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  • Lords of Karma and Military Reincarnation March 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern , trackback


    In 1964, Hugh Dowding, hero of the Battle of Britain, wrote a nostalgic letter to Canadian millionaire Lord Beaverbrook. Dowding recalled how he and Beaverbrook had been in the right place and the right time in the summer of 1940, for the good of the Empire and of the world. Any normal military hero in his dotage would have left it at this. But Dowding, sometime believer in fairies, went further. He also recalled how in the thirteenth-century he had been chief of a Mongol tribe sweeping into Europe. Because of a carelessness he was injured in a battle and as he lay dying in battle his second in command gave him a message from ‘one high in the hierarchy of the planet’, that in a future age he must lead his people (the Mongols? the English?) more intelligently. Beaverbrook’s eyes were presumably popping out of his head at this point but HD went on: ‘I think it more than probable that your part in the Battle [of Britain] was laid down by the Lords of Karma as a result of some action of your own in times long past.’

    The Lords of Karma… And yet Dowding was not alone. Millions believe in reincarnation in the west. Is there even a tendency among military leaders who have made sense of their lives with similar visions of the past? The most famous example is certainly American general, George Patton, who believed in reincarnation. Several notable scenes from Patton  trumpet this: though it is difficult to pin down any well documented anecdotes from the general’s fighting life, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com. Patton did write a poem  Through a Glass Darkly, which described these various lives. So Patton seems to suggest, with characteristic modesty, that he had been the soldier who had stabbed Christ on the cross: ‘Perhaps I stabbed our Savior/ In His sacred helpless side./ Yet I’ve called His name in blessing/ When in after times I died.’ The poem includes the words ‘So forever in the future/ Shall I battle as of yore,/ Dying to be born a fighter/But to die again once more’, which might go quite well to a heavy metal beat.

    There are a number of other military candidates but details are hard to pin down. For example, Napoleon is often said to have believed himself Charlemagne. But this seems to be all based on a misunderstanding of a passage in the Memoirs of Prince Talleyrand. Beach’s guess is that the best candidates will be from the late nineteenth and twentieth century when reincarnation an idea with real force, was borrowed from eastern religion and German metaphysics.


    31 March 2013: Invisible writes in: I found this example of a Burmese man who thought he was the reincarnation of an Indian soldier from a British regiment killed by Burmese villagers during WWII. From Ian Stevenson, Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect (!) I’ve looked unsuccessfully for the 1928 interview where Henry Ford supposedly said that he had been a soldier killed in the Civil War. Other articles claim that he believed in reincarnation, saying, for example that “Christ was an old soul/man,” but don’t give quotes about his purported death in the Civil War. A British man, Arthur Flowerdew, believed he had been a soldier at Petra.  And I read an article in Fortean Times a couple of years ago about another Englishman who believed he had been a Roman soldier killed in the Teutoburg Forest massacre. Regretably I can’t find the issue quickly. Perhaps another reader can give the reference. I believe he re-enacted his vision of his own death on TV. Then the Count: I do actually happen to have a Soldiers Of Time about this very subject! Well, I think it is… It’s by the justly forgotten early seventies prog rock band Julian’s Treatment (a valiant attempt to come up with a name sillier than Spinal Tap before we even knew that was meant to be silly), and it’s from a rock opera set on Mars in the year Billion when everyone has blue skin and humanity is under threat from a Tolkeinesque Satanic hermaphrodite… Well, you get the general idea… Patton would be turning in his grave – if he was actually in it! Thanks Invisible and Count!