Friday, June 4, 2010

[R#3] Book Review - Many Lives, Many Masters


Many Lives, Many Masters is the first book I've encountered of this kind.  I remember it was sometime in 2007 when I accidentally saw the Chinese version of the book and bought it in curiosity.  At that time, I thought reincarnation is nothing but a baseless belief.  You could imagine how shocking I was when I saw the description of the book claiming firmly that reincarnation is real.  Questions started popping up in my mind: "If it's proven, why isn't it on the news?"  "If it's real, why hasn't anybody tell me about it yet?"  "Could our commonsense be wrong all this time?"

This book was published in 1988 when I was only 2.  I only read about a few dozens pages of the book at that time to fulfill my curiosity.  My conclusion was that "reincarnation could be real" but I didn't go in depth since I don't like reading translations plus I didn't realize what it could mean to my way of living.  It wasn't until early last year that I started truth seeking and finished reading the English version of this book.

Unlike the previous book review, I'll summarize the first third of the book and you'll be the judge on whatever you want.  So go ahead and



The Psychiatrist
Before the incident, Brian L. Weiss was already a highly successful physician.  He was graduated Phi Beta Kappa (honors), magna cum laude (meaning "with great praise"), from Columbia University in New York in 1966.  He then went to Yale University School of Medicine and received M.D. degree in 1970.  After completing his residency in psychiatry, he joined the faculty of the University of Miami and eventually promoted to the rank of Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the medical school and became the Chief of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.  Achieving national recognition in the fields of biological psychiatry and substance abuse, Weiss had published thirty-seven scientific papers and book chapters in his field.

Years of disciplined study has taught Weiss to be conservative.  He distrusted anything that could not be proved by traditional scientific methods.  Although he was aware of some of the studies in parapsychology that were being conducted at major universities across the country, he didn't pay much attention to them.  It all seemed too "out there" to him.

The Patient
Catherine was at her late 20s, extraordinarily attractive.  Suffering from a number of severe phobias, she feared water, feared choking to the extent that she could not swallow pills, feared airplanes, feared the dark, and she was terrified of dying.  As her fears had begun to worsen, she often slept in the walk-in closet in order to feel safe.  She suffered two to three hours of insomnia before being able to fall asleep.  Once asleep, she would sleep lightly and fitfully, awakening frequently.  Nightmares and sleepwalking episodes started plaguing her.  As her fears and symptoms increasingly paralyzed her, she became more and more depressed.

Reared in a conservative Catholic family, Catherine never questioned her religious belief or expressed any interest to explore other religions.  She was content with her belief.

The First Eighteen Months of Therapy
During that time, they explored Catherine's feelings, thoughts, and dreams.  Her recognition of recurrent behavior patterns provided her with insight and understanding.  She remembered many more significant details from her past.  And she understood much more about her turbulent relationship with Stuart, expressing anger more appropriately.  Patients almost always improve when they remember unpleasant influences from their past, when they learn to recognize and correct maladaptive behavior patterns, and when they develop insight and view their problems from a larger, more detached perspective.  But Catherine had not improved.

Catherine refused any medicines because of her fear of choking.  She also rejected being hypnotized.  All conventional methods of therapy failed to help Catherine overcoming her symptoms.  Process seemed to be in a stalemate.

The First Hypnosis Section
Because of an unusual experience (read the book for details), Catherine agreed to try hypnosis.  After instructing her to a deep level of relaxation, Weiss began to regress her, asking her to recall memories of progressively earlier ages.  She was able to talk and answer his questions while maintaining a deep level of hypnosis.  She remembered the terrifying experience at age five when she was pushed from a diving board into a pool.  She began to gag while talking about the experience.  The worst event of all was recalled at age three when she was sexually abused by her father in her dark bedroom.

With the new discoveries and understanding of Catherine's painful and deeply repressed memories, Weiss was confident that there would be a significant improvement in her symptoms as suggested by his experiences.  This was not the case; a week had passed and she reported that her symptoms remained intact, as severe as ever.  Suspecting of more troublesome past memories, Weiss decided to regress her further.

The Second Hypnosis Section
Slowly, Weiss took Catherine back to the age of two, but she recalled no significant memories.  He then instructed her firmly and clearly: "Go back to the time from which your symptoms arise."  Catherine started speaking,
I see white steps leading up to a building, a big white building with pillars, open in front.  There are no doorways.  I'm wearing a long dress  .  .  .  a sack made of rough material.  My hair is braided, long blond hair.
 Confused, Weiss asked her what the year was, what her name was.
Aronda  .  .  .  I am eighteen.  I see a marketplace in front of the building.  There are baskets.  .  .  .  You carry the baskets on your shoulders.  We live in a valley.  .  .  .  There is no water.  The year is 1863 B.C.  The area is barren, hot, and sandy.  There is a well, no rivers.  Water comes into the valley from the mountains.
Weiss then told her to go several years ahead in time and to tell him what she saw.
There are trees and a stone road.  I see a fire with cooking.  My hair is blond.  I'm wearing a long, coarse brown dress and sandals.  I am twenty-five.  I have a girl child whose name is Cleastra.  .  .  .  She's Rachel.  {Rachel is presently her niece; they have always had an extremely close relationship.}  It's very hot.
Weiss had examined thousands of psychiatric patients, many under hypnosis, and he had never come across fantasies like this before--not even in dreams.  Not sure how to process, he instructed her to go forward to the time of her death.
There are big waves knocking down trees.  There's no place to run.  It's cold; the water is cold.  I have to save my baby,  But I cannot  .  .  .  just have to hold her tight.  I drown; the water chokes me.  I can't breathe, can't swallow  .  .  .  salty water.  My baby is torn out of my arms.
Catherine was gasping and having difficulty breathing.  Suddenly her body relaxed completely, and her breathing became deep and even.  She was resting; this lifetime had ended.  And Weiss was stunned.  Here is an excerpt of his reaction from the book,
Previous lifetimes?  Reincarnation?  My clinical mind told me that she was not fantasizing this material, that she was not making this up.  Her thoughts, her expressions, the attention to particular details, all were different from her conscious state.  The whole gamut of possible psychiatric diagnoses flashed through my mind, but her psychiatric state and her character structure did not explain these revelations.  Schizophrenia?  No, she had never had any evidence of a cognitive or thinking disorder.  She had never experienced any auditory hallucinations of hearing voices, visual hallucinations or visions while awake, or any other type of psychotic episodes.  She was delusional, nor was she out of touch with reality.  She did not have multiple or split personalities.  There was only one Catherine, and her conscious mind was totally aware of this.  She had no sociopathic or antisocial tendencies.  She was not an actress.  She did not use drugs, nor did she ingest hallucinogenic substances.  Her use of alcohol was minimal.  She had no neurological or psychological illnesses that could explain this vivid, immediate experience while hypnotized.
The unnerved Weiss told Catherine to go on to see what else she would say and she recalled fragments of two other lifetimes.  Weiss decided to observe her situation with an open mind before making a conclusion on what's going on.  He remained skeptical about reincarnation and related phenomena.

The Breakthrough
One week later on Catherine's next hypnosis session, she reported that her lifelong fear of drowning had disappeared.  Her fears of choking were somewhat diminished.  Her sleep was no longer interrupted by nightmares.  Even though the notion of reincarnation contradicts with her religious beliefs, she did not doubt her memories as the experience was so overwhelming.  They continued uncovering origins of her fears through her past lives' memories.  At the end of a lifetime, Catherine would remember floating above of her body and a bright light would come to her.  Catherine would then rest peacefully for a while and then regress to another past life.  After several likewise lifetimes, something different happened.  After this lifetime ended, instead of going into another past life, Catherine spoke in a husky and loud voice without hesitation.
Our task is to learn, to become God-like through knowledge.  We know so little.  You are here to be my teacher.  I have so much to learn.  By knowledge we approach God, and then we can rest.  Then we come back to teach and help other.
Catherine never read studies about near-death experiences yet she was relating similar experiences to those described in these writings.  Weiss started looking for scientific papers on reincarnation and to his surprise, there are libraries filled with this research and literature and yet few people know about them.  His skepticism was fluctuated yet remained as they continued the regression therapy.

The Confirmation
On the next session, Catherine once again spoke during the in-between-lives state with the same husky and loud tone.
They tell me there are many gods, for God is in each of us. 
What she said next left Weiss in awe.
Your father is here, and your son, who is a small child.  Your father says you will know him because his name is Avrom, and your daughter is named after him.  Also, his death was due to his heart.  Your son's heart was also important, for it was backward, like a chicken's.  He made a great sacrifice for you out of his love.  His soul is very advanced.  .  .  .  His death satisfied his parents' debts.  Also he wanted to show you that medicine could only go so far, that its scope is very limited.
Catherine knew virtually nothing about Weiss's personal life except for the pictures of his daughter and son on his desk.  She really knew him only as a psychiatrist, nothing of his past or of his private life.  Weiss relates,
Catherine could not possibly know this information.  There was no place even to look it up.  My father's Hebrew name, that I had a son who died in infancy from a one-in-ten million heart defect, my brooding about medicine, my father's death, and my daughter's naming--it was too much, too specific, too true.
Weiss then asked Catherine who told her these things.
The Masters, the Master Spirits tell me.  They tell me I have lived eighty-six times in physical state.
This reveal arises even more questions.  What are these so called Master Spirits?  A higher level of consciousness?  Do we choose to be in physical state?  As Weiss struggled to believe, he knew in his heart and gut that she was revealing truths.
The thousands of cases recorded in the scientific literature, especially those of children speaking foreign languages to which they had never been exposed, of having birthmarks at the site of previous mortal wounds, of these same children knowing where treasured objects were hidden or buried thousands of miles away and decades or centuries earlier, all echoed Catherine's message.  I knew Catherine's character and her mind.  I knew what she was and what she wasn't.  No, my mind could not fool me this time.  The proof was too strong and too overwhelming.  This was real.  She would verify more and more as our sessions progressed.
As the sessions continued, Catherine continued to heal while revealing more and more.  Weiss would check to see if it fit into the framework being built with every session and examine it from every angle with a scientist's microscope.  And yet he could no longer deny that the framework was already there.


Score: 8/10
A great introductory book for reincarnation with fair and square observations.  Highly recommended if you have trouble accepting the notion of reincarnation.  Go get the book if you're interested to read more; or if you know me, come and get it from me.  You're more than welcome.

Related links:
Many Lives, Many Masters (Amazon)
Brian L. Weiss's official website
Ian Stevenson (Wikipedia)
Xenoglossy (Wikipedia)

16 comments:

  1. I'll definitely try to read this book eventually. However theres so many on my list, its hard to keep up. But atleast im reading.

    And keep up the great work man. You've definitely looked into these things more than I have and I hope you can be of help in the future.

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  2. Am half way through ML/MM's and am annoyed at how Weiss subtly lays claim to providing this information to the masses... Like Catherine is only here for his edification from the "gods." Will continue to read, maybe my perception of him will lighten-up - or not.

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  3. Well, that's his interpretation of Catherine's messages. You don't need to agree or disagree with him. You could also read Life Before Life for an in-depth research into children's reports of part-life memories.

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  4. Hi,

    You mentioned you purchased the Chinese version in 2007. Can you tell me where you purchased it? Can it be purchased online? I am reading the English version but would like to get the Chinese version for my famly.

    Thank you!

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  5. Sure, you can purchase it online via yesasia.com. I've found 3 books written by Brian L. Weiss. Through Time Into Healing is great too although it could get a bit dull sometimes. I highly recommend books written by Zhang Cheng; they're written in Chinese. You can also find them @ yesasia.com

    Many Lives, Many Masters:
    http://www.yesasia.com/us/%E5%89%8D%E4%B8%96%E4%BB%8A%E7%94%9F-%E7%94%9F%E5%91%BD%E8%BC%AA%E8%BF%B4%E7%9A%84%E5%89%8D%E4%B8%96%E7%99%82%E6%B3%95/1004067308-0-0-0-en/info.html

    Through Time Into Healing:
    http://www.yesasia.com/us/%E7%94%9F%E5%91%BD%E8%BC%AA%E8%BF%B4-%E8%B6%85%E8%B6%8A%E6%99%82%E7%A9%BA%E7%9A%84%E5%89%8D%E4%B8%96%E7%99%82%E6%B3%95/1001835345-0-0-0-en/info.html

    Messages From The Master:
    http://www.yesasia.com/us/%E5%89%8D%E4%B8%96%E4%BB%8A%E7%94%9F%E4%B9%8B%E5%9B%9E%E5%88%B0%E7%95%B6%E4%B8%8B/1001834241-0-0-0-en/info.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you so much for the links! Also, if you haven't read any Seth Books, check them out on amazon.com. They might help in your truth seeking.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=a9_sc_1?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aseth+books&keywords=seth+books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298870534

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  7. I find this book creepy at best and a total scam at worst.

    The book is provably false, and I call SHENANIGANS on the author.

    Disagree? Check out my detailed critique and prove me wrong!

    http://weshagen.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/a-skepticatheist-critic-of-the-bestseller-many-lives-many-masters-by-brian-weiss/

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  8. I believe.......

    Any hypnotic regression where a person describes their surroundings like they are reliving it, and then refers to the date in relation to a being that has yet to be born, does not deserve to be believed. I'm quite sure nobody in the 1863 BC knew what year it was according to our AD calendar!! Enough said!

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    Replies
    1. I'am not a smart guy and I questioned the date thing also but figured the author would have an explanation that I'am not smart enough to think of. Either way I am skeptical at this point (just started reading, on page 51) but will try to keep an open mind. DW

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    2. I'm pretty sure nobody in 1863BC spoke English too. So it doesn't seem she was describing her past lives solely based on those particular past memories.

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  9. I have found it very difficult to finish reading this book.My opinion is,Dr.Weiss is trying to preach his own religion in the guise of psychotherapy.If hypnosis was so easy then we would have come to know about the real life mysteries especially crimes so easily.Also what he claims to be true is no less than a stupendous discovery or invention.So instead of writing a thriller like story why didnt he expose his findings to scrutiny and research for betterment of mankind.His preachings have been preached and practised by innumerable sadhus and babas in our country but they remain in the domain of metaphysics like astrology,palmistry etc.Its old wine in a new bottle.Lets have some new ideas which are scientific and realistic.

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  10. Dr Brian Weiss is a psychiatrist and self-proclaimed ‘scientist’ whose best-selling book, “Many Lives, Many Masters”, has apparently “scientifically proved” reincarnation by recounting the hypnotic regression to past lives by one of his patients. His book has sold over 1.5 million copies with rave reviewers mostly giving ratings of 4 or 5 stars out of 5.

    I give the book zero stars. I believe it’s a sham, pretending to be a work of scientific discovery when it’s nothing of the sort. The book gives doctors, and science, a bad name. The fact that so many readers believe that this book provides “evidence” for reincarnation shows that modern universal education has in many ways failed to properly explain the principles and discipline of science.

    I’ve now written my damning review of this 'work of fiction'. I’ll let Dr Weiss sue me in the next life. :) Here’s the link for my review on ‘Good Reads’:

    http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/418986461

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  11. All of the things mentioned in the book sounds like it makes for a good read, however if someone lived in anytime BC how would they know? No one knew when Christ was supposed to come so how would she know how far ahead she lived before it?

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  12. Yes it is something which we cannot decipher with our worldly senses but have to go deep, and not to fight and reject but open ourself to this kind of information and feel deep within, right and wrong is there.

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  13. what about the rebirth of animals and plants

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