April 15, 2014
Many Lives, Many Masters
This week, I decided to read Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss, a well-known psychiatrist based in Miami. The whole book is basically one long story about his patient who goes through therapy with him, which turns out to be a huge turning point for both him and his patient. His patient, Catherine, came into his office saying she has stress/trauma related experiences in her sleep, and Dr. Weiss tries to find the root of her problems by hypnosis. He finds out that she has the capabilities to talk about her past lives under hypnosis, and every time she gets to confront the traumatic death in her past life, her symptoms get lighter.
I don’t want to get into the details of Catherine’s past-life experiences, but I am more interested in how Dr. Weiss went about processing this new information. He basically comes from the standard scientific community, and he is very skeptical about anything spiritual because most of these spiritual concepts are anecdotal subjective experiences. When he encountered the possibility of such thing called spirit and past-life, he was skeptical. Thoughts rushed through his head that could potential explain what happened in terms of modern science (Catherine’s “Past-Life” experiences could just be a fantasy or imagination. At the same time, he told himself to keep an open mind and to keep observing. He did not reject what had happened, but rather decided to dig deeper.
As he kept digging deeper, and continuously witnessing Catherine’s spiritual experiences, he became more and more sure that she could not be faking it, and there is something real happening here. However, he does not expect the scientific community to immediately accept it. To quote, “The experience is necessary to add emotional belief to intellectual understanding” (p58). In the preface, he talks about how the study of spiritual field is still in its infancy. He refers back to historical events in science such as when Galileo first discovered the moons of Jupiter and how most scientists refused to believe it because it conflicted with the standard set of accepted beliefs. He believes this is what is happening in the world of spirituality. Eventually enough evidence will emerge to turn the whole thing around. Dr. Weiss hopes that his book is going to be a part of that revolution.
One last bit that really resonated with me was in the afterword of the book, where the author drops this quote : “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” I have never considered to look at life this way! It sounds crazy, but yet makes a lot of sense considering all of the topics we have been talking about in our class.