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A Case for Reincarnation

Originally posted on Shamagaia:

'2'_Dharma_Wheel,_The_Wheel_of_Life_at_Sun_Temple_Konark,_Orissa_India_February_2014

Wheel of Life: Sun Temple, Konark Orissa, India 2014

“The Journey of a thousand miles begin begins with a single step.”
Lao Tzu

A healing journey which had begun with Japanese herbal remedies from the super-market, now had me lying on a padded table in the treatment room of a certified Japanese Reiki master. He had been silently removing what I then only had the vocab to describe as, “dirty big knots of bad mojo,” from my energy meridians. Dredging me up from the depths of a sublime state of semi-consciousness, he intoned casually: “You lived a past life in Japan, about one thousand years ago.”

Later that week, after a few pints of beer down at a local bar, I decided to hazard a half-humorous retelling of the Reiki master’s claim to a group of my foreign teaching buddies: bad idea. A couple of them laughed their asses off…

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Confessions of a Skeptic

The reincarnation of Elizabeth: Vincent Bernier

The reincarnation of Elizabeth: Vincent Bernier via Flickr

By Ken Gross

How shall I put this? I do not believe in reincarnation. Not in this lifetime. I think Fitzgerald got it right; there are no second acts. One day I will die and that will be that.

Thus stands like a rock my unflinching opinion on the subject.

So, when my agent — who believes in everything except me — asked me to write a book about reincarnation, I said, “Sure.”

Why pick a hard-core skeptic, a journalist, (for God’s sake!), a Cassandra marinated in the smoky cynicism of H.L. Mencken to write a book about something as gauzy and hopeful as faith. It would be like turning the rationalist fox (no relation to the irrational media Fox) loose in the paranormal henhouse?

Obviously, he needed a doubting Thomas, a disbeliever, a cranky cynic to demonstrate that the fix wasn’t in. Who better to vouch for the integrity of Disney World than a certified grouch?

And then there’s this interesting other question: why would I take such a job?

The answer is simple. I don’t know. I do like to look into forbidden rooms, I watch Hannity (just to scream at the set), I poke at a sore tooth. I once told Ed Koch how I thought he was doing; (he didn’t appreciate the opinion, but as I always say, don’t ask and I won’t tell.)

Who should ghost the book? Bridey Murphy? Some gullible slave to the outré opinions of the occult?

No, me, a reliable nay-sayer. I saw my duty and backward into the past I marched.

There was, of course, a catch. In order to do this book, I would have to sort of “pass over,” in a manner of speaking. That is, the child who is the subject of this book lived in Lafayette, Louisiana — the Deep South — a part of the country in which I have had more than one near-death experience.

In 1971, when I was a reporter for Newsday on Long Island, I rode with Charlie Evers (the brother of the slain NAACP civil rights leader, Medgar Evers,) as he campaigned for governor of Mississippi. We rode all over the Mississippi Delta and as we drove across the exposed highway, I heard the sound of bullets whizzing past our windshield. Snipers in the trees. Charlie kept a loaded pistol on the seat of the car in case we got a flat. A spare tire in that part of Mississippi in the early ’70’s was not enough.

So that’s how I remembered the south. With fear and disbelief.

But this was 2007 and James Leininger lived in the quiet coastal plain of Louisiana — a town called Lafayette. There were no Obama posters, but there were storefront poker palaces and fast-food stretches and a decent hotel. (At one chicken restaurant, as I waited in line for lunch, the manager loudly fired the entire staff, then came out and asked if anyone on the line wanted a job. I went to find a McDonald’s.)

Bruce and Andrea Leininger were a handsome couple. Not unsophisticated. She had been a ballet dancer in New York and he studied political science at Columbia University under Zbigniew Brzezinski. Now he was working in human relations in the oil industry.

When I got down there, and we started to work on the book, they did not have a clear idea of how this story unfolded — just that something miraculous had taken place to their son James under their roof. It was a painful and awkward process — putting it all together, getting the sequences right, checking out the details, finding the right structure. Together, we drew up timelines and made charts and put it down on paper:

In the year 2000, when James had just turned two, he began to shout in his sleep — not always coherent — but it seemed to be about a World War II pilot killed in the battle of Iwo Jima. At first, it was just a kid having nightmares. But slowly, over a period of time, the child, James Leininger, began to deliver incredible accurate details, speak coherently, add uncanny facts — minutiae about the pilot — James Huston — his life and history. The information he divulged was of such breadth and diversity that it became impossible to dismiss, and even now, even as I still do not believe in reincarnation, I have no reasonable explanation for that unwinding story.

I’ve heard people say, oh, he must have been coached, or influenced by watching TV. But this was a child in his diapers, still sucking on a bottle. How could he be coached to know the flight characteristics of World War II era fighter planes? How could he know the names of the ships and the sailors who had taken part in a certain battle at a certain time?

James Leininger had been examined and tested by Carol Bowman, an authority on the subject of children who have supposedly experienced “past lives.” She vouched for his authenticity. James had already appeared on television (a media vetting that has popular, if not scientific standing), and was recognized by the paranormal community as the most authentic case of an American “past life.” Children experiencing “past lives” is a well-established (albeit controversial) field of paranormal studies. Several universities have departments devoted solely to its study.

It was always Bruce’s intention to debunk his son’s story. He was an evangelical Christian and thought that proof of reincarnation would damage his faith — one life, one soul, everlasting. Andrea accepted her son’s claims and didn’t attach any particular religious significance to the whole thing. But Bruce was dogged. Over time, he found that there was an annual reunion of members of the ship that his son had named as his own in his sleep. If he could prove that there were no Corsairs (the plane that James insisted he had flown in the war), he would have made his case that the story was not true and his faith was safe. Bruce began to attend the reunions of surviving crew members of Natoma Bay — an escort carrier that took part in the battle. He gathered up facts, all confirming the data fed by his son James, all also confirming that there were no Corsairs on Natoma Bay. He held onto that discrepancy as a holy chalice.

But something odd happened. During the course of his quest to debunk the story, Andrea tracked down the families of the dead crew members and eventually found James Huston’s sister, Ann. The sister had never had any contact with the ship or with the reunions. Still, she was curious about James Leininger, and, finally, sympathetic to his claims to be her brother. She was old and it was hard for her to travel from California, however, so she sent a batch of photographs of her brother taken during the war. And in a couple of the photographs, there was James Huston standing in front of a Corsair.

There were other odd things — when she sent James Leininger a drawing that her mother made of James Huston — the child asked where was the other picture? The other picture — buried up in the attic for sixty years — was a drawing of Ann. Her mother had made two drawings when they were children. How could James Leininger have known that? Ann was stunned. No one knew about that other picture. Except her dead brother.

As I say, I don’t believe in reincarnation. I hardly believe in carnation. I am a secular, rationalist skeptic. But I have no reasonable explanation for James Leininger/Huston.

©2009 Ken Gross, co-author of Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot

About the Author:

Ken Gross, co-author of Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot, is a novelist and nonfiction writer who lives in Brooklyn, New York.

For more information please visit http://www.soulsurvivor-book.com

Article Source: ArticlesBase.comConfessions of a Skeptic


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Changing Gender, Religion and Reincarnation

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By Rabbi Allen Maller

If people reincarnate, they usually do so within their own religion, gender and culture. But there are always some who change one, two, or even three of these categories.

According to the Kabbalah -the Jewish mystical tradition – some Jewish souls are born into non-Jewish families, because one of their parents had a Jewish ancestor three or four generations previously.

When those people return to Judaism they of course, change religion and culture. And sometimes they change their gender too; for when a Jewish man marries a non-Jewish woman and helps to raise his children in a non-Jewish religion, after his death, his soul will reincarnate (Gilgul in Hebrew) in one of his own female descendants three or four generations later, and then be drawn toward becoming a Jewish male again.

Take as a example Kadin Henningsen, who grew up female and Methodist in the Midwest. As a preteen she was inexplicably drawn to Judaism, empathizing with Jewish characters in Holocaust documentaries on TV.

Then in junior high, Henningsen had a revelation while reading Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen”: “I remember thinking I was supposed to grow up to be a Jewish man.”

Less than two decades later, the premonition came true. At 30, Henningsen transitioned genders and converted to Judaism, all within the span of a single summer. “It was a circular process,” he said. “The more entrenched I became in Jewish knowledge, the more comfortable I started to feel with my masculine identity.”

Henningsen’s conversion certificates were the first documents that referred to him with male pronouns. Today, at 35, he is an active member of Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim, a Reform congregation in Los Angeles.

According to Naomi Zeveloff’s article in the Jewish Daily Forward (8/16/13) Henningsen is not alone in his trajectory. Transgender converts constitute a growing minority within the small community of LGBT Jews. For some transgender converts conversion was intrinsically linked to gender transition; the process of soul-searching unearthed one insight after another.

For others, Judaism was a lifeline during a time of immense vulnerability and isolation. When friends and family members grew distant, transgender individuals found community at the Hillel House or at a local synagogue.

Some transgender converts to Judaism came from strong Christian backgrounds and wanted to supplant their childhood religion with one that would be more accepting of their new gender identity. Others came to Judaism from a nonreligious background.

“In one way it is a search for personal authenticity,” said Rabbi Jane Litman, a congregational consultant with the Reconstructionist movement who has converted close to two dozen transgender Jews. “People who are transitioning in terms of gender are looking for a way to feel most authentically themselves.”

Jesse Krikorian, a 24-year-old engineer, began exploring Judaism as a senior at Swarthmore College, shortly after she began her gender transition.

Unhappy with her decision to take hormones, her parents threatened to withdraw their financial support. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, and there was a lot of chaos and uncertainty,” he later recounted. “I found that I really needed community and ritual and all those good things.”

Though he was raised Methodist, Krikorian was always interested in the Old Testament. A visit to the campus Hillel confirmed that Judaism might provide him with the community he was seeking: The Hillel director at the time, Jacob Lieberman, was also a transgender man. “I didn’t have any questions of whether I could be transgender and Jewish,” Krikorian said. “It was really clear that the combination could work.”

Krikorian attended Friday night services at Hillel each week and began to recite a prayer about transformation each time he bound his chest to appear more masculine. After graduating from college, he moved to Philadelphia. There he joined Kol Tzedek, a Reconstructionist synagogue. He converted in June, and hopes to go to rabbinical school.

Unlike Buddhism and Hinduism, Kabbalah does not teach that reincarnation (gilgul) occurs over the course of millions of years to millions of different sentient species.

According to Kabbalah, only the souls of self conscious moral creatures like human beings reincarnate; and they reincarnate only when they have not fulfilled the purpose of their creation in their present incarnation.

Since Judaism is an optimistic religion, Kabbalists teach that most people can accomplish their life’s purpose in one or two lifetimes. A few souls may need as many as 3-7 lifetimes.

The bright souls of great religious figures like Moses or Miriam can turn into a dozen or more sparks that may each reincarnate several times.

The tragic souls of Jews whose children or grandchildren have been cut off from the Jewish people, either through persecution or conversion to another religion, will reincarnate as one of their no longer Jewish descendants.

These souls will seek to return to the Jewish people, and a majority of people who end up converting (or reverting) to Judaism and the Jewish people have Jewish souls from one of their ancestors.

It is possible to see this form of reincarnation occurring in the world today in the experience of thousands of non-Jews who become Jewish.

Image via Tumblr

Every human on earth has 8 great grandparents and 16 great great grandparents. Each of these 24 individuals contributes an equal amount of genetic material to each of their descendants. Nevertheless, brothers or sisters who share the same 24 ancestors do not have identical genomes.

Unless they are identical twins their physical, mental and personality traits always differ, sometimes greatly, from their siblings who share the same physical genetic heritage.

This difference is the result of the unique physical combination of genes that occurs at conception; and the unique soul-personality that enters the body sometime during the second trimester.

Every year many hundreds of people find out that one or two of their 24 great grandparents and great great grandparent ancestors might have been Jewish.

For most of them this discovery is an interesting fact of little significance. For many of them it might be an embarrassment to be ignored.

But for some of them; initial curiosity becomes a life changing discovery. They feel drawn to Jewish people and seek to learn about Jewish music, food, literature, culture and religion. They feel more and more attached in some mysterious way to the Holocaust and the struggle of Israel to live in peace in the Middle East.

Many of these people eventually are led to become Jewish either by formal conversion or by informal reversion within Reform synagogues.

According to a mystical 14th century Jewish Kabbalistic teaching found in Sefer HaPliyah, those people who do feel this powerful attraction to Jewish things and Jewish people, have a Jewish soul that is a reincarnation (gilgul) of one of their own Jewish ancestors from 3-7 generations in the past.

That explains why they react to the discovery of some Jewish heritage in such a unusual way. It also explains why some people who do not even know that they have Jewish ancestors follow a similar path; and only discover a Jewish ancestor years after they have returned to the Jewish people.

The Hebrew word for reincarnation- gilgul, means recycling. Many people are born with new souls; they are here for the first time. Others have a soul that has lived on this planet before. Most people do not reincarnate after their life on this earth is over.

Of those who do reincarnate, most do so in one of their own descendants. Most non-Jews who end up becoming Jewish; especially now after the Jewish people have experienced several generations of assimilation, marriage to non-Jews, or hiding from anti-semitism , are descendants of people whose children, in one way or another, have been cut off from the Jewish People. Among their non-Jewish descendants a few will inherit a Jewish soul that will lead them to return to the Jewish people.

Leiah Moser, a 31-year-old student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, wrote on her blog about why “being transgender is a lot like being a convert to Judaism.”

Many people who convert to Judaism do so out of a sense that they were born with a Jewish soul and that only now they are finally coming home,” she wrote. “Being trans is also all about that uncomfortable separation between your truest soul and the outward circumstances of your birth.”

Moser, who grew up in a secular home, traces her interest in Judaism to reading “Yearnings” by Rabbi Irwin Kula. The book describes Judaism as a faith that embraces rigorous skepticism and questioning, a tenet that resonates with many trans folks.

When she moved to Tulsa, Okla., she sought out a Conservative synagogue to begin the process of conversion. “That initial period of finding a synagogue community and getting plugged in and becoming engaged in the Jewish traditions sort of had an air of inevitability, of rediscovery of something I had forgotten, even though I had never discovered it before,” Moser said.

“I think that is an experience that a lot of Jewish converts have, the uncanny experience of feeling more at home in this environment that they were incredibly new to.”

Moser began her gender transition last year, after her first year of rabbinical school. She began to experience her new religion in a new way, shedding certain traditions that were typically assigned to men, and embracing aspects of Jewish femininity.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com


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China Bans Reincarnation Without Government Permission

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China Bans Reincarnation Without Government Permission www.huffingtonpos…

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Farewell to karma

your karma is leaking by Robin

your karma is leaking by Robin via Flickr

© Michael Clark 2013

Can you hear me (can you hear me)
Through the spaces (through the spaces)
Wondering in this wonderland…

Appleton

Reincarnation

Reincarnation is an ancient idea that some folks love and others find dangerous. Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Taoists and many New Age enthusiasts from around the world believe in reincarnation.

Theories about reincarnation take several forms but, generally speaking, the idea can be summed up as follows: The soul enters creation like a spark from a fire, beginning a long journey through life with only a rudimentary level of awareness. As the soul passes through repeated cycles of bodily death and rebirth, it gradually increases in knowledge and goodness until it eventually achieves perfection. Once perfected, the soul is liberated from worldly suffering and desire as it breaks free from the chain of death and rebirth. At this point, the soul is no longer unique nor bound by time—instead, it merges with the eternal godhead.

But again, there’s more than one school of reincarnation. Some Indian schools of philosophy differ on its finer points. Ramanuja (1017-1137 CE), for instance, forwarded the notion of ‘qualified monism’ where the soul retains a sense of individuality and rests – as opposed to merges – within the godhead. And most schools of Buddhism say there never was any reincarnating soul in the first place, only the illusion of one. Buddhists believe that enlightenment means ridding oneself of a panoply of false beliefs, including those of self, soul, God and individuality.¹

Karma Defined

Karma is a Sanskrit term that means “deed.” Essentially, karma is the accumulated merit and demerit of one’s past life actions. Morally good and bad deeds add up on a kind of cosmic balance sheet. Good deeds bring future benefits. Bad deeds bring misfortune and suffering.

But it’s not quite that simple because in theistic religions (religions that believe in a deity or deities) God’s grace can mitigate the negative effects of bad karma. And even though Buddhists see God as a mere conceptual construct instead of an all-powerful being, some Buddhist schools claim that the compassionate gaze of the bodhisattva is similar to the idea of God’s grace. Not unlike an all-powerful creator God, the bodhisattva may lessen the negative impact of bad karma.

Karma Transfer

Many Indian gurus claim that negative karma can transfer from a disciple to a teacher. Karma mystically “flies,” they say, from less to more pure souls. This transfer of bad karma may be experienced by the pure soul in various ways. Spiritual “pollution” is a term many gurus use to describe these impure spiritual elements that they’ve reportedly picked up from their disciples.

One of the more well-known examples of an Indian holy man who claims to have picked up bad karma from his disciples is found in the figure of Sri Ramakrishna (1836-86). Ramakrishna claimed that his subtle body became festered with sores after receiving spiritually impure visitors. In essence, Ramakrishna believes he took others’ karma onto himself.²

Demonic Deception

Some people are convinced that they have had past lives and it is conceivable that they have. But it’s also possible that they interpret unusual experiences so as to believe in reincarnation when in actual fact they haven’t had any past lives at all.

In addition to alleged ‘flashbacks’ and ‘past life regressions,’ we hear stories about individuals claiming to have located objects in distant countries they’ve never visited. And some speak of esoteric but seemingly rational connections from a past to a present life, as if there’s a great mystical thread weaving everything together, time after time.

But none of this proves their belief in past lives. Another explanation is that these believers are being deceived by a demonic influence. The idea of demonic deception probably sounds a bit less weird today with the success of TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural. And if it does sound weird, it’s arguably no less strange than the idea of reincarnation, which so many seem to readily accept.

Discernment

One of the most valuable ideas found in theology is that of discernment. In one sense discernment is described as a gift and developed ability where one learns to differentiate among

  1. Evil spiritual influences
  2. Divine spiritual influences
  3. One’s true self

Father Edward Malatesta, S. J. writes on the deeper, fuller meaning of discernment.

By the discernment of spirits is meant the process by which we examine, in the light of faith and in the connaturality of love, the nature of the spiritual states we experience in ourselves and in others. The purpose of such examination is to decide, as far as possible, which of the movements we experience lead us to the Lord and to a more perfect service of Him and our brothers, and which deflect us from this goal.³

However, a very real problem arises. Many people claim to discern but their alleged messages from the Divine often prove to be false or at odds with others also claiming to discern the true light and will of God. In fact, ‘discernment’ may degenerate into nothing more than taking an alarmist view of issues one doesn’t understand, projecting bad habits and transferring unsavory psychological contents onto scapegoats. Needless to say, this has little, if anything, to do with mature discernment and is arguably the dynamic of an overzealous, hypocritical or underdeveloped personality.4

But to return to the idea of reincarnation, many believers say that destructive personality traits carry over from past to present lives. Within Catholic mystical theology, however, bad things experienced in one’s present life could be taken as evidence of demonic obsession or possession. In the Catholic sense, obsession is the unhealthy and significant influence of evil spiritual powers or beings, whereas possession is a permanent, temporary or sporadic loss of self-control due to spiritual attack.

Catholicism has no need to postulate past lives when obsession and possession explain just as well, if not better, what reincarnationalists attribute to bad karma.

Keeping An Eye On Time by Ian Foss via Flickr

Rethinking Space-Time

Another way to explain the unusual experiences often taken as evidence for reincarnation involves recent theories in subatomic physics. Instead of falling prey to demonic deception, it’s possible that sensitive individuals might be piercing through the veil of space-time and wrongly interpreting this as proof for reincarnation.

According to recent subatomic cosmologies, past, present and future don’t necessarily follow a one-way vector nor do we experience linear time at a consistent rate. Instead, past, present and future apparently exist in an interactive field. That is, space-time is regarded as a continuum.

In his book Deep Time the physicist and astronomer David Darling says that questions about the origins of the universe are misleading because past, present and future exist in a unified loop.

Surely there had to have been some special point of origin? But no. What was needed was a more panoramic view in which the universe, past, present, and future, was seen as having always been there–a permanent, all-encompassing, space-time eternity. Of course, it was natural for man, whose left-brain consciousness produced the illusion of “passing” time to think of past and future as somehow different in status. To dwell, moreover, on that elusive moment called now which transformed the potentiality of future events into the actuality of the past. But “now” was, in truth, only a chimera. Every point in space and time coexisted with equal importance. The future was there from the beginning as surely as was the past.5

Like Darling, many theologians, mystics, philosophers and artists speak to the possibility of intimate connections among space, time and eternity. The German mystic Meister Eckhart (1260-1327) wrote:

The now wherein God made the first man, and the now wherein the last man disappears, and the now I am speaking in, all are the same in God, where this is but the now.

But to say, as Darling does, that the past still exists and the future is already ‘out there’ doesn’t sit well with most theologians. For them it’s more sagacious to say that God simply knows the past (which no longer exists) and the future (which does not yet exist). And we can only wonder if these theologians are merely regimented and afraid of change or whether their caution is merited.

Part of the problem here relates to how one defines God. Natural pantheists say that God’s mind is the universe, while theistic schools maintain that the mind and creation of God are very different.

Reason to Believe

Roderick Main, a leading scholar on Carl Jung, says Jung “concludes that under certain psychic conditions time and space can both become relative and can even appear to be transcended altogether.”6 We can’t know for sure if the past and the future exist right now, but we can at least consider the possibility that they do, and moreover, that they influence or even interact with our lives as experienced in the present.

Individuals perhaps genetically predisposed for a different kind of sensitivity could be more attuned to other time periods and souls living therein.If all events potentially interact within space-time and eternity, this would mean that, along a horizontal axis,  the present influences the future and the past.

But another axis is needed to account for the moral dimension. Choices made in the present could also impact not just the past and future (horizontal axis), but those choices involving ethics could perhaps influence various heavens and hells, which could be represented as a vertical axis. For instance, when we do bad things Satan and his demons are devilishly delighted while the angels and saints in heaven are struck with sorrow. Traditional, maybe. But possible.

This notion of horizontal (time) and vertical axes (ethics) helps to conceptualize things but shouldn’t be taken as an absolute or complete schema. We could, in fact, simplify this model by hypothesizing that each aspect of space-time-eternity has a potential influence on all other points.8

This interactive, multidimensional model no doubt challenges conventional assumptions about life, the afterlife, past and future.9 It cannot be proved through conventional forms of experimentation10 but those experiencing unusual psychological phenomena could interpret their experiences according to this model. Along these lines, the Protestant theologian Paul Tillich distinguishes experiential from experimental verification.

In experiential verification we cannot quantify data and construct repeatable experiments, but we can make observation, accumulate knowledge, and learn from our experience.11

Of course, there’s a problem here that might never be fully overcome but only improved upon. This is the problem of extricating oneself from one’s current beliefs and related theoretical constructions.

In such a reflection on the ultimate in hermeneutics of the subject matter, the writer will be undoubtedly influenced by his/her own hermeneutics and idea of ultimate reality and meaning. This may lead to an unwarranted conclusion specially if one’s own hermeneutic of ultimate reality and meaning is not consciously differentiated from that of the other. But one-sidedness can be remedied in certain degree by inviting more than one specialist to study the same topic.12

Taking this into consideration, the multidimensional model still seems more current and flexible than the ancient belief in reincarnation. Although some people try to justify their religious beliefs by saying they’re ancient and predate other religions, this argument doesn’t make much sense. Just because something is ancient doesn’t make it true. And from the standpoint of ethics, the current schema doesn’t allow for the avoidance of personal responsibility on the basis of hypothesized karma from equally hypothesized past lives.13

One of the most striking features this author has noticed when trying to have intelligent conversations with some believers in karma is their complete unwillingness to step away from their belief structures and consider alternatives. Some believers in reincarnation seem just as dogmatic and intransigent as extremists of any kind, be they materialists, environmentalists, fundamentalists, liberals or conservatives. However, the history of science demonstrates time and again that this kind of clannish unthinking and following the crowd rarely paves the way for better theory.

Conclusion

The above may seem to focus on esoteric points of little or no practical value. But considering human evolution and our existence within the extended universe, can we really afford, morally and economically, to stop developing cosmology? Old, outmoded models usually hurt innocent people and waste collective resources. Perhaps the only way to change this sad state of affairs is to change our deeply ingrained ways of looking at things.

Instead of clinging to the past, multidimensional theory combines science, religion and philosophy in a new kind of holism more appropriate to 21st-century challenges. This new approach could have a tremendous impact on education, psychiatry and religion, to name a few areas. But first, the keepers of the keys must be willing to see that change is sorely needed.

1. Buddhists speak of becoming ensnared in cycles of rebirth but anatman theory says that the very notion of the soul is illusory. Therefore reincarnation doesn’t really occur. It only seems to occur until one is liberated from a false belief in individuality.

2. The subtle body is described as an inner spiritual body. For more about Ramakrishna see http://earthpages.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/karma-transfer. In Christianity we find a similar idea to karma transfer. Saint Kowalska (1905-38) writes that she received the sins of others, suffering dearly to prevent their ending up in hell. In Catholicism this brings to mind the idea of “victim souls” who suffer mostly for the benefit of others, an idea popular in certain Catholic circles. The main difference between the ideas of victim souls and karma transfer is that most Christians don’t believe in reincarnation.

3. Thomas H. Green S. J., Weeds Among the Wheat – Discernment: Where Prayer and Action Meet, Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1984, p. 41). If we’re all imperfect, the development of true discernment is probably a lifelong process. Some believe that the Holy Spirit can override personal biases–i.e. an imperfect person makes a perfect discernment. We can also differentiate between (a) the initial discernment and (b) one’s reaction to and interpretation of that discernment.

4. Those political and religious figures behind the Inquisitions and the cruel torture of so-called witches in the Middle Ages would fall into this juvenile and horrific personality type.

5. (a) David Darling, Deep Time (New York: Delacorte Press, 1989), pp. 187-188.

6. Roderick Main. Jung on Synchroncity and the Paranormal (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), p. 18.

7. Subjects whose brainwaves are measured during meditative states reportedly feel as if they travel though time. However, it’s possible (if one is willing to consider that departed souls could influence the living) that one could confuse the presence of a departed person for the presence of a person living in another historical time period, and vice versa.

8. By way of contrast, the Cambridge biochemist Rupert Sheldrake says in Dog’s That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home that past habits, not the future, influence the present (New York: Crown Publishers, 1999: 305).

9. The idea of multidimensionality was forwarded by Jane Roberts with some interesting differences, most notably Roberts’ advocacy of interactive parallel universes and correspondingly rainbow-like variations of the self.

10. (a) This would not upset the Austrian philosopher of science Karl Popper. Popper says that scientific statements cannot be proved, only disproved. Of course, Popper’s assertion is open to various avenues of debate, beyond the scope of this article.
(b) George P. Hansen recounts a lab experiment that could be taken as support for the idea of the future influencing the present. See George P. Hansen, The Trickster and the Paranormal (Xlibris, 2001: 328-336, 342).

11. Tillich cited in Andrew J. Peck, Tibor Horvarth et. al., eds. American Philosophers’ Ideas of Ultimate Reality and Meaning. URAM Monographs, No. 1. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994, p. 7. Several branches of Western philosophy challenge the distinction between experimental and experiential verification–for instance, Solipsism, Berkeley’s Idealism and, to some extent, John Locke’s critique of “secondary qualities.”

12. Ibid., p. 10.

13. It should be noted that conscientious believers in the idea of reincarnation say we must make positive choices to overcome bad karma. And, again, most believe that God’s grace can lessen the negative effects of bad karma. But still, the idea of karma is often abused around the world in a unforgivable attempt to legitimize disparity and other social problems.

Further Readings about Time

Benford, Gregory, Timescape (Bantam, 1992). A sci-fi novel informed by scientists.

Flood, Raymond and Michael Lockwood (eds.), The Nature of Time (Blackwell, 1988).

Hawking, Stephen, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (Bantam, 1990).

Paige, Huw, Time’s Arrow and Archimedes’ Point: New Directions for the Physics of Time (Oxford, 1996).

Farewell to karma © Michael Clark, 2013.


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EVIDENCE OF REINCARNATION FROM NON-JEWS WHO BECOME JEWISH

Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur

Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur via Wikipedia

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

An unusual form of evidence for reincarnation comes from the Jewish mystical tradition; the Kabbalah. Unlike Buddhism and Hinduism, Kabbalah does not teach that reincarnation (gilgul) occurs over the course of millions of years to millions of different sentient species. According to Kabbalah, only the souls of self conscious moral creatures like human beings reincarnate; and they reincarnate only when they have not fulfilled the purpose of their creation. Since Judaism is an optimistic religion, most Kabbalists teach that most people can accomplish their life’s purpose in one or two lifetimes. A few souls may take 3-5 lifetimes or more. The bright souls of great religious figures like Moses or Miriam can turn into dozens of sparks that reincarnate several times. The tragic souls of Jews whose children have been cut off from the Jewish people, either through persecution or conversion to another religion, will reincarnate as one of their no longer Jewish descendants. These souls will seek to return to the Jewish people, and a majority of people who end up converting (or reverting) to Judaism and the Jewish people have Jewish souls from one of their ancestors.

Every human on earth has 8 great grandparents and 16 great great grandparents. Each of these 24 individuals contributes an equal amount of genetic material to their descendants. Nevertheless, brothers or sisters who share the same 24 ancestors do not have identical genomes. Unless they are identical twins their physical, mental and personality traits always differ, sometimes greatly, from siblings who share the same physical genetic heritage. This difference is the result of the unique physical combination of genes that occurs at conception; and the unique soul that enters the body sometime during the second trimester.

Every year many hundreds of people find out that one or two of their 24 ancestors might have been Jewish.. For most of them this discovery is an interesting fact of little significance. For many of them it might be an embarrassment to be ignored. But for some of them it becomes a life changing discovery. They feel drawn to Jewish people and seek to learn about Jewish music, food, literature, culture and religion. They feel more and more attached in some mysterious way to the Holocaust and the struggle of Israel to live in peace in the Middle East. Many of these people eventually are led to become Jewish either by formal conversion or by informal reversion within Reform synagogues.

According to a mystical 14th century Jewish Kabbalistic teaching found in Sefer HaPliyah, those people who do feel this powerful attraction to Jewish things and Jewish people, have Jewish souls that are reincarnations ( a gilgul) of one of their own Jewish ancestors from 3-7 generations in the past. That explains why they react to the discovery of some Jewish heritage in such a unusual way. It also explains why some people who do not even know that they have Jewish ancestors follow a similar path; and only discover a Jewish ancestor years after they have returned to the Jewish people.

The Hebrew word for reincarnation is gilgul which means recycling. Many people are born with new souls who are here for the first time. Others have a soul that has lived on this planet before.Many people do not reincarnate after their life on this earth is over. Most people who end up becoming Jewish, especially now, after the Jewish people have experienced several generations of assimilation, marriage to non-Jews, hiding from anti-semitism and outright genocide, are descendants of people whose children, in one way or another, have been cut off from the Jewish People. Among their non-Jewish descendants a few will inherit a Jewish soul that will seek to return to the Jewish people.

If you think you might have an ancestor who was Jewish, but no one in your family seems to know, you can use a introspective personality and character test to give you some hints.

1- Do you like to ask questions especially about religion? But when you asked them as a child, you were told faith is a gift from God and you shouldn’t question it. This never satisfied you, although others didn’t question it.

2- The trinity never made any sense to you even as a young child. You prayed to God the father more easily than Jesus, the son of God, even though you were told to pray to Jesus. You never could believe that people who didn’t believe in Jesus couldn’t go to Heaven.

3- On first learning of the Holocaust you reacted more emotionally than your friends or other members of your family. You feel some sense of connection with the Jewish struggle to defend Israel.

4- You have an attraction to Jewish people, or to Judaism and Jewish culture. You have always been more  open to people who were culturally, nationally or religiously different from your own family, than your friends or class mates.

If you answer yes to three of these four items you probably have Jewish ancestors. Many, but not all, people who answer yes to all four items will be interested in learning more about their Jewish roots. If you become very interested in studying Judaism you might have a Jewish soul. According to Jewish mystical teachings (Kabbalah), many (not all) people reincarnate after they die. This is especially true for Jews who died and had no Jewish children who survived them (Sefer HaPliyah). Their souls reincarnate in one of their non-Jewish descendants who is drawn to: Jewish things, Jewish people and Judaism.

If the following item also applies to you, you certainly have a Jewish soul.

5- When you start to learn about Judaism: the ideas and values seem reasonable to you; the traditions and heritage are very attractive to you; and the non-Jews around you, and you yourself, are surprised that you slowly come to feel that you are coming home.

Author’s Website: http://rabbimaller.com


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Reincarnation: A New Look at an Old Idea – Part 4

Inferno | Hell by Daniele Margaroli

Inferno | Hell by Daniele Margaroli

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Hell – Temporary or Eternal?

Another difference between the belief and non-belief in reincarnation has to do with the Christian view of hell.

Many adherents of reincarnation say hell is a temporary state where bad actions are punished and souls are educated in a kind of cosmic classroom. Souls learn how their actions harmed self and others by actually seeing the effects of their choices.

But once the lessons are learned, these souls are given another chance with a new birth. And so the cycle continues until the soul reaches absolute perfection.

This sounds great. And some say that we can do whatever we want and it doesn’t really matter.¹

In sharp contrast, the vast majority of Christians believe we have only one life. In Catholicism hell is no temporary schoolroom but an everlasting state without any hope for deliverance.²

While direct biblical opposition to reincarnation is fairly rare, Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, often uphold the following as proof that they’re right.

Just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time… (Hebrews 9:27-28)

And St. Thomas Aquinas adds this slightly less direct passage:

Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose of election might continue, not by works but by his call) she was told, “The elder shall serve the younger” (Romans 9:11-12)

Individuality, the Body and Heaven

Reincarnation theory also differs from Christian theology when it comes to the resurrection of the body–this being the belief that the individual soul and a glorified body eventually unite after death.

Many adherents of reincarnation see ultimate liberation in terms of the disappearance of an illusory sense of individuality. Instead of truly becoming oneself, the personal self and subtle spiritual body (or bodies) eventually merge into the absolute. At this point one loses all individuality and becomes supreme bliss.³

Most reincarnation theories outline astral realms and heavens but these are only temporary rest stops for the soul journeying toward undifferentiated bliss in the absolute.

This clearly differs from Christian belief. For Christians, heaven is an everlasting reward for the blessed who behold God’s glory while retaining their created individuality.

Generally speaking we could say that reincarnation theory looks at ultimate reality in terms of the soul falling into God like a drop falls into the ocean. Whereas non-reincarnation perspectives see the soul as getting close to God, basking in God and even interceding for God, but never becoming God.

The World at our Fingertips

Reincarnation is an imaginative and intriguing theory within the history of ideas.

Ironically, many are willing to believe in reincarnation – the strange idea that we leave our bodies and enter another one – but feel that contemporary paranormal ideas are too far fetched for serious consideration.

Perhaps this bias is partly due to the ancient nature of reincarnation theory. Old feels safe. And ancient traditions are often passed off as having automatic authenticity just because they’re old.

But that’s not a scientific approach. It’s a political and ideological one.

Indeed, some seem to forget that reincarnation is just a theory. But shouldn’t we be making newer, better theory considering all the scientific advances and fresh philosophical ideas at our fingertips today?

¹ See Matthew 7:15, 24:11, 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2 Peter 2:1.

² Catholics do, however, believe in purgatory but this is a place for venial sins and forgiven mortal sins. Mortal sins unforgiven at the time of death result in the soul’s permanent estrangement from God– that is, eternal hell.

³ The psychiatrist C. G. Jung saw the ego as the highpoint of Western civilization and objected to this by asking, who experiences this bliss if the individual no longer exists? Ram Dass replied by saying that Jung was afraid to move past identifying with the comfortable social role of “psychiatrist.”

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Copyright © Michael Clark. All rights reserved.

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