Religions and Their Belief about Reincarnation

Human beings, since ancient times were trying to find a deeper meaning to life. They watched the winter giving birth to spring, spring unfolding into summer, the summer heat transforming into autumn and all over again in a circle. They watched the sun dying every night and believed it was being reborn in the morning. Even then, everything had to make sense, so they linked the human life with these naturally occurring cycles. Egyptians mummified their kings because they believed once their souls are purified by the sun, their kings will return in the body, not reincarnated, but rather resurrected in another world. Plato on the other hand, stated that the human soul is a celestial body that ended up living life in a human body as a result of a punishment for a committed sin. We wanted to believe that death is not the end since prehistoric times. Sometimes to avoid being petrified of what happens after we die, other times to console the pain of losing a loved one. Either way, some if not all religions still support this belief and philosophy. And people around the world, regardless of their esoteric convictions or interests share the same idea: the idea that life goes on even when our physical body expires.

Religions That Support the Concept of Reincarnation

There is a caste system in Hinduism, which suggests all people are different according to their moral values and duties. This system dates back 4000 years ago and it’s divided into 4 groups, with additional fifth one called the Untouchables. Untouchables are all people who pollute the society where they live, like criminals, house workers, diseased persons and nomadic tribes. They are prohibited from mixing with other caste members and entering Hindu temples, for their souls and minds are unclean. The highest caste group is called Brahmin, made of teachers, spiritual, religious leaders and philosophers. Kshatriyas in our world are the soldiers, politicians and all other protectors of society. The Vaisyas are all people who know some crafts, have special talents and skills or work in merchandising. The laboring class of people is called Shudras, but only hard and decent workers can become members of this group. One can fall in and out of these caste groups, depending on their actions in life. Some might consider this kind of segregation discriminating and unfair, but it gives people the opportunity to see their social and spiritual standing, from where they can advance or decline. According to Hinduism and Buddhism, reincarnation is the divine giving you a chance to prosper spiritually.

When you die, according to Hinduism, your soul, made out of your intellect, mind, vital energy and sense and motor organs, goes to another celestial plane of existence. In the Hindu books like Sri Krishna, Bhagavad Gita and the Divine Incarnation, there are more than 14 of these planes mentioned, which are called Lokas. The first 6 Lokas are the higher planes, where more enjoyment and pleasure is indulged for the souls who go there. The last 8 are places where the souls are suffering until it’s time to be reincarnated. According to this religion, everyone who had a great unfulfilled desire will have the chance to live another life and fulfill it. The souls stay in these higher planes until their desires are so great that they are unable to continue living in this state and have to be reborn. The main purpose of reincarnation in Hinduism is to live life free of ill thoughts and actions, to become a being with absolutely no earthly desires, which has no reason spending time on earth anymore.

The reason why the Dalai Lama is reincarnated over and over again is not because he has lived a sinful life, but because he has a purpose of enlightening others on earth. Buddhists have a Dalai Lama since the 1391, and the current one is the 14th. Two years after the 13th Dalai Lama died, a search party was organized to find the next incarnation of the lotus holder, named Avalokiteshvara. The Tibetan government together with the senior lamas sends recruits to follow the signs the senior lamas discovered in visions while meditating. The first sign was presented by the last Dalai Lama’s body, or more accurately his head. His embalmed body was laid turning south, when his head turned southeast, which gave the lamas a direction of where to search their next leader. Later, the senior lama Regent Reting Rinpoche was meditating near the lake Lhamo Lhatso, when the letters Ah, Ka and Ma reflected over the lake. The letter Ah was interpreted as the northeastern province of Amdo in Tibet. He envisioned a monastery with gold and turquoise roof, which lead the quest to the letter Ka (Kumbum) and supposedly Ma is the inclination for the motherland. When the search party got to Amdo, they found the monastery at Kumbum and knew the new Dalai Lama was near. The search party presented themselves as travelers and asked the parents to stay for the night. The toddler Dalai Lama recognized one senior lama and called his name several times. They found out that the oldest and youngest sons after the Dalai Lama were already recognized as reincarnations of high lamas, so the parents thought their family already reached the quota of famous reincarnations. Several objects that belonged to the previous Dalai Lama were shown to the boy, mixed with ordinary items and the toddler recognized each one of them calling them his own. Later the lamas found out that at the time of his birth, 13 family horses went wild and then died, while his father miraculously recovered from a bedridden condition.

The Dalai Lama remembers his past lives and in Hinduism those people are called Jatismaras. A person will keep reincarnating until all karmic debts are paid off and his life on earth is lived pure. According to many eastern religions and philosophies you may be paying off debts not only from this life but from your past lives as well. In Hindu, Buddhists and Taoists texts there are rules and guides on how to achieve this pure life and most of them follow the law of what we call in the western world, cause and effect. Karma materializes without the individual being aware of its progression and it does that with the aim to clean our psycho-mental appearance. Rarely someone remembers their past lives, but if they do it usually means their spiritual self has evolved to a point where it will be easy for the person to follow their true goal in life and break the cycle of death and rebirth.

Reincarnation in the Western World

Most Judeo Christian religions don’t support concepts like reincarnation. Unlike the eastern philosophies where the idea of existence is circular, in Christianity and Judaism life is linear. We come into existence by birth and we haven’t lived previous lives or come from another celestial place. The same is when we die. Our souls or spiritual bodies do not go into another physical body and this life is our only chance to prove God that we are worthy to live with him side by side. In Christianity and Islam, instead of karma we have the judgment day. On that day every one of your actions, thoughts behind them and your behavior towards other beings will be judged and your eternal life will be determined. That could be either hell or heaven or somewhere in between, until basically, your character and personality determine where your soul should rest. If you look at all religions with an open mind, every one of them is the same. Only the names and years are changed and entities differ slightly in their appearance and godly capabilities. What is called karma in eastern doctrines is called the judgment day in the Judeo-Christian religious convictions. All in all, all religions suggest that if you are bad, bad things will happen and if you’re well behaved, good things will happen. That’s why many modern scholars, tried to read the Bible a little more dispassionately and found out that there is more connection between religions than we used to think. First of all, many scriptures are not even included in the old and new testament, and with the creation of new Christian religions, many more are lost. In medieval times, young Christians were taught that Lilith was the first wife of Adam and then came Eve. The reason why Adam didn’t want Lilith was because she didn’t let him dominate her, so she turned to the dark side.

As time passed, teaching women that they have a choice between good and evil was not a good idea, so the Roman Catholic Church decided to skip the part with Lilith for the greater good. The same thing happened to many biblical texts, but remains of the reincarnation concept can still be found, if you really want to search for the whole truth. Jeremiah is one of the oldest prophets in the bible. God told Jeremiah that he knew him before he formed him in his mother’s womb, and he consecrated him before he was born and appointed him to be the prophet. This passage suggests that preexistence was acknowledged in the bible scriptures. Many Christian religions disregard the Old Testament and study the New Testament only.

One passage from the New Testament tells us that Jesus and his disciples, as wise as they were, accepted the idea of reincarnation. They’ve come across a man who was blind from birth and asked him: What he must have sinned to be born blind. Eastern religions believe that if you sin in this life you may be born as an animal, criminal, diseased, crooked or otherwise disabled in your next one. The same spiritual laws influence the Christian religion, but not everyone is ready to accept them. Over the years, instead of spreading the teachings of Jesus and other prophets, the Roman church is more interested in controlling the society. Having spiritually aware and awakened nations will result in peace and liberation, which is not a very safe bet for all those who control the world. There are no benefits in peace, while all wars are only fought for money. So regardless of your religion and beliefs, keep in mind that judgment day will come one way or another. Whether you believe you’ll suffer in this lifetime, the next one or you think your actions will be examined at the judgment day, it doesn’t really matter. At the end, the purpose of all religions is to make your life taintless, so that you can freely pursue your dreams and become a better man.

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