Haven't We Met Before? -- Uncanny 'Past Life' Memories

05/28/2015 02:08 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2016


Despite the many well-educated skeptics demeaning the possibility of "inherited" relationships, I cannot invalidate what so many people have shared with me over the past four decades. They are sane and rational beings, who reveal their stories with understandable discomfort. But, once they know that I am open and receptive, they share them with evident relief and passionate explanations. They are so glad to find someone who does not think they are crazy.

Many of the stories are about prophetic dreams, near-death experiences, sacred moments with energy fields that are unexpected and real, or a sense of déjà vu that is unmistakable in the moment when it occurs. But none of them are as poetic and meaningful as the stories they recant about meeting someone they are absolutely sure they've known before, even though they have no memory of when that could have been. They feel that their connection is surreal and unique and could not have happened within the perimeters of the life they've experienced. Moreover, they are instantly intimate in ways new lovers could never be, knowing and understanding things about each other that would normally take weeks or months to uncover.

Here are just a couple of created examples but they are composites of actual stories.

"I heard his voice at another table in the restaurant and instantly got chills. Turning around slowly, so as to not appear overly interested, I saw him sitting with friends. Our eyes met. I knew I'd never actually seen him before, but it was profoundly clear that we recognized each other. Before I could get up, he came over and took my hand. 'Haven't we met before? You look so familiar? Who are you?' We somehow found a quiet corner and explored in detail how we must have met somewhere and just forgotten. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn't put the pieces together. We could not find a single situation, experience, or common place that we'd ever been at the same time. We talked of the possibility that maybe we'd seen each other on someone else's Facebook page, or inadvertently vacationed at the same spot. Anything. But nothing came up. Yet, we couldn't stop staring at each other. I knew the crinkles around his eyes by heart and the way his mouth was a little crooked when he laughed. He kept staring at my hands, touching my ring finger as if it were not supposed to be bare. When we hugged, I recognized his smell, and the comfort of his arms around me. We knew we were experiencing the same miracle, but it scared us both. It was just too weird."

"The party was getting boring. Too many people altered beyond recognition. I wasn't having a good time anymore and needed to go somewhere where I could breathe fresh air and sort out my thoughts. I told my friends I was going home, but, once in my car, I remembered I'd left my jacket and went back in to get it. As I was leaving, three of my close buddies came in the door, surrounding a woman I'd never met. She looked a little familiar but I couldn't place her."

"Hey, Charlie, don't leave yet. I brought someone I want you to meet. She's my sister's best friend from my home town. It's a long ways from Peoria, and it's her last night here." She was half hiding behind him, obviously embarrassed by Chet's pushing. I reached out my hand to help her feel more comfortable.

"Hey, welcome to L.A. It's a lot noisier here, and we're not as predatory as you've heard."

She smiled appreciatively at me, and then said "Hi" in this gentle, beautiful voice that literally floored me. I had this crazy thought that I should just leave for Vegas and get married within the next six hours. If I closed my eyes, I would have sworn we'd never been apart. "Is this your first time in L.A," I asked, hoping to buy some time to just stay my nerves. "She answered, seemingly just as shaken, "Yes. I've never been on the West Coast. Have you always lived here?"

"All my life. I've travelled a little, but never lived anywhere else."

I had to do something to interrupt the swirling in my head. "Hey. I'll introduce you to some of the other people here. We've all known each other forever. They're good people."

I tried in vain to get her interested in my other friends. They were wonderfully inclusive, but she kept looking back at me, like she was wondering why we weren't just talking to each other. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer and just asked her if she'd take a walk with me. She said, in that remarkable voice, "Yes. I want to spend some time with you just by ourselves. You okay with that?"

That was four years ago. We've never been apart since. We read that great book together that Jonathan Bach wrote so many years ago, "Bridge Across Forever." We were like them, we knew. I know it sounds crazy, but if it was possible that people could have lived prior lives, it must have been us."

There is not one person I've ever known deeply who has not experienced something similar. Many have tried desperately to ignore them or written them off to a more rational explanation. Yet, these interesting and seemingly unexplainable stories persist, and I have stored literally hundreds of them in my mind and heart. Wherever and why they exist may be as implausible as any belief that cannot be either fully proven or absolutely denied.

Let me tell you one of my own unexplainable experiences. My rational mind still struggles to make sense of it. Many years ago I attended a well-publicized psychological retreat in Northern California. There were noted speakers coming from all over the world and an attendance of nearly a thousand professionals. A colleague of mine, whom I value and respect, asked me to come and meet a woman who was well-known in the entire country as a phenomenally talented medium. Surrounded by a troupe of loyal devotees, she was holding court with profound grace and stature.

My good friend came up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder. When she turned to face me, I was awestruck by how much she looked like my long-gone favorite grandmother. I was under ten when she died, but we spent countless hours together, and I absolutely felt I was back in her presence. She immediately acknowledged my startled look, and asked me what I was feeling. I began to tear up and she reached out for my hand. We simply just stayed that way for a few moments, not speaking.

She was the first to break the silence. "Do you live in the L.A. area?" I told her I did, but I somehow knew she already was aware of it. She continued, not taking her eyes off of mine. "Bring your mother with you to my workshop in Hollywood next week." I had not mentioned that my mother lived with me.

When the time came, my mother and I sat far back in the auditorium. Using my most rational thought process, I had made the decision not to tell her of the resemblance between this remarkable woman and my mother's mother. We sat fascinated for the next two hours, watching this quite remarkable confident and grandiose woman perform "psychic readings" for those who asked to come onto the stage.

I asked my mother what she was experiencing. She had tears in her eyes and her hand over her mouth. "She could have been my mother's twin," she whispered. I squeezed her hand.

When the fascinating performance was over, the audience adjoined to a long, rectangle room for after-show coffee and treats. The woman entered from at door at the back and was immediately surrounded by many sycophants, all clamoring for her undivided attention. There were at least a hundred or more guests between her and us.

In the next moment, she looked up and saw my mother. She instantly parted the people as if they were the Red Sea and made her way directly to her. She took her hands warmly in hers and said in an unusual voice I will never forget; different from the one I'd heard when I met her at the conference. "It is so good to see you again. Welcome back into my life."

I felt the hairs stand up on my arms. Somewhere in my memory, I know that I'd heard that voice before.

Then she turned and went back to her claiming crowd. My mother and I stared at each other, I in disbelief, in the radiant comfort she had left behind. She had no trouble believing. Her mother was a gypsy and these kinds of experiences were not out of the usual for her growing up.

For me, it was too unworldly and unlike anything I'd ever known. I could not sleep for days afterwards. Probably just an amazing array of coincidences I told myself over and over again. Could I have just experienced a logical mix-up of past and present? Was I only paying attention to what I expected to see? After all, I did tell that woman we might come. But, my mother had never seen her, and she, too, instantly saw the startling resemblance to my grandmother. We double checked that night at home when we looked at the pictures.

I told her, "Mom, everything I've ever read in my scientific journals has confirmed that we first have beliefs, and then we fit experiences into them. We could have just somehow mutually created something that fit." She was undeterred. I tried to give her an example. "Mom, remember that experiment where people were told to keep their eye on the ball in a pseudo basketball game and never saw the man in the gorilla suit wandering around the court?" I was trying to get her, and I'm sure now me, back into reality. She was not going to budge. She told me in as kind a way as she could, "I know what I saw. You can believe whatever you want, honey." She was so joyful. I couldn't challenge that bliss. No rational process could have come anywhere near it.

Try as I could, I wasn't able to erase the memory of that night, nor adequately resolve what actually happened in that room. So, I began reading everything I could find about past life experiences and similar paranormal events. In that process, I have come to my own tentative conclusions. I am certain that they fly in the face of today's most current scientific studies, but here is what I came up with:

A few years ago, on a major news network, it was reported that a Nigerian couple gave birth to a blond, blue-eyed child, after they'd already given birth to two children similar in appearance to themselves. The new mother had a grandmother who was Caucasian and blue-eyed. I recall that the dad reported a similar ancestor three generations back.

Could that highly unusual combination of chromosomes, so many years later, have somehow improbably connected and manifested in this highly unlikely result? The same way Mozart heard music in his head at three and wrote his first symphony only a few years later? Can the experiences of our ancestors, simply coded in our DNA, be stored somehow live within our unconscious and magically show up later? If that were even a possibility, could the feeling of having known each other in a past life actually come from some of our ancestors having known each other before and having those memories encoded in our current brain structure, simply not consciously available until triggered?

Whatever hypotheses and new discoveries may tell us, these experiences of "knowing" others they've never met continues to happen to many people. Because of my love of repeatable and provable scientific explanations, I will probably always remain a skeptic in search of believable evidence. But, I cannot logically deny something just because I don't yet have a logical explanation. I have seen too many of these couples who will not be deterred in their experiences of having known each other in a past life. I have listened deeply and carefully to their remarkable and very believable stories so many times. Because I have profound respect for who they are as people, I cannot deny their realities, especially when I observe the magic and joy they provide.

The sequencing of magic, spirituality, and science, recur at regular intervals. Perhaps our ancestors felt that their lighting of incense actually made the sun come up. Then someone overslept, and it came up anyway. Then did they need to pray to the sun deity who made that possible? What next happened when science revealed the probability and reasons why that happened?

We continue to learn and accept ideas that we would have blatantly discounted in the past, replacing them with some that would have been perceived as heretic in the past. Perhaps, someday, with more sophisticated means of exploration, we will find the key to these remarkable experiences as well. Until that happens, I will, without doubt or challenge, joyfully anticipate and enjoy these amazing and fascinating stories that my patients continue to reveal.

Dr. Randi's free advice e-newsletter, Heroic Love, shows you how to avoid the common pitfalls that keep people from finding and keeping romantic love. Based on over 100,000 face-to-face hours counseling singles and couples over her 40-year career, you'll learn how to zero in on the right partner, avoid the dreaded "honeymoon is over" phenomenon, and make sure your relationship never gets boring.