WHAT IS REINCARNATION?

 

         REINCARNATION is derived from the Latin, meaning ‘re-infleshment’, the coming again into a human body of an excarnate human soul. The repetitive re-imbodiment of the reincarnating Human Ego in vehicles of human flesh – this being a special case of the general doctrine of Re-imbodiment. This general doctrine of Re-imbodiment applies not solely to man, but to all centres of consciousness whatsoever, or to all monads whatsoever; wheresoever they may be on the evolutionary ladder of life, and whatsoever may be their particular developmental grade thereon. The meaning of this general doctrine is very simple indeed. It is as follows: every life-consciousness-centre, in other words, every ‘Monad’ or Monadic Essence’, reincorporates itself repeatedly in various vehicles or ‘bodies’. These bodies may be spiritual, or they may be physical, or they may be of a nature intermediate between these two, ie. ethereal. This rule of nature, which applies to all monads without exception, takes place in all the different realms of the visible and invisible universe, and on all its different planes, and in all its different worlds.” – from G. de Purucker Occult Glossary.

 

         IS REINCARNATION TRUE?

 

         According to theosophy, yes. We are repeatedly reborn on Earth taking up another life, using another body of either sex, and with a different  ‘personality’.

 

 

         HOW LONG DO WE HAVE BETWEEN LIVES?

 

         This period varies according to the circumstances of a person’s death, and how attached or otherwise they are to the material world. Typically for the mass of humanity, theosophy tells us that the time of rest between lives is 1,000 to 1,500 years. It may be much shorter for children who die young, those who die from accidents or in wars, those who are strongly attached to the material world, and those committed to service and the cause of spiritual truth may return earlier to speed the spiritual development of humanity. Those not attached to the worldly life may stay away a lot longer.

 

 

         ARE WE EVER REBORN AS AN ANIMAL?

 

         No, that is a common misconception of many religions probably based on the esoteric truth that animals use various ‘life atoms’ of dead human beings. Once an individual has reached the level of complexity of a human being, he or she must reincarnate as a human being to continue to work out the relationships of the past and to develop and grow in an environment of suitable complexity. There are of, course rare exceptions to this general rule. In the case of irretrievably evil human beings, especially ‘black magicians’, they can sink to the level of incarnating in animal bodies.

 

         WHY DON’T I REMEMBER PREVIOUS LIVES?

         It was a different physical brain that recorded details for each of your previous lives, so details are not normally remembered by the ‘new’ brain of this life in detail. It is also the compassion of nature that we don’t remember, as we were presumably at a lower state of spiritual evolution in our former lives, so our deeds then, if remembered in detail, might have a traumatic and damaging effect on our progress in this life. The influences, abilities developed, character, and spiritual lessons learnt of the previous lives remain and in fact are the ‘you’ of this life. However, at the moment of our physical death, and later in the after-death states, we will see past life details and as we progress along on our individual path of spiritual evolution, we come to be able to remember the past lives that we have now forgotten.

 

         WHAT EXACTLY IS IT THAT IS REBORN?

 

         A “higher” spiritual part of us is reborn. Theosophy says that, besides the physical body, the ‘personality’ was left behind at a previous death. Certain of that personalities tendencies, lessons learned, character and pure spirit are assimilated from the previous life and remain with the ‘individual’ to be reborn again. The important distinction is between the ‘personality’ and the ‘individual’. Over the course of many lives, the individuality increases and the personality becomes of less importance. Theosophical books have much more detailed information on this subject. Strictly speaking, we should not say we ‘have’ a soul. Rather, we are a soul and the soul has a body it has acquired and is working through. Part of our task is to become aware of this truth.

 

         DOES REINCARNATION EVER STOP?

 

         Yes and no! From our relative point of view, we are aiming for perfection as human beings. This will take many more incarnations. At a very advanced stage of human spiritual evolution, we may choose to take a well-earned rest, or to return to Earth as a, ‘Bodhisattva’, in order to help suffering humanity trailing along in our evolutionary ‘wake’. But then the cycle simply continues at a higher level. In the largest sense, there is no end to the cycle and no end to increasing perfection.

 

         WHAT IS THE POINT OF REINCARNATION?

 

         Our souls are all part of one soul. At root we are one. Brotherhood is an actual fact in nature when we look at underlying reality. Each of these seemingly separate individualities gains experiences, learns lesson, and ultimately, the consciousness of the Universe gains increasing experience, increases in relative perfection, and increases in self-consciousness.

 

         HOW DO YOU KNOW ALL THIS IS TRUE?

 

         We can observe the cycle of ebb and flow, activity and rest everywhere in nature. Do you think human beings are any exception? Several researchers have conducted ‘past life regression’ through hypnosis and found people speaking of former lives, and there are many famous cases of where the details of such alleged former lives have been found to be accurate. Much of theosophical teaching is based on the learning of the Masters of Wisdom who have ventured self-consciously into the after-death states and taught us ordinary people what they have observed to be true there.

 

 

BOOKS ON REINCARNATION

 

         Some books in our library and bookshop on reincarnation:

 

         Leoline L.Wright Reincarnation: a lost chord in modern thought. This is a really good introduction to the whole subject from a theosophical perspective.

 

         Any of the series of books by Sylvia Cranston on the subject of reincarnation give more detailed information from many different perspectives:

 

         Reincarnation: the phoenix fire mystery; Reincarnation: a new horizon in science, religion and society; Reincarnation: an east-west anthology.

 

         William Quan Judge The scope of reincarnation.

 

         G de Purucker The Esoteric Tradition Vol. 2, pages 593 to 704.

 

         Reincarnation is explored by several authors in a special issue of our magazine Sunrise: Sleep, Death and Rebirth: Gateways of Life. November 1980.

 

         The author wishes to acknowledge the ideas and content of the following website in the production of this FAQ:

 

         http://www.blavatsky.net/topics/reincarnation/reincarnation.htm