States, and they seem to be reincarnated as well. They can be born to good Christian families, and they can still have signs that eastern religions say clearly point to reincarnation.
One of these children, who had vivid memories of his own past life was named Ryan Hammond. He went to a leading university professor on the issue, and his parents nearly fainted when they found out that…
Lives of the past
A man named Dr. Jim Tucker teaches courses at the University of Virginia. Specifically, he is an associate professor of neurobehavioral sciences and psychiatry. One of the things that he focuses on are these children who seem to be a bit, well, different. A bit older. Children who are able to understand and process information that others their age can’t wrap their heads around. But recently, he has been looking at children who claim to remember past lives.
“Return to Life”
Dr. Tucker has written a book titled “Return to Life” in which he describes his theory which states that children who are between the ages of two and six years old are able to recall tragic or violent deaths, and are better able to understand complex ideas and subjects. He has tested over 2,500 children in order to support his theory, and looked for signs of reincarnation.
The case of Ryan Hammonds
With such a large sample size, it is incredible and interesting to note the various statistical similarities between the children and their memories of their “past lives,” but these memories ultimately fade away. However, there was one case which really stuck with Dr. Tucker. He says that a young boy named Ryan Hammons has retained all of his “past memories” in near perfect detail.
Ryan’s mother Cyndi was the one who really started noticing something which was perhaps supernatural was going on with her son. By the time that Ryan was four years old, he began having extremely vivid nightmares, and would wake up in the middle of the night frightened out of his mind. He would claim that it felt like his heart was exploding. It go so bad that Ryan’s family thought that there may be a demon inside of him.
Little boys are well versed in playing make believe, and it isn’t beyond the pale for them to come up with crazy, fantastical stories. But Cyndi says that it felt like she was in her own horror movie. Cyndi says that she would walk in on little Ryan and he would be pretending to direct “pictures.” But then, one day, out of nowhere, he would tell his mother something that drained the color from her face.
Ryan told his mother Cyndi that he wanted to “go home.” He said that he used to be another person, and even began proving it to her. He began telling her of various memories he had which were just way too specific for a boy of four to have picked up from a movie or from television. Mainly, he began describing the intricate details of being on a Hollywood movie set in the 1940s – which is why he was directing “pictures” in his room. They were motion pictures.
Ryan then began speaking about various memories he had, using the names of famous 1940s actors and actresses he claimed to have com into contact with . For instance, he said that he had met a woman named Rita Hayworth, and that she loved performing on Broadway as well as drinking Coke floats. There was no way that Ryan would have ever seen a Rita Hayworth movie to know who she was, let alone that she also like Coke floats.
Just a phase
Cyndi was born and raised a devout Baptist Christian, so when her son started speaking like he was in a 1940s film and spouting knowledge about actors and actresses from a bygone era, she was extremely worried, confused, and lost. She figured that this was just a really weird phase her son was going through, and decided to hide it from her husband. However, the “phase” did not end.
Liked being bigger
And yet, Ryan continued, telling story after story about his “travels” with the biggest stars in 1940s Hollywood. He would say things such as “I used to be big, but now I’m little,” or “I liked it better when I was big and I could go wherever and whenever I wanted to go.” Cyndi eventually came to the conclusion that her son was not simply making these stories up. “His stories were so detailed and they were so extensive….a child couldn’t have made it up,” she said.
Crying for California
A short while later, at the age of five years old, Ryan and his mother were watching television when the Hollywood sign appeared on the screen. Ryan immediately began to cry to his mother, begging her to be taken back. He would then go on to tell his mother about lavish Hollywood parties and who was at them and they types of food there, and even told her about how he used to work at a company which helped various performers change their names.
Finally, the “memories” and the details of the stories were just getting way to specific, and it was clear that this five year old child was not just telling tales. One of the things which convinced his mother that he wasn’t lying was the fact that Ryan kept asking for Tru-Ade, a drink which was popular in the 1940s, but was discontinued decades before Ryan was born. He also kept talking about how he had a “past life.”
Cyndi had no idea what to do. Was her beautiful son possessed by a demon? Was he really the reincarnation of another person? How would she deal with this? Was her son’s soul not really his own? She had to figure it out. So, she decided to have her son flip through a book containing pictures from 1940s movie classics to see what would happen. What came next nearly caused her to faint.
As Ryan began going through the pages and looking at the pictures in the book, Ryan began recognizing people, and suddenly, he stopped. He put his finger on a picture of a person in a black and white picture, looked up at his mother, and said “That’s George! We did a picture together.” The man, as it turned out, was in fact an actor named George Raft. But then Ryan pointed at another man and said “That’s me, Mama!”
Cyndi had no idea who it was her son was pointing to in the picture. He just looked like any other actor from the 1940s. However, after weeks for digging and searching, Cyndi was finally able to discover who the man her son claimed to be was. The man’s name was Marty Martyn. He played as an extra in one movie (which starred George Raft) and then became a Hollywood agent. Yet, he died five decades before Ryan was born.
Talking to Tucker
Cyndi was in shock. She could not believe that her son had such vivid memories as someone else, someone who had a successful career with the biggest names in Hollywood. Was she dreaming? Could this be true? She decided to elicit the help of Dr. Tucker to see what was really going on. She pitched her story to him, and he immediately agreed to sit down with Ryan.
Asking the tough questions
Dr. Tucker sat down with Ryan and began to ask him questions – questions only the real Marty Martyn would know. Ryan answered the questions diligently, providing 55 detailed facts about Martyn’s life. Dr. Tucker then went off to do extensive research on Marty Martyn. He even went so far as to contact the late Hollywood agent’s daughter to ascertain Ryan’s accuracy. It turned out that everything Ryan told the doctor was true, including that Martyn died of a heart attack.
There were a plethora of other details which Ryan was able to accurately depict about Marty Martyn’s life, including that he drove green Rolls Royce and how many children he had. However, when Ryan said that Martyn had two sisters, Marty Martyn’s daughter said that Ryan was incorrect. However, upon closer inspection of the records, it turned out that Ryan was right. Martyn’s second sister had been kept a secret all these years.
How old was he?
There was another detail that Ryan allegedly got wrong. Ryan said that Marty Martyn had died when he was 61. However, Dr. Tucker revealed that his death certificate said that Martyn was only 59. But as Dr. Tucker began looking more into the issue, he found Marty Martyn’s birth certificate, proving that the death certificate was wrong about his age and that Ryan was right.
Dr. Tucker has received a lot of flack for using Ryan and hundreds of others as examples of reincarnation. However, he is insistent that he is simply trying to apply science to an allegedly supernatural phenomenon which cultures the world over believe in. Regarding Ryan and his reincarnation, Dr. Tucker wrote “It had seemed unlikely that an extra with no lines would have danced on Broadway, had a big house with a swimming pool, and traveled the world on big boats. But Marty Martyn did.”
The doctor is still not sure why this crazy phenomenon occurs, nor how it even happens. These phenomena seem to have all of the markers of reincarnation, but still, it is still as yet impossible to prove with the technology we currently have. “These cases demand an explanation,” he says. “We can’t just write them off or explain them away as just some sort of normal cultural thing.”
Is it real?
Ryan, now 12, has less and less memories, and the ones he does have are much less vivid than they used to be when he was five and six years old. Dr. Tucker says that this is quite normal, and that as the new memories come in, the old ones get pushed out. However, Dr. Tucker is still amazed at the longevity of the memories Ryan was able to retain. So, is reincarnation real?