Reincarnation is the belief that the soul is reborn repeatedly. When one body wears out, it is cast off like a garment and soon another one is put on. You will find a thorough discussion of reincarnation in the Bible, the Jewish Kabbalah and early Christianity in the book The Mystic Christ.
Reincarnation is also referred to as the transmigration of the soul or rebirth. 20% of the world's religious population are either Hindu or Buddhist with both religions believing in reincarnation. Further, according to a recent Fox News poll, 25% of Americans believe in reincarnation. When we look at findings that span European convictions from 1968 - 1990, we see a steady increase in the acceptance of reincarnation. In 1968 23% of people in France believed in reincarnation; in 1990 that figure had risen to 28%. In Britain it rose during the same period from 18% to 30%; in the Netherlands from 10% to 18%.
Reincarnation is Intuitive - Cyclic
It is obvious to us that everything in nature moves in cycles. We have the cycle of the seasons complete with birth, growth, fruition and death - spring, summer, fall and winter. There is the daily cycle of day and night. The planets cycle about the sun and the sun revolves around the center of the Milky Way galaxy. We see cycles in the process of our own daily lives - what goes around comes around. The Vedas (Hindu scriptures) tell us that the universe is born from a violent explosion, expands and then contracts, all of this taking trillions of years and then the process is repeated ad infinitum. These cycles are referred to as God breathing - and, oh yes, there is the cycle of our own breathing and the beating of our heart. In a recent Discover magazine, such a cycling of the universe from Big Bang to death and then another Big Bang rebirth was proposed as the occurrence of one parallel universe bumping into another with the cycle continuing without end. We can see that reincarnation appeals to old fashioned common sense.
We are Not the Body
Reincarnation is easier to grasp if we understand that we are not our bodies. However, the mind is in the habit of thinking the reverse. Thus it is difficult for us to imagine departing with one body and then assuming another because we blindly and habitually have come to identify ourselves with the body - this body - the one we see in the mirror everyday. It is correct to say, "My body." This reveals that the body is distinct from the owner. In fact, our true nature is pure awareness. We cannot be the observer (awareness) of an object (the body) and also be that object. In the equation of our own personal existence, we are that which is aware. Our true nature is awareness itself. In the English language the closest term to describe this is I AM (Exodus 3:13-14). In Sanskrit it is Sat-Chit-Ananda or Being-Awareness-Bliss. Our soul is fashioned from I AM and not from our body. In Genesis 1:27 we are told that we are made in God's image which is to say we are beings of spirit and not flesh (in John 4:24 we are told that God is a spirit).
We have discovered from Quantum Physics, that matter depends on an observer (awareness) for its existence and not visa versa. So awareness does not arise from the body or brain. Our bodies arise as manifestations in the field of our own primal awareness. The body and brain filter the experiences which appear on the movie screen of our pure awareness.
The School of Life
The soul is evolving. Each soul is most likely without beginning just as it has no end. Souls have evolved from beginningless time. Going back we see we have been animals, plants, one celled organisms and beyond. Most of us have been humans many times. We gain experience and grow as we traverse our incarnations. Each life is a day in God's school room.
What are We Learning?
We are learning to be as God is. To be perfect even as God is perfect (Mat. 5:48). When one has become the perfection that God is, no further births and deaths are necessary. We graduate. The exception would be to continue to incarnate for the well being of those still studying in the schoolroom of earth. These souls are called Bodhisattvas in Sanskrit. Jesus, Buddha and Krishna were such souls. They were already perfect in God but came here out of compassion as teachers.
It is our desires that fuel our rounds of births and deaths. Our desires continue through death and demand another body to act as the instrument for the fulfillment of our desires. Thus spiritual wisdom is often referred to as the end of desires. Then we abide in God, in the peace that is beyond understanding. The Buddha's Four-Fold Truths are:
1. Life in this world is suffering (mental and emotional suffering; separation and isolation; fear and anxiety)
2. Desire is the cause of suffering
3. Ending desires brings an end to suffering
4. The Eightfold Path brings and end to desires
Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna Are One
Jesus never said he was the only way. A short but dynamic exploration of supporting scripture. There is only one Christ or Logos appearing as all incarnations of God.
A penetrating exploration of God in the form of the Goddess or Divine Mother.
The Gnostic Jesus
A brief explanation of the meaning of Gnosticism and the early years of Christianity.
Love and devotion to the Divine is a path easily traveled to know or merge in the non-dual reality of God's infinite being. A brief discussion.