I wrote this post originally in 2011. With minor edits I am presenting it again.
Do you want to know who you were in a past life? This ad from a 1946 magazine supposes you do.
In the 1970s my wife took a night school class in the paranormal. I was dubious about it, but she told me how her teacher explained a technique for finding out what we were in our past lives. We were to sit in the dark in front of a full-length mirror with a lighted candle between us and the mirror, and our past lives would be revealed.
Even though I didn’t believe it would work, I was still a little spooky about it. I never tried it. That's because something else her teacher told her appeared to actually work. At the time we were going into busy downtown Salt Lake City once or twice a week and we usually had trouble finding a parking space. The teacher told Sally that by concentrating on a parking space while traveling into a city you would find one easily. I tried it, and it worked so many times it got me thinking of what happened when I thought “parking space” while driving. Did someone who was already parked receive a sudden strong mental prod to leave the space so I could find it? The mind boggled.
Because that mind trick seemed to be working it made me more reticent about actually seeing a past life in a full-length mirror. There was enough to upset me in my current lifetime that I did not care to see some miserable past life.
The Search For Bridey Murphy, by Morey Bernstein, is about using hypnotic regression on a contemporary American woman. It supposedly revealed a past lifetime in 19th Century Ireland. It was a best seller in the mid-1950s. I found this copy in a thrift store recently, and was initially curious, but after reading the dust jacket flaps and this Wikipedia entry about the book I decided it was just more mumbo-jumbo.
I've read a lot of books in my life that attempted to convince me of something: spirit photography, Bigfoot, astral projection or flying saucers. If I had an open mind when I first read all these claims of the paranormal, Loch Ness monster, giant creatures hiding in the woods, or visitors from space, after awhile I just stopped believing any of it. Truth is in the mind of the truth-seeker. You can create “truth” in your own head, whether it is in fact true to the outside world or not. Some of the books I read were very earnest, and spot-reading Bridey Murphy it appears the author believed what he wrote. But it doesn’t make it true.
Forty years ago I didn’t know what would have happened if I sat in front of the mirror, trying to see a past life. I believe nothing would have happened. I was only reminded because I found the book.
I’m still wondering about the parking space phenomenon. But I need to shake it off. That stuff can make you crazy if you think about it too much.