Have you ever had the strange feeling that you’re repeating an experience you’re certain you’ve never had before, or entered a building that seems strangely familiar to you, though you know for a fact you’ve never been there before? If so, you have experienced what is referred to as déjà vu—the phenomenon of repeating an event or having inexplicable knowledge of a place you’ve never previously visited.
Science insists such experiences are simply a coincidental similarity between a present event and a similar but forgotten past experience. For example, one may feel a special familiarity with a house they have never visited before because it is similar in layout to a home they have visited. Since we may visit the interiors of literally hundreds or homes over the course of our lives, it’s not remarkable that we may, from time to time, come across one that reminds us of one we visited earlier. Additionally, how many of us have had the feeling we’ve engaged in a similar conversation as the one we’re having now—perhaps even with the very same people? Again, considering the many thousands of conversations we engage in over the course of a lifetime, it should be remarkable if we didn’t occasionally repeat a story or pick up on a previous conversation, perhaps even going over the same ground that we only vaguely recall having covered before. Memory is a tricky affair that is capable of playing all sorts of pranks on the mind.
Such incidents undoubtedly affect many people, which is why almost everyone can recall having their own sense of “déjà vu” at one time or another. In fact, the words themselves mean “already seen,” which may be precisely what is happening in most ordinary instances. However, there are those unusual instances—usually rare and only occurring in a few people—in which the sense of familiarity for a strange and new place appears to be outside of the norm. In effect, the person may not only possess an almost encyclopedic knowledge of a place, but can even find their way around without the assistance of a map or a tour guide.
Science would again have you believe that such is the side effects of a past experience, but even a similarity between places cannot explain how a person can correctly name and describe the maze of streets that lie just ahead in a small village they are visiting for the first time, nor does it seem to comfortably account for how a person can recall the precise layout of a home they had never visited before with unerring exactitude. A similarity with places or things experienced in the past can go only so far; at some point the odds against correctly guessing the street layout of a city or the location of various rooms within a sprawling mansion becomes astronomical. As such, and while instances of this are extremely rare, they have been documented and when they happen, they challenge conventional science’s explanation for the effect to the point where maintaining the “mere coincidence” explanation strains credulity.
So what might be another explanation for some cases of déjà vu ?
When such an experience occurs, some people consider the only remaining explanation to be paranormal: In effect, it is thought to be either an exhibition of psychic power or evidence that one has lived in a specific building or city in a previous incarnation. While evidence for the former prospect—a psychic gift that provides one with arcane knowledge of places and/or events—appears unlikely (especially when this “gift” is exhibited only once in a person’s lifetime), the latter hypothesis—reincarnation—must be considered a possibility. After all, if we do repeatedly reincarnate into the flesh, as nearly half the world’s population believe we do, then we should expect past life memories to occasionally be activated when provided the proper stimulus. In effect, could déjà vu experiences be “turned on” when a person visits a particular locale they were familiar with in a past life—a sort of “echo” or ill-defined memory that has somehow survived the rebirthing process to be inadvertently ‘triggered’ by some event in the present?
There is a third possibility to consider, however. There are those who suggest that such information is being effectively “fed” to a unaware host’s subconscious by the spirit or “ghost” of a person that is haunting a particular location. In other words, the person believes a home is familiar to them because it is familiar to the spiritual entity that resides in the place and the host is duped into believing it is their own experience rather than that of an externalized personality (i.e. ghost). Again, while an intriguing possibility, this explanation leaves a number of questions unanswered, the most obvious being why don’t other visitors also have this same sense of spirit-induced déjà vu when visiting the place? Certainly a determined spirit should be able to replicate this effect on a number of suitable “hosts”—making déjà vu experiences in the same locations, if not common, at least occasional (especially within locations that are visited by literally thousands of people each year).
As such, reincarnation remains the only explanation that takes into account all the variables and, as such, remains one of the best—though far from the only—evidences of reincarnation known today. While it may never prove to be empirically testable (the conscious sense of déjà vu is extremely difficult to replicate in a controlled environment, though they can be frequently induced through hypnosis), it needs to be taken seriously by the spiritually curious and considered in the context of all the evidence both for and against reincarnation.
Jeff Danelek is a Denver, Colorado author who writes on many subjects having to do with history, politics, the paranormal, spirituality and religion. To see more of his stuff, visit his website at www.ourcuriousworld.com.