If one has written a book entitled Reincarnation, even if only to discredit it, it would still be well to have a passing acquaintance with how it is supposed to work.
In chapter 16 of this book, author Edwards seeks to debunk Ian Stevenson. Here he informs us that most human lives are quite wretched, and that no one would want to incarnate into any such life. Since people are indeed born into such situations, he concludes that this refutes the notion of reincarnation, which Edwards declares straightaway to be "fantastic if not indeed pure nonsense".
Evidently, the author is assuming the act of reincarnation is voluntary.
Buddhists have been studying this "fantastic" idea of reincarnation for millennia, and their interest in this matter is well-known. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is essentially an instruction manual on how to avoid reincarnation. It describes death as something like the big sleep, and the bardo after death as a sort of dreamscape. According to this text, unless one has attained sufficient stability of mind through meditation and other practices, the process of reincarnation is INVOLUNTARY. And so, yes, people do get reincarnated into awful situations - because they have no more control over the process than most of us have over our dreams.
The idea that consciousness might exist independent of a physical body is also subject to Edwards' "fantastic if not indeed pure nonsense" dismissal. Apparently he belongs to the Alice in Wonderland school of investigation - first the verdict, then the evidence. Edwards is quite clear about this - he proudly parades his prejudice as a "presumption", and concludes, "EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC FLAWS, a rational person will conclude that Stevenson's reports are seriously defective" [emphasis added]. An odd notion of rationality.
According to some physicists, our reality may actually possess 12 dimensions (M-theory). This idea has been greeted with a bemused interest. However, woe unto anyone who dare propose that just one of those extra dimensions might be a home for the subtle energies of mind.
Well-reasoned skepticism is a good thing - it forces us to hone our thinking. However, as stated by Karl Popper, the eminent philosopher of science, if you set out to refute someone else's theory, you are obliged to first give that theory its best shot. This author doesn’t even come close.
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