Review by: KEN KORCZAK
Beginning in the late 1980s, two prominent mental health doctors put their careers and prestigious reputations on the line to report on a remarkable phenomenon they had observed in their patients.
One was Yale Medical School graduate DR. BRIAN WEISS who was head of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center. The other was DR. MICHAEL NEWTON, a Ph.D. psychologist and a 1953 graduate of the University of Arizona.
Working independently of each other, both came upon the phenomenon by accident. The therapists were using hypnosis techniques long respected by mainstream medical psychiatry to regress patients to their early childhoods so they might discover hidden trauma they had repressed or forgotten as adults.
Doctors Weiss and Newton were often stunned when a patient would not simply “stop” when they retrieved memories of very early childhood, but “kept going” to describe experiences from before they were born. They seemed to be telling of memories from a previous life. It was as if they had been reincarnated in the classic sense. Neither Newton nor Weiss were familiar with or advocates of the ancient Eastern religious concept of reincarnation at the time.
As stunning as that was for the two doctors, they became even more nonplussed when their patient began to describe an experience that appeared to be that of an “in-between” life state. That is, after the physical body of a previous life died, they inhabited some sort of timeless, nonphysical spiritual realm in which they had time to rest, learn, contemplate what lessons they had gleaned from the life they had just completed. This “space” was also an opportunity to plan for the next life.
Dr. Weiss published a book about his findings in 1988. Many Lives, Many Masters became an instant bestseller. Dr. Newton brought out his first book in 1994, Journey of Souls. His book also met an enthusiastic response. Both books seemed to awaken a latent archetypical “knowingness” among a large swath of the public.
I’ll go as far to say that these books ushered in an all-new mode of psychological therapy — past life regression therapy. Certainly, it remains highly controversial among mainstream science and psychology, but millions of people don’t care about skeptical critics because they have undergone this experience for themselves and have found it healing and transformational.
In his new book, professional hypnotherapist PIETER ELSEN said that he was inspired by the works of Weiss and Newton. He promises in this book to not only build on their works but take the subject a step further to explore deeper aspects and broader implications of past life regression therapy.
He brings a fresh perspective thanks to his remarkable background and life experience. Born in Holland to a comfortable middle-class family, Elsen grew up to attend the prestigious Design Academy in Eindhoven where he earned a degree in industrial design. Even though he graduated with honors, he literally “ripped his degree to shreds” and never practiced his new profession. He was an incurable contrarian. He was repulsed by the idea of launching himself into a life of mundane mediocrity. Instead, he embarked on a spiritual journey of self-discovery. He joined an ashram in France and studied with Indian monks. He also traveled extensively. Along the way, he became a bona fide Vedic holy man which included an 11-year stint serving and meditating in an Indian monastery.
Still a contrarian at heart, Elsen eventually reached another crossroads. He opted out of his role as a monk to rejoin western society. He said that he did not want to “become an Indian” or abandon his fundamental identity as a man born of western culture. He returned from India and found his way to America. He became certified to practice clinical hypnotherapy and completed a Ph.D. in Metaphysical Humanistic Science with a concentration on transpersonal and spiritual counseling.
So, as I said , he makes a bold promise at the outset of this book: To take this issue of past-life and in-between-life exploration beyond Weiss and Newton.
But does he deliver? I’m delighted to say that he does. Since Weiss and Newton, dozens of others have written on the same topic, but just about all of those books are “more of the same.” Elsen manages, however, to break new ground partially because of his hard-won perspective that combines a Western Judeo-Christian orientation with a deeply acquired Eastern-Vedic world view.
Yes, Elsen presents transcripts of regressed clients that are similar to those offered by Weiss and newton, but he goes much further in providing a broad, overarching interpretation of the meanings and implications that fall out of this phenomenon.
Best of all, he pulls it off without preaching, lecturing or “leading the witness” – that is, Elsen urges every person to find their own path in their own unique way. He believes past-life and in-between-life regression can be a helpful tool, but not necessarily required for everyone. He’s a staunch proponent of meditation. Many times in these pages he urges: “Meditate, meditate, meditate.”
While everyone is unique and must find his or her own way, he makes it clear that there is a necessary confluence between the individual path and the influence of the collective consciousness. While every person may take a different path as they climb the mountain, they still do so while embedded in broad archetypes and a kind of implicate order that exists in the universe – perhaps a larger framework we’re all embedded within as both individuals who are simultaneously part of a whole – the essential Oneness of All That Is.
I could go on – I’m only giving you a taste of the many rich and textured thoughts and perspectives that spill forth from these pages. There’s much to be discovered in this fine book, and so it gets my top recommendation.
Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS
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