The notion that physical and psychological illnesses may be derived from the psychic residues of events in previous lives is accepted in a great many non-western cultures. The opening lines of the classic Buddhist text, the Dhammapada, sums up this view succinctly: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” It hardly need be added that in the Buddhist world view, earlier thoughts can most certainly belong to earlier incarnations.
In the West, however, such an idea has never been seriously entertained by orthodox science or by the orthodox versions of Christianity and Judaism (McGregor, 1978 and Langley, 1967) in recent history. On the other hand fully articulated doctrines of karma and reincarnation are to be found among certain spiritualist groups (Kardec, 1972), in the Theosophist writings of H.P. Blavatsky and Alice P. Bailey, and more recently in the readings of trance medium, Edgar Cayce (Langley, 1967). Yet although these writers give us all manner of clear descriptions of how karmic conditions, physical and psychic, arise, none of them offer what today we would call a technique of psychotherapy to help heal them. The great Swiss psychiatrist, C.G. Jung, in spite of his monumental explorations of the greater realms of the unconscious in all its spiritual diversity, unfortunately remained hostile to Theosophy and only came to a tentative acceptance of reincarnation as a psychic datum in the very end of his life, June, 1961 (Van Waveren, 1978).