Last fall, I was treated to a very special presentation … insights into the world of Spirit.
By my SIX-year-old grandson!
No, seriously … I’m not kidding. He actually described to us how some things work in the spirit world!
But before I get into his mindblowing story, you might be wondering … is he the only child to have ever spoken of the non-physical realms?
I think not!
Is Heaven for Real??
In 2014, a movie was released that made headlines for more than just its cinematic appeal. “Heaven is for Real,” based on a book by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent, caused a stir among many for the story it told, which it purported to be true.
It’s a fascinating recounting of the story of Burpo’s almost-four-year-old son, Colton, barely surviving emergency surgery … and Colton’s description of his experience during it all, which he characterized as … “going to heaven and back.”
I’ve recently read the book the movie was based on … quite a captivating read (setting aside its strong religious overtones which I had to simply let wash over my “non-religious” persona).
Yes, it turns out that very young children are actually a prolific source of information about what happens after we die and before we … uh, well, before … we come back again. (Because everything’s pointing to the idea that we actually do, you know, come back and do it again.)
Yeah, but … you know, kids like to make stuff up …
How many of you have heard, either directly or indirectly, a young child talking about their “invisible friend,” or “seeing Grandma” … the one who’s dead.
They talk of “ghosts” and “angels.” They tell you at bath time how things used to be when “when I was your mommy” … and the list goes on.
References to previous parents, previous families, previous lives, seeing angels and dead relatives … there are many examples when you start to pay attention.
But, because these accounts come from young children, the natural tendency for many adults is to dismiss them as fantasy, the product of an over-active imagination.
However, it turns out that much research has actually been done in this very arena, and guess what? Their stories aren’t always “just imagination” ….
In reality, accounts from children … especially very young children … are an attractive source of information. Why? Because their stories are stories of innocence … unblemished by the biases and preconceived ideas that burrow deeply into us as we grow older.
So, when stories of a child who’s maybe four or five are validated … as many have been … their credibility is off the charts.
Just who’s been doing this “research” … ?
One of the highest-profile organizations behind research of this nature is the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies … comprising board-certified physicians and scientists, part of a respected university.
On their website, they describe themselves as “… focused on studying phenomena related to consciousness functioning beyond the confines of the physical body, and phenomena that suggest the continuation of consciousness after physical death.”
In other words, they’re looking into the afterlife … and the “before life” … and perhaps even the “in between life.” And studying cases involving children has been a significant component of their research.
What did they find … this Division of Perceptual Studies?
Fascinating stuff! Thousands of reports of kids, mostly between the ages of about three and seven, describing details of the life of “the person they used to be” … sometimes another family member who’d recently died, sometimes a complete stranger in a nearby village, sometimes someone further afield.
Ian Stevenson, M.D., founded the Division of Perceptual Studies in 1967. He led this research over the next 40 years, personally visiting and interviewing many of the 3,000 children whose cases were identified.
He and colleagues would also personally interview family members, friends … anyone who’d heard the child’s stories … and then would follow up to investigate the claims made.
Multiple articles and books have been written about this research and its findings, containing many examples of verified claims.
Let me pause on that phrase … “verified claims” ….
In other words, what the child described was found to be true … the “wife and brother” they insist they had in their previous life actually did (or do still) exist, and they all lived in that house, “the white one across the river from the town market.”
And a man by the name the child claims to be his own, actually did die “when I went out for milk and got hit by a truck.” That sort of stuff … and much more.
Now, if your mind is jumping to “Yeah, but the kid probably heard about that from someone else,” hold that thought, because Stevenson and colleagues are way ahead of you. Their reporting goes into extensive detail as to why they determined other possible explanations to not be reasonable, scientifically-speaking.
Recently, I’ve read two of the books published about this research.
“Children Who Remember Previous Lives”
The first was by Dr. Stevenson, himself, “Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation.”
Stevenson describes his objective in this book as being to present evidence for which the best explanation is that reincarnation is real. He lays out the process, stories, and findings of his research.
In reading it, it became obvious that it was extremely important to him this book be viewed as a credible source of scientific research. And to my untrained eye, it seemed he accomplished this … his scientific rigour comes through loud and clear!
Unfortunately, it does so to the detriment of the everyday reader. It’s rather a tough slog … sophisticated terminology, painfully factual, sterile reporting. However, it’s a great reference source for those wanting to delve deeply.
“Life Before Life”
To my delight, the other book I read … “Life Before Life: Children’s Memories of Previous Lives” … was a much more readable accounting of this research and its findings.
It was written by a research colleague of Stevenson’s … Jim B. Tucker, M.D. If you’re interested in reviewing the results of their research, this could be a good place to start.
These are just two examples of many, of the serious attention being paid to what young children are telling us. In fact, in a book I recently posted, “Evidence of the Afterlife,” its author … also a medical doctor … states:
“Personally, I listen to children more carefully now than ever before. From the mouths of children we can learn important lessons pointing to the reality of the afterlife.” – Jeffrey Long, M.D.,“Evidence of the Afterlife” (pg. 147)
“Yes, in a previous life, I think … “
I vividly recall an encounter I had several years ago at a neighbour’s cocktail party held in our townhouse complex. I stopped in, but only briefly, because I had another commitment and had little time to spare.
On my way out, I noticed one of my neighbours sitting on the couch … with a boy who was only about six or seven years old. Hmm, not your typical cocktail party guest, so I stopped to say hello, and learned he was her grandson. Grandma and Grampa were taking care of him for a few days, so he tagged along while they made an appearance at this event.
The boy was entertaining himself among the adult chatter by drawing in his notebook. Feeling compassion for his predicament, I paused to acknowledge him, and asked him what he was drawing.
“The Titanic,” he replied.
I paused, absorbing what he’d said. The Titanic? That’s … er … unusual.
As I started to puzzle over how such a young child would even know what the Titanic was, much less be drawn to sketch it, his grandmother jumped in to explain, “He’s always drawing the Titanic … he’s absolutely obsessed with it.”
On a hunch, I turned back to the boy, and careful to maintain a nonchalant tone, as if what I was about to ask him was perfectly natural, I queried, “So, have you ever been on the Titanic … ?”
He paused for a moment, as his face briefly assumed a thoughtful expression, and then he replied quietly, “Yes … in a previous life, I think.”
Super interesting ….
Regrettably, I was already late for my next appointment and didn’t have time to pursue this further. Instead, I stumbled around for an appropriate response, coming up with something original like, “Out of the mouths of babes … “.
And I made my exit … leaving his grandmother to retrieve her jaw off the floor.
That was my first and only experience with a young child giving me a glimpse of what may lay beyond.
Until this past fall …
Ah, I see our time is up, so stay tuned … more to come!
(Click here for Part 2.)