OWN Network Miracle Detectives : Past Life – James Leininger (for whom the book Soul Survivor:The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot was based)

The theory of past lives is a controversial one. The thought that memories could be passed down from one life to the next seems highly unlikely, but in the miracle detectives first case, this is exactly what they are exploring. This story is not an unheard one. The parents of young James Leininger even wrote a book about the entire journey, Soul Survivor : The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot 

Before the miracle detectives meet with the Leininger family, both Dr. V and Randall found themselves curious and questioning their OWN beliefs. Dr. V studied memories in depth and had a hard time believing that there could be a transfer of memory after death. If it was true, then the world would have to rethink how we look at memory and the soul. Although Randall is hesitant in believing in reincarnation because it goes against Orthodox Christian doctrine, he is open to the story realizing it could change the way he views the world.

As soon as Dr. V and Randall arrive at the Leininger’s home, the are greeted by both Andrea and Bruce, Jame’s parents. Andrea tells the first time she realized something might be up. She had been shopping and bought James (who was around 2 years old at the time) a small toy plane. She handed it to him and pointed out the “bomb” on the bottom of the plane, only to have James correct her and tell her it was a “drop tank”. Within a couple of weeks, James started having nightmares. About 3 months later, he screaming out in his dream “Airplane crash on fire. Little man can’t get out”. Andrea’s mom mentioned it was possible he was recalling a past life. It seemed plausible to Jame’s mother, but his father thought it was ridiculous. UNTIL….James started relaying information.  

When asked, James gave answers to specific question. For instance, he relayed that his plane, a Corsair, had been shot by the Japanese. He also told his family that his plane had come from a big boat, the Natoma which happened to be a WWII aircraft carrier that had been stationed in the Pacific during the war. All of the information James gave seemed to line up. Shortly after that James started drawing….not houses and dogs like most kids. He was drawing pictures of aircraft and boats fighting. He started signing his work “James 3” and explained to his parents that he was the third James.

In 2002 Bruce was fascinated and determined to find more answers so he traveled to a reunion of pilots that had served on Natoma Bay in WWII. Apparently there was only record of one pilot being killed on the Natoma Bay…James M. Houston Jr! James the third was making a lot more sense.  

The miracle detectives then head off to Los Gatos, California and met with Anne Barron, the sister of James Houston. She spoke of feeling as if she had to accept that James was part of James once the parents shared the memories. She admitted all the stories came from the parents…not from James himself. She does tell of how James somehow knew that a picture she had was water-colored by her mother. This made a big impression on her…and Randall. When asked if she felt that James had reminded her of her brother, Anne replied “he didn’t remind me of my brother”. When Randall followed up with asking about James and her brother’s personality, Anne paused and said “I’d have to think about that. I don’t…there might be a closeness in personality”. However, she does believe young James is the soul of James Houston.  

Dr. V wondered how the soul would not feel more connected if it were truly his soul…“without connection, I can’t call it a soul”. She still was curious about the possibility of memories being transferred. Yet, how can a memory outside a body for 40 years only to be implanted in someone’s brain? The miracle detectives then met with Dr. Stuart Hameroff who has done work in quantum physics. He believes memories are like waves of information that are released into the universe when we die. According to him, these memories can be transferred into a human embryo. Therefore, anything is possible…including reincarnation. We just don’t know.

The miracle detectives then turned their attention to a video that showed 3 year old James at an air show doing what appears to be a pre-flight inspection like a seasoned pilot. Dr. V was curious if this was normal behavior for any child. She set up an experiment with 3 other children around 3 years old. One of the children did react similarly. Maybe this behavior wasn’t so unexplainable.  

Randall on the other hand felt there was no reason to doubt. He decided to meet with Carol Bowman, an author on children’s past lives, who was originally contacted by the Leininger family. She had counseled them the situation was real and normal. She noted that after the family went to Japan, James seemed to find closure. His artwork shifted from planes being shot down, to happy drawings with rainbows and dolphins. A HUGE shift for James.  

Dr. V still wasn’t convinced. She felt the story was compelling, but wondered how much the family may have influenced young James. Plus, the fact that Anne, James Houston’s OWN sister, didn’t feel connected or even reminded of her brother by James was significant to her. She was not ready to throw out everything she knew about the way that memory works. Randall politely followed with “I don’t think that we are here to serve science. I think science is here to serve us”. He mentioned that Dr. V’s experiment was more led as James had been the one leading in his video. Randall also points out “James 3” started way before James Houston had come into the picture. He felt James Houston choose to finish his soul’s journey as James Leininger. Despite all that, Dr. V couldn’t help but feel skeptical.

This shows opens up a HUGE can of worms. I guess anything is possible. James could have been James Houston. But if you believe in that, isn’t it possible that the spirit of James Houston was just hanging around little James and giving him the answers? I must admit the evidence did seem compelling. That is a lot of information for a 2 or 3 year old kid to have. However, his parents did get involved really early in the journey. Is it possible that they led him down the road and only found significance in the answers little James gave that fit the story? I mean…they took him to Japan! They REALLY got into this. I am sure there is a lot more to this story.

When thinking of this story, I wonder…being that most people can hardly recall their childhood in great detail, is it possible that all of us are born with our memories of past lives and merely forget them as we get older?

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