AS Seen On

By: Stephan Spencer


Dr. Jim Tucker
“We are all on our own journey. Some of us are open to things, and others aren’t, and that’s okay.”
Dr. Jim Tucker

If you find yourself skeptical about the concept of reincarnation, I think you’re gonna want to listen to this scientifically validated research on the past life memories of children. Today’s guest offers compelling evidence that some of the research subjects, the children he studies, had come back after death for more trips around the sun.

Dr. Jim Tucker is the Bonner-Lowry Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia. He is the Director of the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies, where he is continuing the work of Ian Stevenson with children who report memories of previous lives. Jim is also the author of Before: Children’s Memories of Previous Lives, a new 2-in-1 edition of his books Life Before Life and Return to Life, which together have been translated into 20 languages.

In today’s episode, Jim presents several case studies of children who have provable past life memories. He admits that he himself used to be a skeptic, but studying this topic has opened his mind up to the idea of reincarnation. Jim talks about the types of research that are ongoing in his department as well as other important psychologists and mediums who have done similar work. We also discuss synchronicities, angels, near-death experiences, and Elon Musk’s simulation theory. This episode may be just what it takes to convince you of the reality of reincarnation.

In this Episode

  • [00:26]Stephan introduces his next guest, Dr. Jim Tucker, a Bonner-Lowry Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia. He is Director of the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies, where he is continuing the work of Ian Stevenson with children who report memories of previous lives.
  • [01:48]Stephan asks the reason for Jim’s interest in studying and looking past life memories.
  • [03:37]Jim shares a case he has worked on about a boy who has memories of his past life.
  • [08:23]Stephan asks about remembering the past and its relation to past life regression therapy.
  • [11:52]Stephan and Jim talk about evidence-based mediumship and other methods of connecting psychic abilities and understanding.
  • [15:42]Jim shares the details about the most exciting study currently underway at his department.
  • [17:24]Stephan wants to know Jim’s perspective about a case of a boy who remembers memories of being a fighter pilot and getting shot above the Pacific Ocean.
  • [21:29]Jim shares the most surprising discovery that he came across.
  • [23:41]Stephan wants to know if there are other organizations and university departments that are similar to the works of UVA.
  • [25:57]Stephan is curious to know about kids who report past life memories and seeing angels.
  • [32:54]Jim and Stephan discuss synchronicities and meaningful coincidence.
  • [35:35]Stephan asks Jim about the collective unconscious and people living in a simulation created by a very advanced race.
  • [38:32]Jim shares tips for people’s anxiety about death and how it can positively impact their lives.
  • [40:35]Stephan would like to know Jim’s recommendation to devout followers of his religion, and their religion denies any reincarnation.
  • [41:23]The discussion about near-death experiences.
  • [43:32]Jim shares to the audience his favorite books and movies.
  • [48:20]Visit Dr. Jim Tucker’s website or The Division of Perceptual Studies’ website to learn more about past life memories.

Jump to Links and Resources

Jim, it’s so great to have you on the show.

Thanks very much for having me.

I’m curious, how did you end up wanting to study and lead this whole effort looking at past life memories? Is that something that you’ve experienced yourself?

No. In fact, how I got involved is sort of a long story. I’m a child psychiatrist and I trained at UVA both in psychiatry and child psychiatry, then went into private practice just doing ordinary routine child psychiatry work. When my wife and I got together, she believed in reincarnation, psychics, and so forth, which got me kind of intrigued. Then I had heard of Ian Stevenson, who started this work in the 60s, but knew almost nothing about him.

I was more intrigued by just the overall question of survival after death.

I discovered that this serious-minded work into the question of life after death was going on at UVA. I eventually called them up and just asked if they needed some volunteer help interviewing patients and one thing led to another. My primary interest was not particularly in reincarnation. I was more intrigued by just the overall question of survival after death. Again, the serious-minded approach to that question was really appealing to me.

Right, so the science behind this is pretty much indisputable, right? There is scientific evidence that is very convincing around past life memories being real and not fabricated.

Yes. Certainly nothing is indisputable, because plenty of people will dispute anything. But there is certainly very solid evidence that young children from all over the world, including here, have memories of a past life that can be verified to match somebody who actually did live and die in the past.

Right. What would be an example of a child that you had worked with, interviewed, and included perhaps in one of your books, who had memories that couldn’t have possibly come at least seemingly from anywhere else?

One of the cases, which is pretty well-known, is a little boy named Ryan in Oklahoma. We got a letter from his mom one day when he was five, saying that for the last year, he had talked on a daily basis about a past life in Hollywood, and would cry and beg his mother to take him back there.

The vast majority of the hypnotic sessions may be therapeutic, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll remember a past life you’ve lived before.

She went one day to the public library to check out some books on Hollywood to see if she could help him process some of this. They came to a picture from an old movie called Night After Night. Ryan pointed to one of the men in the picture and said, “Hey, mama, that’s George, we did a picture together.” Then he pointed to another one and said, “Mama, that’s me, I found me.”

Well, the caption didn’t list who was in the picture, but the first person they point to was George Raft, who was a pretty well-known actor back in the day. But the one he said that he had been was an extra with no lines in the movie. So Ryan’s mom wrote to me to see if I could help determine who this was. I went out and met with Ryan and his parents. Then as we’re trying to solve this mystery, his mom was sending me email signals on a daily basis with all the statements that Ryan was making. We have documentation of them all.

Eventually, with the help of a Hollywood archivist, we were able to determine who this man was. The archivist went to the library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, got all the materials on the movie, most of which was about the stars. Then she found one picture of this guy, and it identified him as Marty Martyn, who was the fella who died in 1964, 40 years before Ryan was even born.

It turned out that Marty Martyn pretty much lived the life that Ryan had described. Ryan said how he danced on stage in New York and Marty Martyn danced on Broadway. Ryan said that he then went to Hollywood to work in movies which Marty Martyn did, working mostly actually on dance and movies. Ryan said that he then worked at an agency where people change their names and Marty Martyn started a successful talent agency. Ryan said how he had a big house with a swimming pool and that the word rock or mount was in the street address. Marty had a large house with a swimming pool on North Roxbury.

Ryan also said one time that he didn’t see why God would let you get to be 61 and then make you come back again as a baby. Well, Marty Martyn’s death certificate said he died when he was 59. But I looked into it and found that in fact, he was 61, which is what his family said. We also found census records and marriage license lists that all have ages that meant in fact, Ryan was correct about dying at 61, even though in the death certificate it said 59.

All together, we were eventually able to verify that 55 of Ryan’s statements match with Marty Martyn’s life. At the time that he said Marty Martyn, I did an online search and there was nothing on him. Now, there is. Since this case got some attention, people have filled in some of the details, but there is no way that Ryan learned about Marty Martyn through some sort of ordinary means.

Wow. That’s amazing. Why do you think 40 years went by? Is that common for decades to go by between incarnations or these current lifetimes and previous lifetimes that are being remembered?

No, actually. It is not common. In our cases, which of course involve intact memories seemingly coming through, the interval is usually quite short, that the average is only 4½ years. Now, of course, there are outliers with any pattern. We’ve had them for more than 50 years. Getting much beyond that it gets pretty hard to verify, especially the cases like an Asian village where Ian Stevenson started his work. With those you had to have eyewitnesses who remember the people. That makes shade a little bit more than the sampling that we get. But for the most part, it does seem to be quite recent lives.

Wow. It’s amazing. How does this relate or tie into past life regression therapy? I just recently read the book by Brian Weiss, Many Lives, Many Masters. I’m guessing you probably read the book.

Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss

I have, yes. It’s certainly an entertaining book. It’s an interesting case that he describes. However, we’re rather skeptical of hypnotic regression mostly because hypnotic regression is a very unreliable tool, even for memories of this life. Unreliable, meaning there are times where it’s dead on and people are giving license plate numbers from crime scenes or whatever, but then there are plenty of times where the mind just fills in the blanks. Then after that, it’s very hard for someone to tell if this was an actual memory or did my mind create that?

When you’re looking at unverifiable, past lives—most of them are—unless you can verify that somebody was able to give a bunch of details that there’s no way that you can say that it was from past life. Many of them are often people talking about some ancient life in ancient Greece or whatever, which of course, would be impossible to verify. There are also times where, under hypnosis, the details that people give are sort of historical absurdities, things that don’t match up with history that we know.

There have even been cases where people have been re-hypnotized, asked where the information came from. It turns out, it came from a book that the person read years before and completely forgot about. All that being said, there’s a very small number of cases where it does look like somebody provided information that would have been very hard for them to obtain through ordinary means. The vast majority in the hypnotic sessions may be therapeutic. They may help people work through various phobias or whatever Dr. Weiss has documented those kinds of cases, but it doesn’t mean that they are remembering a past life that they actually lived before.

Would you say that you are a skeptic or a believer in reincarnation at this point? Where do you stand? With all of this research, having done all this, interviewing children and everything, where do you stand?

I would say that we have good evidence that some young children do have memories of a life from the past. The most straightforward explanation would be reincarnation. They have those memories, because they live that life. But there are certainly other possibilities to consider. If you’re looking at the realm of consciousness, it may not be as linear as we tend to think of things.

As far as whether I’m a believer or skeptic, I hope I’m open-minded as I approach every case. What I’m trying to determine is, what is the quality of evidence in this case that this child does have memories from a life from the past that he or she could not have access through ordinary means. In some of the cases, the evidence is weak. It may be very meaningful to the family. It may well be legit, but just the quality of the evidence is not strong. Of course, there are other cases like Ryan’s where the evidence is very strong.

It’s important to have the controls to determine if that talent is legit or a trick.

I’ve recently heard of a term I’ve never heard of before, called Evidence-Based Mediumship. It’s related, in a sense, that it’s connecting to psychic abilities and something beyond our normal sphere of influence and understanding, but it’s focused on getting without a doubt, evidence that proves that this is the person—the soul that you’re connecting with—and not just cold reading or some parlor trick.

That’s right. With mediums, there’s some very serious-minded work that has been done and has been done for a long time, actually, going back to the 1800s, where you have controls, you know that the medium has no access to the person beforehand. They know nothing about the person who’s getting a reading. They’re kept from getting any sort of information from them. 

It’s important to have those sorts of controls because mediumship is one area where the vast majority of mediums, at least from people who are experts in it, say the vast majority actually have little or no ability at all. Then you get the sort of the Michael Jordan of mediumship, where people do seem to have quite extraordinary talent. It’s important to have the controls to determine if that talent is legit or like you say, is it some sort of parlor trick?

I’m thinking of a movie I just recently saw a few months ago called Kardec. It’s about the life of Allan Kardec. Back in the 1800s, I believe, when the whole spinning tables phenomenon was happening. He took a very scientific approach to prove when mediums were legit and when they were not. He was able to go to all these different mediums and talk to the same being or soul on the other side and get the same message each time. The mediums didn’t know each other and Kardec didn’t reveal who he was going to. That was pretty compelling, and I’m sure there are others like that.

Right, and with him, there’s what’s called spiritism, which is quite popular in Brazil and other places, that’s based on Alan Kardec’s work. There’s also the Society for Psychical Research in the UK back in the 1800s, including some quite prominent scientists. The best known one today would be William James, the philosopher and psychologist, finding some pretty remarkable mediums to study, as well as finding a lot that weren’t so remarkable, but there’s certainly some that are.

Some are actually purposefully fabricating.

Right. Of course, you can imagine people are willing to pay good money to good old mediums. There would be some people who try to take advantage of grieving people and get money from them. But again, there are also some talented ones as well.

We’ve been interviewing adults who we originally studied when they were kids to see how they’re turning out.

Where do you stand in that kind of world in terms of skepticism and open-mindedness or whatever? Do you do have experience with mediums or psychics that to you seem clearly legit because of the personal information they couldn’t possibly know and that they shared with you or with perhaps your wife or something that would be kind of undeniable?

I don’t have personal experience, but our lab here is actually doing a study now with mediums. Other people have done very good work there. There’s the Winbridge group with Julie Byshel, where they do very controlled studies with mediums and produce some work that I think is very hard to dismiss.

What is the most interesting study currently underway at your department you could share any details on? 

Of course, they’re all interesting, but with the mediums, this study and COVID kind of caused things to grind to a halt for a while. What they’re doing is having mediums give readings to people while they’re measuring EEGs. They’re looking to see when the mediums are having a strong session getting a lot of hits, what is their brain doing compared to times either when they’re at rest or when they’re not on as much. That’s going to be an interesting study when all is said and done. 

With our work with the past life memory stuff, we’re doing a couple of things. One is, we’ve been interviewing adults who we originally studied when they were kids, to see how they’re turning out. We’re still crunching the numbers. Basically, people, these kids do fine. They typically stop talking about the past life at an early age, really around the time of school age, then they just go on with their lives.

It’s sort of like you can imagine when you have a dream. Names aren’t necessarily part of what kind of sticks with you. It’s more the experience.

The other thing that we continue to focus on is trying to get more really strong American cases. We studied over 2500 cases from various parts of the world and people have managed to ignore that work for 50 years. I think if we had 50 American cases as strong as Ryan’s case, then it would be very hard for people to ignore it. So we’re continuing to look at cases. I’m going to be visiting one in a couple of weeks, actually. We’ll see what we can find out.

Now there’s a case with a boy who remembered being a fighter pilot and getting shot down above the water in Japan, I think, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, that made it on to all the news networks and so forth. That was years ago. I remember that stuck with me. I saw that back when I was agnostic and I didn’t believe in anything, and I was really intrigued. It sounded very convincing and curious. What is  your position on that?

That’s a very strong case. I studied that case sort of after the fact. That’s James Leininger. It’s this little boy with these Christian parents in Louisiana, who started having horrible nightmares of a plane crash, and eventually gave details about how he was a pilot that flown off of a ship that he named in Natoma, and described exactly how the plane had gotten hit and crashed in the water and sank. He eventually pointed to a picture of Iwo Jima and said that’s where he was shut down. He also even gave the first and last name of a friend on the ship named Jack Larson.

It turned out there was this USS Natoma Bay that was involved in Iwo Jima and they lost only one pilot during the Iwo Jima operation. His death was exactly as James had described. One of the pilots on the mission when he was killed was Jack Larson. 

It’s sort of like you can imagine when you have a dream. Names aren’t necessarily part of what kind of sticks with you. It’s more of the experience, but then you get a case like this where the kid does have names, very specific ones that turn out to match perfectly with the person whose life he seems to be remembering. That’s quite a strong case. James is now a young adult. He’s moved on from that, but it certainly is a very impressive case.

We are all on our own journey. Some of us are open to things, and others aren't, and that's okay. Share on X

I think that from memory, he knew where the plane was shot down, and was able to identify the location where it was underwater.

Well, actually, the wreckage of the plane has never been found. As specific as he got was Iwo Jima, but he and his parents did eventually visit there when he was a little bit older. They did a little bit of a memorial-type thing for the pilot, which is quite meaningful to them. 

Oh, wow. What would you tell a skeptic who thinks that this stuff is all bunk? I’m thinking of a family member right now, for example, who I gave him a little bit of a reading list to send him several books, in fact, to help him to get over his resistance to even opening them. One of those books was Many Lives, Many Masters, but another one was Proof of Heaven. He’s still not with the program. He thinks that this is pretty much it. I would love for him to know that there is more to life than meets the eye and is not just going to disappear after he goes.

Erlendur Haraldsson did some work with mediums. He was a great researcher.

It’s a good question, how do you change someone’s mind? What we basically do is do the best job we can, put the information out there, then people will make of it what they will. There are plenty of people who are open to it, and they find the work meaningful. Of course, there are others who are not so open.

I think I wrote up a case report of James Leininger that we’re just describing. Just published it in a paper; it’s available on our website. That’s very short, you got free the whole book, you read five pages or however long it is. Someone would say and think this is absolute rubbish, well, then you probably don’t need to read the books. We are all on our own journey. Some of us are open to things and others aren’t, and that’s okay. 

What would be the most surprising discovery that you personally have come across through all this work in this area?

It depends what you mean by discovery. There are times that I’ve been surprised in cases. Actually with James, it was a pleasant surprise when he and his parents, basically his parents, did a television interview when he’s very little before the pilot had been identified. I got a copy of it because this program that I was also interviewed for actually never aired. ABC News sent me a copy of it. When it dawned on me that that interview was evidence, that it was documenting what James had said before anyone knew anything about the pilot, then the light went on and I realized, boy, that’s going to be an important piece of this case. I think it is. I also recently wrote about this case in the introduction to Before.

Along with being one of the early huge figures in psychiatry, Carl Jung was also quite a mystic and wrote some pretty interesting stuff.

Recently, we’ve had the opportunity to do some picture recognition tests, where I will show a young child a picture from what we think is the past life versus a control picture and ask him in this case which one he remembers. Well, I did have a little boy who remembered a past life in the Vietnam War. Anyway, I was able to do a picture test with him. Did a picture test. The two of them, he did not make a choice on. For the other six, he was six out of six, pointing to the person from or place from the past life.

That impressed me. It’s like flipping a coin having to come up heads six times. It happens but it doesn’t happen very often. It’d be like a 1.5% chance. When we get evidence like that that we can add on to the other aspects of the case, that again is kind of a pleasant surprise because it really strengthens the quality of the evidence.

Are there other organizations or university departments that are doing similar sort of work to what you guys are doing at UVA?

They’re not other departments doing specifically what we do, especially our focus on survival or the question of life after death. There have been other people in academics who have done this kind of work with the children’s past lives. Not a whole institution, but more individual researcher. There’s one who passed away last year, Erlendur Haraldsson from Iceland, who was quite prolific and produced quite a lot of good work.

There have been other people, a psychologist in Australia, one in India, an anthropologist up in Canada. There are people who have done the same kind of work and gotten the same kind of results that found these kids with verifiable memories from a past life.

You mentioned Erlendur. I don’t really know much about him. What was something that really stands out that he did in his body of work?

How do you change someone’s mind? So what we do is do the best job we can, put the information out there, then people will make of it what they will.

Well, he is quite varied in his work. He was also quite meticulous. He studied these cases like we have and produced some very good cases. One thing he did that we had not done, we’ve since done a little bit, was he did some psychological testing on some of these kids compared to controls to see, for instance, are these kids more suggestible? Do they have bigger imaginations that could allow them or could cause them to have these memories in effect? Testing showed they did not.

In his testing and also in ours with the American cases, the one thing that comes out of the testing, the one significant finding, is that these kids tend to be very intelligent and very verbal. That may enable them to describe these memories or images that they’re having at an early age. The average age when they start is 35 months so it’s very early age, whereas there may be other kids that also have some of those memories, but they’re not able to verbalize them. They don’t become as concrete then they fade by the time the kids get able to talk.

That was certainly a contribution that Erlendur made. He also did some work with mediums, actually, and has some very impressive cases there. He was a great researcher.

If people have anxiety about death, it’s troubling them, then delving into this work can comfort them.

Awesome, I’ll have to look him up. Now, some kids can see angels, or report to see angels, and I’m curious where that fits in here. Do many of the kids who report past life memories also report seeing angels? Or is that something that’s unique between those two different sets?

Occasionally, they do. We get emails from parents whose children talk about seeing angels. They usually are not the same children who are talking about past lives. That can be but they’re usually not. In fact, with the children who have past life memories, very few of them, according to the parents, have any sort of psychic abilities. They’re just ordinary kids except they have these memories. 

The thing about young children seeing angels, occasionally you’ll get stories where the angel will be a deceased grandfather who gives the child information that they presume what couldn’t have done otherwise. For the most part, they are benign. They’re often a comfort to the children and they are also unverifiable. There’s nothing you can do with that case to say, okay, that’s actually an angel. 

Of course, with older kids, if you’re talking about hallucinations, only then you get more concerned from a psychiatric standpoint. But for a three-year-old to talk about seeing an angel in the corner is not all that rare. For the most part, again, it seems to be perfectly benign.

Speaking of seeing things that are verifiable and evidence-based, this isn’t something that is kind of able to be put into study, I would imagine. One case that comes to mind that I learned from Karen Noe—a pretty famous medium I had on this podcast—she told me about one of her clients had a father passed away. She was quite certain there was a large sum of money that he had hidden somewhere, but they tore the house all apart looking for it, and they didn’t find anything.

Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander

In a reading, the medium, Karen, was able to communicate with the Father and relay the information that the woman was looking for that the money was hidden in a certain corner of the attic, behind a bunch of pink insulation in the wall. Sure enough, the woman found the money there and it was quite a substantial amount of money.

That’s pretty amazing. You can’t argue with that if you’re the person who experienced that, if that’s your father, but to hear that story as somebody who’s skeptical, you might think, okay, well, that could be totally fabricated.

Sure, it could be, but it would be a case worth investigating. What you would try to do is interview obviously, the medium and the sitter, and hopefully, there’s a recording of readings because most of the time, mediums do let people record. You’d interview the family and find out the details about the money and so forth. If it holds up, that’d be a case worth publishing. That certainly, like you said, is hard to ignore that (certainly) if it happens to you.

There have been cases previously similar to that. A deceased who’s wanting to make known for the last will had been hidden and that sort of thing. There are those cases, but there aren’t a lot of them. That could be an important thing.

If you’re interested, I can put you in contact with Karen.

Yeah, sure.

Awesome. Do you ever hear of signs that come in almost indisputable form? Again, it’s not verifiable if it’s a personal experience, but one happened to me early this year. I have to tell you that I did not believe I was psychic. I did not believe in psychics, mediums, any of it a little over a year ago until a medium I interviewed for the show, which was unusual at the time, I only had one other medium, Paul Selig, up until that point.

We have good evidence that some young children have memories of life from the past. The most straightforward explanation would be reincarnation. They have those memories because they live that life. Share on X

This particular medium, I met in a mastermind that I’m in, a men’s group called Metal. He saved my family member’s life while the interview was happening. He can’t make this stuff up. It’s just too fantastical and it happened to me.

I don’t need any further verification because this family member wouldn’t have been alive if I hadn’t been interviewed at that moment. That whole three-week time stretch, he was the only interview I did. I just was in preparation of moving cross country, that’s why I wasn’t taking other interviews, but I felt compelled to have him on.

Anyway, that opened the door. Lots of things have happened. My listeners know a bit more about this because I’ve had a lot of episodes about spirituality and outside the norm sort of things certainly in the last seven or eight months.

Here’s the experience. I’m reading from a book that I feel kind of called to examine. I’m just following the intuitive breadcrumbs. I didn’t even buy the book. I was just looking at the book through the Amazon ‘look inside the book’ feature.

With the children who have past life memories, very few of them, according to the parents, have any psychic abilities. They’re just ordinary kids, except they have these memories.

While I’m reading that book—just the introduction I think it was—I’m also listening to a podcast in the background completely unrelated. It was the Melissa Rivers Show. The book, by the way, was called Ask Whitedove. It’s an FAQ, an ask me anything from the medium, Michelle Whitedove.

I’m reading from that book. I’m listening to the podcast. It’s an episode about Coronavirus from April of last year. The word I’m reading at the moment I’m reading it comes through the podcast. That was super freaky. I’d never experienced that ever before in my life. But I do nothing. I continue to keep reading. So it happens again five minutes later.

The odds of that must be astronomically small. That second time, I remember what the word was, it was the word parents. The book wasn’t about parenting. The podcast episode wasn’t about parenting. It was at the exact moment. It was just mind-blowing.

So I did follow the breadcrumbs and there were some pretty impactful things that happened in my life because of continuing down that particular rabbit hole that day, but I’ll save that for another time. The whole experience of listening and reading at the same time, and having a synchronicity like that, is that something that you’ve come across pretty often or is that very unusual?

The physical world is not what you think it is. It's what you experience, but it's not primary. Share on X

There are people who study synchronicities. In fact, there’s Bernie Beitman. He’s someone who’s a friend of the division. He’s a psychiatrist. In fact, he’s written a book about them or coincidences, whatever you want to call it, but meaningful coincidences, which Jung obviously talked about synchronicities a lot.

What you make of them, of course, is up to the individual. Some people interpret it as a deceased loved one looking over them, or a guide or somebody helping them along. With more of a Jungian approach, there being this connection between the mental, and the physical, and how there may be this core that affects both. It affects both our thoughts, but also things happening in the world.

Anyway, they thought of a lot of interpretations. If people get these after somebody has died, then they often find them quite meaningful, where they’re thinking about the person’s favorite song and it comes on the radio or various things. If you’re open to it, you can certainly conclude something’s going on here. Maybe we don’t have to figure out exactly why, but just understand that there’s more to this reality than we’re often aware of.

You mentioned Carl Jung. I had no idea that he was the person who coined the term synchronicity until just a few months ago or maybe six months ago when I was really heavy into learning everything I could about all the different kinds of psychic phenomenon. 

Before by Jim B. Tucker M.D.

What would you say is some of the most meaningful research that Carl Jung has done in regards to synchronicity? Because he did a ton of research and then he wrote an entire book about the topic. After experiencing this without a doubt sign that he just couldn’t see happening by random chance, what pops into your mind?

You’re testing my memory here. I have read his work on synchronicity, but it’s been quite a few years ago. Also he and Wolfgang Pauli—a quantum physicist—also did work together exploring, basically, reality, and consciousness, and the connections between the physical and the mental. There’s certainly a lot there. Carl Jung was, along with being one of the early huge figures in psychiatry, was also quite a mystic and wrote some pretty interesting stuff.

He’s one of the major figures around the idea of the collective unconscious, right?


What would you say to Elon Musk who says that we’re living in a simulation that was created by a very advanced race of us and they’re just trying to essentially create a Leisure Suit Larry or The Sims sort of simulation of what their primitive race was like and that’s us?

People have published papers in scientific journals making that case that it’s more likely that we’re simulation than we’re actually the real thing. I must say that doesn’t really connect with me much. But I think what you relate it to is the idea that consciousness is fundamental, that the mental is what’s fundamental about reality and then the physical reality grows from it. That, I’m very open to. So you can then cast them in different ways and say some advanced system.

Ask Whitedove by Michelle Whitedove

Basically, the physical world is not what we think it is. It’s what we experience, but it’s not primary. It seems to us that we’re here in this world. This physical world was ultimately primary. But there’s good reason to think actually that it’s not, that it’s more consciousness that’s primary. It’s interesting stuff to think about.

I guess you’re probably talking about the movie The Matrix.

Exactly. The Matrix, yes.

I just recently rewatched that. That was a great movie. It’s been many, many years, and I just saw it again. That’s deep. That’s deep stuff.


The sequel, not so good comparatively.

Yeah, I confess. I didn’t watch the third one because the second one left me dissatisfied. But the first one is really great.

Yeah, amazing. I also love the movie, Contact. I thought that was a really profound movie too.

Remind me which one that is because I get the names confused. Who was in that? 

Oh, shoot. What’s her name? Jodie Foster. That’s the one.

Okay, yeah. It’s been years since I saw that, but there are a lot of good movies that explore themes in this general ballpark about what is reality and then what’s our role in it. It’s fun to watch those.

One of my favorite science fiction movies that’s targeting kids and is very hopeful is called The Last Mimzy. Have you ever?

I don’t know.

When looking at unverifiable past lives, most of them are often people talking about some ancient life that would be impossible to verify. Share on X

That’s a good one. I really liked that one. What would be some practical implementation advice that you would give based on all this research? What do people do with this that helps impact their lives in a positive way?

I think people really delve into this work. Near-death experiences, that’s another area. You mentioned Proof of Heaven. Near death experiences, there’s been a lot of serious money work with it. Bruce Grayson here is our expert. I think with all of this, if people have anxiety about death, which is part of life in a way, if people have anxiety about death, it’s troubling them, then delving into this work can be comforting to them.

I also hope that people take from it that there may be this aspect of us, which you can call spiritual if you want, but this aspect of us separate from just this body and physical world that we all share, that we all have, that we are all more than just the personality that you see. If that helps people treat each other a little better, then that would certainly be great.

People don’t often talk about them. You never know who’s open to them, and you never know who’s having the experiences themselves.

What would be the key takeaway for somebody who’s read the book before? Your book.

I think the key takeaway is that it looks like some people come back here after they die. That would be a reasonable conclusion for people to draw. They may draw different conclusions, but that’s certainly there. In a way, you might wonder, well, so what? Again, it can be comforting to know that we hopefully can get another shot at trying to make ourselves better. It can be comforting to think that maybe we get to have more experiences with our loved ones after we’re going this time around.

What would you tell somebody who is a devout follower of their religion and their religion specifically denies any reincarnation?

If this material is too upsetting to them, then I wouldn’t recommend they just ignore it. Polls have shown 20% of American Christians actually believe in reincarnation. James Leininger’s father, for instance, was a Christian who’s opposed to the idea of past lives until his son seemed to start remembering one. In that case, then he and what full-show others, they incorporate the belief into their overall religious beliefs, so it doesn’t challenge their Christian beliefs, it just adds to them.

Where does the NDE or near death experience fit into this whole picture? We got mediumship, you have the past life memories. I know channeling is a little different from mediumship. There are other extrasensory perceptions and things, telepathy, all this sort of stuff, and seeing angels, receiving messages, different kinds of signs, feathers keep showing up on the person’s path, and so forth. Where does an NDE fit into this? How does one extract some scientific evidence of a bigger picture from it?

I think as far as the scientific elements, most of our papers on near-death experiences are available on our website. Bruce Greyson, who I just mentioned, has now written a book called After. It’s a nice book. He came up with his title first, but we’ve got before and after now.

The Conscious Universe by Dean Radin PhD

Near-death experiences, where they fit in is that people who are very near death, often their hearts of stuff, and so forth, but then they often describe reaching a point of no return and being sent back. So they fit in because they didn’t completely die. They came back, but their experiences often involve spiritual kinds of experiences.

Some of their kids talk about life between time between lives, often describing essentially a near-death experience, where they see themselves floating above the body, only they did not return, that they moved on. The near-death experience work is all one piece of this overall picture.

Have you done any work yourself on NDEs?

Just a little when I first started here, volunteering some time. I was part of a study looking at the medical records of people who’ve had near-death experiences to see how close they actually were to death. I took part in that a little bit, but then I got focused on the past life memories.

Okay. Do you have any favorite books, especially in relation to all the stuff that we’ve covered in this episode that you want to share with our listeners/viewers, or favorite TV shows, or movies that can be great documentaries for somebody as a starting point?

You may know, on Netflix, there’s a series that came out in January called Surviving Death. The first episode is on near-death experiences and the last episode is on children’s past life memories. Those are certainly worth checking out. 

Bookwise, we’ve already mentioned a couple of books. People are more interested in studying psychics in the lab or looking at psychic abilities, I should say. Dean Radin is a scientist who’s written some very good books including The Conscious Universe, that looks of all of the lab work on psychic abilities. That one is worth checking out.

I’ll share quickly a really compelling story regarding Surviving Death, that Netflix show. One of my family members lost her grandmother in January and she’s not really into anything spiritual. It was a little bit of a stretch for her to be watching that show, Surviving Death, but she was. She saw the episode about how to ask for signs from your loved ones who have passed.

After by Bruce Greyson M.D.

It wasn’t even minutes later, she walks outside and on the driveway is a brochure that had the words “I love you, granddaughter” and a picture of a music box on the cover, not any old music box, but the music box that her grandmother had given her decades ago. Really, really compelling.

That’s quite a sign.

You get these things that, collectively, it’s overwhelming evidence, but people just keep that to themselves, to their family, to their trusted friends, and so forth. I just learned recently about a friend of mine, not a close friend but she’s involved in the Tony Robbins world. I was a platinum partner for many years, for three years. She was in that community.

She said to me that she saw angels last year. That really surprised me. She’s very practical. I don’t know why it surprises me because it seems to be happening a lot. While I talk to people about some of the experiences, I’m getting a lot more verification from others like, yeah, they’re having stuff show up to them, too. I’m curious. Do you see acceleration happening in these sorts of psychic phenomenon and signs?

That’s hard to say because we don’t really know how common they are in general because people don’t often talk about them. You never know who’s open to them and you never know who’s having the experiences themselves. Certainly, we’ll get emails from very grounded business people of all sorts, who have many things happening to them. It’s certainly out there.

It’s good that people can share that, but I understand that they want to be able to share it with people they trust because it’s material that they can feel partly vulnerable to.

Yeah. You get a lot of judgment, a lot of dismissal, ridicule, ostracization or getting ostracized. I’ve felt it from family members when I disclose some of the things that have happened to me in the last 6–8 months, especially if people say they’re very devout and then they come in with so much judgment. It’s hard. I have to calibrate. I have to know when I say or disclose some of the experiences I’ve had and when not to because it’s just not worth the grief.

That’s right. Unfortunately, that’s true.

Some people come back here after they die. It can be comforting to know that you can get another shot at making yourself better. It can be comforting to think that maybe you get to have more experiences with your loved ones after going this time around.

I think it’s changing. Collectively, there’s a shift that is happening. I’m seeing more and more people open-minded. There’s a phrase I love. It’s the “willing suspension of disbelief.” I’m seeing a lot more of that. That’s heartening.

Good, yeah. It certainly helps that.

All right. Thank you. Is there any last word or nugget of wisdom that you want to share with our listeners and viewers to round up this episode?

No, but I appreciate the opportunity to be on. It’s certainly a very good conversation.

In order for our listeners to get your books, I guess the one book to get is the combination of the two, the Before book. That’s two in one. They can find that on Amazon, I’m sure, but what about all your other studies, musings, and so forth? Are you active on social media or should they just go to your department’s website?

As far as whether I'm a believer or a skeptic, I hope I'm open-minded as I approach every case. Share on X

I have a personal website, or they can go to our departmental website. Like you said, The Division of Perceptual Studies, is the link to our website. We’ve got the vast majority of the papers that we’ve ever put out are available as PDFs on our website. People can certainly check that.

Thank you so much. This is a real pleasure and really eye-opening. I’m sure our listeners are further empowered to go to their friends and loved ones who are die-hard skeptics.

I hope so. Thanks very much.

Thank you, listeners. We’ll catch you in the next episode. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off.

Important Links

Checklist of Actionable Takeaways

?Be open-minded—welcome new ideas, arguments, and information that I typically do not align with. Open-mindedness is a positive character quality, and enables me to think critically and rationally.

?Respect other people’s beliefs. Accept some people place a lot of importance on this aspect of their lives and respect their right to believe whatever they want, even if I disagree with them.

?Understand there’s more to this reality than what I’m aware of. What I perceive in any given moment is determined not only by sensory input but by my personal physical abilities, energy levels, feelings, social identities, and more.

?It is okay to ignore these woo-woo kinds of things if they upset me. I don’t have to believe every spiritual subject. Instead, if there is a subject or controversy that interests me, dig a little deeper.

?Establish a goal of why I should undergo past life regression. There has to be a goal set for the process. It’s much more helpful than going in out of curiosity.

?Be aware of synchronicity. Synchronicity is defined as the experience of meaningful events in one’s life that are so timely in occurrence it feels as though some hand of fate or destiny is involved.

?Follow my intuitive thoughts. With my intuitions, I have to be able to act quickly, explore them completely, and take timely action. Once I build the habit of fully noticing and following intuitive guidance, my life will change.

?Share my experiences with the people I trust and respect. Verbalising my experience will encourage me to become more aware and more mindful of myself and my feelings.

?Check out Netflix’s docuseries Surviving Death. The first episode is on near-death experiences, and the last is on children’s past life memories.

?Visit Dr. Jim Tucker’s website or The Division of Perceptual Studies’ website to learn more about past life memories.

About Jim Tucker

Dr. Jim Tucker is the Bonner-Lowry Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia. He is Director of the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies, where he is continuing the work of Ian Stevenson with children who report memories of previous lives. He is the author of Before: Children’s Memories of Previous Lives, a new 2-in-1 edition of his books Life Before Life and Return to Life, which together have been translated into twenty languages.

Disclaimer: The medical, fitness, psychological, mindset, lifestyle, and nutritional information provided on this website and through any materials, downloads, videos, webinars, podcasts, or emails is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical/fitness/nutritional advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek the help of your physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, certified trainer, or dietitian with any questions regarding starting any new programs or treatments, or stopping any current programs or treatments. This website is for information purposes only, and the creators and editors, including Stephan Spencer, accept no liability for any injury or illness arising out of the use of the material contained herein, and make no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the contents of this website and affiliated materials.


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