I read a non-fiction book this past week by Brian L. Weiss, M.D. that started me to start thinking seriously about reincarnation. The title of the book was, Many Lives, Many Masters. The book tells the story of one of Dr. Weiss’s patients and how she was healed from many psychological problems by past life therapy. It not only changed her life but also his. Up until this point in time I never thought it had any validity. It was as if a door opened and let me step through into a world I didn’t think possible.
The definition of reincarnation from Wikipedia is:
The word “reincarnation” derives from Latin, literally meaning, “entering the flesh again”. The Greek equivalent metempsychosis (μετεμψύχωσις) roughly corresponds to the common English phrase “transmigration of the soul” and also usually connotes reincarnation after death, as either human, animal, though emphasising the continuity of the soul, not the flesh. The term has been used by modern philosophers such as Kurt Gödel and has entered the English language. Another Greek term sometimes used synonymously is palingenesis, “being born again”.
There is no word corresponding exactly to the English terms “rebirth”, “metempsychosis”, “transmigration” or “reincarnation” in the traditional languages of Pāli and Sanskrit. The entire universal process that gives rise to the cycle of death and rebirth, governed by karma, is referred to as Samsara while the state one is born into, the individual process of being born or coming into the world in any way, is referred to simply as “birth” (jāti). Devas (gods) may also die and live again. Here the term “reincarnation” is not strictly applicable, yet Hindu gods are said to have reincarnated (see Avatar): Lord Vishnu is known for his ten incarnations, the Dashavatars. Celtic religion seems to have had reincarnating gods also. Many Christians regard Jesus as a divine incarnation. Some Christians and Muslims believe he and some prophets may incarnate again. Most Christians, however, believe that Jesus will come again in the Second Coming at the end of the world, although this is not a reincarnation. Some ghulat Shi’a Muslim sects also regard their founders as in some special sense divine incarnations (hulul).
Philosophical and religious beliefs regarding the existence or non-existence of an unchanging ‘self‘ have a direct bearing on how reincarnation is viewed within a given tradition. The Buddha lived at a time of great philosophical creativity in India when many conceptions of the nature of life and death were proposed. Some were materialist, holding that there was no existence and that the self is annihilated upon death. Others believed in a form of cyclic existence, where a being is born, lives, dies and then is re-born, but in the context of a type of determinism or fatalism in which karma played no role. Others were “eternalists”, postulating an eternally existent self or soul comparable to that in Judaic monotheism: the ātman survives death and reincarnates as another living being, based on its karmic inheritance. This is the idea that has become dominant (with certain modifications) in modern Hinduism.
The Buddhist concept of reincarnation differs from others in that there is no eternal “soul”, “spirit’ or self” but only a “stream of consciousness” that links life with life. The actual process of change from one life to the next is called punarbhava (Sanskrit) or punabbhava (Pāli), literally “becoming again”, or more briefly bhava, “becoming”, and some English-speaking Buddhists prefer the term “rebirth” or “re-becoming” to render this term as they take “reincarnation” to imply a fixed entity that is reborn. Popular Jain cosmology and Buddhist cosmology as well as a number of schools of Hinduism posit rebirth in many worlds and in varied forms. In Buddhist tradition the process occurs across five or six realms of existence, including the human, any kind of animal and several types of supernatural being. It is said in Tibetan Buddhism that it is very rare for a person to be reborn in the immediate next life as a human
Gilgul, Gilgul neshamot or Gilgulei Ha Neshamot (Heb. גלגול הנשמות) refers to the concept of reincarnation in Kabbalistic Judaism, found in much Yiddish literature among Ashkenazi Jews. Gilgul means “cycle” and neshamot is “souls.” The equivalent Arabic term is tanasukh: the belief is found among Shi’a ghulat Muslim sects.
The way I understand it, is we go through this life and die. Our spirit goes to a different plane and if we still have lessons to learn we are reincarnated and sent back to the mortal life to do it all over again. I wonder if this is the Catholic’s purgatory. With each session Dr. Weiss had with Catherine he would ask her what she was supposed to have learned and she would tell him.
The Bible has passages that people use to say reincarnation is real and was accepted by the disciples of Jesus. The first text concerns the identity of John the Baptist, supposed to be the reincarnation of the prophet Elijah. In Matthew 11,14 Jesus says: “And if you are willing to accept it, he (John the Baptist) is the Elijah who was to come.” In the same Gospel, while answering the apostles about the coming of Elijah, Jesus told them: “But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” The commentary adds: “Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist” (Matthew 17,12-13; see also Mark 9,12-13). (comparative religion.com)
How do you feel about reincarnation? Have you had any experiences in your life that led you to believe you might have lived before? It’s something to think about. Take a look at the video’s from Prime Time. Enjoy