Reincarnation—Even heroes aren’t immortal...

… more often than not, they return to Earth as quite ordinary people. Not too long ago, a young man watching the film ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ found ­himself shaken to the very core by the memories it evoked. ­Discover the astonishing story of one of the greatest heroes of the 20th century—and the attributes he brought with him to his current earthly existence.

We are not the product of one season, but the fruits of history: our own history, which can reach back tens of thousands of years. Our talents, idiosyncrasies, and preferences are no more the result of chance than they are merely inherited from our parents. The fact is that we are our own ancestors, our genetic code the encrypted data of our earlier existences. If our genes happen to be similar to those of our parents, it is not as the result of inheritance, but because we choose parents similar to ourselves, so that we can be ourselves again.

You might ask yourself why we should be looking at a striking incarnation such as Lawrence of Arabia. Our intention is to make the fact of reincarnation plausible for even the most sceptical minds—by means of a concrete, lived experience. To the present day, no scientist has been able to provide a convincing explanation for the phenomenon of child prodigies—the Mozarts of this world. People who are born with capabilities that others would be unable to develop even with a lifetime of practice. Reincarnation is the simple, logical answer: child prodigies developed their talents in earlier lives, and bring their now perfected gifts with them into this one. Apart from that, this article should go some way to demonstrating how we are influenced by the thoughts, feelings, and actions of previous existences. Hopefully, this realisation might make us a bit more sympathetic to the peculiarities and weaknesses of our fellow humans.

You understand, of course, that we can’t reveal the identity of our subject. Who wants to be identified by their previous existence, be it out of (an unpleasant and uncomfortable) admiration, or out of scorn and ridicule. It’s not for nothing that we are born having ‘drunk from the waters of Lethe’—we should be able to experien­ce life as a clean slate, free from memories of past triumphs or past wrongdoings. For most of us, the balance of our past lives would undoubtedly fall more in debit than in credit, be more of a burden than a distinction. Our present lives usually throw up enough challenges as it is, without looking to the past as well!

For this reason, we would never recommend reincarnation therapy or past life regression. If you have reached the point in your spiritual development where you are permitted (or indeed even compelled) to have memories of past lives, then it will be apparent without needing to be forced from you in a hypnotic state by a therapist.

Sometimes though, it is possible to form a deeper and fuller understanding of the present by understanding the past. This applies to one young man in particular, whom we had the privilege of getting to know over the course of some long conversations.

A Rollercoaster Ride in Front of the Telly

The ‘case’ we are looking at didn’t undergo any reincarnation therapy—he was a bit too young for that. One November evening, his past life struck him suddenly, quite out of the blue, as he lay stretched out on the sofa in the living room. His parents had persuaded the young man, then 18 years old, to watch a film classic with them: David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia of 1962, with T. E. Lawrence charismatically portrayed by Peter O’Toole. They had decided that he absolutely had to see it, and not without reason. As a boy years before he had revealed a deep, inexplicable love for the Arab peoples—a somewhat unusual preference in the years after 9/11—and the only thing that surpassed this was his love for all things English: the people and the country. Since Thomas Edward Lawrence (‘Lawrence of Arabia’s’ real name) was an Englishman and had fought for a free Arabia during World War One, Jan’s parents were certain that this film would be just the thing for him.

Watching the scene where Lawrence rides off with his Arab warriors to storm the Turkish stronghold at Aqaba, Jan races to the toilet and throws up several times. Had he felt unwell before? No, not at all. Feeling pretty messed up, Jan sits down to watch the rest of the film. The next scene begins: Lawrence is forced to shoot one of his comrades, who has committed a murder, in order to avoid a blood feud between the tribes. There it happens again: Jan runs off to the smallest room, and this time vomits even more violently than before.

The puzzlement that his parents feel turns to worry. What on earth is the matter with him? The answer comes to all three of them in a flash: what they are watching on the small screen is what Jan lived through in his last life.

Quite obviously, the impact of these two key emotional scenes had violently awoken memories that had long lain dormant in his etheric body, resulting in an instant feeling of nausea in the physical body. For the entirety of our past life memories is stored in the etheric body that surrounds our physical bodies like a second skin. It is a storehouse to which the rational left-brain of our day-to-day consciousness normally has no access (thanks to the etheric ‘Lethe effect’). For example, if someone has a deep-rooted, inexplicable fear of water, there’s a good chance that this is a subconscious response to a life-threatening experience in water in the past, perhaps even death by drowning.

Coming back from the toilet for the second time, Jan groans, “Aaaah, I’ve got the worst headache of my entire life! My God, it hurts!” He never normally gets headaches. A couple of minutes later and the head-splitting pain has vanished as fast as it arrived, along with the nausea. And Jan’s mother remembers something: T. E. Lawrence died at the age of 46 from severe head injuries following a motorbike accident. What’s going on? The ‘spirit of the flesh’, our body elemental, which keeps the physical body ‘ticking over’ through each incarnation, has a memory of its own. The elements of our body remain the same, even though its physical appearance alters with each incarnation. The awakening of Jan’s etheric memories brought back to his body that terrible pain, which after all had led to his death.

These events explained why Jan, otherwise a bold young lad, wouldn’t touch the motor scooter which his older brothers had always enjoyed riding. Just once, he let them twist his arm, and agreed to sit pillion: even riding around the neighbourhood, he was frightened out of his wits. That was the first and last time: since then, nothing and no one can persuade him to get on one of those infernal machines.

In the weeks after that memorable evening, Jan’s parents started to conduct a little research into this ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. It wouldn’t prove to be too difficult: as one of the greatest legends of the 20th century, they found whole bookshelves of biographies dedicated to him.

I Wished the Ground Would Open up and Swallow me

Thomas Edward Lawrence was born on 16th August 1888 in Tremadog in North Wales, the second son of the Anglo-Irish Baronet Sir Thomas Robert Tighe Chapman, 7th Baronet of Westmeath. His surname, ‘Lawrence’, came from the illegitimate father of his mother Sarah Junner, who originated from the Isle of Skye. Sarah Junner had been employed as a governess by Chapman and his wife Edith, and ran the household at their ancestral seat in Ireland. Edith was a priggish and sanctimonious Christian, and her husband fled into the arms of the young Sarah. Their first son was born while they were still in Ireland, but after Sir Thomas’ betrayed wife gave them an ultimatum, the lovers hit the road and moved to Wales. From that point on, although titled, the Chapmans were tainted by illegality wherever they went, living under the false name Lawrence and excluded from Society, first in Wales, then in Dinard on the Channel coast of Brittany, and later on the edge of the New Forest in southern England. Finally, they moved to the university town of Oxford so that their five sons could get a decent education, the family not having enough money to send them to all to boarding school.

It was when he was about 9 that Thomas Edward, known to one and all as ‘Ned’, discovered that there was something not quite on the level about his parents, a realisation that deeply troubled him. As a ­gentleman, his father couldn’t bring himself to work, although he was extremely well educated and open to the latest technical developments. The Lawrence boys lived a relatively isolated life in a suburban (though still too small) house at 2 Polstead Road, Oxford. Presents included the latest bikes, and topics of discussion at the family dinner table ranged from English literature to ancient Greece. But Ned keenly felt a sense of not belonging. Scraps of conversation that he had picked up led him to the (erroneous) conclusion that Sir Thomas was not his ‘real’ father. Naturally, being a bastard in the Victorian atmosphere of early 20th century Oxford was a real scandal, and the boy developed repressed feelings of shame. Only many years later—after he had already become a legend in his own lifetime—was he to discover the truth from his mother.

Shame is one of the most noxious poisons that can affect the soul. Jan seemed to have retained some in his present incarnation, although his current life provides no justification for it. He finds compromising behaviour and making a fool of yourself unbearable, not just in real life, but in fiction too. He has never managed to make it to the end of Bridget Jones’ Diary, which consists of one embarrassing scene after the other. Every time Bridget (Renée Zellweger) puts her foot in it, he doesn’t know where to look.

If You Want to be a Hero, Start Practising Early

Jan has another characteristic that he shares with the young T. E. Lawrence, and which doesn’t always make you many friends: he’s not afraid to criticise his ‘elders and betters’. At the age of 9, Jan would give his overwhelmed primary school teacher a dressing down when she couldn’t manage to put a stop to the deafening noise in the classroom, as if he were the headmaster in his study. “If you can’t manage to teach this class in an orderly fashion, then you picked the wrong job!” This teacher did in fact find a new career after leaving Jan’s class.

Ned “had a strong sense of humour, which must have saved him many times in troublesome boyish days. He knew no fear (…) He was an enthusiast on physical excellence in human beings, although his own build was not as handsome as that of his brother Will”, reports Jeremy Wilson. (His work is the fruit of decades of study of the hero’s life, and he is considered the heavyweight of Lawrence’s biographers1 ). Every now and then, wrestling matches between Ned and his brothers would take place, during which they “felt the strength of those iron wrists every time”. Jan too likes to show off the strength of his ‘iron wrists’, he’s got such a sense of humour that he has always been the class clown, and he admires well-developed bodies so much that he began to train his own at the age of 13 or 14.

As a youth, Ned would ride his bike dozens of miles around the hills of Oxfordshire to toughen himself up; the young Jan too enjoyed cycling for miles through the hills round about his current home, to make his leg muscles “as hard as granite”. Ned was passionate about the Middle Ages, especially the Crusades; throughout his childhood, Jan had imaginary castles in the woods, where he would go and fight battles in his imagination. Just like Ned, he devoured books of heroic stories and lived more in the world of his imagination than in the real world. Each evening before falling asleep, Jan would continue a complicated saga of the Kingdom of the Elves in his head, full of magic, evil creatures, and—of course—gallant heroes. The boy went as far as drawing a map of this fantasy world. One day—he was about 14 years old—he sat himself down to write the first chapter of the book that he had inside his head. Only his mother was allowed to read it. “What I saw written down had nothing to do with the way young people speak today”, she remembers. “I said to Jan jokingly, ‘You write like an Englishman from the first half of the 20th century’”.

T. E. Lawrence is remembered not just as the world-famous ‘hero of the desert’, but as a writer, who immortalised his desert campaign in a book of almost a thousand pages, Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Luminaries such as George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill showered him with praise for it. Till the very end, Lawrence planned to one day write the unfinished books that he had in his head. Incident­ally, his translation of the Odyssey from Ancient Greek into English is to this day the best-selling version in the English-speaking world.

It seems that the charisma acquired in one life is preserved into the next. In each class, Jan would be chosen as the class representative by the teacher. After only a few weeks at primary school he was feared as ‘the fighting machine’, even by much older boys. He was no aggressor, though: he used his combativeness and boldness only to defend those who couldn’t defend themselves. When he went up the school steps, the other pupils would stand aside to let him pass. The same thing would happen on the bench in the playground: someone would always stand and offer their place. Another even tied his shoelaces for him. At the same time, Jan’s classmates would turn to the bold youngster for advice in difficult situations.

“It was probably in the autumn of 1904 that Lawrence hurt his leg in a playground scuffle. At first he did not think the injury serious and continued the day’s lessons despite considerable pain. His brothers wheeled him home on a bicycle and when the doctor was called, the leg was found to be broken just above the ankle. It took a long time to mend and as a result he missed the rest of term.”, writes Wilson in his biography.

Jan’s peculiarities include going for long walks in his hometown and through neighbouring forests, in the evenings and sometimes even at night, with powerful, epic music playing on his MP3 player. “You know what, mum”, he once confided in his mother, “when I march around like that and imagine all these heroic things, all of a sudden my leg starts hurting, and I start to limp a bit. I’ve never been able to explain it”. The young Lawrence too, according to his biographers, would enjoy walks in the evening or night-time, in and around Oxford, with just the night sky for company.

Ned Lawrence disciplined his young body, as if he somehow knew that he would one day need that toughness and stamina. He would fast for days, or drive himself on to sporting achievements. His thirst for knowledge drove him to long bicycle tours of France, where he explored and sketched medieval castles. His letters home are mostly conspicuously impersonal—apart from when they concern his physical toughness. “When he heard of my Fougeres ride Mr Lewis declared I was very strong and that I had inherited my father’s talent… I am beginning to be proud of myself. Mme Chaignon got a shock when she saw my “biceps” while bathing. She thinks I’m Hercules”. It continues “My leg muscles are like steel now. I expect I’ll delight Mother when I return. I’m as brown as a berry”. Jan’s mother smiles. “When I read this, I felt like I had Jan in front of me, showing me his ‘guns’—‘look, look, as hard as steel’—glowing with pride when you tried to press them in a little and made no impression”.


  • 1 Jeremy Wilson Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T. E. Lawrence Heinemann 1989