I have wanted to read this book for decades. It was published in the late 1980s, and in a time when the world moved more slowly, so it wasn’t a best seller for nearly six years until after its publication.
I remember my colleague, Elaine, reading it and running discussion groups based on it. She once gave me a one-line description of it, and I promptly forgot about it for 20 years. I was out for a neighborhood walk the other day (while Dan was getting his hair cut) and happened in to a local bookshop, that, despite it being in my neighborhood for the past 40 years, I have never set foot into.
The book leaped out at me, and I thought: why not? A good travel read.
Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives tells the story of a psychiatrist and his patient. The patient has anxiety and depression and when hypnotically regressed shares vivid details of past lives.
I don’t doubt the concept of past lives–I am certain there is much we don’t know about our own lives–but the very first “flashback” in the book haunts me a bit. Not because the story is scary, but because of one peculiarly in the telling of the story.
During the first regression, the patient recalls vivid details from a past life in some year–2870 BC—and that’s where it fell apart for me. If you were living in BC, or BCE as it seems to now be called, you wouldn’t know it…because it’s a time frame that was applied retroactively by historians and scholars after the birth of Christ. It would be as if some event 1,000 years from now completely re-arranged the numbering of our current timekeeping system. We would know that 1,000 years from now, but we would have no sense of it now.
That one tiny detail made me doubt the authenticity of the stories his patient recounted. Despite that (and regardless, the date issue could be explained by the simple fact that the patient was viewing that memory retrospectively) the book is a good and thought provoking read that examines our life-cycle, which I can beat explain as similar to sleep. Just as we are awake/conscious each day and we lapse into unconscious/sleep each night, it is this cycle delimited by these periods that frames our perception of time and days. Similarly, the patient reported A similar pattern to lifetimes, a new lifetime following a brief period of death. The same idea on a different scale, as it were.
Definitely thought provoking and definitely worth a read and discussion.
Have you read Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives? If so, what are your thoughts on the book?