Reincarnation

Jcc

Mar 2013
594
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
Venu,

I think you have hit on the reason why the old Revelations are largely tied to the physical world, including Jewish which has very little mention of heaven, and to them punishment is death, and reward is eternal physical life, and Hindu which as you say, uses repeated reincarnations into the physical world to make the point about reward and punishment.

“ I think we should first try to understand how God is working in the physical world before we venture in to explaining God's workings in the spiritual world. At least the events in the physical world can be verified.”

For people who are not attuned to spiritual reality, they have a hard time understanding anything beyond the physical world, so the most ancient Revelations are all tied to physical existence and use that to educate people. However, the more recent Revelations all increasingly refer to spiritual reality and make it clear that our true home is in the spiritual world, the physical life is only temporary. Even Buddha mentions reincarnation, but the goal for everyone is to break the cycle, achieve Enlightenment in spiritual reality and no longer reincarnate. So Buddha is a transition away from thinking about only reincarnating into the physical world and introduces spiritual life as the final goal. Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Islam and Babi/Baha’i have no reincarnation. So to me it appears that the concept of reincarnation is a way to teach people about reward and punishment in a way that they will understand if they are not prepared to see spiritual reality as our true nature.
 
Feb 2019
251
Chicago
First of all it is not true that Christianity does not teach reincarnation. Earlier in this thread I have posted some verses from the Bible on karma and reincarnation. The Bible actually had many more verses on reincarnation but we're deleted by the second council of Constantinople. You can verify it from any authentic source. I also quoted from Jewish scriptures on reincarnation. I have limited knowledge of Zorastrianism and won't comment on it for now. Your understanding of Hinduism seems to be far from complete. It is not true that Hinduism has no information on the spiritual world. For example if you read the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, he describes in vivid detail the happenings in the spiritual realms and some of the laws in operation there. I will post another chapter from his autobiography and you can see for yourself. I was trying to avoid a discussion on spiritual world because it is out of the range of experience for us. We believe it exists but we haven't experienced it. So no point in getting in to a discussion on something we may not agree or be able to verify. The Hindu scriptures were revealed in higher ages when human beings were more evolved and so contain the most esoteric spiritual truths revealed to mankind. As you probably know from observation, time is cyclic. What you may not know is that our Sun also goes around a certain point in space called in the Hindu scriptures as Vishnu Nabhi in cycles of 24000 earth years. The 24000 cycle has 12000 years of evolution and 12000 years of devolution. Each 12000 year period is further divided in to 4 ages called Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. Man tends to be spiritually most evolved in the Satya period and his spiritual capacity is degraded in Kali period. This evolution and devolution of man happens in a cyclic way depending on where the Sun is with respect to the Vishnu Nabhi. Many of the Hindu scriptures were revealed in the first three periods and most people can't even wrap their heads around the esoteric language hiding the most sacred spiritual truths in the Hindu scriptures. Sage Vyasa the author of Mahabharata which contains the Bhagavad Gita stated that the spiritual truths in Mahabharata may be found elsewhere but the spiritual truths not found in Mahabharata will not be found anywhere else.
 
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Aug 2019
86
Berlin
Allah-u-abha!

Thank you for this interesting topic. I can give you my personal realizations:
First of all, as I remember Bahá’u’lláh never talked about this topic. Like in all religions, there is a hierarchy of truths in the Bahai Faith. It seems, that this topic is not very important and every Bahai has the freedom to find his own position.
Yes, Abdul-Baha spoke about some concepts of reincarnation, but there are several more. It seems that he wanted to discuss some thoughts concerning this topic, but not to give a statement about all concepts of reincarnation. He spoke about that the person or personality don't come back, but some qualities. In this sense, he is d'accord with most of reincarnation concepts. In the Vedic concept (as outlined in the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and s.o.), there is something called ahamkara, that is also called the "false ego". Ahamkara means "personality maker". In one life, a person may be a European male with the name Paul, in the next life "the same person" (I am sorry for this problem of words) will come to earth as a African female with the name Tara. Both births based on the conditions, qualities of the life before. There is not the same personality, the personality maker creates a new personality, based on the conditions of the life before. In Buddhism, or some concepts of Buddhism, there is the same: From the buddhistic point of view the question, what God or the Soul is is not very important. But there are conditions that bring a person back to earth. If I read the statement of Abdul-Baha in Answered questions, then it sounds like some of the reincarnation concepts I know.
But Abdul-Baha refers this concept only to the Manifestations of God - but why? I think, the reason are experiences in the world. As humans, we can only experience that we have conscious life, now. We have no memories about past life. Why should we believe that there is a past life if we have no memories? On the other hand, if we look on the Manifestations of God, we realize that they are the same word of God. The word comes back and back again, from Adam to Bahá’u’lláh. From a logical point of view, while we experience the return of the divine qualities in the form of the Manifestation of God, we couldn't experience the same in our own life or the life of other persons. Because of this I would say there is no evidence to believe that "normal human" incarnate again.
Most scriptures of the religions are bound to culture, time and circumstances. It includes various concepts that based on the culture, because it is more easy to accept for people a Manifestation of God, if she is compatible to the culture. Parts of the scriptures are influenced by culture, and that is one of the reason why scriptures are not pure revelations. Thus we need the Holy Spirit to comprehend and understand the aspects that are pure and timeless and the aspects that are not free of cultural influences. E.g. the Gita was spoken as a part of the Mahabharata and in this sense part of a cultural work.
 
Jul 2017
511
Olympia, WA, USA
As humans, we can only experience that we have conscious life, now. We have no memories about past life. Why should we believe that there is a past life if we have no memories?
People who believe in reincarnation say that people have memories of a past life, so that proves reincarnation, but I think there is some explanation other than reincarnation because it is in the Writings somewhere that the soul of all humans comes into being at the moment of conception, so that means the soul could not have existed before. By contrast, the souls of Manifestations of God had preexistence in the spiritual world.

(96) PRE-EXISTENCE - of Prophets
The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate to picture His state of being.
(Shoghi Effendi: High Endeavors, Page: 71)
 
Aug 2019
86
Berlin
People who believe in reincarnation say that people have memories of a past life, so that proves reincarnation, but I think there is some explanation other than reincarnation because it is in the Writings somewhere that the soul of all humans comes into being at the moment of conception, so that means the soul could not have existed before. By contrast, the souls of Manifestations of God had preexistence in the spiritual world.
It's interesting that people says they have a memory of past life. But primarily for me are the scriptures more topic of interest.

Krishna says in the Gita:
I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. (15.15)

Srila Prabhupada, the translator of the Bhagavad-gita as it is, explains:
The living entity forgets everything of his past life, but he has to act according to the direction of the Supreme Lord, who is witness to all his work. Therefore he begins his work according to his past deeds. Required knowledge is supplied to him, and remembrance is given to him, and he forgets, also, about his past life.

Also Krishna says:
The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy! (BG 4.5)

If people explain that they have memories of a past life, then - under the circumstances that they have a Hindu background - their belief based not on Shastras/Scriptures and is not according to the avatar/manifestation of God, but more their own speculation.

Trailblazer said:
because it is in the Writings somewhere that the soul of all humans comes into being at the moment of conception
Very interesting, because we enter the large field of definitions. In der Bhagavad-gita it is written that the soul, before it become manifested, has the state "not manifested".
 
Feb 2019
251
Chicago
Allah-u-abha!

Thank you for this interesting topic. I can give you my personal realizations:
First of all, as I remember Bahá’u’lláh never talked about this topic. Like in all religions, there is a hierarchy of truths in the Bahai Faith. It seems, that this topic is not very important and every Bahai has the freedom to find his own position.
Yes, Abdul-Baha spoke about some concepts of reincarnation, but there are several more. It seems that he wanted to discuss some thoughts concerning this topic, but not to give a statement about all concepts of reincarnation. He spoke about that the person or personality don't come back, but some qualities. In this sense, he is d'accord with most of reincarnation concepts. In the Vedic concept (as outlined in the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and s.o.), there is something called ahamkara, that is also called the "false ego". Ahamkara means "personality maker". In one life, a person may be a European male with the name Paul, in the next life "the same person" (I am sorry for this problem of words) will come to earth as a African female with the name Tara. Both births based on the conditions, qualities of the life before. There is not the same personality, the personality maker creates a new personality, based on the conditions of the life before. In Buddhism, or some concepts of Buddhism, there is the same: From the buddhistic point of view the question, what God or the Soul is is not very important. But there are conditions that bring a person back to earth. If I read the statement of Abdul-Baha in Answered questions, then it sounds like some of the reincarnation concepts I know.
But Abdul-Baha refers this concept only to the Manifestations of God - but why? I think, the reason are experiences in the world. As humans, we can only experience that we have conscious life, now. We have no memories about past life. Why should we believe that there is a past life if we have no memories? On the other hand, if we look on the Manifestations of God, we realize that they are the same word of God. The word comes back and back again, from Adam to Bahá’u’lláh. From a logical point of view, while we experience the return of the divine qualities in the form of the Manifestation of God, we couldn't experience the same in our own life or the life of other persons. Because of this I would say there is no evidence to believe that "normal human" incarnate again.
Most scriptures of the religions are bound to culture, time and circumstances. It includes various concepts that based on the culture, because it is more easy to accept for people a Manifestation of God, if she is compatible to the culture. Parts of the scriptures are influenced by culture, and that is one of the reason why scriptures are not pure revelations. Thus we need the Holy Spirit to comprehend and understand the aspects that are pure and timeless and the aspects that are not free of cultural influences. E.g. the Gita was spoken as a part of the Mahabharata and in this sense part of a cultural work.
You ask "Why should we believe that there is a past life if we have no memories?"
You don't remember even a single day of the 9 months you spent in your mother's womb making your own body. So you should not believe that you came out of a womb? That hardly sounds like independent investigation of truth. If you want to tap in to memories of past lives, there are secret yogic techniques you can use to go beyond the conscious mind and enters the realms of the subconscious, superconscious and cosmic conscious memory. But it is not usually recommended to dig out memories of past lives because they will mess up the current life. There is a reason God does not want us to remember the time we spent in the womb and events from past lives. Read the chapter on the Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar from the Autobiography of a Yogi. It goes in to some detail on how God created man and why the soul reincarnates. God created man in a three step process. The first step was to come up with an idea or a blueprint. The second step was to visualize it and the third step was to manifest it. Corresponding to the first step there is an ideational or causal body, for the second step there is a body of light or astral body which contains the mind along with ego or ahamKara you mentioned. The third step results in the physical body. At death, only the physical body perishes but a person's personality and karma still remains with the soul that is a encased in the causal and astral bodies that are not destroyed at physical death. When the soul creates another body for itself to manifest it's personality and karma, they come out in the new life since they are stored in the astral body. That explains why even twins born to the same parents and raised in a similar environment end up with different personalities. Each soul is trying to manifest it's personality from the past which is also influenced by the present and so each person tends to be different at a mental and physical level. But we are all the same and equal as souls. No difference at all at the level of the soul which is made in the image of God and is ever existing and immortal. The soul has no birth or death. It merely enters this world to play a brief role and goes back to a non-physical world. It is a cyclic process that is broken when the soul perfects it's love for God and attains union with God.

It is equally easy to dismiss Bahaullah's writings as cultural work and forget about them. If you want to investigate the truth, the best way is to meditate on the spiritual truths and intuitively realise them. The Hindu scriptures don't contain commandments. They simply assert the truths. You can realize them through spiritual effort or reject them out of ignorance. The gain or loss is yours. The truths themselves are not affected. The law of gravity existed even before it was discovered and understood by man. Earth was spherical in shape even when mankind believed it was flat.
 
Last edited:
Aug 2019
86
Berlin
Your argument, that people couldn't remember most events of their lifetime, is a good point, thank you.
Bahaullahs work is also part of a cultural system, his roots can be clear found in the Islamic religion. And in some centuries there will be the same problem like the other religions today. There will be spin-offs of the Bahai religion, based on interpretations, different doctrines and various oppinions. Nobody will know which of these doctrines are near to Bahaullah. Then people has to follow the new manifestation. Already today, after a very short period since Bahaullah has proclaimed his mission, there are distorting translations in the official Bahai literature. Because of this it is not the question if Hinduism don't contain commandments, because also in the theological questions will be different doctrine and answers, sects or spiritual belief systems.
The revelation of Bahaullah is not about new or that he is other than the Manifestations in the past, all manifestations are equal. The revelation of Bahaullah includes the knowledge of the changes of every system during the centuries.
 
Feb 2019
251
Chicago
It appears that most of Bahaullah's writings have not been officially published yet. I am sure they will have many spiritual truths and perhaps most people are not ready for them yet. I suspect Bahaullah was silent on reincarnation because he was already being persecuted for claiming to be a prophet and it would have been blasphemous in Islamic world to promote reincarnation. In one of his yet to be officially published works, Mathnavi Mubarak, Bahaullah clearly states that God is every where ("There is nothing anywhere but God"). This truth is also found in Hindu scriptures revealed many thousands of years ago which is why Hindus worship God through nature also. The truth that God is everywhere would also be blasphemous in the Islamic world. In fact most Baha'i will have a difficult time reconciling with it, I suspect. End of the the day, regardless of what Bahaullah or Krishna may have said, what matters is how much we have realized of what they have said. We may not even understand their teachings correctly.
 

Jcc

Mar 2013
594
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
In an earlier post it was suggested that these verses from the Christian Bible support reincarnation:
I humbly suggest that there are other ways to understand them.

...for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap - Galatians 6:7
— what he does in this life has consequences, both in the physical world and the spiritual world.

....for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword - Matthew 26:52
— refers specifically to the practice of violence which has consequences in this life, which leads both literally and spiritually to death by violence.

“Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? - John 9:2:
—This is a very profound question that leads to considering God’s justice and mercy. In the Old Testament, it says the sins of the fathers are visited on the children to the fourth generation (Exodus20:5), so Jesus might be referring to that belief, but later in th Bible, such as Ezekiel 18, God says that children are not bound by their parent’s sins. And Jesus is helping people understand that. There is nothing to imply sins committed in a past life.


Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out - Revelation 3:12

— shall not go out of the temple, in other words, remain faithful. It has nothing to do with past lives.

What it means is that if you overcome your karma, you will permanently become part of God (reunited) and will not go out in to the world again (reincarnate)

—There is no tradition in Jewish or Christian belief to support this interpretation.