I've been watching a new show on History Channel International called 'Past Life Investigation' (web page for the network is HERE )
People who may or may not (mostly they do not) believe in reincarnation are asked to take part in a session of past life regression via hypnosis. Then the host/researcher of the program looks into information revealed during the session to see if what the subect 'remembered' under hypnosis has any connection to history/geography/public record. THEN comes the best part. The researcher flies the subject to the location revealed during the regression.
Fascinating stuff, not only the idea of reincarnation, but the way pinpointing a single non-famous person for historical research can illuminate the time and place that person lived.
The debut program brought us to the seamy side of 1920s Chicago, and to late 19th century Dublin. The second to a tiny town along the northern border of India during the 1930s.
One of the things I like best about the program is the researcher never states that anything about reincarnation is proven by the data collected during regressions. She doesn't present the parallels found as evidence or draw any firm conclusions about reincarnation. She gathers the info together then leaves it up to the viewers to decide for themselves.
Those whose hobby or passion is 'debunking woo woo stuff' would find many ways to try and explain the parallels between the information obtained under hypnosis and historical events and people. Myself, I prefer to believe there's something in it. Occam's Razor, after all states the the simplest hypothesis is most likey accurate (paraphrased).
This is supported by my own experience. When I was about 6 years old, I could identify some herbs by their common names and knew what they were good for without having been taught or studying them in a book. The memory that springs to mind most clearly was seeing plaintain growing in the yard and KNOWING it was called plaintain and that it was good for excema. (I had horrible excema as a kid; image of plantain HERE ).
So, I personally believe that memories from past lives exist, and feel no burning need to justify my belief, but its nice to know I'm not alone.
It is also fascinating to learn about others' experiences and to learn about history on a smaller scale than, say, the conquests of Rome.