Doing some soul-searching? Oprah continues her Soul Series with Dr. Brian Weiss, a Miami psychiatrist and author of Many Lives, Many Masters, who uses regression therapy to help patients heal from past (and past life) trauma. What is the soul? Dr. Weiss describes the soul as "that part of us that goes on after the death of the physical body. It's that part of us which is immortal, which is eternal, which has consciousness, and which goes on."
Dr. Weiss has used past life regression therapy on more than 4,000 patients. As a Yale Medical School grad who considers himself to be a left-brained, "show me" kind of guy, Dr. Weiss acknowledges that he was skeptical—even embarrassed—to go public with his research on past life regressions. "I caught a lot of flak in the beginning," he says. "Flak from other psychiatrists, from scientists, from all kinds of people." As a tenured professor with a mortgage and two kids, he found it was risky to come forward. Yet, "as I described my experiences with others—other doctors even—who'd lost loved ones…I found this was helping them and they were hungry for more," Dr. Weiss says.
Oprah recalls the criticism she received when she first started interviewing guests about spiritual and mystical issues on her show many years ago. Dr. Weiss observes, "It's fear that keeps minds closed," Dr. Weiss says. "Hundreds of years ago we learned that the earth was flat. And if you didn't believe that, you were a heretic. … It's difficult for people to change, but it's necessary because the world has become so dangerous now. We need more open-mindedness and need to see ourselves all connected."
Dr. Weiss thinks of Earth like a school. "It's not where we begin. It's not where we end. It's more in between somewhere like a high school or junior college. Here we have physical bodies, we have emotions, we have pain." Why, if we're spiritual beings, do we need to come to Earth at all? "Because there's certain lessons that have to be learned in the physical body. We're just slow learners," Dr. Weiss says. Oprah asks, "Are there other schools out there, other than the 'Earth school?'" Dr. Weiss found himself asking this same question early on because—being very left-brained—the numbers didn't add up. "There are more bodies here on Earth than ever before, but where do the souls come from? And the answer that kept coming back was this is not the only place where souls exist. They exist in many dimensions," he says.
Dr. Weiss says heaven is all around us and that hell is "something that you don't experience after you die unless you expect it." Oprah and Dr. Weiss also probe stories of near-death experiences. Dr. Weiss believes that we experience a life review as we pass on—"the good that we did, the harm that we did, how we helped people, how we hurt people…except it gets magnified."
Dr. Weiss says you don't have to change your religion to embrace his findings. "There's love in all religions," he notes. Whether you believe in past lives or not, are you curious about what a regression might reveal?