Reincarnation: Is There Life After Death?
“I laugh at what you call dissolution,
and I know the amplitude of time…
And as to you Life,
I recon you are the leavings of
(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.)”
– Walt Whitman
One of the questions that has vexed Mankind since the beginning of time is “What will happen to me when I die?”.
Some people think that “when you are dead you are dead”, that there is NO “afterlife”, only a final loss of consciousness and extinction of all one once was. Others believe that people have “souls”, a part of their conscious mind that keeps on living and is aware of its surroundings. These “souls” usually go to a “spirit world” unless they become “Earthbound” and, in this case, are called “ghosts”. Still others believe, while there is a “soul”, it is simply “recycled” into a new human body, what we call the process of “Reincarnation”.
While it is true that many people believe in “life after death” only as part of their religious faith, there ARE other reasons to take the immortality idea seriously. First of all there is the existence of the phenomenon we call the “ghost”. While we do not have any evidence that proves that ghosts are really “souls”, they certainly appear to be, at least at “face value” despite the other possibilities of what the phenomenon actually might be. There are also the “Near Death Experiences” (NDEs) and other “Out of Body Experiences” (OBEs) that certainly seem to suggest that a “conscious part” of us exists independently of our physical bodies. Finally, there are the accounts of people appearing to remember living on Earth BEFORE their present lifetime. These “memories” are sometimes obtained from Hypnotic “age regression” sessions and sometimes remembered “spontaneously” in “deja Vu” experiences.
OBEs and NDEs are another indicator of a possible “life after death”. It seems that under certain conditions, a person’s “consciousness” will appear to separate from the physical body and is capable of movement and observation independent of the “body” itself. Often the person is the victim of a disease of accident that results in a “clinical death” of the individual. Often such people, when revived, will recount very similar “stories” of their experiences while their bodies were in this “death state”. Some are aware of nothing, but many will recall being “detached” from the body and observing the acts of the medical attendants as they try to revive it. Later they will be “sucked into a dark tunnel” and encounter a light which they take to be the “primary deity” of their religious belief system. They review their lives and meet dead friends and relatives. Eventually they choose or are ordered back into their own “dead” bodies when they are revived. A minority go to a “place of suffering”, but usually without the traditional “hell fire”. ( THESE people usually have been suffering from emotional problems)
Some people can “separate” from their bodies at will, or spontaneously. This usually happens in the sleep or Semi-asleep state. This is usually called “Astral Projection” . In this state a person can observe his own body lying in the bed and can travel from place to place in this world, Universe or other universes, simply by thinking of where they wish to go. This is the classic OBE, where the person has a bit of control over where he is going–unlike NDE, where the movement is involuntary.
Those in a NDE/OBE state seem to have a body similar to their physical one. They often notice a very flexible and stretchy “cord” or “tether” connected to the navel area of both their physical and “spirit” bodies. This is taken to be the so called “silver chord” referred to in the Bible–which when broken means that the soul cannot return to the body—and physical death occurs.
One does not have to be nearly killed to have an OBE. If you are not one of the fortunate few who can do this at will, there are exercises that can produce an OBE for some people. It seems that many people have their first OBE when they are physically very exhausted, nearly to the point of fainting. Indeed, many “primitive” peoples induce OBEs as part of their religious ceremonies, by dancing to drumbeats until they physically collapse.
Yet another intriguing possibility for “life after death” is actual “reincarnation”. That is, the “consciousness”, “soul” or “life essence” may be Reborn in the body of another (baby) HUMAN (Not reborn into an animal–that’s TRANSMIGRATION) While this seems a bit “weird”, especially to us “Westerners”, there is more “hard” evidence for Reincarnation than any other form of “survival”.
Many of us have felt what is called “Deja Vu”–the feeling of being in a place or situation before, but NEVER having really been there –at least not in this life. Many of us have also had “strange memories” or “scenes” from a past time or place, often induced by unusual lighting conditions or certain smells. Usually these “memories” are accompanied by a “strange sadness” , “melancholia” or “nostalgic” feeling. These “memories” may be “past life” recollections. Most ” Past life” accounts, however, are the result of hypnotic sessions where a person is “regressed” in age, beyond the point in which they were BORN. Often people “age regressed” like this will recall being another person who lived before the subject was born..
Yes, It could be the “imagination” of the subconscious “inventing” the memories or recalling old books and movies, but a good hypnotist and past life researcher will be able to ask the subject questions about the time and the person that the subject could not possibly know. Often the responses “check out”. The subject is usually found to have been an obscure, average person. There are seldom any “Caesars”, “Cleopatrias” or “Napoleons”, despite the stereotypes. In many cases, the person of the previous life has been found in public records and even tombstones, all of which the subject could have known nothing about.
Reincarnation, as a general concept, refers to the cycle of lifetimes each human experiences. Overall, reincarnation is the process of each human becoming physically present in this physical Earth plane repeatedly. Most cultures and religions incorporate reincarnation into their belief system. Each person has the free will to determine the timing, the placement, and the character of each lifetime. Some philosophies indicate that a person can elect to occupy more than one physical body at one time.
Reincarnation ties each person to his or her family/community in that frequently entities choose to continue to work on their lessons together. However, usually these roles differ from lifetime to lifetime. For example, a spouse may have been your sibling or parent in a previous lifetime(does this explain idiosyncrasies of your relationships?). As each relationship provides unique lessons, it is helpful for the spiritual journey to alternate these roles.
A significant purpose of reincarnation is the development of knowledge. In this way each of us (or each sentient being) can break free of desires and karmic scars to move to perfect balance.
One answer to the question,” Why bother with the study of reincarnation?” is to help you feel better in this lifetime. Each lifetime has learning objectives. We choose at one level our present situations to expose ourselves to different experiences. It seems reasonable that understanding our various lifetimes would assist us in improving our present lifetime. At the very least the energy action of visiting the lifetime changes to a degree the karmic pattern, thereby changing our present experiences.
If you work thoughtfully to visit these lifetimes, you can accomplish great things for the present lifetime.