You Have Been Here Before


YouHaveBeenHereBeforeSome of my regular readers are going to be mad at me. I’m going to argue in this essay the exact opposite position I presented a few weeks ago on Eternal Lives, Past Lives and Reincarnation. In that paper I stated what I would consider to be the orthodox position of most church members. I focused on the idea that we pass through this life but once. That essay opposed reincarnation.

Since I wrote that essay I read two older books from Dr. Edith Fiore. She has published three but I just could not bring myself to read Encounters, which presents fourteen case studies of people who, while under hypnosis, have recalled being abducted by a UFO. I read the reviews and will probably purchase and read the book someday, but come on now. Abducted by aliens, really?

One of the two books is The Unquiet Dead: A Psychologist Treats Spirit Possession. I read this one first although it was written after her original work, also based on clinical case studies, entitled You Have Been Here Before: A Psychologist Looks at Past Lives. The Unquiet Dead is the more popular of her books and benefits from better editing, a glossary and a bibliography.

Church Opposed to Reincarnation

But it’s her first book I want to focus on in this essay. At 185 pages, I read it in less than two days. I was so fascinated I could have completed it in one day but I was already stealing time from work to read it. Balance is a good thing to pursue in this life. You’re going to need balance if you read this book and have never considered the idea of reincarnation or past-life regression.

Like I wrote previously, I’m fairly certain the church’s official position is that there is no such thing as reincarnation. Yes, it’s official. I just found it in Preach My Gospel and you can read a nice argument against it by Spencer Palmer in the I Have a Question section of the August 1989 Ensign. If I remember correctly, Bruce R. McConkie wrote that it was a doctrine of the devil.

Just to state my position clearly, I do not believe in the type of reincarnation that advocates a return to this life in another state, either as a plant or an animal or as an inanimate object. However, I’m going to entertain the theory in the next few paragraphs that perhaps there is something to the idea that we may possibly experience Multiple Mortal Probations. Just maybe.

Convincing Clinical Case Studies

Notice the weasel words I used – perhaps, possibly and maybe. I am not convinced there is such a thing as Multiple Mortal Probations, but after reading the amazing case studies, I am scratching my head looking for explanations to fit this into what I already know and believe. I don’t read many suspense or horror stories, but the best is in this book – “I know what’s behind that door!”

How can you argue with recorded clinical case studies? Some of the individuals who participated with Dr. Fiore in these past-life regressions said they didn’t believe in reincarnation but could not deny what had happened to them. I have an explanation I’ll offer in a minute but it’s unorthodox. It combines what I have read in The Unquiet Dead with Mel Fish’s From Darkness Into Light.

You Have Been Here Before is a reprint of an earlier edition of Dr. Fiore’s groundbreaking work. It contains all the original typos, grammatical errors and formatting issues. It also contains the enthusiasm, excitement and amazement that Dr. Fiore experienced with her patients as together they discovered and documented the new breakthrough modality of past life regression therapy.

My Theory Explaining Past Lives

Here’s my explanation of how this works. It’s all theory and it’s all mine, so you can criticize it all you want. I throw it out there as a way of making sense of something that goes against all I have ever been taught and believed about the purpose of life – a one-shot, single pass-through experience. It has to do with spirit attachments, another controversial area that draws criticism.

As I read these case studies of past life regression, I kept thinking to myself, “whose past life are they now entering?” Dr. Fiore contends they are past lives of the individual patients themselves. I propose that the past lives being explored belong to spirit attachments that have been with the patients for a long time, perhaps their entire life. You can read more of this in The Unquiet Dead.

Dr. Fiore herself intimates in The Unquiet Dead that maybe hypnosis and past life regression is really a conversation with an attached spirit, not with the subconscious of the patient presenting itself in a previous mortal probation. She first wondered if they were multiple personalities but later came to recognize they were in fact, separate individuals embodied within her patients.

We Come Here to Learn

Now here comes the argument in favor of Multiple Mortal Probations. Note that I don’t call it reincarnation. I don’t want to confuse MMP with what some people believe that we can come back as a rock or tree. That just doesn’t fly for me. But as I read the case studies in Dr. Fiore’s first book, I found myself getting excited about the idea that maybe this does makes sense.

What about an individual who came to earth in the middle ages, had no education or prospects for advancement but simply lived day to day, hand to mouth, with little thought of anything else? What if this individual made a mistake, chose a foolish course of action that got her killed and did not accomplish anything with her life? Could she be given another chance another time?

This exact scenario is presented in Dr. Fiore’s book through one of her patients who had suffered from terrible headaches for the past seven years. A past-life regression through hypnosis revealed that the headaches were the result of being clubbed to death in a past life. You’ll have to read the story to understand why it made sense that her current headaches were related to her past-life.

Neither Heaven nor Hell

In any event, it made sense when I considered The Doctrine of Eternal Lives, which is presented in a book of the same name. I had rejected the idea the first time I read the book. I continued to reject the idea when I visited the topic again earlier this year and got such a tremendous amount of helpful feedback from so many of you. Now, with Dr. Fiore’s books, I’m considering it more.

Now before you come unglued and accuse me of blaspheme, remember I have offered a theory that explains how these patients and Dr. Fiore may have made a mistaken assumption in the research she was doing. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. The past lives that the patients found in hypnosis were not their own, but the past lives of other spirits that had lived and died.

I estimate that less than ten percent of members of the LDS church believe that spirits can hang around after they have died. We are taught to believe that we either go to the light of paradise or are sucked down into spirit prison by the chains of darkness which bind us in this life. But I have had too many witnesses to disbelieve there are some who die who go to neither place right away.

Spirit World Still Holds Secrets

The bottom line for me is that I have my alternative explanation to explain past-life regression therapy and now I think I have a clearer picture of the possibility that Multiple Mortal Probation may in fact be something that might be part of God’s plan. I know that’s a bold statement. I don’t believe that one can come back to experience an additional mortal probation after resurrection.

If you read the case studies closely, you’ll note that the patients reported in their hypnotic state after viewing their death in a past life, they were met by escorts who helped them understand what they had learned. Some were ready to begin the next mortal experience immediately, others needed a few years to adjust and decide if they wanted to try it again and do better this time.

Some of her patients had many past lives, some just a few, some only one and some none. It seemed that it all depended on what they had learned and if they were ready for the next step in their eternal progression – to go to the light and prepare for resurrection. There is so much we don’t know about how the spirit world works. Some of these things are only revealed by angels.

An Invitation to Dialog

Has anyone else read Dr. Fiore’s books? If you would like to meet her, you can watch excerpts of two videos on Thinking Allowed. I’m fairly certain I’ll be purchasing the full DVDs. In the end, acceptance or disbelief in the possibility of Multiple Mortal Probation is not central to the purpose of this life. What’s important is how we live here and now and how we bless others.

As Denver Snuffer wrote on his blog, “…whether true or not, it does not change a single thing about your life now. You have a challenge before you which can only be met by keeping every requirement established by the Lord for your redemption now. I fear those who are most enamored by this teaching are only distracted by it.

“They speculate about their own past history (or histories), and don’t realize their present life is slipping into history without adequate attention being given to the moment-to-moment responsibilities we are called upon to meet every second of this life. … even if you decide there is truth in it, nothing should change. … you have a challenge to live your life well NOW.”

Eternal Lives, Past Lives and Reincarnation


EloheimEternalLivesI am strongly opposed to the idea of past lives or reincarnation. I have always considered it a false and pernicious doctrine that leads one to do less than their best in this life, thinking they will always have another chance to get it right in the next life. Some people have said that the church teaches this doctrine and that it is called Eternal Lives (plural). I disagree, believe that most LDS believe as I do, that Eternal Lives means eternal increase and would like to address that in this position paper.

Associated with Adam-God Theory

By way of background I’ve written a little about this before in an essay where I reviewed a book entitled “Teachings of The Doctrine of Eternal Lives.” For some reason, this subject seems to be related to discussions of the Adam-God theory, which I have also written about previously. My position hasn’t changed even though I’ve had many people engage me in private dialog on the subject. They come up with all kinds of weird spins on what we are taught in the temple.

Adam and Eve Immortal at Birth

I remained convinced that Adam was born an immortal child of God our father and his heavenly mother. Eve was also an immortal child of those same resurrected beings. Jesus Christ did not have a mortal experience until he was born unto Mary. What he put aside was not an immortal and exalted body but simply his status as the most intelligent and most advanced of all of Heavenly Father’s children.

No reintroduction of the Veil

I do not believe we have more than one opportunity to pass though mortality. The same applied to God and to Jesus Christ. There was no “reintroduction of the veil” to God, to Christ, to Adam or to any mortal being ever born on this earth. Elohim does indeed mean Gods – plural – which is in line with what I believe that many of us were Gods – and still are. The veil of our mortal bodies simply hides that fact from us for a season.

Definition of the Fathers

The Fathers, in my opinion, are those early patriarchal prophets who have been resurrected and await our joining them when we finish our mortal probation. We are to be like them and to be sealed unto them with the sealing power that can only come from the voice of the Lord. None of them has ever entered the womb again. That simply cannot and does not happen. They are resurrected and exalted beings now. We would do well to emulate their examples in following Christ.

God only Experienced Mortality Once

I do not believe Gods experience mortality more than once. I have re-read the accounts of the King Follett discourse several times. I simply do not see that Joseph taught that doctrine. Jesus helped to frame the worlds under the direction of our Father by virtue of his position as the most intelligent, the most obedient and the most advanced of all our Heavenly Father’s children. He was assisted by Michael, who was to become the first mortal of this earth – Adam.

No Immortal [Exalted Being] Can Become Mortal

I disagree that our Heavenly Father and Mother became mortal again after they were immortal [and exalted]. Sorry. That’s a false doctrine. Yes, it’s true that came to they earth and ate of the fruit of this world. Adam and Eve were born to them here upon this world as immortal beings, from immortal parents. Adam was created of the dust of this earth in the sense that his parents ate of the fruit of this world when he was conceived. They had already had countless spirit children, but Adam and Eve were the first immortal children they brought forth on this world. This was not the first time they had done this. They had brought forth immortal children on countless other worlds before this one.

Immortal Beings Bear Immortal Children

Again, there is never, was never, will never be a time when the veil is reintroduced to an immortal and exalted being. The mortal body is the veil. An immortal [exalted] being will not become a mortal being for any reason. Not even Jesus did this. Yes, he was a God before he was born because he had obtained all knowledge available to him before mortality. But he was not an exalted being. That requires immortality. Immortal beings cannot bring forth mortal children (*See excellent comment from Donald below). Adam and Eve were immortal [but not exalted] until they partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then became mortal.

Update 4-10-13: I added the words in brackets above

No Past-Life Mortal Experiences

We establish ourselves as valiant in the pre-mortal life by our obedience to the commandments there and our faithfulness to the performance of assigned duty. There are no past-life mortal experiences to be remembered or relied upon as a source of growth or experience. Past-lives is a false doctrine explained by the presence of spirits who have attached themselves to us, which can be easily detected by those with spiritual insight or priesthood keys of discernment. This is clearly taught in books by Mel Fish and Doug Mendenhall.

Pre-Mortal Life is as a Spirit

Adam did not choose to become mortal again. He chose be born as an immortal child of Heavenly Parents and then chose to become mortal just as we are taught. I have never had a mortal life before my present time on earth. I learned and grew in a pre-mortal life in the presence of my Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. I am fairly certain I had some say about the timing of my birth into this world. Like Adam, I am searching for authorized messengers to teach me more. Up to this point I have accepted what I have been taught by prophets in scripture. But I know there is more that can only be received from heavenly messengers or from Christ.

We do not Cycle Through Mortality

I disagree with many on the interpretation of what Joseph taught in the last few months of his life and which Brigham tried to systematize in the endowment. I have studied many interpretations of others on what Joseph and Brigham taught. I have considered many versions of Adam-God theories from numerous individuals who have shared them with me. I simply have never found anything better than Elden Watson’s great summary. It is settled in my mind and has been for many years. I have yet to find anything that can convince me that we will ever become mortal again. That is not what eternal lives means.

Share Greater Light and Knowledge

This is my position paper. If I am wrong, show me where. Provide me with further light and knowledge. Point out my flaws in logic. Let me know where I have misunderstood prophets. I’ve shared this position many times over the years and most everyone has agreed that this is an orthodox understanding of what we as a church believe about the purpose of life and mortality. If you want to know more about the source of the idea of past-lives, let me know and I’ll be happy to share. Past-lives is not a doctrine that originated with God, but it can be explained. If you’re interested, I can add that in the comments.