Indian Arts and Culture Hinduism A Review of the Book "Many Lives, Many Masters" by Dr. Brian Weiss Share Flipboard Email Print Amazon Hinduism Indian Arts and Culture India Past and Present Important Texts Temples and Organizations Hindu Gods Hindu Gurus and Saints By Subhamoy Das M.A., English Literature, University of North Bengal Subhamoy Das is the co-author of "Applied Hinduism: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World." He has written several books about Hinduism for children and young adults. our editorial process Subhamoy Das Updated June 25, 2019 Many Lives, Many Masters is the true story of a prominent psychiatrist, his young patient, and the past-life therapy that changed both their lives. As a traditional psychotherapist, Dr. Brian Weiss, M.D., graduating Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, from Columbia University and Yale Medical School, spent years in the disciplined study of human psychology, training his mind to think like a scientist and a physician. He held steadfastly to conservatism in his profession, distrusting anything that could not be proved by traditional scientific methods. But then 1980 he met a 27-year old patient, Catherine, who came to his office seeking help for her anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias. Dr. Weiss was soon taken aback at what unfolded in the therapy sessions and jolted out of his conventional psychiatric thinking. For the first time, he came face-to-face with the concept of reincarnation and the many tenets of Hinduism, which, as he says in the last chapter of the book, “I thought only Hindus… practiced.” For 18 months, Dr. Weiss used conventional methods of treatment to try and help Catherine overcome her traumas. When nothing seemed to work, he tried hypnosis, which he had found to be “an excellent tool to help a patient remember long-forgotten incidents. There is nothing mysterious about it. It is just a state of focused concentration. Under the instruction of a trained hypnotist, the patient’s body relaxes, causing the memory to sharpen... eliciting memories of long-forgotten traumas that were disrupting their lives.” During the initial sessions, the doctor regressed Catherine back to her early childhood as she strained to bring out isolated, deeply repressed memory fragments. From the age of five, for example, Catherine recalled swallowing water and gagging when pushed from a diving board into a pool; from age three, a memory of her father, reeking of alcohol, molesting her one night. But what came next, catapulted skeptics like Dr. Weiss into believing in the transcendent and in what Shakespeare had said in Hamlet (Act I scene 5), “There are more things in heaven and earth... than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” In a series of trance-like states, Catherine recalled “past life memories that proved to be the causative factors of her recurring nightmares and anxiety attack symptoms. She remembered “living 86 times in physical state” in different places, both as male and female. She vividly recalled the details of each birth: her name, her family, physical appearance, the landscape, and how she was killed by stabbing, by drowning or illness. And in each lifetime, she experiences myriad events “making progress... to fulfill all of the agreements and all of the Karmic debts that are owed.” Dr. Weiss’s skepticism was further eroded when she began to channel messages from “the space between lives," messages from the many Masters (highly evolved souls not presently in a body) that also contained remarkable revelations about his own family and his dead son that Catherine could not possibly have known. Dr. Weiss had often heard patients talk about near-death experiences in which they floated out of their mortal bodies guided towards a bright white light before reentering their discarded body once again. But Catherine revealed much more. As she floated out of her body after each death, she said, “I am aware of a bright light. It’s wonderful; you get energy from this light.” Then, while waiting to be reborn in the in-between-lives state, she learned great wisdom from the Masters and became a conduit for transcendental knowledge. Voices of Master Spirits Here are some of the teachings from the voices of the Master Spirits: “Our task is to learn, to become God-like through knowledge... By knowledge we approach God, and then we can rest. Then we come back to teach and help others.”“There are many gods, for God is in each of us.” We have to be on “different planes at different times. Each one is a level of higher consciousness. What plane we go to depends upon how far we’ve progressed. . . ”“We must share our knowledge with other people. We all have abilities far beyond what we use. . . . you should check your vices. . . if you do not, you carry them over with you to another life. . . when you decide you are strong enough to master the external problems, then you will no longer have them in your next life.”“Everybody’s path is basically the same. We all must learn certain attitudes while we’re in physical state. . . charity, hope, faith, love. . . we must all know these things and know them well.”“Everything is energy. . . Humans can only see the outside, but you can go much deeper. . . To be in physical state is abnormal. When you are in a spiritual state that is natural to you. When we are sent back, it’s like being sent back to something we do not know. In the spirit world you have to wait, and then you are renewed. It’s a dimension like the other dimensions... ”“The fear of death... that no amount of money or power can neutralize”... remains within us. “But if people knew that life is endless; so we never die; we were never really born, this fear would dissolve.” We have “lived countless times before and would live countless times again. . . and spirits are around us to help while in physical state and after death, in spiritual state.” We and our deceased loved ones would join these guardian angels. “Acts of violence and injustices against people do not go unnoted, but is repaid in kind in another lifetime.”“Everything comes when it must come. A life cannot be rushed... we must accept what comes to us at a given time... life is endless... we just pass through different phases. There is no end. Time is not as we see time, but rather in lessons that are learned.”1After death “we get to the spiritual plane, we keep growing there, too. When we arrive, we’re burned out. We have to go through a renewal stage, a learning stage, and a stage of decision. We decide when we want to return, where, and for what reasons... Our body is just a vehicle for us while we’re here. It is our soul and our spirit that last forever... ” Dr. Weiss came to believe that under hypnosis, Catherine was able to focus in on the part of her subconscious mind that stored actual past-life memories or perhaps had tapped into what the psychoanalyst Carl Jung termed the Collective Unconscious, the energy source that surrounds us containing the memories of the entire human race. Reincarnation in Hinduism Dr. Weiss’s experience and Catherine’s transcendental knowledge might inspire awe or disbelief in westerners, but to a Hindu the concept of rebirth, the cycle of life and death, and this kind of divine knowledge, is natural. The holy Bhagavad Gita and the ancient Vedic scriptures embody all this wisdom, and these teachings form the primary tenets of Hinduism. Therefore, Dr. Weiss’s mention of Hindus in the last chapter of the book comes as a welcome acknowledgment of a religion that has already acknowledged and accepted his new-found experience. Reincarnation in Buddhism The concept of reincarnation familiar to Tibetan Buddhists, too. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for example, believes that his body is like a garment, which, when the time comes, he will discard and move on to accept another. He will be reborn, and it will be disciples’ duty to find him out and follow him. For Buddhists in general, a belief in karma and reincarnation is shared with Hindus. Reincarnation in Christianity Dr. Weiss also points out that there were indeed references to reincarnation in the Old and the New Testaments. The early Gnostics — Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Saint Jerome, and many others — believed that they had lived before and would again. In 325 CE, the Roman emperor Constantine the Great and Helena, his mother, erased references to reincarnation found in the New Testament, and the Second Council of Constantinople declared reincarnation a heresy in 553 CE. This was an effort to weaken the growing power of the Church by giving humans too much time to seek their salvation. Many Lives, Many Masters makes for an irresistible read and, like Dr. Weiss, we too come to realize that "life is more than meets the eye. Life goes beyond our five senses. Be receptive to new knowledge and to new experiences. Our task is to learn, to become God-like through knowledge."