Past Life Therapy
Mystic and the Doctor
Reincarnation: is a doctrine that rests on the belief that after the death of the
physical body, there is some element left of each person that then
goes on to survive bodily death. This element is independent
of a person's physical being, and after death goes on to be reborn
into another physical body.
The idea of reincarnation has been well established in Eastern
religion, although it has appeared all over the globe. Indeed
there is some evidence to suggest that reincarnation could be as old
as religion itself as it has appeared in the beliefs of many
primitive cultures as well as in some of the more highly developed
Currently, reincarnation is experiencing an increase in popularity
in the West, as some Christians find the reincarnation of the soul a
more attractive proposition. Reincarnation is becoming the
alternative to the orthodox Christian view that the soul passes into
heaven, purgatory or hell after physical death. Should the
Christian view be correct then the soul has but once chance to reach
the goal of heaven and determine it's fate. Reincarnation
however offers the chance of the soul to be reborn and work it's way
forwards or perhaps backwards. A good comparison is like
moving up or down on the rungs of a ladder. A well lived
previous life would enable the soul to advance upwards on the
ladder, whereas a life badly lived would cause the reverse and the
soul to move downwards. One of the particular attractions of
reincarnation is that it helps to account for many of life's
misfortunes and help to answer the question as to why some people
are ultimately much more fortunate than others.
Reincarnation plays a major role in Hinduism, a religion from the
East. Within the Hindu religion are some sacred writings known
as the Upanishads. The Upanishads state that even if the soul
does enter a hell or heaven after death, this will be a temporary
arrangement only, because the soul will then return to earth.
in association with this idea is the doctrine of
In its basic form this is an idea that asserts that at the birth of
an individual there are a series of balance sheets full of
liabilities and assets accumulated from the previous life.
The Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, speaking about man's soul, states
"According as were his works and walks in (another) life, so he
becomes. He that does righteously becomes righteous. He
that does evil, becomes evil. He becomes holy through holy
works and evil through evil.
The Bhagavad Gita is possibly one of the most widely known of Indian
religious writings and this also affirms the doctrine of
Are shed by the body:
Worn out bodies
Are shed by the dweller
Within the body;
New bodies are donned
By the dweller, like garments
One perhaps less desirable effect of the doctrine of reincarnation
was to assert the idea that one could also pass to much lower states
than the human form. Indeed one could be born regressively
into an animal form or into a lower caste. This has helped to
reinforce the caste system.
Both of the Hindu theories of
and reincarnation have passed into Buddhism. Indirectly the
name Buddha itself implies reincarnation because the term Buddha
does not refer to an individual but to a type. The word Buddha
itself comes from Sanskritt and means 'one who is fully
enlightened'. Siddartha Gautama, often known as the historical
Buddha lived in Northern India
about 500 B.C. and it is believed that he was only one of a
succession of Buddhas who had prepared for their reincarnation as a
Buddha and supremely enlightened teacher. Before becoming a
Buddha it was necessary to pass through a stage of being a
Bodhisattva. It is said that Siddartha Gautama's preparation
for Buddhahood began under the previous Buddha Dipankara many eons
ago. In the distant future another Buddha, Maitreya, is due to
For Buddhists, rebirth is not so desirable unless you are destined
for Buddhahood including the ultimate aim for a state of such
perfect enlightenment that the whole process of reincarnation is no
"The Tibetan Book of the Dead describes how after death, the
consciousness: 'having no object on which to rest, will be tossed
about by the wind, riding on the horse of breath. At about
that time the fierce wind of
terrific and hard to bear, will drive you onwards, from behind in
dreadful gusts. And after a while the thought will occur to
you: 'Oh what would I not give to possess a body' After a time
the soul will be enticed with visions of humans and animals
copulating and will feel a compulsion to take the place of one of
the parties. 'Do not try to take the place of one of them!'
The Book of the Dead counsels. 'The feeling which you would
experience would make you faint away, just at the moment when egg
and sperm are about to unite. And afterwards you will have
been conceived as a human being or as an animal' (62)."
Although the doctrine of reincarnation is slowly becoming more
popular in the West, traditionally it has experienced quite a hard
passage there. In the period known as the Hermetica which is
the time immediately before and immediately after the birth of
Christ; reincarnation appears in the Graeco-Egyptian esoteric
writings and Plato. In a fragment translated by GRS Mead, in
his Thrice Greatest Hermes, it is stated:
"From one Soul of the universe are all Souls derived...Of these
Souls are there many changes, some into a more fortunate estate, and
some quite contrary. And they which are creeping things are
changed into those of watery things living on the land; and airy
ones into men. Human souls that lay hold of immortality are
changed into holy powers. And so they go into the sphere of
the Gods...And this is the most perfect glory of the soul...
Not all human souls but only the pious ones are divine. Once
separated from the body and after the struggle to acquire piety,
which consists of knowing God and injuring none, such a soul becomes
all intelligence. The impious soul, however, punishes itself
by seeking a human body to enter into, for no other body can receive
a human soul; it cannot enter the body of an animal devoid of
reason. Divine law preserves the human soul from such infamy.'
Of course the latter is in conflict with the Hindu and Buddhist
belief that it is possible to regress into an animal state.
However the Hermetic writings did hold some influence over the early
Church Fathers. Possibly one of the most influential of the
fathers was a man called Origen, who did teach a form of
reincarnation. There is some debate about whether or not he
taught that the soul could pass into the present world.
However he taught that souls that existed in previous worlds would
be reborn into future worlds. It wasn't long before Origen's
teachings were condemned by the church and eventually the Second
Council of Constantinople in A.D. 553 'anathermatized' the theory of
The theory at this point may have disappeared completely had it not
been for various underground Gnostic sects who continued the theory
sometimes even above ground in open defiance of the Church.
Some of these sects included: the Balkan Bogomils and the Albigenses
who flourished for a while in Southern France
both being catharist sects of the middle ages. Unfortunately
for them they were eventually crushed by the Church in the 13th
century, leaving reincarnation a matter of heresay.
In the West the theory now played little part, although some traces
of it did appear among the writings of various esoteric schools of
thought including: Renaissance Hermetists, Rosicrucians and
Cabalists. Slowly the theory of reincarnation began to emerge
again under these schools. The idea of reincarnation has held
appeal for many philosophers including: Goethe, Heine, Shopenhauer
and Thoreau. Clifford Bax's The Traveller's Tale is an
astounding 20th century literary work about reincarnation, which
details the story of a soul that is reincarnated successively as:
"a Stone Age savage, a Babylonian, a Greek scribe, a Roman soldier,
a medieval bishop, a modern English vicar and lastly a spiritual
At each stage the soul learnt a different lesson until finally
reaching enlightenment and it's final release from earthly life.
'When the teacher is murdered by a jealous cynic his soul has a
vision of all his previous lives and then suddenly feels itself
"The brilliant crystal bursts;
A crash of thunder booms along my brain,
And the vast sea of life laps me no more.
The universe without and I within
Burn into one soul diamond-point of light,
Not great nor small but measureless and the sum
of what ever shall be, is or was."
Under normal circumstances it is very difficult to prove whether or
not there is a strong case for the theory of reincarnation. In
a normal life it would probably be very difficult to function
normally if past lives were constantly being remembered.
However some interesting cases of alleged reincarnation have emerged
over recent years. Recently it has been found that through the
use of hypnosis and
states of consciousness, there is a growing body of
evidence, that suggests that the whole concept of reincarnation
merits careful and thorough investigation.
Source: Information and excerpts for this article:
Encyclopedia of the Unexplained, edited by Richard Cavendish.
Consultant: J.B. Rhine Publisher: Penguin Group 27,
Wrights Lane, London W8 5TZ England
ISBN: 0 14 019190 9