What is reincarnation?

From:  "jagbir singh" <www.adishakti.org@gmail.com>
Date:  Tue Nov 23, 2004  3:47 pm
Subject:  Re: What is reincarnation?

—- In
shriadishakti@yahoogroups.com, "v_radha_om" <v_radha_om@y...>
> Let us find out what you mean by reincarnation-the truth of it,
> not what you like to believe, not what someone has told you, or
> what your teacher has said. Surely, it is the truth that
> liberates, not your own conclusion, your own opinion.... When you
> say, "I shall be reborn," you must know what the 'I' is. ... Is
> the 'I' a spiritual entity, is the 'I' something continuous, is
> the 'I' something independent of memory, experience, knowledge?
> Either the 'I' is a spiritual entity, or it is merely a thought
> process. Either it is something out of time which we call
> spiritual, not measurable in terms of time, or it is within the
> field of time, the field of memory, thought. It cannot be
> something else. Let us find out if it is beyond the measurement of
> time. I hope you are following all this.
> Let us find out if the 'I' is in essence something spiritual. Now
> by "spiritual" we mean, do we not, something not capable of being
> conditioned, something that is not the projection of the human
> mind, something that is not within the field of thought, something
> that does not die. When we talk of a spiritual entity, we mean by
> that something which is not within the field of the mind,
> obviously. Now, is the 'I' such a spiritual entity? If it is a
> spiritual entity, it must be beyond all time; therefore it cannot
> be reborn or continued. ...That which has continuity can never
> renew itself. As long as thought continues through memory, through
> desire, through experience, it can never renew itself; therefore,
> that which is continued cannot know the real.

The Science of Reincarnation
Reincarnation in Judaism, Christianity, Islam

Hints of reincarnation are also common in the history of Judaism and
early Christianity. Information about past and future lives is found
throughout the Cabala, which according to many Hebraic scholars
represents the hidden wisdom behind the scriptures. In the Zohar,
one of the principal Cabalistic texts, it is said, "The souls must
reenter the absolute substance whence they have emerged. But to
accomplish this, they must develop all the perfections, the germ of
which is planted in them; and if they have not fulfilled this
condition during one life, they must commence another, a third, and
so forth, until they have acquired the condition which fits them for
reunion with God." According to the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia,
the Hasidic Jews hold similar beliefs.

In the third century A.D., the theologian Origen, one of the fathers
of the early Christian Church, and its most accomplished Biblical
scholar, wrote, "By some inclination toward evil, certain souls ...
come into bodies, first of men; then through their association with
the irrational passions, after the allotted span of human life, they
are changed into beasts, from which they sink to the level of
plants. From this condition they rise again through the same stages
and are restored to their heavenly place."

There are many passages in the Bible itself indicating that Christ
and his followers were aware of the principle of reincarnation.
Once, the disciples of Jesus asked him about the Old Testament
prophecy that Elias would reappear on earth. In the Gospel of St.
Matthew we read, "And Jesus answered them, Elias shall truly first
come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come
already, and they knew him not. Then the disciples understood that
he spake unto them of John the Baptist." In other words, Jesus
declared that John the Baptist, who was beheaded by Herod, was a
reincarnation of the prophet Elias. In another instance, Jesus and
his disciples came across a man blind from birth. The disciples
asked Jesus, "Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was
born blind?" Regardless who had sinned, Jesus replied, here was a
chance to show a work of God. He then cured the man. Now, had the
man been born blind for a sin of his own, it must have been a sin
done before his birth—that is, in a previous life. And this was a
suggestion that Jesus did not dispute.

The Koran says, "And you were dead, and He brought you back to life.
And He shall cause you to die, and shall bring you back to life, and
in the end shall gather you unto Himself." Among the followers of
Islam, the Sufis especially believe that death is no loss, for the
immortal soul continually passes through different bodies. Jalalu 'D-
Din Rumi, a famous Sufi poet, writes,

I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

The timeless Vedic scriptures of India confirm that the soul,
according to its identification with material nature, takes one of
8,400,000 forms and, once embodied in a certain species of life,
evolves automatically from lower to higher forms, ultimately
attaining a human body.

Thus, all of the major Western religions—Judaism, Christianity,
and Islam—have definite threads of reincarnation throughout the
fabric of their teachings, even though the official custodians of
dogma ignore or deny them.

The Quest for Immortality

We were behaving like we were going to live forever, which is what
everyone thought in the Beatles days, right? I mean, whoever thought
we were going to die? (Paul McCartney)

If you want to gain real control over your destiny, you must
understand reincarnation and how it works. It's that simple.
No one wants to die. Most of us would like to live forever in full
vigor, without wrinkles, gray hair, or arthritis. This is natural,
because the first and most basic principle of life is to enjoy. If
we could only enjoy life forever!

Man's eternal quest for immortality is so fundamental that we find
it nearly impossible to conceive of dying. Pulitzer Prize winner
William Saroyan (author of The Human Comedy) echoed the views of
most people when, in the days just prior to his death, he announced
to the media, "Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed
an exception would be made in my case. Now what?"

Most of us seldom, if ever, think about death or what happens
afterward. Some say that death is the end of everything. Some
believe in heaven and hell. Still others hold that this life is only
one of many we have lived and will live in the future. And more than
one third of the world's population—over 1.5 billion
people—accept reincarnation as an irrevocable fact of life.

Reincarnation is not a "belief system," or a psychological device
for escaping the "grim finality" of death, but a precise science
that explains our past and future lives. Many books have been
written on the subject, usually based on hypnotic regression, near-
death experiences, accounts of out-of-body experiences, or deja-vu.

But most reincarnation literature is poorly informed, highly
speculative, superficial, and inconclusive. Some books purport to
document cases of people who, under hypnosis, have been regressed to
previous lifetimes. They describe in detail houses they lived in,
streets they walked on, parks they frequented as children, and the
names of their former parents, friends, and relatives. All this
makes for interesting reading, and while such books have certainly
stimulated the ever widening public interest and belief in
reincarnation, careful investigations have revealed that many of
these so-called past-life regression cases are rife with guesswork,
inaccuracies, and even fraud.

But most importantly, none of these popular works explain the
fundamental facts about reincarnation, like the simple process by
which the soul eternally transmigrates from one material body to
another. In rare instances when basic principles are discussed,
authors generally present their own theories about how and in which
particular cases reincarnation occurs, as if some special or gifted
living beings reincarnate and others do not. This type of
presentation does not deal with the science of reincarnation but
introduces, instead, a confusing array of fabrications and
contradictions, leaving the reader with scores of unanswered

For example: Does one reincarnate instantaneously or slowly, over a
long period of time? Can other living beings, like animals,
reincarnate in human bodies? Can man appear as an animal? If so, how
and why? Do we reincarnate forever, or does it end somewhere? Can
the soul suffer perpetually in hell or enjoy forever in heaven? Can
we control our future incarnations? How? Can we be reborn on other
planets or in other universes? Do good and evil actions play a role
in determining our next body? What is the relationship between karma
and reincarnation?

Coming Back fully answers these questions, because it scientifically
explains the true nature of reincarnation. Finally, this book
provides the reader with practical instructions on how to come to
grips with and rise above the mysterious and generally misunderstood
phenomenon of reincarnation—a reality that plays a vital role in
shaping man's destiny.

The Mystery of Consciousness

Death. Man's most mysterious, relentless, and inevitable adversary.
Does death mean the end of life, or does it merely open the door to
another life, another dimension, or another world?

If man's consciousness survives the death experience, then what
determines its transition to new realities?

In order to gain a clear understanding of these mysteries, man has
traditionally turned to enlightened philosophers, accepting their
teachings as representative of a higher truth.

Some criticize this method of acquiring knowledge from a higher
authority, no matter how carefully the seeker may analyze it. Social
philosopher E. F. Schumacher, author of Small Is Beautiful, notes
that in our modern society, when people are out of touch with nature
and traditional wisdom, they "consider it fashionable to ridicule
and only believe in what they see and touch and measure." Or, as the
saying goes, "Seeing is believing."

But when man endeavors to understand something beyond the scope of
the material senses, beyond instruments of measurement and the
faculty of mental speculation, then there is no alternative but to
approach a higher source of knowledge.

No scientist has successfully explained through laboratory
investigations the mystery of consciousness or its destination after
the destruction of the material body. Research in this field has
produced many divergent theories, but their limitations must be

The systematic principles of reincarnation, on the other hand,
comprehensively explain the subtle laws governing our past, present,
and future lives.

If one is to understand reincarnation at all, he must acknowledge
the fundamental concept of consciousness as an energy distinct from
and superior to the matter composing the physical body. This
principle is supported by examination of the unique thinking,
feeling, and willing capacities of the human being. Can DNA strands
or other genetic components possibly induce the feelings of love and
respect one person has for another? What atom or molecule is
responsible for the subtle artistic nuances in Shakespeare's Hamlet
or Bach's "Mass in B Minor"? Man and his infinite capabilities
cannot be explained by mere atoms and molecules. Einstein, the
father of modern physics, admitted that consciousness could not be
adequately described in terms of physical phenomena. "I believe that
the present fashion of applying the axioms of science to human life
is not only entirely a mistake, but also has something reprehensible
in it," the great scientist once said.

Indeed, scientists have failed to explain consciousness by means of
the physical laws that govern everything else within their purview.
Frustrated by this failing, Nobel laureate in physiology and
medicine Albert Szent-Gyorgyi recently lamented, "In my search for
the secret of life, I ended up with atoms and electrons, which have
no life at all. Somewhere along the line, life has run out through
my fingers. So, in my old age, I am now retracing my steps."

Accepting the notion that consciousness arises from molecular
interaction requires an enormous leap of faith, much greater than
that required for a metaphysical explanation. As Thomas Huxley, the
well-known biologist, said, "It seems to me pretty plain that there
is a third thing in the universe, to wit, consciousness which I
cannot see to be matter or force or any conceivable modification of

Further recognition of the unique properties of consciousness was
given by Nobel laureate in physics Niels Bohr, who remarked, "We can
admittedly find nothing in physics or chemistry that has even a
remote bearing on consciousness. Yet all of us know there is such a
thing as consciousness, simply because we have it ourselves. Hence
consciousness must be part of nature, or, more generally, of
reality, which means that quite apart from the laws of physics and
chemistry, as laid down in quantum theory, we must also consider
laws of quite a different kind." Such laws might well include the
laws of reincarnation, which govern the passage of consciousness
from one physical body into another.

To begin understanding these laws, we may note that reincarnation is
not an alien, antipodal event, but one that occurs with regularity
in our own bodies during this very lifetime. In The Human Brain,
Professor John Pfeiffer notes, "Your body does not contain a single
one of the molecules that it contained seven years ago." Every seven
years one's old body is completely rejuvenated. The self, however,
our real identity, remains unchanged. Our bodies grow from infancy,
to youth, to middle age, and then to old age, yet the person within
the body, the "I," always remains the same.

Reincarnation—based on the principle of a conscious self
independent of its physical body—is part of a higher-order system
governing the living being's transmigration from one material form
to another. Since reincarnation deals with our most essential
selves, it is a subject of the utmost relevance to everyone.

Coming Back explains the fundamentals of reincarnation presented in
the timeless Vedic text Bhagavad-gita. The Gita, thousands of years
older than the Dead Sea Scrolls, provides the most complete
explanation of reincarnation available anywhere. It has been studied
for millennia by many of the world's greatest thinkers, and since
spiritual knowledge is eternally true and does not change with each
new scientific theory, it is still relevant today.

Harvard biophysicist D. P. Dupey writes, "We may lead ourselves down
a blind alley by adhering dogmatically to the assumption that life
can be explained entirely by what we know of the laws of nature. By
remaining open to the ideas embodied in the Vedic tradition of
India, modern scientists can see their own disciplines from a new
perspective and further the aim of all scientific endeavor: the
search for truth."

In this age of global uncertainty, it is imperative that we
understand the real origin of our conscious selves, how we find
ourselves in different bodies and conditions of life, and what our
destinations will be at the time of death. This essential
information is comprehensively explained in Coming Back.

Chapter One shows how reincarnation has profoundly influenced many
of the world's greatest philosophers, poets, and artists, from
Socrates to Salinger. Next, the process of reincarnation as
expounded in Bhagavad-gita, the oldest and most respected sourcebook on the subject of transmigration of the soul, is presented.

Chapter Two, a lively dialogue between His Divine Grace A. C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and noted religious psychologist
Professor Karlfried Graf von Durckheim, clearly shows how the
material body and the antimaterial particle, the spirit soul, can
never be the same. In Chapter Three, a famous heart surgeon urges
systematic research into the soul, and Srila Prabhupada cites the
Vedic version, thousands of years older and strikingly more
informative than modern medical science. Three fascinating
narratives from the Vedic text Srimad Bhagavatam constitute Chapter
Four. These accounts stand as classic examples of how the soul
transmigrates through different types of bodies under the control of
the precise laws of nature and karma.

In Chapter Five, excerpts from the writings of Srila Prabhupada
clearly demonstrate that the principles of reincarnation can be
easily understood in terms of ordinary events and common
observations that regularly occur in our daily lives. The next
chapter describes how reincarnation embodies a universal and
infallible system of justice, wherein the soul is never banished to
eternal damnation but is constitutionally endowed with a permanent
opportunity to escape the perpetual cycle of birth and death.

Common misconceptions and chic notions about reincarnation form the
subject of Chapter Seven, and the concluding chapter, "Graduate
Samsara: End the Cycle of Birth and Death," presents the process
through which the soul can transcend reincarnation and enter realms
in which it is finally freed from the prison of the material body.
Having once achieved this status, the soul never again returns to
this endlessly mutable world of birth, disease, old age, and death.

The Science of Reincarnation


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