The belief in Reincarnation is one of the most widely held philosophies in the world. The literal meaning of the term Reincarnation is ‘to be made flesh again’. In essence this doctrine or metaphysical belief is based on the understanding that the soul, or divine spark, incarnates for the purpose of the spiritual evolution of the soul.
The understanding that the experiences and choices of each lifetime serve as lessons for the soul and on the completion of the lifetime, both the soul and its’ personal guides partner to review the individuals’ journey, with the purpose of integrating all that has happened and the value of the lessons garnered. It is said that the soul’s evolution is most effectively undertaken when facing all the choices made in a lifetime, both big and small, and experiencing the effects of each choice.
To do so the soul incarnates in the physical, experiencing the limitations and separation not only from others but also the loss of connection to all that is. This is said to be an illusion, a trick of the senses, as the soul itself is never really limited or separate. However the illusion generates enough desire, fear and conflict to expedite the soul’s purpose of making choices.
So where did the concept of reincarnation emerge? Identifying the origin of reincarnation is not easy, however, as early as the first millennium there is recorded discussion of reincarnation and the purpose it serves. The concept of reincarnation within India is thought to be much older however.
Greek philosopher Plato stated ‘all learning is but recollection’ based on the assumption that we recall our past memories, rather than learning something new. Pythagoras was emphatic that he could remember his past lives. Both in India and Greece there were many attempts to establish techniques that enabled people to recall past lives, Early Buddhist texts outline techniques for the purpose of recalling persons’ past lives. The Tibetan Book of The Dead is based on the science of death and rebirth in what is described as Tibetan Buddhism.
In the late 19th century Reincarnation excited great interest and study in Victorian England and by the early 20th century America’s philosophers and critical thinkers were also embracing the concept. Carl Jung published a thesis whereby he emphasised the importance of memory and ego in psychological studies of reincarnation. As a result the clinical use of hypnosis became the primary tool used in assisting people in the recollection of past life memories.
Later in the 20th century a publication by Ian Stevenson based on 2,500 case studies of children from all around the world who were able to clearly outline events of their past lives up to and including their deaths was made available to the public. Based on the data collected through this extensive research, Stevenson theorized that birthmarks and defects on a body corresponded with wounds the individual received in past lives. He also stated that phobia’s experienced by individuals in their current incarnation may be related to the cause of death in their immediate past life.
“The soul grows by reincarnation in bodies provided by nature, more complex, more powerful, as the soul unfolds greater and greater faculties. And so the soul climbs upward into the light eternal. And there is no fear for any child of man, for inevitably he climbs towards God.” ~ Annie Besant
America’s mystic Edgar Cayce espoused the theory of reincarnation and karma, but whereby these two principles were the instruments of a loving God and could be viewed as natural laws.
The classic Vedic texts of India identify reincarnation in Sanskrit as Samsara. Samsara means to be bound to the cycle of repeated birth and death through numerous lifetimes. Generally in Eastern philosophy it is considered that all life forms have souls. Prior to incarnating on Earth as a human being, the soul may have gone through a whole series of lives with the intention of experiencing various levels of existence and consciousness. The underlying principle being one of progressing through the different species of life such that the entity actually works their way through to achieving incarnation in the human form.
The idea that the ‘divine spark’ has but one life to evolve, offers the soul no means of rehabilitation and only endless despair. This is not reasonable by any measure. The doctrine of reincarnation allows us ample scope to correct and re-educate through multiple life times. The Bhagavad-Gita explains that even the direst manifestation of what it is to be human, may cross the ocean of birth and death by ascending the boat of transcendental knowledge. We simply have to be sincere in our intention to ascend, grow and carry the ‘light of the Creator’.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief exploration of Reincarnation and wish you all a multitude of blessings, light and love.