Telepathy and Eye Contact.

“When eye contact between two people is initiated and maintained, an invisible energetic circuit is established between the two participants, dissolving the barriers that ordinarily separate them from each other, drawing them ever closer into a shared awareness of union.”
— Will Johnson, The Spiritual Practices of Rumi: Radical Techniques for Beholding the Divine.

“Portal sits deep within the eye.
The eye of yin’s severity
rewards understanding.”
— Mudvayne, Mercy, Severity.

In addition to my personal experiences, parapsychological research suggests that not only is eye gazing unnecessary for telepathy to occur, but distance between the subjects in question ultimately makes no difference, either. Despite this, eyes certainly hold a particular and peculiar power for me and I continue my struggle to understand why. It doesn’t help matters that aside from the alien abduction literature in general and my own experiences in particular I have only heard of experiences of “ocular telepathy” through two other sources.

Years ago, when I found Koda on the net, he had yet to write his 2004 book Instant Enlightenment: Metaphysical Fast Food, which I have since purchased. His interest in metaphysics was first sparked as a teenager in the early 1970s after experimenting with psychedelics. Since then he has explored the paranormal through conversation and tested out various techniques on his own.

His first attempt at telepathy occurred when he and a friend were alone, smoking hashish, and the technique was a rather basic one: Koda tried to focus on and “send” a letter as his friend tried to “receive” it. After visualizing a letter for about five minutes, his frustration grew and he screamed to himself mentally, at which time his friend screamed it quite verbally. They tried to repeat it several times that day and failed, but now that he had confirmed telepathy to his satisfaction he decided to see what other questions in this area he could lay to rest.

After attempting and accomplishing two other paranormal feats while alone in his bedroom that evening, as he explained it, “My ego was glowing profusely.” Upon going to the local coffee shop and telling some of his friends and classmates, however, he was met with only disbelief and ridicule. Frustrated, he was immediately set on revenge, and he stumbled upon the means some weeks later at that very coffee shop.

They often held staring contests and one girl always seemed to be better than the rest. Whenever he challenged her he would be doing fine for a short while before he cracked a grin and lost the game. He finally thought he would try thinking of a joke during their staring and telepathically “send” it to her to see if he could get her to laugh. It worked, even during the rematch she demanded. When she asked how he had done it and he told her, she confessed to using the same technique.

He then began practicing telepathy far more blatantly — and with a certain vengeance. He would begin the process using cold reading, approaching a friend, looking in their eyes and saying,”Let me see if I can read your mind.” Judging from their facial expressions he could easily determine that they thought he was full of shit, so he told them just that. They would confess it was so but maintained that it proved nothing. Then he would declare that they were now trying to think of something more specific and less obvious. Then he would tell them that they were beginning to wonder if he really could read their mind after all given his accuracy this far. At this point he began to generate fear in them, which as a consequence made them focus all the more intensely on whatever they were thinking about.

Up to this point, it was all cold reading, but it became, in this way, effective foreplay for telepathy. He slowly and systematically built up fear in them that he could read their minds and once that emotional component achieved sufficient intensity — typically when he went one step further and accused them of being terrified that he might be capable of knowing their deepest, darkest secrets — their focus became so locked on their specific, sustained thoughts that, as he put it, they essentially broadcasted their thoughts to him. He would then tell them what they were thinking, which by this point was something very specific, and they would confess that he could do it after all.

He did this daily for two weeks and got quite proficient at it before deciding he had had enough. Not only did he finally feel that he gotten even with them, he could no longer deal with the feelings of absolute terror he generated in them in the process. To make matters worse, even after making it known that he had stopped, people still avoided him for roughly two months.

It was two years before he started investigating telepathy again, this time with the intent of teaching others how to do it. In time he developed what he came to call the “Psychic Window Technique” in which two people engage in prolonged staring or mutual gazing at a short distance. According to Koda, this technique has a few effects.

In the midst of prolonged eye-gazing he would perceive strange illusions in his partner’s face: areas would often appear blurry, darker, or become more pronounced. Sometimes these distortions gave way to full-blown hallucinatory shape-shifting into the faces of strangers, animals, and even stranger things. His partner, it turned out, would see the same illusions, simultaneously and with equal intensity on his own face. He came to call this effect “visual telepathy,” and it is essentially this that first brought him to my attention. It helped explain an incident I’d had on December 15, 2001.

For some time I had been working at a particular fast food restaurant where I also often spent a considerable and embarrassing amount of my time off. A few hours before work I would come in, get my free and essentially bottomless cup of coffee, sit in my booth in the smoking section and spend my free time writing, reading, thinking and, in my idle time, people-watching. It was one of the few unofficial benefits of the job.

On the day in question a guy I had briefly worked with at another fast food job saw me, took a seat at the opposite end of my booth and we engaged in a short conversation. He was there with some guy, perhaps a brother, who had a young kid with him. After we concluded our conversation, he got up and left. I went back to my writing, lost in my own personal trance, having assumed that was the end of it. I could not have been more mistaken. As I have previously written:

“I was jolted… by the sound of something hitting the far end of my booth. Startled and curious, I looked up to find a dome of blond hair poking out from just beyond the end of the table. It was the upper hemisphere of a toddler’s head. One hand of his was grabbing a hold of the end of the table; in the other, he held his cup with the sippy-top. He was looking dead at me, and instead of meeting his eyes I just sort of laughed under my breath, turned my head back down, placed the pen to the page and continued my writing. My eyes didn’t even reach my notebook before I heard it again. Looking back up, I immediately locked eyes with the kid and found myself imprisoned there. The gateways to my mind were being held hostage.

My peripheral vision was suddenly enshrouded in this dark, blurry overcast. While the eyes at the end of the tunnel shared the shadowy opaqueness, it was also possessed with a hyper-vivid quality. This sense of pressure built in my head, as if energy from his eyes were literally pushing into my mind, as if breaking and entering the mind and scanning and downloading personal files. A virtual form of search and seizure or, in this case, a telepathic analogue.

After a moment, he seemed satisfied and strangely amused, looking at me in a creepy way, as if he knew a “dark secret,” as I had later phrased it, that somehow connected him and I. The edges of his lips then curled slowly upward to an unnatural height, almost as if this surreal Cheshire Cat grin belonged somewhere in the twilight betwixt reality and cartoon.

Soon he walked away slowly with who I presume to be my ex-coworker’s friend holding his hand, but my line of sight was still ensnared by his eyes. He held me in his ocular tractor beam until he was out of my line of sight, at which time I felt him release my mind from his psychic grip.

Sinking down into the booth, I was cold and trembling, heart pumping wildly beneath gooseflesh. My eyes felt a strange, widened sort of pain, and it felt as if I could still feel the residual feeling of him being inside my head. I tried to look intensely out into nowhere, to “stare” the feeling out of me as if I were trying to flush out the psychic lines or something.”

According to Koda, this mutuality of experience does not end with visual illusions and hallucinations of the face, either, but extends to emotional states and physical sensations. One can even play a game, he suggests, in which one takes on the role of the blind receiver as the other intentionally generates and attempts to communicate a specific emotion or sensation.

This brings us to the 1998 book, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, by Kary Mullis, a biochemist who won the Nobel Prize for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 1983. Despite his accomplishments and credentials he is, to put it mildly, a controversial figure and an interesting character with even more interesting personal anecdotes to relate. In a chapter entitled, “Intervention on the Astral Plane,” he recounts his experience with a woman he introduces as Katherine O’Keefe who had astounding abilities — though I will focus on a single instance he cited which occurred on the day he met her “in the flesh,” in December of 1978. They met first at a Bakery and she then followed him home:

“We talked briefly about nothing much in kitchen and then made love before I knew anything more than her name. She looked deep into my eyes and did something to me with her mind that was ecstatic. It seemed to me as if a little tentacle had reached into my mid-brain and tickled my hypothalamus” (p 93).

In 2002, while I still worked at the fast food restaurant previously mentioned, I had met Angela, a beautiful girl that had some strange experiences of her own. When we worked nights together she used to get up real close to my face and stare at me in the eyes, which I always enjoyed. At one point, while staring at me in that way, she did something akin to what Mullis described. I received this intense, joyous, almost orgasmic high that reached a fever pitch, overwhelming me and causing my field of perception to ripple like the surface of a disturbed body of water.

I had experienced such perceptual distortions before, to be certain, though the emotional component had never before achieved such intensity. One of the first occasions this happened, I was attending a dance with my girlfriend at the time at her school. In passing, as I was walking behind her through a crowded room, I happened to lock eyes with a random girl and the same thing occurred: a rising high with rippling vision. And she had done it at some distance, too.

Koda also writes about telepathically transmitting and receiving emotionally-charged imagery. Having read it for the first time in the process of writing this, it made me think of two experiences of mine.

The first happened during high school sometime after the flashbacks. I was in English class and we were all in our seats working on our papers independently and the teacher was walking up and down the isles, observing us as we worked. Occasionally she would stop and talk to a student in whispered tones. She walked up to my desk, leaned down to talk to me and as I looked up I happened to look her directly in the eyes. It was as if I was sucked into the vortex of her pupils. Inside, I saw things rotting, dripping with a venomous, sewage-like substance, absolutely grotesque, ill and deprived of life. And in an instant I broke the link, looking away from her, totally confused as to what had just happened.

Years later, the same sort of thing happened to me with a kid on April 8, 2002 as I was in a booth at work talking with a Tess, a co-worker and passing romantic interest:

“As her and I spoke, I found myself a bit distracted when this family of four came in. There was a curly-haired brunette lady who I presumed to be the mother; a tall, dark-haired man who’s face I never saw, and two kids. There was a younger one who had blond hair and blue eyes and looked rather frail-looking. His head was kind of big, too. The other was older with dark hair. The mother sat down in the booth behind my friend – booth number five – with the frail boy between her and the wall. Across from her and back-to-back with my friend was the tall man. Across from the blond haired kid and tall man sat the dark-haired boy.

It was the blond that first caught my attention. He was a cute little kid with bright blue eyes, but something about him made me uneasy. Though I was quick to attribute it to paranoia, for a few moments I watched him closely just to be sure. As I was scrutinizing, both kids stood up at once, leaned towards one another from across their table and placed themselves forehead to forehead, like playful bucks locked in a duel, staring dead into one another’s eyes. The mother lightly backhanded the blond kid and told them both to stop.

My attention slipped back to Tess, who was still talking. I had absolutely no fucking clue what the hell she had been saying, and even what she was saying at present seemed to be empty words lost in a jumble. I was getting really, really uncomfortable, and I had no idea why. It all seemed very odd. Somehow, something just didn’t feel right.

Then I looked back up over her shoulder. The dark-haired kid seemed to sense my eyes on him, and he suddenly turned around and looked dead at me and have me a Cheshire Cat grin. When I meet his eyes his pupils grow large, darker-than-dark, and it suddenly it feels as if I’m violently dragged forward and right into them. It’s like we’re in this foggy bubble where we’re only eyes and mind, and only him and I exist, and the rest of the world grows blurred and distorted. It was definitely visual — he looked magnified, abstract and surreal, and I could still see that Cheshire grin, wide and cartoon-like. It certainly wasn’t limited to image, though. It was as if our eye contact had merged us mentally, fused us. I felt as though I was in his mind, or that he was in mine, or that we now shared a mind.

I looked away. It took me a few seconds or so of staring at the table in front of me to realize just what the hell had happened. I knew I wasn’t sleeping, so I couldn’t be dreaming. I wasn’t on drugs. Tess was still talking, but when she looked up at me she did a double-take and then stopped dead in her tracks. I imagine the look on my face must have been about as fucked up as I was feeling. She studied me another moment before asking what was wrong.

Looking at her, staring deep into her eyes, I found that nothing happened. If this was in my head, I wondered, wouldn’t looking into her eyes do the same thing? I looked back at the kid, thinking this might have been something I’d imagined — half hoping, as a matter of fact, that it had truly been something that I’d imagined. Then it all happened again. He goes into my head, grinning again, almost as if he’s a fucking cartoon. If I focused at all, I feared I might be locked there forever; that I might be trapped there and the rest of reality might fade away.

He looks away. While I’m sitting there pale as a ghost and freaking out, he’s sitting there amused. It’s almost as if he thought it was funny that he could do this. He leaned over the table again and whispered to the blond haired kid. Then he turns back to me and does it again, grinning that wide and freaky Cheshire cat grin, eyes as big and black as universes.”

Koda ultimately experienced something far more extreme than me in this respect, however. In the summer of 1984 he writes how he was practicing the technique with a friend of his in a coffee shop when, for roughly six seconds, they both suddenly saw the same detailed scene from the same perspective:

“I was looking directly at a very pretty blond girl about nineteen-years-old. She was perhaps six feet away, facing slightly toward my left as she sat in front of an old-fashion chest of drawers topped with a large, ornate mirror. Her dress was bright yellow, laced up the front and had a white, ruffled collar. She was brushing her long blond hair with very slow strokes, looking rather absent minded, as if she were daydreaming about some hoped-for future. To the left of the dresser was the closed bedroom door. Without knowing why, I was certain there was a hallway on the other side of the door. I knew that toward the right the hall lead to the back door and the barn area, while on the left the hall opened into the living room. On the other side of the hall from the bedroom was the kitchen. I knew where all the pots and pans and lanterns were hung, that the road came in from west in front of the house and most of the fields were in that direction. I knew everything about the place as quickly as my mind could scan the area, including the ‘fact’ that I was in a farmhouse in Southern California in the late 1800s” (p 18).

In rare instances, he says, even thoughts can be communicated — as exemplified to some degree in his initial experience with his friend on hashish and his subsequent mind-reading of his friends and classmates. It also brings us back to Mullis. In a chapter of the aforementioned book entitled, “My Evening With Harry,” Mullis recounts an experience he had in 1978 in San Francisco.

He was sitting at his kitchen table with his friend, Harry, a fellow chemist, who he had not seen in some time. They both drank some beer and Harry smoked a joint. After explaining that he wanted to show him something, he turned to Mullis with wide eyes and asked him to stare into his eyes and do his best not to blink or react if his face happened to change. As Mullis goes on to explain:

“His face did change. It was still Harry, but varieties of Harry I had not seen. Different faces appeared out of the familiar flesh, which now wasn’t so familiar. Some of them were humans I didn’t know, some were not human at all. They were animal. They were all Harry in some way I couldn’t explain. I was seeing things in him that were him but not a part of the life we had shared. It was a little scary, but Harry was somehow underneath it smiling that confident smile” (p 86).

(p 86)

They both admitted to being inside each other’s minds (“the front room — the reception area,” Mullis explained) and then Mullis broke it off for a moment, grabbed two pens and some index cards.

“We were being scientists. We both wrote down a word and then showed each other our cards. It was the same word. Just a word, nothing cosmic, but it was the same, and we knew it would be. We did it again and again, and we knew every time it would be the same. We were watching something — always present but usually dormany — from a privileged position that we had created by putting ourselves together in some way. It was absolutely normal and yet it wasn’t” (p 87).

Recently I came upon some articles regarding eye-gazing experiments that inspired me to try researching the subject again, hoping to find something. While I found no further personal anecdotes, I did happen upon some interesting and relevant studies. In a video by The Liberators International they invited strangers to publicly engage in eye contact for one, whole, psychologically-juicy minute. After the predictable awkwardness produced at the onset, participants reported the very heights of elation. This predominantly emotional experience may have been overshadowed by some haunting hallucinatory phenomena if ocular engagement had continued for ten minutes, however, at least according to experiments conducted by Giovanni B. Caputo, a psychologist at the University of Urbino in Italy.

I was first introduced to Caputo’s work through an article regarding his studies on mirror-gazing in which he found that after perhaps no more than a minute of staring at one’s reflection subjects experienced what he called the Strange-Face-in-the-Mirror Illusion. Features would darken or become more pronounced; people would see, instead of their own faces, those of strangers, animals, or monstrous beings. In further experiments in which he explored the effects of what has been variously referred to as interpersonal, intersubjective or mutual eye-gazing, he found that the same basic manifestations emerged.

In a paper entitled, “Dissociation and hallucinations in dyads engaged through interpersonal gazing,” Caputo described an experiment in which he paired off 20 people (15 women, 5 men) and had them sit facing each other at a distance of roughly three feet in a dimly-lit room where they were instructed to gaze into one another’s eyes for ten minutes. There was also a control group of 20 placed in more or less the same conditions, though in this case they were instructed to gaze at a blank wall. Each group then completed three questionnaires relating to their experience. The initial dealt with dissociative states, the remaining two focused on their experience of the point of focus — the control group’s wall or the face of your partner. The results were astonishing:

“The participants in the eye-staring group said they’d had a compelling experience unlike anything they’d felt before. They also scored higher on all three questionnaires than the control group. On the dissociative states test, they gave the strongest ratings to items related to reduced colour intensity, sounds seeming quieter or louder than expected, becoming spaced out, and time seeming to drag on. On the strange-face questionnaire, 90 per cent of the eye-staring group agreed that they’d seen some deformed facial traits, 75 per cent said they’d seen a monster, 50 per cent said they saw aspects of their own face in their partner’s face, and 15 per cent said they’d seen a relative’s face.”

As explained elsewhere, a cocktail of neural adaptation, psychological projection and facial recognition would explain the surreal effects that can manifest during mirror-gazing; the same would appear to be true for mutual gazing. This would not, at least so obviously, explain why interpersonal gazing would constitute the more intense experience of the two — nor would it begin to explain the seemingly telepathic effects. There are, however, at least two separate studies that may offer some insight. One was conducted by psychologists from the University of Stirling involving 20 five-year-old children. It concluded that those who averted eye contact in order to consider how they would answer questions were more apt to answer correctly than those who maintained their gaze. In another study conducted at Kyoto University in Japan (the results of which were published as “When we cannot speak: Eye contact disrupts resources available to cognitive control processes during verb generation”) participants played word association games of varying complexity while looking at a variety of faces that were either staring or looking away. During eye contact, they did more poorly during the most complex questions.

In both cases, then, it was suggested that cognitive effort and eye contact interfered with one another. While neither study so much as references hypnosis, the conclusions of both appear to resonate well with hypnotist Scott Jansen’s allegation, which is that sustained eye contact generates “psychological pressure” that diminishes conscious thinking. Subliminal or unconscious thought then rushes in to compensate, heightening one’s suggestibility. In other words, eye contact could be seen as the most basic form of the most typical of induction techniques used by hypnotists both on and off the stage: what is variously known as the direct gaze, fixed gaze or fixation method of hypnotic induction. Though this can be used to refer to the subject’s fixation on nearly anything — a candle’s flame, a finger, a swinging watch — among the objects of potential focus are the hypnotist’s eyes. The issue here is that inducing hypnosis does not alone explain the seemingly telepathic effect, as there are no clearly no overt, hypnotic suggestions to follow in the midst of silent, mutual gazing — and they would prove difficult to deliver, too, perhaps, given the interference it evidently has with respect to cognition.

There may very well be nonverbal hypnotic suggestions at play here, however. Consider that eyes are essentially extensions of the brain that not only receive external signals as sense organs but can also transmit the brain’s own signals to other pairs of eyes. When you engage in eye contact with another person you pick up on the expressions on their face and, of course, the movements of their own eyes. While you can consciously perceive the eye movements known as saccades, such as when the person looks back and forth, there are various forms of subtler, involuntary movements that occur even when those eyes remain fixed on your own, and they may also communicate nonverbal information regarding their inner state. By picking up on these external, nonverbal reactions to their own minds we may instinctively decode those signals and replicate the other person’s inner state within ourselves. Hypnotic trance through silent, prolonged mutual gaze would only amplify such effects.

Those effects are certainly there, too, whatever the cause. In a 2015 study published in the journal Neuroimage, 96 volunteers were split into pairs and proceeded to engage in mutual gazing under the watchful eye of fMRIs. It was found that not only did the pairs begin blinking in unison, their brain activity synchronized in the area of the right inferior frontal gyrus. The remaining question is whether these mundane processes are enough to explain the effects of what I, perhaps lamely, have referred to for some time as ocular telepathy. To put it more plainly: if through prolonged mutual gazing you are capable of sharing or exchanging hallucinations, emotions, mental images and even thoughts with your partner, does it remain a viable hypothesis that the aforementioned normal — as opposed to paranormal — processes are the culprit?

Taken as a whole, it seems a stretch. To break it down in specific bits: being capable, in the midst of locked gaze, of reading emotional states through nonverbals and experiencing them as your own — or experiencing them as emotions from an external source, namely that of your partner — is a hypothesis that would be relatively easy for me to accept, especially given what we know regarding our inherent capacity to subliminally and automatically translate body language. When it comes to sharing hallucinations and subjective imagery, however, I am far more skeptical, and when it comes to communicating thoughts — say in the fashion of Mullis and Harry at the kitchen table exchanging those index cards — it seems absolutely absurd.

So how might one explain this?

We know that ordinary sense perception exists. Our mundane senses do not operate in isolation, however, but are in constant concert, influencing one another with the aim of delivering a seemingly seamless sensory experience to consciousness. Smell, for instance, affects taste, as anyone who has had nasal congestion can attest to. Wine tasters swirl the fluid in the glass, take a hearty whiff, and then sip, utilizing all relevant senses as they contribute to a more holistic, mindful experience of the taste.

There is sufficient data in parapsychological studies to suggest that extrasensory perception exists. While we accept the community or senses as a factor for clear reception with respect to the clarity of reception provided by any singular, ordinary sense, we are for whatever reason suddenly prone to amnesia when it comes to exploring the extra-sensorium. Here, frustration and discouragement overwhelm us when we learn that, for instance, telepathy is difficult to isolate with any certainty from other senses — or potential extrasenses — in the laboratory setting. When we do manage to fashion experiments that isolate specific psi, we are frustrated and discouraged when the effect, though exceeding chance, is relatively weak. We fail to consider the fact that in their natural environment, so-to-speak, they may complement and be similarly influenced by a community of extrasenses just as ordinary senses are.

Not only that, but we should expect these two distinct sensory systems to influence one another as well, which would certainly serve to complicate matters. Assuming this is the case, it could go some way to explain what many interpret as a failure in parapsychology, which is to say that any detectable effects are prone to being relatively weak in nature. After all, when we take average individuals and subject them to parapsychological studies with rigid controls meant to remove any evidence of sensory (if not other extrasensory) influence, we are in effect removing their given extrasense (telepathy, in this case) from its natural context and placing it in an isolated, alien environment in which it is not only virgin but necessarily abandoned by its typical support system. We should be astounded that parapsychological experiments reveal any psi influence at all.

Perhaps the coupling of mutual eye-gazing, subliminal cold-reading and telepathy could better explain the phenomena experienced as ocular telepathy. It works so well, its effects are so predictable, immediate and intense in comparison to telepathy as it is ordinarily explored, simply because it utilizes the parapsychological in tandem with the psychological and biological.

No doubt a relevant form of training might help discipline our natural ability to conjure such capacities through the Psychic Window Technique, and the literature which I have referenced in quotes in this article already provide some clues as to what training might be optimal. Consider, for instance, the conversation between Mullis and O’Keefe following the incident in which she seemed, according to him, to have tickled his hypothalamus:

“I asked her what the hell she had done to me.

She replied, ‘You’ve been playing with your mind, but you don’t know anything yet. No one has ever properly taught you.’

I was excited. ‘Will you show me how to do that? What you did?’

‘You already know. You just need to practice'” (p 93).

Though Mullis reported that she did indeed teach him to practice, he gave few details, in the end only offering the reader her diagnosis of his condition. “She told me that I had abilities that I hadn’t tapped into and that I had to learn to quiet myself inside,” he wrote. “I had to learn not to think so much.” Though she never said it outright so far has Mullis himself has conveyed, it seems clear to me that she was talking about meditation — something akin to the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist practices of samatha and vipassana, which cultivate the power of attention.

There was also a detailed practice offered by Koda, however: the aforementioned “The Psychic Window Technique.” He suggests that you and your partner sit down and face one another at a distance of perhaps two to three feet, sure to maintain “open” body language devoid of defensive barriers like crossed arms or legs in the process. Both of you then decide which mutual “side” will hold your attentions when you stare at one another: either you focus your eyes on your partner’s right eye as they focus on your left or vice versa. It is of vital importance, I think, to focus mutual attention on a mutual “side,” as it makes certain you are both focusing on the eye of the other that is focusing on you. This would also make it indistinguishable from samatha meditation.

Once the “side” is established, you both stare into one another’s eyes unwaveringly, without blinking, all the while trying to expand your field of clear perception to encapsulate the entirety of the face: then the weirdness begins…

Mirror, Mirror.

Mirror, mirror upon the wall,
I’m asking you, who is the most confused of them all?
Mirror, mirror, subservient twin,
screams back at me “You! You sick flawless mime,
I want to break you!”
— Mudvayne, Shadow of a Man.

As is the case with many of the memories that came to me around 1995, I can’t be certain how old I was, but the flashback was brief and vivid enough that despite the fact that no written records of it exist from the time of recall I am confident enough in how it played out. One could always argue that it was some vivid dream and nothing more, of course, but it certainly seemed to be a real occurrence to me.

I was in the bathroom at the house we lived in from my birth until 1988, and so no older than ten, standing on a small stool we had in the bathroom so that us kids could reach the sink and see ourselves in the mirror. I don’t know if I was brushing my teeth or combing my hair or if I was about to get in or just exiting the shower. In any case, I suddenly noticed, in the process, that something was wrong, peculiar, noticeably “off” about my reflection in the mirror. Unable to put my finger on it at first, it soon became obvious that my eyes were changing. They were slowly but with increasing speed growing at once larger and more slanted. I remember watching as I simultaneously felt my mouth falling open in shock, my growing, unblinking eyes unable to avert their gaze for a mere second. Uncertain if it was my actual face or merely my reflection undergoing this localized shapeshifting, I lifted up my hand to touch one of my eyes, sliding my fingers upon its smooth, slippery, rubbery surface.

Still later in 1995, after a night of what could perhaps be best described as a meditative exploration of my apparent past-life memories, I had gazed into the mirror in the upstairs bathroom with the lights off and had a strange visual experience. My reflected face was rapidly shapeshifting into what I presumed to be the faces of my former incarnations, many of which I had not formerly recalled episodically. It seemed as if my mirror image was trying to coagulate into a singular form that embraced the qualities of all previous corporeal containers. Unlike the earlier episode there was no question that this was an illusion, and one specific to my reflection as opposed to my actual face.

Many years later I came upon those who had experienced similar distortions of their reflections in Dr. Marlene Steinberg’s book, The Stranger in the Mirror: The Hidden Epidemic. For some time that has been my only lead for an explanation of the experience — assuming it was not some vivid, sensory-enriched dream. Until recently, that is, when I came upon the “Strange-Face-in-the-Mirror Illusion,” a 2010 publication in the journal Perception, by psychologist Giovanni B. Caputo of the University of Urbino in Italy. He ran an experiment in which some fifty volunteers sat in a dimly-lit room with a 25-watt lamp placed behind them. They were instructed to stare into a mirror for ten minutes and take note of the effects. After about a minute, strange shit began to happen. Caputo writes:

“The descriptions differed greatly across individuals and included: (a) huge deformations of one’s own face (reported by 66% of the fifty participants); (b) a parent’s face with traits changed (18%), of whom 8% were still alive and 10% were deceased; (c) an unknown person (28%); (d) an archetypal face, such as that of an old woman, a child, or a portrait of an ancestor (28%); (e) an animal face such as that of a cat, pig, or lion (18%); (f) fantastical and monstrous beings (48%).”

Their emotional responses were also interesting:

“The participants reported that apparition of new faces in the mirror caused sensations of otherness when the new face appeared to be that of another, unknown person or strange `other’ looking at him/her from within or beyond the mirror. All fifty participants experienced some form of this dissociative identity effect, at least for some apparition of strange faces and often reported strong emotional responses in these instances. For example, some observers felt that the `other’ watched them with an enigmatic expression – [a] situation that they found astonishing. Some participants saw a malign expression on the ‘other’ face and became anxious. Other participants felt that the `other’ was smiling or cheerful, and experienced positive emotions in response. The apparition of deceased parents or of archetypal portraits produced feelings of silent query. Apparition of monstrous beings produced fear or disturbance. Dynamic deformations of new faces (like pulsations or shrinking, smiling or grinding) produced an overall sense of inquietude for things out of control.”

In a follow-up publication the same year (2010), “Apparitional experiences of new faces and dissociation of self-identity during mirror gazing,” Caputo added that subjects reported that while they maintained self-consciousness of their own face they felt as if “a strange person was watching them from within or beyond the mirror”. He also concluded that the degree of lighting seemed to play a role in the illusion, which is to say that the lower the illumination the less time it took for one to experience the SFMI. More interesting are the effects of mirror-gazing on subjects suffering from depression and schizophrenia, two other studies of Caputo’s which he summarized in the abstract of his March, 2014 publication, “Archetypal-imaging and mirror-gazing,” in which he gives an overview of the studies on the matter:

“Recently, empirical research found that gazing at one’s own face in the mirror for a few minutes, at a low illumination level, produces the perception of bodily dysmorphic illusions of strange-faces. Healthy observers usually describe huge distortions of their own faces, monstrous beings, prototypical faces, faces of relatives and deceased, and faces of animals. In the psychiatric population, some schizophrenics show a dramatic increase of strange-face illusions. They can also describe the perception of multiple-others that fill the mirror surface surrounding their strange-face. Schizophrenics are usually convinced that strange-face illusions are truly real and identify themselves with strange-face illusions, diversely from healthy individuals who never identify with them. On the contrary, most patients with major depression do not perceive strange-face illusions, or they perceive very faint changes of their immobile faces in the mirror, like death statues.”

Why does this illusion happen? There are some pretty reasonable hypotheses. As Kaylee Brown put it in her December, 2016 article, “Eye Gazing: Science Reveals How it Affects Our Communication”:

“Our neurons can slow down and even completely stop their response to stimulation that is constant. This happens when you stare at anything — your perception changes until you blink or something within the scene changes.”

One way to put it, then, is that steady, prolonged mirror-gazing results in sensory ambiguity, and we have known for some time that the greater the ambiguity in a perceived stimulus the more fertile it becomes for psychological projection. Our brains naturally compensate for absent data and impose structure on chaotic information based on cues in the given context associated with data already stored in memory. Well, in the case of mirror-gazing, the cues are aspects of our face that remain detectable, and so another influential force here may be our capacity for facial recognition. This leads us to seek out the patterns of a face in our projections: as your face distorts due to neural adaptation, your brain conjures up faces stored in memory that fit the available — which is to say fluctuating — data, which result in illusions of faces that are not your own.

The weakest and mildest projections manifest as pareidolia, such as when we look at a spill on a counter, a stain on the concrete or clouds in the sky and “see” figures and even scenes. This can increase to illusions, as when someone is approaching you from a distance and you’re certain it’s a friend, only to find as proximity increases that it is a total stranger. In some cases projection can even produce full-blown hallucinations, as in cases of sensory deprivation.

My experience in the darkened bathroom after my exploration of my alleged reincarnational world-line would perhaps reside on the cusp betwixt illusion and hallucination, but my memory of my reflection of a child in a bathroom of full lighting would clearly have to constitute a hallucination — not merely in the visual sphere, either, but in a tactile sense, as I distinctly remember touching my eye to ensure it was merely my reflection that was changing, only to find that it was, despite my hopes, my actual face as well. Nothing that Caputo has published to my knowledge could explain that aspect of the memory, given it was not a vivid dream — not even the experiences of schizophrenics.

I must confess: that is not the least bit comforting.

***

For more information regarding the aforementioned studies conducted by Caputo (et al.), please consult the following links (or use the titles as search queries):

Strange-Face-in-the-Mirror Illusion,” 2010.
“Apparitional experiences of new faces and dissociation of self-identity during mirror gazing,” 2010.
“Visual perception during mirror gazing at one’s own face in schizophrenia,” 2012.
Visual perception during mirror-gazing at one’s own face in patients with depression,” 2014.
Archetypal-imaging and mirror-gazing,” 2014.

Ex Caput Mortuum.

Sixteen,
slipping headfirst into the black.

Alone at last, embracing introversion,
stumbling through the jungle, to the tender lips
of the abyss within, listening
to ancient whispers, denied memories,
buried aspects of my personality:

truths of a type
that nightmares are made of.

Ink in pen, pastel, pencil, various media
in hand, fingers to keyboard,
hungry for bloodletting,
expel the poison,
work the dirt out from the sore
that I become in this prison
of ignorance,
hunt and peck
until they blister and spill my essence…

I try to bleed it dry, swallow it whole,
deep certainty that this is the only way to let go
of that which I have been entirely blinded to,

not least of which the fact
that I hold and have held
for so long, though this hole is deeper
than I could ever have guessed, could have known,
a surreal vortex that threatens
any sense of self or sanity
with ruthless, violent, unmerciful
disintegration.

Crows peck meat from bones,
ghosts torment the mind drifting free
from body, now at war with the chaos,
eyes as black as my head is dead,
flies encircles my eyes, halo of crows spinning
like satellites around my charred
and wasted mind…

Cannot believe the weight I hold.
(Arrogance.)
Cannot believe the age of soul.
(Age is not synonymous with wisdom.)
Fight against the accusation
that I am a part of this, participant
in this mess,

my freedom, my responsibility.
Belonging nowhere, gather the lost, fight
for a better home. Feel like I need
to do something, use all that I have got,
though I’m lost,
fuck,
what am I supposed to do
with all of this?

No one could
(not even sure that I completely)
believe it.

No faith in self.
No hope is scientifically
discerning anything else.

How can I know what side
is right to fight
on if I know enough to know
that I don’t know myself?

(Nimi, where are you?
My guide, my confidant…)

Need to gain
a sense of direction
to find the off-ramp,
escape my personal hell,
embrace my work,
be myself.

Some Sort of Catacomb.

Buddhist tradition holds that when Siddhartha Gautama experienced his awakening in the sixth century beneath the Bodhi tree, the first quarter of his experience dealt with the recollection of all his previous incarnations.

This in turn allegedly inspired a meditation practice known as the Jivamala, though everything on the net that I have read about it stems
suspiciously from a single website. In any case, the practice itself I found fascinating, regardless of its legitimacy with respect to the practices of Tantric Buddhism.

As limited data suggests, one readies oneself by taking their typical meditation position. Holding a string of beads known as a mala in one hand, one proceeds to meditate on one bead after another. Every bead represents a past-life personality or jiva and the aim is to experience the “mosaic of memories” inherent in each.

The first step is, of course, to remember the life. Fingers and meditative focus comes to rest on the dark bead, meant to signify a life poisoned by karma with symptoms that have carried over into one’s current life. One might liken the dark bead and the simultaneous process of remembering the mistakes we made since our last birth to the deep, down-and-inhale of Nigredo, the blackening, often presented as the initial stage of alchemy.

Here one procures the base matter or prima materia which will then be put through the various arrangements of alchemical processes in order to transmute it to a substance of value, symbolically represented as the lapis or philosopher’s stone.

This blackening is often followed by the exhale, the whitening stage of Albedo or Solutio, where the process of purification takes place. After recalling the life, confronting it, one next puts efforts towards understanding it. Once this mission is accomplished, the life comes to be represented by a white bead. Then one moves onto the next dark bead on the thread.

The bipolar Nigredo-Albedo process (as well as the concept of the Yin-Yang) resonate nicely with the Jivamala practice. It gives a meditative/ritual structure to the aforementioned alchemical processes and Taoist concept that always appeared lacking or frustratingly ambiguous in the literature I’ve read.

It is rather important to ask, however, how we can be sure that a past life memory — one that may have come to us in any number of ways — is an accurate and reliable memory.

Evidence collected by the Division of Perceptual Studies suggest that past life memories have carried over from previous lives of some children, who remember them when they are young, either all the time or in relaxed, sleepy states of mind, and they usually seem to forget them altogether over time.

They burst into adult awareness as well, both spontaneously through flashbacks and dreams and intentionally through the use of hypnosis. Often enough they have found astounding correlations between their memory and previously unknown historical fact.

So there seems to be cases in which these memories do indeed appear to be valid, and both the relaxed states of the children and the hypnotic states of the adults tend to suggest that meditation may also serve as an effective tool.

Not everyone agrees that there is suggestive evidence for reincarnation, of course. Many passionately faithful debunkers are ever-eager to explain away past life memories by throwing out the word “cryptomnesia.” Essentially, the suggestion is that one learned of the relevant historical facts or personal details at a subliminal level at some point and this later became the source material for false memories.

Others have a more thorough and interesting outlook on such bizarre memories, however. In the book The Stranger in the Mirror: Dissociation — The Hidden Epidemic, by Marlene Steinberg, MD, and Maxine Schnall (1999), Steinberg speculates that alleged past life memories may in actuality be dissociated, metaphorical screen memories for traumatic experiences in the individual’s present lifetime.

These dissociated, compartmentalized screen memories are presented as memories of your previous identities. Judging from the hypnotic subject’s tendency to slip into character and experience amnesia during such hypnotic regression sessions, the jivas would instead appear to constitute alters or some stage in their development, she argues.

They are presented as ghosts of former selves trapped like amber in scattered memories of lives formerly lived. Seen to be separated by time necessarily, space most likely and at least one change of skin, these experiences remain psychologically connected to the conscious personality but held at a convenient historical distance, though nonetheless successfully compartmentalized, safely obscured by dissociative screen memories and atrributed to a past (and potentially present though alternate) identity.

One must go to every grave in their very own inner catacomb and hear the ghosts of the soul’s secret past as they offer up their confessions. By remembering and re-experiencing these memories through Jivamala, we are said to release ourselves from bondage to those identities and lives and simultaneously expand our sense of self to encompass the wisdom of our inner shadows, now purified and brought to light.

This seems implied in the practice of past life recollection by use of regression hypnosis as well. Many tales of reincarnation (aside from those collected and evaluated by The Division of Perceptual Studies) seem to begin with an individual plagued by a particular phobia, the source of and solution to which has not been found despite various, diverse and even desperate attempts. When they inevitably undergo hypnosis and experience a memory of a traumatic death from a past life, however, it seems to explain the phobia — and as an added bonus, at once the phobia vanishes.

While insisting that the screen memories prevent total integration of the personality, Steinberg
herself acknowledges the benefits of exploring past life memories. She writes that “[t]he remarkable progress that Dr. [Brian] Weiss had in reducing Catherine’s fear of death and other phobias came about because his past life therapy acknowledged and worked with her hidden parts and did not discount them.” In her words there seems to be the faint echo of Carl Jung, who told us that in order to fully integrate our shattered psyche we need to first take the images and narratives it presents to us seriously.

Implicit Personal Prehistory.

In amnesia, not all memory is lost. While the essence of our identities would appear to be memory, memory is not limited to what is known as explicit memory, which is to say the episodic memory we play before our minds eye and semantic memory we recite to ourselves.

Implicit memory involves the unconscious and automatic memory of form, pattern and meaning. Think of the mannerisms and expressions we use, the postures we hold, or philias we have, our talents and passions, our aversions and addictions: all of that is bound up in what is known as implicit memory.

Implicit memory stores and retrieves memory through a process known as priming, which is accomplished when repeated exposure to a stimulus unconsciously and automatically influences the psychological or behavioral response to a later stimulus through similarity in context, meaning, or pattern of form. As a consequence, the implicit weaves together and influences sensory memory, working memory, and long-term memory, providing a common structure for them all — the bodily pattern of form.

As all context, meaning and pattern of form is experienced through and within the confines of the body, permeating it and permeated by it. This suggests to me that all implicit memory is bound up in what we could call morphological memory, and as a consequence the morphological is the implicit in toto. It is the template for sensory, working, and long term memory. It is the template for experience.

There is suggestion that implicit memory persists beyond the confines of the corporeal as well. When frequent out-of-body experiencers describe being aware throughout the process of transition from the physical body to the subtle one, they describe the subtle body as existing in some way in and around the physical body, corresponding to the notions of an aura or energy field sensitive and responsive to the mind (and which may actually constitute the mind) that appears to be the source of all psi phenomena. In the out-of-body state, implicit effects are revealed in the apparitional form and the familiar sensory means of experience the disembodied typically default to. Implicit effects are also implied in the retained psychological and behavioral patterns that constitute identity. What is often referred to as the subtle body, then, would appear synonymous with implicit memory.

This morphologically-structured implicit memory, as the subtle body, also appears to provide a blueprint for subsequent incarnations. A developing human body appears malleable to the subtle body whereas the subtle body becomes more malleable to the human body as biological development proceeds.

The implicit scaffolding of morphological memory is implied first in the corresponding architecture often found to exist between the facial features of an individual’s present and former physical body. The idea seems to be most passionately pursued by one Walter Semkiw, MD, but more convincing sources are to be found. The most notable is researcher Ian Stevenson, who discovered, in the process on following up on former cases, that many of the children had indeed grown to bear a striking resemblance to their alleged former incarnations.

There is also the case of one Jeffrey J. Keene, an Assistant Fire Chief who lives in Westport, Connecticut. He has come to believe he’s the reincarnation of John B. Gordon. Gordon was a Confederate General of the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War, and he died on January 9, 1904. Alongside other astounding correlations between Keene and Gordon there is the incredible likeness between the two in terms of physical appearance.

Aside from corresponding facial architecture, many of the subjects in the cases at the Division of Perceptual studies bear birthmarks or deformities that correspond in appearance and placement to the death wounds that brought their former body to an abrupt and violent end. Sometimes, however, these birthmarks and deformities correspond to injuries or marks from surgeries that happened at some point close to the time of death, though they were not the actual cause of death.

With respect to deformities, Stevenson has spoken widely of children with deformed limbs or even missing toes or fingers who claimed to remember being murdered and mutilated. When it comes to birthmarks, Stevenson focuses primarily on the more extreme and interesting cases involving an “elevated nevus,” which involve lifted, depressed or malformed areas of the skin rather than mere variance in pigmentation. These are often found to correspond to stab wounds or bullet wounds — entry and exit — of the former body.

There is suggestion, however, that birthmark correlations may also be more subtle and involve wounds that correspond to the former body but were not necessarily those that brought on expiration. Though not investigated by Stevenson, for instance, there are six places on Keene’s body where he has either cluster veins, scars, or other markings that correspond to the wounds that Gordon suffered during the Civil War.

Throughout human history, it would appear that cultures have picked up on this aspect of morphological memory in reincarnation and have utilized that knowledge to their advantage in the form of what Dr. Jim Tucker refers to as “experimental birthmarks.” By marking a dying body in a telling way, the hopes are they will be able to identify that individual in their subsequent rebirth when the mark carries over in the form of a birthmark.

In reinforcement of the notion of a morphological memory serving as a template, there are also effects internal to the body that carry over, often in seeming correspondence to birthmarks or deformities as well as the individual’s explicit memories of the former life. Take, for instance, the case of Edward Austrian, son of Patricia and Donald Austrian. He had a fear of rain — particularly ”dark, gray, drizzly, damp days,” his mother said — from the time he was about one year of age. He was also had chronic throat problems, which he referred to as ”my shot.” Eventually this throat problem was revealed to be a large, noticeable cyst in his throat, and the doctors decided to remove his tonsils as the first step in surgery.

After the surgery at age four, Ed confessed to his parents that he had been a 18-year-old soldier named James during the first World War. He explained in detail how he had made his way through the mud in the rain and cold, how he held his heavy rifle, how he saw a field of trees and, beyond that, deathly desolation. And he explained then how he had heard a shot ring out behind him, and how the bullet had evidently gone through someone else and then hit him in the back of the neck, after which he felt his throat fill up with blood.

After he had broken the ice and could talk about the matter freely with his parents, his fear of rain vanished, as did the cyst — to the amazement of his doctor, Steven Levine, as well as Ed’s own father, who was a doctor as well.

There are no other cases of such spontaneous psychosomatic healing of carry-over death wounds through the expression and emotional discharge of confessing these memories, but there does seem to be another route by which one can not only escape the effects of intrinsic memory’s morphological scaffolding but retain a continuity of consciousness and unobstructed access to explicit recall.

These are the cases known as parakaya pravesa, and they suggest that one can not only leave a body before its death — the conventional OBE — but can enter a body, even take up permanent residence in it, long after its born.

They accomplish this by exiting and entering the body in a special way that utilizes both the Anahata or “heart” chakra as well as Ajna, the chakra often called the “third eye.” Among the New Age, one who enters a body long after its birth is known as a “walk-in.” In any case, if this can happen it would seem that a body is not irrevocably connected to a singular unit of consciousness but is to some degree still vulnerable to take-over body-jacking by disembodied entities. Individual cases seem to suggest bodies are vulnerable in extreme states of poor physical or psychological health.

The stories of dybbuks or possessions by poltergeist entities may exemplify efforts on the behalf of the disembodied to degenerate the individual physically and psychologically until that window of vulnerability is achieved.

In such cases it appears explicit and implicit memory carries over in tact, and as an added benefit, morphological memory has no effect on a body so late in its developmental stages. One earns a flesh-vessel passed the developmental stage that would have made the body in custom design due to the subtle scaffold. This would be of benefit to those that would otherwise be born without limbs, for instance, and so may be an attractive, however laborious, pursuit of some of those among the community of the fleshless.

It would appear we cannot escape ourselves, even if we can escape the customization of the container, however, for be it by means of reincarnation or the aforementioned shortcut we inevitably carry along our implicit memory. We still handle ourselves, the world, and the body the same characteristic way be the body unfit or custom-made.

From the time they can talk onward, even after they have lost access to explicit memory of a former life, strange behavior is noted in the children in CORT cases which do not seem to make sense in the context of the present or past conditions of their “one life to live.”

All of it makes perfect sense, however, when placed in the context of the previous life that the child claims to have had. This includes our phobias or aversions, such as those perhaps borne out of the means by which we died, as well as our prejudices and grudges. Alongside them are our philias — our obsessive attachments, fixations and addictions; our passions and preferences. Think of our wardrobe tendencies, our music and food preferences, our styles of social relation and our body language.

As another testament to the carry-over style of governance between one body and another, there is apparently also handwriting style. According to Vikram Raj Singh Chauhan, a Patiala-based forensic science expert, a comparison of the handwriting styles of reincarnation subject Taranjit Singh with his alleged former incarnation Satnam Singh revealed high correspondence. This varied only by what he attributed to muscular coordination unmatched in mastery due to the differing ages of the body through which they were written. He added,

“In his present birth, Taranjit has never gone to school as he belongs to a poor family, but yet when I told him to write the English and Punjabi alphabet, he wrote them correctly.”

Though rare, there are also instances in which these children have displayed xenoglossy, the ability to speak in a language they should not know. Look at the case of Swarnlata Mishra, for example, who confused the hell out of her Hindu-speaking parents when she sang her songs in an unknown language — later found to be the lingo of Bengali — and danced her strange dances.

Xenoglossy is not only found in children who managed to carry it over from a past life on their own, however, but also in those who have undergone past life regression hypnosis.

In an interview with Art Bell on Coast-to-Coast AM, Dr. Brian Weiss told of a patient of his: a Chinese surgeon on her first trip to the US who spoke not a word of English. She had brought along a translator, however, and through him Weiss had put her under hypnosis. She recalled a former life in 1850s San Francisco, during which she suddenly began orating an argument she was having with her husband during that lifetime — and doing so in fluent English.

Some attachments are more extreme, however, often to the point of being debilitating. They may display homesickness and an apparent inability to let go of their previous lifestyles and circumstances. Some of the children in the CORT manifest this directly, insisting on being taken back to their “real” home, occupation, parents or spouse. Others may instead act out in play the circumstances of their previous life, such as the job or family role, and often the death scene as well.

There is also the matter of gender identity and sexual persuasion. Those born into a body that is the opposite sex of their previous incarnation, Stevenson says, almost always cross-dress and play games associated with the opposite sex, and otherwise show like attitudes associated with the opposite sex. This may fade over time; if not, the personality becomes homosexual. Sometimes the reborn, either in the announcing dreams or after they learn to speak, insist that their names be changed to the names they had in their former life — or, for those who switched genders, they will prefer the other-sex forms of their previous names.

Think, too, of our talents. In an interview with Omni, Stevenson commented on how it was relatively easy to explain away the talents of, for instance,

“… such composers as Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, all of whose fathers were fine musicians. But what about George Frederic Handel? His family had no discernible interest in music; his father even sternly discouraged it. Or take the cases of Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer, and Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Both had to fight for their chosen callings from childhood onward. One can find endless examples that are difficult to explain given our current theories. But if one accepts the possibility of reincarnation, one can entertain the idea that these children are demonstrating strong likes, dislikes, skills, and even genius that are the logical results of previous experiences. I have found some children with skills that seem to be carried over from a previous life.”

Chasing the Triad.

According to the late Dr. Ian Stevenson, what brought him to conduct research into cases of children who allegedly recalled previous lifetimes was his dissatisfaction with theories relating to identity. In his opinion, the idea of environmental conditioning and genetic dispositions was not comprehensive enough. Still, he never described how he felt when he found no alternative. When he by necessity found himself on the nurture end of the age-old nature and nurture debate. For that is what the evidence he amassed suggests loud and clear to me, anyway: that we are bundles of conscious self-awareness bound up in elaborate systems of habit patterns, the sum of which define who we are.

Typically, when children speak of a past life they do so at a young age and tend to forget within a few years. By “forget” here one should be sure to understand my meaning, however, which is that they no longer are able to recall the past life through episodic or semantic memory. In terms of the literally active form of memory known as implicit memory, however, recall is retained. Our body language, how we use our facial features and tone of voice, our talents and tastes, our phobias and philias, our writing style, the wounds on our body and perhaps even our facial architecture and body type. We step into life fully primed.

Some of this, of course, sounds quite contradictory with respect to what we know regarding genetics; in the very least it does with respect to the little I personally know about genetics. Looking at my father and mother, for good and ill I can see correlations that strongly suggest genetics to be the culprit.

People have consistently informed me that I look and sound like my father, and that even make facial expressions that seem similar to his. He could be described as an introvert, as could I, and strangers evidently spill their secrets to him as eagerly they do with me, as if compelled by a force beyond their control. Within me, I also feel a need to restore balance and keep everyone happy, to be liked and ensure they know they’re liked and to keep turbulence out of the emotional atmosphere of the group. At the same time I feel the assertiveness of my mother in me, the fear of being controlled or manipulated, the preference to control and manipulate others subtly as opposed to overtly and officially, the stubbornness and fiery emotional aspects of her altogether. I feel I share my father’s depth and my mother’s intensity, if that makes any sense.

Say for the sake of argument that past lives do exist and, as suggested in the reports, we maintain and further develop our habits, tendencies, talents over perhaps countless lifetimes. One has to wonder: how could it be (and would it not have to be?) that we are at once shaped by genetic inheritance in this lifetime and experiences from previous lifetimes? This grows even more difficult to answer considering what I have been reading and writing about lately, namely the maternal and paternal bonds, where a man models himself after his father and models his ideal mate on the basis of his mother. How could this be at all consistent with the reincarnation idea?

Considering the reports in which one remembers not only a supposed previous life, but also the intermediary state between lives, the individual evidently chooses their parents. If this is so, on what basis would they choose? The process of electing parents-to-be could follow the sequence that personal projections of sufficient magnitude and duration always seem to follow: gravitating towards candidate people and circumstances, projecting our own qualities and circumstances onto those others and their circumstances, and using unconscious techniques to manipulate them into actually playing the role you’re projecting upon them if they tend to contradict your projections in any major aspect.

Specifically, it could very well be this: that the choice of a man’s mother-to-be would be based on the maternally-based pair-bond imprint from the previous lifetime. If he instead chose the father, it would be based on the bond forged with the previous father, which provided the model for his ego or, given that, he may simply be projecting on the man. Based on the imprints made by his previous parents, which had been further developed until death, he chooses his future parents. Regardless as to whether he chooses mother alone or father alone, it would end up being the same style of pairing. The same kind of parents raising the same kind of child. In essence, you would be chasing the ghost of a triad — father, mother, son, for instance — gravitating towards and projecting upon a couple that resonates with your parental-bond “imprints” or “attractors” who, once mommy-to-be gains pregnant status, consequently have a role to be filled by you, as the son. In essence, your previous parents possess your parents-to-be figuratively as you proceed to literally possess the fetus that gives rise to their son.

Its consistent with psychology (or the easiest-to-stomach aspects of Depth Psychology) and if you look at genetics through eyes of evolutionary psychologists, it may even be consistent genetically. After all, if we can select mates based on sensory cues that indicate genetic factors without being aware of the process influencing our decisions, why could something similar not be happening in this case?