Monday, February 19, 2007

The Meaning of Life Revealed! Many Lives, Many Masters, by Brian Weiss, M.D.

Many Lives, Many Masters
Brian Weiss, M.D.

As I have said before, I want to believe. Such desire should quickly lead one down faith’s path, but it has had the opposite effect on me. My need to believe makes me more skeptical than ever, and I am wary of believing foolishly or dogmatically.

Life of Pi said that even atheism is better than agnosticism; the hazy non-belief of the agnostic is a sort of indecisiveness, I know, and indecisiveness is one of my flaws. And yet, I can no more not believe than believe. So I read on. Maybe one day, I’ll find something that clicks.

Enter Many Lives, Many Masters, a book which supports many beliefs I would have if I could commit to them. I feel many of its “tenets” to be true, but I stubbornly resist them. Why? Let’s see, shall we?

In the book’s favor, the author is a pretty educated guy. He graduated magna cum laude from Columbia and attended the Yale University School of Medicine. He has worked at several prestigious schools and is well published in his field of psychiatry. So he should have a good idea of what he’s talking about, right? Right?

Many Lives, Many Masters chronicles Dr. Weiss’s work with one patient, Catherine. This troubled woman came to him with many phobias and neuroses. After working with her as he would normally, he decided to try hypnosis to rid her of her deep-seated problems. Upon regression, he realized he was dealing with something far greater than the issues of a troubled woman—he was dealing with her past lives. (He knew schizophrenia or other illness was not at work here.) So their treatment continued for months, and Weiss got to hear about many of her lives. He also spoke through her, to the “masters,” or spirits who guide us from the other side.

Through the course of his therapy, Weiss learned that reincarnation is a fact, as is the immortality of the soul. The purpose of life is to learn, grow, and evolve. During life, we are supposed to solve certain issues. Either we do or don’t—but if we don’t, we carry those unsolved issues into our next life in addition to the new ones we must solve. We choose when we are born and when and how we die. All life is a classroom, every time. The ultimate goal is to perfect ourselves so that reincarnating is no longer necessary.

The purpose of this book is ostensibly to inform the public, so that we might lose our fear of death and make better decisions as we navigate our lives. But I’m troubled by—and this prevents me from believing more in his ideas—seeing how many books the author has published on this subject. You can even get your own cd to help you regress into your past lives! It just seems to me that if the doctor is in earnest, he wouldn’t be capitalizing so much on this profound truth. (Visit his website to see more.) But I’m probably just being judgmental. That’s another of my flaws.

At any rate, the premise of Many Lives, Many Masters seems true to me, that the purpose of life is to learn and love. But it just seems too easy. The “void” – the nothingness of death -- seems rationally correct, if ultimately disheartening. So this got me thinking: presuming (although this is unlikely) that I am able to intuit what to improve during my lifetime, what do I need to work on? Here’s the results of a quick brainstorming session:

I need to learn patience. I need to learn acceptance. I need to learn faith. I need to learn self-discipline. I need to give of myself. I need to not hold myself back. I need to be more social. I need to -- Jesus. I’m going to come back as a slug, aren’t I? Aren’t I????

Bibliolatrist in 100 years

In a nutshell: Comforting, although not entirely believable. Or maybe I want to believe too much. At any rate, it reminds you of what is important in life and directs you to live better.

Bibliolatry Scale: 2 (for style of writing) + 6 (for the potential it has to positively affect your life) = 4 out of 6 stars


Lesley said...

It seems I can always count on a laugh when I visit your blog. Today it was the bit about the slug that got me.

I read one of Weiss's books years ago (I think it was this one) and seem to remember coming away from it with similar feelings. Personally, I don't think anyone's got 'what's on the other side' right yet.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

Interesting comments coming from you. I don't know who I am presently--an agnostic or an atheist. But I hope not the latter because I believe there is something from which we came. the rest i don't know and would want to find out.