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Interview with Brian Weiss

by Edie Weinstein-Moser

Although the concept of past lives has gained acceptance over the past few decades, there was a time when medical professionals such as Dr. Brian Weiss, would be looked at askance for even considering the possibility. His landmark book "Many Lives, Many Masters" was released in 1988 and was a mind expanding experience not only for his readers, but for the Columbia University and Yale Medical School educated psychiatrist as well. He currently sits as Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami where he also has a private practice. An impressive list of books and CD’s that have followed include "Through Time Into Healing", "Only Love Is Real", "Messages From the Masters", "Eliminating Stress, Finding Inner Peace" and his most recent, "Same Soul, Many Bodies". This book explores the impact of future lives on our present day existence.

Wisdom: How have you seen your life change in the interceding twenty years since "Many Lives, Many Masters" came out?

Brian: It has changed tremendously, with the people that I meet, the opportunities that I have, the places I get to visit and lecture. Those are the changes in my outer life. There have been changes in my inner life; there is more peace, there is less fear. All of the things that you might expect from doing this kind of work. On both levels, the changes have been quite profound.

Wisdom: Were you pretty cynical about the subject of past lives when this came to light for you?

Brian: It came to light much earlier than when "Many Lives, Many Masters" came out, because it took four or five years to write the book, after my experiences with Catherine that I describe in it. I was concerned with my reputation and career. I was chairman of the psychiatry program. Before this experience, I didn’t believe in it at all. I didn’t give it much credence or thought. I was very much of a scientist and traditional physician and psychotherapist. My wife believed in it, but never really opened up to me about it, because I probably would have tried to put it into more medical or Freudian terms. She turned out to be right.

Wisdom: A friend of mine calls it ‘bowing to the Goddess’.

Brian: That’s the energy that seems to be more and more important in this world; the feminine energy.

Wisdom: So, after twenty years, do you find that a lot of your colleagues are still skeptical about past life regression?

Brian: It is changing. Before I published my books, some physicians and therapists were still finding mystical experiences and unexplained healing, what you might call ‘miracles’, but they didn’t talk about it. Now, it’s safer, because there are other books, not just mine. In established institutions like the American Psychiatric Association, it is still not accepted, but among individual physicians, there is much more acceptance. I know that because of all the mail I get from all over the world. My wife and I do professional trainings where we train therapists to do past life regressions. Physicians and psychotherapists come from all over the world. I was called by one of the editors of Newsweek Magazine a few weeks ago. She was interested in why reincarnation is becoming more popular in the West. We talked about that and she wrote the article. She found a statistic that I didn’t know about, that in the Harris Survey in 2003, in the age group of Americans 25-29, belief in reincarnation is 40%. I think that’s remarkable. That’s changed a lot in these past twenty years. The article came out in the issue of Newsweek, January 28, 2008, pg 14.

Wisdom: What do you find are the present life healing benefits of past life regression?

Brian: That was my focus from the beginning. It wasn’t just a belief in past lives and reincarnation, but how to use regression therapy as a form of healing. What I found very quickly was that as people remember past life roots of their illnesses or symptoms, they tend to disappear. That’s very much like traditional psychotherapy, you may have had a childhood trauma and then remember it and then the condition gets better. That’s the foundation of psychotherapy. That can be enlarged to include past lives, because people are getting rid of phobias, panic attacks and sometimes physical symptoms as well. If they were hanged in a past life and they have neck problems in this life, or they drowned and in this life, they have a fear of water or gagging or choking issues, or swallowing pills. It’s like that. They are healing the physical and emotional symptom. There is also an understanding that if you lived before, and here you are again and remembering your past lives, what does that mean on a deeper level? It means you don’t have to fear death. You come back and go on and so do your loved ones. It’s also healing the fear of death, dying, loss and grief. In addition to the psychological benefits and healing physical symptoms, healing these other fears is very important also.

Wisdom: How do you know people’s experiences are valid and not just active imagination?

Brian: That’s why it’s good to have training as a therapist, because you are able to discern those differences. When people come into traditional psychotherapy practices, they talk about their dreams and fantasies. Imagine Woody Allen in therapy. There is that combination of metaphor, symbol, imagination and actual memory. It’s always there. You get very good at discerning what’s memory from what’s metaphor from what’s fantasy. Sometimes it’s very easy, if the person having the regression is speaking in a foreign language that they never learned. That’s called xenoglossy. That’s more than imagination. I have had people speak Medieval languages and foreign languages that they never learned to speak in this life. You can tape record it and give it to linguistics experts. Usually when there is a lot of emotion there and detail, that’s a real experience too. There may be details that the person doesn’t know. For example, they may be visiting a city in Europe for the first time but they know their way around, it feels very familiar. They may know where an old church used to be but it hasn’t been there since it burned down 150 years ago. They are able to describe what went on in the church and where the secret room is. People check out the memories and find out that it is an actual memory, not fantasy. Sometimes there are elements of fantasy and imagination mixed in with it. That doesn’t mean that the actual memory is worth any less.

Wisdom: So if someone is feeling the actual sensations they are describing, is that an indicator?

Brian: It is absolutely an indicator of an actual memory. There are more of those kinds of symptoms and feelings - that is not how day dreaming or imagination works. I was doing a documentary in London and I met Jenny Cockell ("Past Lives, Future Lives") who found her past life children when she lived in Ireland in a previous life. She was in her forties and they were all in their 70’s and 80’s. She was able to tell them about their childhood in Ireland in the 1920’s and 1930’s. She was absolutely correct. She was born in 1953. We were doing this documentary there and she told me she must have drowned in a past life because her asthma was getting worse in this life. I told her that I hadn’t found that connection very often and that I had found it more connected to asphyxiation or dying in a fire or smoke inhalation. She became very pale and told me she has always been deathly afraid of fires. We did a regression and she remembered a life time when she died in a fire as a teenage girl. After that, her asthma became a lot better.

Wisdom: There is a feeling that I have and have heard others express when meeting someone seemingly for the first time. It is a sense of "Oh, there you are again." Is that potentially a past life connection?

Brian: It doesn’t prove it by itself though. It’s kind of a ‘deja vu again’, that feeling of familiarity. You recognize them on a deeper level, a feeling of familiarity that is too soon. I even wrote a book about it called "Only Love is Real", about soul mates and soul connections. Relationships are so important and often times there are people with whom we have been together in other life times. The bodies change so the relationship can change. For example, your grandfather can come back as your nephew. The soul is the same. When you get those meetings, it is usually someone of some importance in your life. It doesn’t have to be the beginning of a fifty year relationship and it doesn’t have to be romantic. It could be a grandparent or best friend. Sometimes you meet a soul mate and you are only supposed to get together for a couple of months, but those months may be instrumental in changing your life.

Wisdom: I call them ‘overlapping soul circles’.

Brian: I call them soul families. We travel with them.

Wisdom: Do you find that reincarnation is about lessons that we haven’t learned or does there seem to be no rhyme or reason about them?

Brian: I think it is always about learning lessons. That’s the reason we come back, because it’s like coming back to school. If it were random, it wouldn’t make sense. My patients have done this work since Catherine began this in 1980. So, it’s been twenty eight years and more than 4,000 patients in my office and many more in my groups. We’re learning lessons about love, compassion, getting rid of fear, getting rid of greed, violence and hatred. We have to learn these lessons to come more from the heart, more from compassion, more from love. They are not all learned in one lifetime; they are difficult lessons and that’s why we have more than one chance to get it right. There seems to be higher guidance. We have the free will here to learn them, not learn them, to learn just some of them.

Wisdom: Is it what some refer to as a ‘soul contract’, that we sign up for more classes?

Brian: It’s like that. I don’t know that there is an actual contract. It is an agreement. It’s always about love. That’s the main lesson. The more we learn about love and not be fearful, that’s how we can graduate from this school.

Wisdom: When people have told you about time between lives, have they described themselves as energy or entity?

Brian: It differs based on a person’s own experience and their culture. If they are Japanese, they have a different experience than if they were from South America or India. The most common explanation is that around the time of death, they float above their body and often are able to see. Since they are not in the body, it is not seeing through eyes. They see what’s happening and they see their funeral. They may hang around for awhile. They are not in the physical form. They are in the form of light or energy. They become aware of a beautiful light. Sometimes they go through a tunnel to get to that light; like in a near death experience. In the Japanese culture, it’s crossing the river. Often at the light, there is a spiritual figure or a relative; someone to make the transition more comfortable. It’s a feeling of enormous peace and joy and almost recuperation. At the light, they are greeted and have a life review: "How did you do in this life? Did you learn the lessons? Did you wander from your spiritual course?" It’s not done in any sense of judgment or criticism; always in an atmosphere of great love. If you didn’t accomplish all your lessons, you start planning your return trip. We are not in a physical form over there. We are much in an expanded consciousness and a place of great peace. That is something people have told me over the past twenty eight years.

Wisdom: When people say that they are greeted by loved ones on the other side, is it about recognizing their essence, rather than their appearance?

Brian: Yes. It’s not just loved ones. It could be a spiritual figure. If you are Buddhist, it might be Buddha, if you are Christian, it might be Jesus or Mary, if you are Jewish, it might be Moses. It could also be your grandmother, but she is going to appear like she did in the ‘50’s, because she can take any form. She’s your grandmother. Whatever it takes for you to recognize her. Love never ends and the spiritual connections never stopped. Often times it’s more than one. It’s to welcome you back home. It’s good to see those people again.

Wisdom: So we carry with us the heart memory of people we love.

Brian: Yes. That heart energy never stops. It never ends even with the death of the physical body. Even on the other side, they are still connected with us. Not that they are observing everything we do. It seems to me that this is the difficult place; Earth . Here on Earth we have pain, loss, illness, death, separation, grief and that doesn’t happen on the other side. It’s much more joyful. On the other hand, you can’t leave school early. You have to learn your lessons. You’re supposed to stay here and learn your lessons and appreciate life and find the good things in it; living in the present moment and have more fun. Also, don’t be afraid of death, because that is like going home and you are going to be reunited with your loved ones. I don’t say it because it makes people feel good.

Wisdom: As if past life regression wasn’t challenging enough for some people to accept, some of your work is about future life progression. How do you explain those dynamics?

Brian: It seems almost like science fiction, but it’s really not. Whenever I talk to physicists, we talk about parallel universes and an infinity of universes. Two things happened that got me interested in progression. When I was with some patients, they would spontaneously go into the future. How could they do this? The second thing I had experience with was pre-cognitive dreams, both my own and with my patients. Being a practical person, I was curious. How could you dream of the future? People were winning lotteries this way. I remember one that a person had. A twenty year old woman had died in a fall from a cliff in New Jersey. Her brother and parents came to the West Coast of Florida to recuperate. On a Thursday night, her father had a vivid dream. His daughter came to him and said, "I’ve caused you a lot of pain and I want to give you something back. I’m fine, so don’t be sad about me. Play my lottery ticket." He said this to his wife and son the next morning. They remembered that she had tickets to the New Jersey lottery. They called up a neighbor who went into the car and got the ticket and read them the numbers. They bought one ticket and they won Saturday night. Fifteen million dollars. The odds of that happening are one in 14 million. This is just one example. If people can dream about the future and it can happen spontaneously in regression sessions, why don’t we try going into the future? It might help them get a better perspective on this life. It turns out that it’s not that difficult to do. Again, it’s harder to prove, but it’s another therapeutic technique that adds to the repertoire that we have. It seems to help some people. It’s not so far out. Our present lives are the future lives of our past lives.

To learn more about Dr. Brian Weiss, visit his website www.brianweiss.com  

Edie Weinstein-Moser is a journalist, interfaith minister, therapist, energy worker and workshop facilitator. She can be reached via her website www.liveinjoy.org  


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