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Michael, you raise some excellent questions about reincarnation in your blog entry “Many lives.” You got me thinking, and also referring back to one of my favorite books, Christopher Bache’s “Lifecycles,” for answers. This is a very long response, but I needed to clarify some issues for myself, so the time feels well-spent. Here are the points you raised, and my (and Mr. Bache’s) answers.

> he must suffer in order to pay off his karmic debt.

This is a moralistic, crime-and-punishment view of reincarnation, and it’s not how I see it at all. I (and many others) see reincarnation as a way to experience the full spectrum of life’s possibilities. If we’re wealthy and selfish in one lifetime, we may choose a life of hardship the next time around. Not as a punishment, but simply to fully explore the human experience in all its extremes.

>Reincarnation is immoral

I wouldn’t say that reincarnation is immoral. I’d say that, like the cosmic scheme itself, it’s amoral. And this is precisely what near-death experiencers say. They’re surprised and delighted to find that no judgement takes place when the the body is left behind. Honesty, insight, self-revelation—yes. But nobody gets graded or punished.

I like Rumi’s famous line: "There is a field out beyond right and wrong. I will meet you there."

>The practical result is the caste system of India, in which people of the lowest caste (the "untouchables") have been allowed to remain in horrific poverty for generations.

Yes, throughout history people have taken spiritual principles, skewed them to achieve their own ends, and created misery for themselves and others.

>But in what sense is the soul immortal if all of one's memories and experiences are wiped clean at the start of each new incarnation?

Memories of previous incarnations are made inaccessible to us as we enter physical life, but are restored as we re-enter the spiritual domain. Amnesia is essential if we are to fully enter into the experience of our current lifetime. (I think that’s why plotlines involving amnesia are so popular and so compelling—they reflect our true situation.)

Christopher Bache: “Our amnesia causes us to believe for a time that we are only our present body-personality. Through this ruse our energies are harnessed to the present moment. In the theater, people talk of the willing suspension of disbelief necessary to experience props on a wooden stage as the reality they represent. Somewhat similarly, we must believe fully in the conditions of our personality theater in order to engage the Earth-experience with maximum intensity. This our amnesia does for us. It keeps us from being distracted by memories of experiences that would disrupt the conditions of our present learning exercise.”

>But how can we build on our lessons if we are made to forget everything that we have already learned? If we start over from scratch with each new life, how are we going to get anywhere?

Bache asks the same question, and then answers it: “For genuine learning to take place, of course, it is not sufficient merely to experience new things intensely. We must also remember these experiences, digest them, and integrate them into our previous knowledge. . . . The natural time for this to occur appears not to be in the Earth phase of the cycle, but during the spiritual phase. . . The acquisition of new experience takes place on Earth, the integration of that experience with our previous experience in the spiritual domain. This observation is consistent with the experiences of those who come close to dying but are rescued by medical technology. They regularly report that while they were near death their awareness expanded to enormous proportions allowing them to take in information and insights at an extraordinary rate. Curiously enough, this expanded state feels familiar to them. Though it is unlike anything they have experienced on Earth, it nevertheless feels like “home.” The amnesia that accompanies birth is for a few brief moments lifted.”

> Reincarnation is based on dubious evidence.

I think the evidence is quite strong. Have you read Ian Stevenson’s “Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect,” for example? This book describes the kind of cases with which you are already familiar (and are unimpressed by), but adds a whole new dimension. In case after case, children are found to have birthmarks which precisely correlate to wounds suffered by the “previous personalities.” In many cases, for example, a child is found to have birthmarks in precisely the same locations as the entry and exit wounds left by a bullet which killed the child’s previous personality.


If we’re wealthy and selfish in one lifetime, we may choose a life of hardship the next time around. Not as a punishment, but simply to fully explore the human experience in all its extremes.

I do agree with a certain interpretation of reincarnation. That is, the One Self continuously creates and identifies with its creations, enjoying for a time our experience as "individuals". But I do not view our true existence as being "in time", rather time is part of our human reality. In fact even while living as flesh-encapsulated egos if we truly reflect there is only the timeless, ever-changing now through which flow all experiences. And if we go deep into the question "who is experiencing all this" the notion of an individual self dissolves, and we begin to discover who we truly are.

The death of the body is a great opportunity for transcendence and rediscovery of our essential nature, but I suspect many of the "individuals" continue to identify with their individuality after death and go through experiences in that state. Until eventually the illusion is relinquished, not at a point in time, but rather when the "story of me" is no longer believed in as seperate from the "story of all of us". And I suspect beyond all that is a place where no story is believed in at all, where all the stories are simply observed, simply witnessed. And in the deep quiet calm between the words, lights and sounds of the outer experience of the moment, we can sense that presence, that witness, always being, never judging, our true nature.

So I guess I agree with both Bruce and Michael here.

Bruce wrote,
>Memories of previous incarnations are made inaccessible to us as we enter physical life, but are restored as we re-enter the spiritual domain.

If so, why don't mediumistic communications reflect this? "Communicators" always come through as recognizable individuals, not composites of many personalities.

>In many cases, for example, a child is found to have birthmarks in precisely the same locations as the entry and exit wounds left by a bullet which killed the child’s previous personality.

I'm aware of that evidence, though I haven't read the book. I agree that this does strengthen Stevenson's claim. One might argue that the obsessing/possessing spirit impresses itself on its host in utero and affects the embryo's physical development. But I admit that this is an ad hoc explanation, and not especially convincing.

>They’re surprised and delighted to find that no judgement takes place when the the body is left behind.

My interpretation of NDEs is that there is judging, but that we judge ourselves (often in the presence of a guide, who may be interpreted as God or as one's Higher Self). We experience the pain we've caused others. For a really bad person, like Hitler, this would be hell - though it wouldn't last forever.

>"They regularly report that while they were near death their awareness expanded to enormous proportions allowing them to take in information and insights at an extraordinary rate."

True, but they don't report becoming aware of past lives - although a fair number do become believers in reincarnation later. Whether this belief is a direct result of their experience or simply a consequence of immersing themselves in New Age literature is unclear.

You make good points, and I admit that there is enough evidence for reincarnation to justify a belief in it if you are so inclined. But the evidence is ambiguous enough to allow for other interpretations (though I don't think any non-paranormal, skeptic explanation will work). My bias is against reincarnation, because I dislike the idea on a gut level.

Of course, reality doesn't care about my likes and dislikes ... but dammit, it should!

:-)

>I do agree with a certain interpretation of reincarnation. That is, the One Self continuously creates and identifies with its creations, enjoying for a time our experience as "individuals". But I do not view our true existence as being "in time", rather time is part of our human reality.

Matthew, I agree with you completely. I see myself as “one finger” of the “hand” that is my Oversoul. And these separate fingers (probably many more than 5!) are positioned within different Earth “time periods.” From the Oversoul’s perspective outside of time, these fingers exist simultaneously. From the finger’s perspective, within the Earth environment, other fingers have “come before” and will “return again.”

And the Oversoul, no doubt, is but one finger of a larger hand. And so on up the ladder, to God. And God exists right now, experiencing all “fingers” at once.

> If so, why don't mediumistic communications reflect this? "Communicators" always come through as recognizable individuals, not composites of many personalities.

Michael, are you familiar with Seth, the entity that was channeled through Jane Roberts? He makes it quite clear throughout his communications that he is the sum total of many characters who have existed in various earth and non-earth environments.

>I agree that this does strengthen Stevenson's claim. One might argue that the obsessing/possessing spirit impresses itself on its host in utero and affects the embryo's physical development. But I admit that this is an ad hoc explanation, and not especially convincing.

Thanks. I like that about you, Michael, and it’s why I enjoy responding to your blogs. You’re open-minded and not defensive.

>My interpretation of NDEs is that there is judging, but that we judge ourselves.

Yes and no. “Judgement” is a loaded word, often implying crime, punishment, guilt, and so forth. So I think that NDE’rs would rather use words like learning, honesty, insight, and so forth. Here’s an excerpt from Tom Sawyer’s account. He is talking about an episode from his life review that was particularly painful to recall:
“I did experience that in this unconditional way, with this unconditional love that is only God’s eyes, or the eyes of Jesus Christ . . . not "There, Tom, now do you feel bad enough?" Or, "You sure were bad." 
None of that, only, as in the eyes of God, simple, pure, scientific observation, complete, totally, non-attachment. No judgmental aspect whatever.”

>True, but they [NDE’rs} don't report becoming aware of past lives - although a fair number do become believers in reincarnation later.

I admit that’s usually the case. But here are some exceptions.

Tom Sawyer: “At one point I felt as if I were a speck of light on Jesus’ shoulder, and I was able to experience full knowledge of all of his incarnations from the beginning of time.”

Mellen-Thomas Benedict: “I was given lessons on the mechanics of reincarnation. I was given answers to all those little questions I had: "How does this work?  How does that work?" I knew that I would be reincarnated.”

And most especially, PMH Atwater, who speaks of the simultaneity of past lives that Matthew and I were both referring to:
"Inside the top cyclone (and I called them cyclones because that is what they reminded me of), I saw myself, hardly larger than a speck, yet recognizable. Superimposed over me were all my past lives and all my future lives happening at the same time in the same space as my present self.”

>My bias is against reincarnation, because I dislike the idea on a gut level.

Part of me feels exactly the same. Life on Earth can be so terribly hard at times. Once I leave here, I can’t imagine wanting to come back.

At the same time, I’m excited by solid evidence, from whatever quarters, that life continues when this body dies. (And unlike you, I consider the evidence for reincarnation very strong.) My best and deepest experiences have been so wonderful that I’m thrilled to know I will have endless opportunities, throughout eternity, for more.

Hi Michael and all,

Stop by my website and read my articles and download a FREE copy of my book. I provide some stunning new proof about the FACT of reincarnation.

I promise to asround and enlighten you!

I have studied and read everything I could find on this subject of reincarnation for thirty years. From all my reading I have come to the conclusion that we live only once on this plane called Earth, but with a catch. This opinion is derived from reading countless numbers of authors. However this is mainly from clues from Monroe, Seth , and Wickland and this is my overall theory of how it works. When the decision is made by free will of two human beings to procreate physically, the Oversoul takes parts of many spirits who have been human and makes a new entity. This is done with the aid of some type of thought computer, for lack of a better word. This new individual is given the parts from all the players that were involved in the original Earth drama. That is why when past life regression is done you are actually reading a life of another part of another spirit, but that was involved in the original Earth life with the others. The new human being see's these other past lives as being his/her own, because they now are. That is why you may see scars and birth marks on your body, because part of you is from another entity that was injured in that life.These lives are not really in the past at all, they are all happening at once on another level. Food for thought. Dale

Hi MP,
I have left a comment to your points on reincarnation in your earlier blog. I am reading through the blog archives & I am not sure where you currently stand on the issue. So aplogies if I had repeated any arguments.
I for one am looking forward to my future incarnations cause I am sure I will be as I am not at the spiritual level to break out of this earthly cycle. I will continue to do my best in each life using a mix of the Yogic process to advance further.
The Yogic process for the uninformed are in no particular order are
1. Karma Yoga ( do your duty with no no expectations of results, as expounded in Bhagwat Gita by Lord Krishna to Warrior Arjuna faced with the prospect of killing/injuring his half-brothers)
2. Bhakti Yoga ( thru pure devotion to God or a personal diety & that is why Hinduism allows for numerous Gods & Goddess which are all different expression of the ONE)
3. Gyan Yoga ( thru pursuit of knowledge via seeking truth of the world( even material) one lives in which will ulitimately reveal God)
4. Yoga ( the physical Yoga, I prefer the ones codified by Sage Patanjali..)

apparently the last one is said to be the quickest way to break the cycle or re-incarnation & move higher towards God but still there will be lots of re-incarnation. But then the whole thing is MAYA or God experiencing & re-experiencing till eternity his own creations and each & every soul is part of th Godhead.

Thanks,
SMJ

I started my research into survival after death in 1991 and after years of intensive research I found lots of evidence that reincarnation exists. This was very upsetting to me because the thought of going through my childhood and teen years again and as you stated “going through high school again” is not a pleasant thought.

I actually spent two years in mediation and other yoga practices hoping to become ‘enlighten’ so I would not have to return to this earth but in my mind with little success. Reincarnation appears to exist and it makes sense when we factor in the development of the soul. I cannot state with absolute certainty that reincarnation exists for several reasons.

One: people who cross over and communicate through a medium often know nothing about reincarnation.

Another as you pointed out is that a person who remembers a past history could be possessed by another spirit. But even Ira Stevenson’s research on birthmarks suggests reincarnation and he is in my opinion a very cautious researcher.

As unpopular as it is to state my research indicates that we are gods in the making and when I look at the intelligence level of the world it will take many incarnations for most if not all of us to be these humble and intelligence beings capable of moving on to higher levels of learning and practice.

I think our apprehension about living another life on earth makes us resistant to the thought of reincarnation. Recently I heard a sermon where a preacher stated that most of us live a quiet life of desperation.

I think most people would rather believe in a one-stop earth experience then off to heaven where we can finally find happiness. My observation of the world suggests that we have to earn our way to joy and bliss.

Many want a free pass and in my mind believe the most ridiculous of beliefs hoping for this free pass, but most if not all of the principles I see operating in this world suggests there are few if any free passes.

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