Many Lives, Many Masters
Written by: Dr. Brian Weiss
Published by: Fireside
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
I happened upon this book shortly after an interesting conversation with a friend of mine with whom I sometimes share philosophical ideas. He recommended Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss, M.D. and after about of a minute of listening to him describe the material, I was on the internet searching for a place to buy the book.
The book is essentially a true-life case study in hypnotic past-life regression, chronicling Dr. Weiss’ sessions with a patient whom he refers to as Catherine. Catherine is an average woman living a relatively unhindered life, with some minimal phobias that have plagued her. These phobias—fear of choking, suffocation, claustrophobia, etc—begin to intensify after a simple surgical procedure. Now her life is ruled by these phobias and almost every aspect of her life is suffering because of it. She refuses to take pills for fear of swallowing, is constantly afraid of connecting with new people, becomes distrustful of people already entrenched in her life, has problems communicating with her father, and is in an unhealthy relationship with a man named Stuart.
Dr. Weiss treats her using conventional methods. When this fails he attempts hypnosis to help her pinpoint the source of these phobias, which he feels confident is the result of some traumatic event or series of events in her childhood. Their sessions uncover a few such incidents in her life, including an incident of sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Only, while Catherine should be recovering and her phobias lessening, the symptoms persist.
Stumped, Dr. Weiss attempts to regress her further back into her childhood, and an amazing thing happens. Catherine begins to describe a different life altogether, one in which she is a woman living in Egypt some thousands of years ago. The images and details depicted by Catherine—who, to Dr. Weiss’ knowledge had never been to Egypt—was very specific and true to the time in which she lived. Skeptical, Dr. Weiss continues to probe her for details about this past life. But when her symptoms begin to lessen after uncovering a traumatic event in this past life, Dr. Weiss begins to see a connection between her phobias in this life and the events of her purported past lives.
Their sessions become hypnotic trips into Catherine’s previous lives, and it isn’t long before Dr. Weiss, M.D., has no choice but to accept her accounts of these past lives as accurate and legitimate memories. Each trip into these past lives helps Catherine in her present life, making connections between problems with people in one life and this one. People in the past life reappear in Catherine’s present life on several occasions, making her relationships—animosity, fear and trust—with them much clearer.
That alone would be amazing enough, but with each life revisited, Catherine also experiences the death of that life, and the subsequent ascension into another plane of existence. These trips into the spiritual plane help to assuage Catherine’s fear of death, and provide Dr. Weiss with a reservoir of information he had not thought possible before. He learns about reincarnation, about the multiple planes of existence, about the ‘Master Spirits,’ that guide us through life, and much more. He learns that we are not measured in or judged by one life, but many, and within each life we must learn a lesson that will help us to grow before we can move on to another plane of existence. Fail to learn the lesson and we must go back with more to learn in the next life.
Essentially—according to the knowledge obtained by Dr. Weiss—we are spiritual students, living multiple lives in order to become better beings. He further goes on to attest that Catherine’s recovery was remarkable fast, as were the clients that he treated similarly afterwards.
All in all, I found the book interesting, even if it was written in an overly simplistic style and the narrative often reflected the doctor’s lack of literary prowess. But, considering that the entire story was mostly a transcription of actually therapy sessions, it’s an excusable error. Many Lives, Many Masters delved into something that I, myself, have always been intrigued by, and hence, my opinion of the book might be slightly biased, but I found myself leaning greatly in favor of this book. As someone who was raised Catholic, I was reluctant to take this book seriously, until I accepted that it’s not entirely removed from most religious beliefs, except that—like in the Buddhist doctrine—we have an infinite number of lifetimes to learn what needs to be learned, instead of just the one.
It might sound like fiction, past-life regression and reincarnation, but the story is meant to be a biographical account of Dr. Weiss’ experience with Catherine, and hence, not fiction. While I admit that I had issues with Dr. Weiss’ use of the word ‘Masters’ for the more enlightened spirits, and found fault with his claim that Catherine—while under regression—knew she was in the 1800’s B.C., the overall story still held my attention and interest. Dr. Weiss’ credibility as a psychiatrist is more than sufficient to quash any debate that he was somehow deceived by Catherine, but the fact still remains that many people will not believe the message of this book. To them, I would not recommend this book. To anyone else, looking for either a light read or something to challenge their view or their existence, pick up the book, and enjoy.