Why should I believe in the Resurrection and the Afterlife

Why should I believe in the Resurrection and the Afterlife?

After belief in God, this is the main way to secure a peaceful social order. If I don’t believe in personal accountability, why should I be honest and upright? The Holy Book declares: In whatever affair you may be, and whichever part of the Holy Book you recite, and whatever deed you do, We are witness over you when you are deeply engrossed therein. Not an atom’s weight in the Earth and in the heaven escapes your Lord, nor is there anything smaller or greater, but it is in a Manifest Book (10:61).

Angels record our actions, and God knows our thoughts and deeds. Those who live accordingly find true peace and happiness in both worlds. This belief prevents young people from wasting their lives, gives hope to the elderly, and helps children endure the death of loved ones. It is as necessary as air, water, and bread.

As this belief leads to a life of peace, intellectuals seeking public peace and security should emphasize it. Those who are convinced of: Whoever does an atom’s weight of good shall see it, and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil shall see it (99:7-8) live responsible lives. A community composed of such people finds true peace and happiness, and its people serve their nation and humanity.

Children are easily affected by events. Their world becomes dark when they see death or are orphaned, and they become depressed. When one of my sisters died during my childhood, I frequently went to her grave and prayed sincerely: “O God, please bring her back to life and let me see her beautiful face once more, or let me die so as to be reunited with her.” What other than this belief and reunion with loved ones can compensate us for such losses?

How can you compensate the elderly for what they have lost? How can you remove their fear of death and the grave or make them forget death? More and newer worldly pleasures cannot console them. Only convincing them that the grave is a door or a waiting room to a much better world can accomplish this.

Why should I believe in the Resurrection and the Afterlife

The Holy Book voices such feelings through Prophet Zachariah: This is a mention of your Lord’s mercy unto His servant Zachariah; when he invoked Him with a secret, sincere call, saying: “My Lord, my very bones have become rotten and my head is shining with gray hair. My Lord! I have never been disappointed in my prayer to You” (19:2-5).

Fearing that his surviving kinsmen would not be loyal to his mission, Zachariah asked his Lord for a son to continue it. This is the cry of all elderly people. Belief in God and the Resurrection tells them: “Death is only a change of worlds, a discharge from this life’s distressing duties, a passport to an eternal world where all kinds of beauty and blessing wait for you …” Only this console them and allows them to face death without fear.

What about our free will?

Our free will, which directs our life and makes us unique, is the manifestation of Divine Mercy. If used properly, it will cause us to be rewarded with the fruits of Mercy. Belief in the Resurrection is a most important and compelling factor urging us to use our free will properly.

Does it matter if I believe in the Resurrection?

The world is a mixture of opposites. Many instances of wrong (seem) go unnoticed, and many wronged people cannot recover their rights. Only belief in being resurrected in another world of absolute justice dissuades them from revenge. Similarly, the sick and unfortunate are consoled, for they believe that their suffering purifies them and that their loss will be restored in the Hereafter as a blessing, just as if they had been given as alms.

This belief changes a house into a garden of Paradise. A family without religion contains young people pursuing pleasure, children ignorant of religious sentiment and practices, and parents striving for “the good life.” Grandparents live in an old-folks or nursing home and console themselves with pets … Life is a burden. Belief in the Resurrection reminds people of familial responsibilities. By undertaking their duties, an atmosphere of mutual love, affection, and respect begins to pervade the house.

Spouses deepen their mutual love and respect. Physical love is temporary, of little value, and usually disappears quickly. But if spouses believe that their marriage will continue in a world where they will be eternally young and beautiful, their mutual love will remain…

Such a belief-based family life makes its members feel that they are living in Paradise. If a country orders itself accordingly, its inhabitants would enjoy a life far better than that imagined by Plato in his Republic or by al-Farabi in his The Virtuous City.

• The most terrible event is death. However, death is easier than what will follow it. People will be so terrified that sweat will cover their bodies until it becomes like a bridle around their chins, until it grows into something like a sea on which, if desired, vessels could be sailed.

• People will be resurrected in three groups: those who combined fear of God with expectation [fearing God’s punishment and hoping for His mercy and forgiveness], those who [frequently sinned and so] will try to go to Paradise “mounted on a mule” in twos, threes, fours … or tens. The rest will be resurrected into Fire [since they indulged in deeds deserving Hellfire]. If they sleep in the forenoon, Hell sleeps with them; when they reach night, Hell reaches night with them; when they reach morning, Hell reaches morning with them; and when they reach evening, Hell reaches evening with them.

God’s Messenger made sure his Companions understood exactly what Hell was, and roused in them a great desire for Paradise by conveying its good tidings. Thus they lived in great consciousness of Divine reward and punishment, as well as religious obligations and people’s rights

 

M. Fethullah Gulen

Where Will The Great Gathering And Last Judgement Take Place

Where will the Great Gathering and Last Judgement take place?

The elevated instances of wisdom the All-Wise Creator displays in all things, and His even attaching vast instances of wisdom to a single insignificant thing, suggests to the point of being plain that the globe of the earth does not revolve in a circle aimlessly and pointlessly, but revolves around something important; it depicts the circumference of a vast arena. It travels around a huge place of exhibition and hands over its immaterial produce to it; because in the future the produce will be displayed there before the gazes of men. That is to say, it will fill the circle, the circumference of which is a distance of approximately twenty-five thousand years; Syria will be like a seed, according to one narration;the arena of the Great Gathering will be expanded out of that region. All the immaterial produce of the earth is for now sent to the notebooks and tablets of the arena which is beneath the veil of the Unseen, and in the future when the arena is opened up, the earth will also pour its inhabitants into it. Its immaterial produce will also be transposed to the Manifest Realm from that of the Unseen. Yes, like an arable field, a spring, or a measure, the earth has produced crops enough to fill that vast arena and the creatures that will occupy it have flowed on from the earth, and those that will fill it have departed from it. That is to say, the globe of the earth is a seed, and the arena of the Great Gathering, together with those within it, a tree, a shoot, and a store. Indeed, just as a point of light becomes a luminous line or circle on moving at speed, the earth too, through its rapid, purposeful motion is the means of depicting a circle of existence, and together with that circle of existence and its produce, to the formation of the arena of the Great Gathering.

“The knowledge is with God alone.”

 

What Is Reincarnation

What is Reincarnation?

Reincarnation refers to the transmigration of souls, the doctrine that after death the soul moves on to inhabit another body, then die again and then another body, and so on.

Belief in some form of this doctrine of endless cycles of birth, death and re-birth can be found in almost all societies, primitive or sophisticated. Variations in it exist according to the local and regional differences in faith and popular culture. In the most materialistic societies especially, whose formal culture denies spiritual life, there is almost a fashion for pseudo-religious belief among certain small circles of people who claim that the spirits of the dead wander about, sometimes taking physical form, and can influence the living, until they (the spirits) settle into their ‘new bodies. It would be impractical here to go into the details of the different forms and fashions of this doctrine; more worthwhile perhaps would be to describe the main substance of it.

One argument for the antiquity of the doctrines of reincarnation is the ‘evidence’ in ancient literature, in the tales of metamorphosis for example, Ovid’s colorful extravagances of that name, in which ‘gods’ take on human and animal forms, humans take on a diversity of different shapes, etc. But these tales do not constitute a doctrine; the doctrine proper is not to do with, simply, colorful change of form, but with a belief that an individual soul must pass through every ‘level’ of creation, every species of life form, animate or inanimate, sentient or insentient. If we reflect upon this we soon realize that the doctrine is really a strange elaboration on the immortality of the soul. In other words, the kernel of it is the intuition that the soul is immortal. That kernel is true; the rest is not. The doctrine may also have arisen from the observation of the likeness in physical and other traits between parents and offspring: in other words, the biological phenomena of heredity, perfectly intelligibly explained by the laws of genetics, are given a less intelligible, indeed own right irrational, explanation by the doctrine of reincarnation.

The doctrine is said to have emerged in the Nile basin, spreading thence to other regions and peoples, to India, for example, and back west from thence, to Greece. There, the eloquence of the philosophers rationalized it (incredibly, it seems to us) into a source of consolation and hope for people who, as do all people, longed for eternity. Among the major religions, the doctrine was, initially, infiltrated into Judaism by the Kabbalists, and by the contrivance of Jewish thinkers into Christianity, and finally into the ideas of some Sufis-despite the hard labors of Muslim theologians to refute such a distortion.

To support it, every apologist for the doctrine put forward some ‘evidence’. For instance, the Kabbalists mention the transformation of Niobe (mentioned in the Old Testament) into a marble sculpture, and of the wife of the Messenger Lot, into a statue made of dust.

Another argument explains instinct and intelligence in animals, and the splendors of the plant kingdom, as once human intelligence and vitality, which had entered into them. The idea debases humanity and shames its proponents: it is really difficult to accept that such an assertion, even if made on the spur of the moment, could be made by people of any understanding. Certainly, it is beyond doubt that there is a program and a predetermined destiny for plants and inanimate creation. But it is rather farfetched to trace the harmony and order we see in the plant or mineral kingdoms to souls which formerly lived as or in human beings. Actually, plants and trees have a certain life, a plant life, a direction of growth towards light and moisture, but this does not mean that this is the activity of the soul of a human soul cast down, or a soul on its way up the levels of creation.

Despite efforts to corroborate this, no-one has ever received any message from a plant form confirming that it contains a soul that once belonged to a human being, nor have we heard any account from a human being that he or she was once the soul of a plant or animal. True, there have been claims, spread about by tabloids and other such media, of people recollecting ‘past lives’, even recounting incidents from their past lives. Where these claims are not totally absurd and ridiculous ravings, their substance can easily be explained as recollections of what the individual has seen or read and then, knowingly or otherwise, elaborated and transformed as in any ordinary human fiction.

The fact that Niobe and the wife of the Messenger Lot were transformed into sculptures of marble or dust respectively, even if accepted literally, are neither an instance nor evidence of reincarnation. What we have in this case is a transformation of a physical kind; it has nothing to do with transmigration of the soul. As for petrified bodies, that is not an arcane phenomenon: just such corpses have been found, in considerable numbers, preserved by the absolute dryness of volcanic ashes. Pompeii was destroyed by a sudden volcanic eruption and remained buried under the ashes of Vesuvius for hundreds of years. The excavations performed there revealed numerous Niobe-like petrified bodies. In these ruins, and in the petrified faces and bodies, so busy in their self-indulgent vices, so secure in their arrogance, we can, if we wish, read the signs of Divine wrath and punishment. Perhaps these figures had their way of life solidified in ash and so preserved, so that future generations might witness and take heed. To interpret them as evidence of reincarnation is simply untenable.

Belief in reincarnation in Egypt, India and Greece developed as a result of distortion of once sound beliefs in the hereafter, and from a longing for the immortality of the soul. Neither in Ahen-Aten’s Egypt nor in Pythagoras’ Greece did anyone know of the reincarnation, which these distorted beliefs brought about. To Ahen-Aten, when man’s life ends in this world, a different one starts in heaven. As soon as one dies, one’s soul sets off on its journey to reach ‘the Greatest Court’ in heaven. It goes so high that it reaches to the presence of Osiris, and hopes to give an account of itself in words like these: ‘I have come to Your presence as I was free from sins, and throughout my life, I did do everything I could that would make devout men pleased. I did not shed blood nor did I steal. Neither did I make mischief nor did I mean any. I did not commit any adultery nor fornication whatever’. Those who can speak so join Osiris’ congregation, those who cannot, whose evil deeds outweigh their good, are hurled into hell and tortured by demons.

Such sound belief is witnessed also in epitaphs relating to Ahen-Aten’s religion as follows: ‘what You have done is too much and our eyes cannot perceive most of them. O One, Only God! No one possesses such might as You have. It is You who have created this universe as You wish and You alone. It is You who decree the world suitable for human beings, for all animals, whether big or small, whether they walk on the earth on their legs or they fly up in the sky on their wings. And it is You alone who sustain and nourish them. Thanks to You, all beauties come into existence. All eyes see You by means of those. Verily, my heart belongs to You (You are in my heart)’. The ideas quoted verbatim above were the things which were believed in as truth in Egypt some four thousand years ago.

Likewise, in Ancient Greece, the belief in resurrection and the immortality of the soul were quite sound. The great philosopher Pythagoras, for example, believed that the soul on leaving the body has a life peculiar to itself; in fact any soul has this same kind of life even before it quits the earth. It is commissioned with some responsibilities on earth; if it commits any evil, it will be punished, thrown into hell and tormented by demons. On the other hand, in return for the good that it does, it will be given high rank and blessed with a happy life. Allowing for the changes that might have been made in the views of Pythagoras over time, we can certainly still see that there are fundamental similarities with the Islamic creed of resurrection. Plato’s account is not so different either. In his famous treatise The Republic, he says that the soul on leaving the body forgets the material (corporeal) life totally; it ascends into an appropriate realm, a spiritual one, saturated with wisdom and immortality; the soul is free from all scarcity, deficiency, error, fear, and from the passion and love which afflicted it while it lived on earth; and then, being free from all the evil consequences of human nature, it is blessed with eternal bliss.

In a comparable way, no doubt also through unscrupulous translation away from the original language and subsequent further distinctions, the Ancient Egyptian, Indian and Greek religions became unrecognizable. The doctrine of reincarnation may well be one such alteration from an originally sound conception of the immortality of the soul and its return to the Divine Judgment.

After reincarnation was inscribed into the beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians, it became one of the central themes of songs and legends throughout the vicinity of the Nile region. Elaborated further with the eloquent expressions of Greek philosophers, it became, with the expansion of Greek influence, a widespread phenomenon.

The Hindus consider matter as the lowest manifestation of Brahma, and deem that the convergence of body and soul is a demeaning of the soul, a decline into evil. However, death is believed to be salvation, a separation from human defects, and a possible chance to achieve an ecstatic union with the truth. The Hindus are polytheistic in practice. Their greatest god is ‘Krishna’, who is believed to have come in a human figure in order to eradicate evil. Their second greatest god is ‘Vishnu’, which means that which can penetrate the human body. According to Hinduism, Vishnu has descended into this world nine times in different shapes (human, animal, or flower). He is also expected to descend for the tenth time. Since they believe that Vishnu will next come to this world in the shape of an animal, killing any animal is absolutely prohibited. Killing animals is only allowed during war; and the zealots of that religion do not normally eat meat. According to the Vedanta, the most important religious book of the Hindus, the soul is a part, a fragment, of Brahma; it will never be able to get rid of suffering and distress until it returns to its origin. Soul achieves gnosis by isolating itself from the ego and all wickedness pertaining to the ego, and by running towards Brahma, just as a river flows down into a sea. When the soul reaches and unites with Brahma, it acquires absolute peace, tranquility and stillness, another version of which is Nirvana in Buddhism: there is an abatement of active seeking, a passivity of soul in the latter, whereas the soul is dynamic in Hinduism.

All ancient, new and contemporary acceptance of the doctrine of reincarnation has one characteristic, one root, in common, that is the belief in incarnation. There is a shared failure of intellect to both grasp and accept the Absolute Transcendence of God: corrupted by this failure, people have been persuaded to believe that the Divine mixes with the corporal and that the corporal or the human will mix or can mix with the Divine. But in reality every individual lives and dies according to his or her individual destiny, carries his or her individual load, will be individually resurrected and individually called to answer for his or her intentions and actions and their consequences, and each individually will receive Divine judgment (which is perfect justice) according to the same criteria.

We set below, in the form of a list of points, the cardinal reasons why the doctrine of reincarnation should be rejected. Belief in the Resurrection and Judgment when justice is meted out to each individual soul according to that individual’s record in life.

1 If the individual soul passes into different lives, in which form or personality will it be resurrected, commanded to give account, and rewarded or punished?

2 This world is created for the purpose of test and trial, to benefit the soul thereby. One focus of the test is belief in the Unseen. Under the doctrine of resurrection, those who live a bad life pass into a lower form of life (animal, tree, etc.) after death. But in that case, they will know the consequences of their former life and life as test loses its meaning.

To get round this, believers in this doctrine also have to have a doctrine of forgetfulness-the soul ‘forgets’ its past existence. In that case, for all practical purposes, having had (or not having had) a past existence is of no consequence to any living creature. Plainly, the doctrine contradicts itself and has no bearing on life as it is lived except to make the individual accept his condition whatever it may be without actively striving for salvation.

3 If each individual is supposed to go through a painful cycle of transmigrations in order to acquire eternal bliss, then God’s promise to punish the wicked and the sinful, and to reward the good and the righteous, has no meaning for the individual life. This is unacceptable for Providence, and God is far from being vain or futile in His actions.

4 The Holy Book and other Divine Books state that sins will be forgiven (if truly repented). This proves how unnecessary and cumbersome a device it is, this doctrine that the soul must endure innumerable cycles to realize forgiveness. How much better do the concepts of mercy and forgiveness befit God, the Beneficent Merciful Creator.

There is no sin, which God cannot forgive as He wills. God, the All Mighty, reveals and promises in the Holy Book that He will forgive those who repent what they have done wrong and sincerely intend not to do it again. In this respect, God does not see how great or little your sins are, nor how late your penitence is. This may mean that a sinner who disobeys and rebels against God throughout his life can also be forgiven by a single act of true repentance, done with absolute sincerity and a profound understanding of servanthood and dependence on God. (But no individual knows his or her future, none knows if that late hour will come how unwise then to postpone it!)

5 Long, and tiresome cycles of rebirth are contrary to the mercy, favor, grace and forgiveness of God, the All Compassionate. If He wills, He takes ordinary, worthless, inferior things and turns them into what is purest and best and beyond price. Infinite indeed are His blessings and munificence.

6 Among the followers of the Messengers, there have been many who led wicked lives but who afterwards reformed and did so within an incredibly short time, then being the revered models of virtue for later generations. After meeting the Messengers, and embracing the Divine Message, some of them even surpassed previous followers and came to be more revered than them. This indicates that by the favor of God one can easily and quickly rise to the summit, even if, previously, one had been of those apparently destined for the pit. It also shows, again, how unnecessary is the doctrine of souls ‘graduating’ into higher levels of being: indeed the doctrine may have the effect of lessening incentives to moral effort.

7 To believe that God, the All-Mighty, has created for each individual an individual soul is a part of belief in His Omnipotence. To believe, instead, that a limited number of souls migrate from body to body argues the illogical proposition that the Omnipotent is not Omnipotent. The sheer abundance of life, its infinite variety, its refusal of mere repetition of form, is everywhere evident: God is indeed All Mighty. There are approximately 5 or 5.5 billion people in the world. In recent times we have learnt how to prove that each individual is absolutely unique by looking at fingerprints or gene codes. No individual’s gene code or fingerprint is like any other’s a fact so reliable as to be used in forensic science to identify criminals. Another example is the observation by a German professor, over thirty years, of millions of pictures of snowflakes not one of which is ever exactly like any other in shape or pattern. It is scarcely imaginable how many snowflakes fall in one season on one mountainside, let alone all that have ever fallen. How foolish to imply then that the Omnipotent could not create an infinite number of individual souls and supply them with an infinite number of bodies.

8 As there are about 5.5 billion people altogether on the earth, could not a few of them at least have had some marks, or signs on them, or evidence, or something convincing to tell, of their memories, adventures and experiences in different forms and bodies? Must not there have be an accumulation of knowledge, experience and culture in some of those who have come to this world a few times or even completed their cycles? If this happened in only one out of a million should we not expect there to be a great number of people now living of extraordinary virtue and competence? Should we not have met a few of them even in our own countries? If so, where are they?

9 When a body reaches an age (let’s say three or four years), a measure physical maturity, should we not expect the soul to emerge with, as it were, all the acquisition and achievement of previous lives? Should we not expect prodigies? There have been quite a few prodigies in recorded history, but their special gifts need not be the result of lives lived many times before. It can equally well be explained as a special combination of genetic characteristics occurring in a particular time and place which is attributable to Divine Grace and Favor, together with supreme effort on the part of the individual to understand his or her own gift in the tradition and context in which it is given.

10 No faculty special only to human beings has ever been found in any other entities, animate or inanimate. But we should expect such a discovery if there were any truth in reincarnation. If a lower form of life is, so to speak, the consequence (punishment) for particular evil deeds in the previous life, then, presumably, the good in that life (outweighed by the evil) must also be carried forward. In other words, some part of the individual’s previous life should be retained in the next life. In this case we would expect the boundaries of particular forms to be frequently burst open with, for example, plants never known to do so, suddenly showing properties associated with animal life. But, by the Mercy of God, zoology and botany have not, for all their many welcome advances in recent years, discovered any such monsters.

11 If being a man or animal is the consequence of one’s deeds in a former life, which first existed, man or animal, the higher or the lower? Advocates of the doctrine cannot decide or agree on any form for the first creature, for every generation implies a preceding generation in order that the succeeding generation may be considered as the consequence of the former. And if generation is an evil, as some who believe in reincarnation also believe, why did the whole thing start? Why did life begin at all? Plainly, the doctrine leads again and again to absurdity.

 

What Gifts Can We Send To The Spirit After Death

What gifts can we send to the spirit after death?

The spirits in the intermediate world will see and hear us provided God allows them to. If God will, He may permit some saintly people to see and hear them and communicate with them.

After a man dies, his record of deeds is not closed. If he has left behind good, virtuous children or books or institutions from which people continue to benefit or if he has brought up people beneficial to humankind or contributed to their upbringing, his reward will continue to increase. If, by contrast, what has remained of him consists in evil things, then his sins will also continue to be heaped up as long as these continue to be harmful to people.

So, in order to be beneficial to our beloved ones who have gone to the other world, we should try to be good heirs to them by helping the poor, and leading a good, virtuous life and especially by spending to promote improving peoples relationship with God.

 

What Does The Body, Defective, Changing, Unstable And Pain-Stricken, Have To Do With Eternity And Paradise

What does the body, defective, changing, unstable and pain-stricken, have to do with eternity and paradise? The spiritual pleasures should be enough. Why should a bodily resurrection take place for corporal pleasures?

Since, despite its darkness and density in contrast to water, air, and light, earth is the means and source of all the varieties of the works of Divine art, in meaning it has some superiority to the other elements. Also, despite its density, on account of being comprehensive and provided it is purified, man’s selfhood gains some kind of superiority to his other senses and faculties. Likewise, man’s body is a most comprehensive and rich mirror to the manifestations of the Divine Names. It has been equipped with the instruments to weigh and measure the contents of all of the Divine treasuries. For example, if the sense of taste in the tongue was not the origin of as many measures as the varieties of food and drink, it could not experience each and recognize them; it could not measure them. Furthermore, the instruments with which to experience and recognize the manifestations of most of the Divine Names, and the faculties for experiencing the most various and infinitely different pleasures are also in the body.

Since, as is understood clearly from the conduct of the universe and the comprehensiveness of man, the Maker of the universe wants through the universe to make known all the treasuries of His Mercy, and all the manifestations of His Names, and to make us experience all the varieties of His bounties, for sure, the world of eternal happiness, which is a mighty pool into which the flood of the universe flows and a vast exhibition of the products of the loom of the universe and the everlasting store of the crops produced in the field of the world, will resemble the universe to a degree. The All-Wise Maker, the All-Compassionate Just One, will give as wages for the duties of the bodily organs and in reward for their services and particular types of worship, pleasures particular to each. To think otherwise would be contrary to His Wisdom, Justice and Compassion.

 

Unbelief Is An Unforgivable Ingratitude

Unbelief Is An Unforgivable Ingratitude

Unbelief is an unforgivable ingratitude. The one who denies Him Who brought him into existence from non-existence and endowed him with many kinds of faculties like reason, intellect, heart, memory, and insight, and inner and outer senses, and Who nourishes him with numerous varieties of food and drink, has doomed himself to eternal punishment. As pointed out earlier, if all the men in the world came together to create a single fruit or leaf or Unbelief Is An Unforgivable Ingratitudeeven a single blade of grass, they could not do it. So, denial of the One Who created this huge universe and subjugated it to the use of man is the severest and most abominable kind of crime, which deserves the most lasting and severe kind of punishment. Again, the one who, following in the footsteps of Satan, who invites him to unbelief and dissipation, has submitted to the desires and seduction of his evil-commanding self, which, in fact, was given to him so that he might rise to the highest of the high by refining it, closed the doors of his conscience, a faculty which innately feels the existence of One God, Creator and Sustainer of beings, to innumerable signs of God in the person himself and the universe, and the one who extinguished his feelings which long for eternity and which can be satisfied only with eternity, has condemned himself to eternal punishment. Also, the one who blinded himself to the most manifest signs of the Creator, namely The Holy Book and the Messenger Muhammad and other Messengers does not deserve less than eternal punishment.

 

The Punishment Varies According To Who Committed Crime

The Punishment Varies According To Who Committed Crime

The Punishment Varies According To Who Committed CrimeThe punishment for breaching a trust is proportional to the significance of the trust and its true owner. The punishment given to a child who has broken the window of an ordinary building is not like that of the aide-de-camp of a king who has lost or broken the crown of the king. If, again, a private and an army commander spent the capital that was given to each according to his rank on petty things and wasted it away, the commander would certainly be tried at a court-martial and sentenced to a much greater punishment than the private. Likewise, if a scientist responsible for carrying out scientific investigations behaved like a shepherd and spent the resources assigned to his investigations on trifling things, certainly he would not be treated the same as a shepherd who spent resources assigned to him for feeding sheep to meet his own needs.

Animals spend the capital of life assigned for them in the world without any misuse or waste; they fulfill whatever they must: some carry burdens, some give milk and meat, and still some others produce things like honey or silk for the use of human beings. It is only man that may spend whatever is given to him in either the right or the wrong way. So, despite being the most honored of beings endowed with many faculties like conscience, intellect, consciousness, memory, and powers of thinking and reasoning, as well as with numerous inner and outer senses and feelings, if man wastes all these faculties, senses and feelings, he will certainly deserve a severe punishment. Particularly, if he lets his evil-commanding self dominate over his heart, which must overflow with knowledge and love of the Creator, he will undoubtedly be reduced to being a kind of fuel for Hell whose fuel is of men and stones.

 

Reincarnation By Wiki

Reincarnation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Reincarnation is the religious and philosophical belief that the soul or spirit, after biological death, begins a new life in a new body that may be human, animal or spiritual depending on the moral quality of the previous life’s actions. This doctrine is a central tenet of the Indian religions[1] and is a belief that was held by such historic figures as Pythagoras, Plato and Socrates. It is also a common belief of pagan religions such as Druidism, Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar and is found in many tribal societies around the world, in places such as Siberia, West Africa, North America, and Australia.[2]

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f3/Reincarnation_AS.jpg/220px-Reincarnation_AS.jpgAlthough the majority of sects within Judaism, Christianity and Islam do not believe that individuals reincarnate, particular groups within these religions do refer to reincarnation; these groups include the mainstream historical and contemporary followers of Kabbalah, the Cathars, and the Shia sects such as the Alawi Shias and the Druze[3] and the Rosicrucians.[4] The historical relations between these sects and the beliefs about reincarnation that were characteristic of the Neoplatonism, Orphism, Hermeticism, Manicheanism and Gnosticism of the Roman era, as well as the Indian religions, is unclear.

In recent decades, many Europeans and North Americans have developed an interest in reincarnation.[5] Feature films, such as Kundun, What Dreams May Come and Birth, contemporary books by authors such as Carol Bowman and Vicki Mackenzie, as well as popular songs, regularly mention reincarnation. Some university researchers, such as Ian Stevenson and Jim B. Tucker, have explored the issue of reincarnation and published reports of children’s memories of earlier lives in peer-reviewed journals and in books such as Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation and Life Before Life. Skeptics are critical of this work and many have stated like Carl Sagan that more reincarnation research is needed.[6]

Conceptual definitions

The word “reincarnation” derives from Latin, literally meaning, “entering the flesh again”. The Greek equivalent metempsychosis (μετεμψύχωσις) roughly corresponds to the common English phrase “transmigration of the soul” and also usually connotes reincarnation after death,[7] as either human, animal, though emphasising the continuity of the soul, not the flesh. The term has been used by modern philosophers such as Kurt Gödel[8] and has entered the English language. Another Greek term sometimes used synonymously is palingenesis, “being born again”.[9]

There is no word corresponding exactly to the English terms “rebirth”, “metempsychosis”, “transmigration” or “reincarnation” in the traditional languages of Pāli and Sanskrit. The entire universal process that gives rise to the cycle of death and rebirth, governed by karma, is referred to as Samsara[10] while the state one is born into, the individual process of being born or coming into the world in any way, is referred to simply as “birth” (jāti). Devas (gods) may also die and live again.[11] Here the term “reincarnation” is not strictly applicable, yet Hindu gods are said to have reincarnated (see Avatar): Lord Vishnu is known for his ten incarnations, the Dashavatars. Celtic religion seems to have had reincarnating gods also. Many Christians regard Jesus as a divine incarnation. Some Christians and Muslims believe he and some prophets may incarnate again. Most Christians, however, believe that Jesus will come again in the Second Coming at the end of the world, although this is not a reincarnation. Some ghulat Shi’a Muslim sects also regard their founders as in some special sense divine incarnations (hulul).

Philosophical and religious beliefs regarding the existence or non-existence of an unchanging ‘self‘ have a direct bearing on how reincarnation is viewed within a given tradition. The Buddha lived at a time of great philosophical creativity in India when many conceptions of the nature of life and death were proposed. Some were materialist, holding that there was no existence and that the self is annihilated upon death. Others believed in a form of cyclic existence, where a being is born, lives, dies and then is re-born, but in the context of a type of determinism or fatalism in which karma played no role. Others were “eternalists”, postulating an eternally existent self or soul comparable to that in Judaic monotheism: the ātman survives death and reincarnates as another living being, based on its karmic inheritance. This is the idea that has become dominant (with certain modifications) in modern Hinduism.

The Buddhist concept of reincarnation differs from others in that there is no eternal “soul”, “spirit’ or self” but only a “stream of consciousness” that links life with life. The actual process of change from one life to the next is called punarbhava (Sanskrit) or punabbhava (Pāli), literally “becoming again”, or more briefly bhava, “becoming”, and some English-speaking Buddhists prefer the term “rebirth” or “re-becoming” to render this term as they take “reincarnation” to imply a fixed entity that is reborn.[12] Popular Jain cosmology and Buddhist cosmology as well as a number of schools of Hinduism posit rebirth in many worlds and in varied forms. In Buddhist tradition the process occurs across five or six realms of existence,[13] including the human, any kind of animal and several types of supernatural being. It is said in Tibetan Buddhism that it is very rare for a person to be reborn in the immediate next life as a human[14]

Gilgul, Gilgul neshamot or Gilgulei Ha Neshamot (Heb. גלגול הנשמות) refers to the concept of reincarnation in Kabbalistic Judaism, found in much Yiddish literature among Ashkenazi Jews. Gilgul means “cycle” and neshamot is “souls.” The equivalent Arabic term is tanasukh:[15] the belief is found among Shi’a ghulat Muslim sects.

History

Neolithic Era

Africa

Serer religion

In Serer religion, the concept of reincarnation (ciiɗ in Serer language[16]) is linked to the Pangool, the ancient Serer saints and ancestral spirits. Only the Pangool (singular : Fangool) have the capacity to reincarnate depending on how they have lived their previous lives on earth. About 10,000 BCE, the ancient Serers depicted rupestral engravings of the Pangool on the Tassili n’Ajjer, represented by “man” and coiled “snakes” (the symbol of the Pangool).[17] This era marks the development of Serer religion and the concept of ciiɗ (reincarnation).[18][19] In Serer religion, everything has a soul. The soul is immortal and must make its way to Jaaniiw (the sacred dwelling place of the soul or the afterlife). It is only those who have lived good lives on earth according to Serer religious teachings, whose souls will be able to make the necessary journey to Jaaniiw. It is from this group that are canonized as Pangool, called upon and venerated. These Pangool have the capacity to reincarnate and intercede with the Divine (Rog, the Supreme Deity in Serer religion).[20][21][22]

Antiquity

Origins (outside Africa)

The origins of the notion of reincarnation are obscure. They apparently date to the Iron Age (around 1200 BCE). Discussion of the subject appears in the philosophical traditions of India and Greece from about the 6th century BCE. Also during the Iron Age, the Greek Pre-Socratics discussed reincarnation, and the Celtic Druids are also reported to have taught a doctrine of reincarnation.[23]

The ideas associated with reincarnation may have arisen independently in different regions, or they might have spread as a result of cultural contact. Proponents of cultural transmission have looked for links between Iron Age Celtic, Greek and Vedic philosophy and religion,[24] some[who?] even suggesting that belief in reincarnation was present in Proto-Indo-European religion.[25] In ancient European, Iranian and Indian agricultural cultures, the life cycles of birth, death, and rebirth were recoginized as a replica of natural agricultural cycles.[26]

Early Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism

Patrick Olivelle asserts that the origin of the concept of the cycle of birth and death, the concept of samsara, and the concept of liberation in the Indian tradition, were in part the creation of the non-Vedic Shramana tradition.[27] Another possibility are the prehistoric Dravidian traditions of South India.[28] Some scholars suggest that the idea is original to the Buddha.[29]

In Jainism, the soul and matter are considered eternal, uncreated and perpetual. There is a constant interplay between the two, resulting in bewildering cosmic manifestations in material, psychic and emotional spheres around us. This led to the theories of transmigration and rebirth. Changes but not total annihilation of spirit and matter is the basic postulate of Jain philosophy. The life as we know now, after death therefore moves on to another form of life based on the merits and demerits it accumulated in its current life. The path to becoming a supreme soul is to practice non-violence and be truthful.[30]

In Hinduism, the holy book Rigveda, the oldest extant Indo-Aryan text, numerous references are made to rebirths, although it portrays reincarnation as “redeaths” (punarmrtyu). One verse reads “Each death repeats the death of the primordial man (purusa), which was also the first sacrifice” (RV 10:90).[31] Another excerpt from the Rig Veda states (Book 10 Part 02, Hymn XVI):

Burn him not up, nor quite consume him, Agni: let not his body or his skin be scattered. O Jatavedas, when thou hast matured him, then send him on his way unto the Fathers… let thy fierce flame, thy glowing splendour, burn him With thine auspicious forms, o Jatavedas, bear this man to the region of the pious… Again, O Agni, to the Fathers send him who, offered in thee, goes with our oblations. Wearing new life let him increase his offspring: let him rejoin a body, Jatavedas.[32]

Indian discussion of reincarnation enters the historical record from about the 6th century BCE, with the development of the Advaita Vedanta tradition in the early Upanishads (around the middle of the first millennium BCE), Gautama Buddha (623-543 BCE)[33] as well as Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism.[34]

The systematic attempt to attain first-hand knowledge of past lives has been developed in various ways in different places. The early Buddhist texts discuss techniques for recalling previous births, predicated on the development of high levels of meditative concentration.[35] The later Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which incorporated elements of Buddhist thought,[36] give similar instructions on how to attain the ability.[37] The Buddha reportedly warned that this experience can be misleading and should be interpreted with care.[38] Tibetan Buddhism has developed a unique ‘science’ of death and rebirth, a good deal of which is set down in what is popularly known as The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Early Greece

Early Greek discussion of the concept likewise dates to the 6th century BCE. An early Greek thinker known to have considered rebirth is Pherecydes of Syros (fl. 540 BCE).[39] His younger contemporary Pythagoras (c. 570-c. 495 BCE[40]), its first famous exponent, instituted societies for its diffusion. Plato (428/427 – 348/347 BCE) presented accounts of reincarnation in his works, particularly the Myth of Er.

Authorities have not agreed on how the notion arose in Greece: sometimes Pythagoras is said to have been Pherecydes’ pupil, sometimes to have introduced it with the doctrine of Orphism, a Thracian religion that was to be important in the diffusion of reincarnation, or else to have brought the teaching from India. In Phaedo, Plato makes his teacher Socrates, prior to his death, state; “I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, and that the living spring from the dead.” However Xenophon does not mention Socrates as believing in reincarnation and Plato may have systematised Socrates’ thought with concepts he took directly from Pythagoreanism or Orphism.

Classical Antiquity

The Orphic religion, which taught reincarnation, first appeared in Thrace in north-eastern Greece and Bulgaria, about the 6th century BC, organized itself into mystery schools at Eleusis and elsewhere, and produced a copious literature.[41][42][43] Orpheus, its legendary founder, is said to have taught that the immortal soul aspires to freedom while the body holds it prisoner. The wheel of birth revolves, the soul alternates between freedom and captivity round the wide circle of necessity. Orpheus proclaimed the need of the grace of the gods, Dionysus in particular, and of self-purification until the soul has completed the spiral ascent of destiny to live for ever.

An association between Pythagorean philosophy and reincarnation was routinely accepted throughout antiquity. In the Republic Plato makes Socrates tell how Er, the son of Armenius, miraculously returned to life on the twelfth day after death and recounted the secrets of the other world. There are myths and theories to the same effect in other dialogues, in the Chariot allegory of the Phaedrus, in the Meno, Timaeus and Laws. The soul, once separated from the body, spends an indeterminate amount of time in “formland” (see The Allegory of the Cave in The Republic) and then assumes another body.

In later Greek literature the doctrine is mentioned in a fragment of Menander[44] and satirized by Lucian.[45] In Roman literature it is found as early as Ennius,[46] who, in a lost passage of his Annals, told how he had seen Homer in a dream, who had assured him that the same soul which had animated both the poets had once belonged to a peacock. Persius in his satires (vi. 9) laughs at this: it is referred to also by Lucretius[47] and Horace.[48]

Virgil works the idea into his account of the Underworld in the sixth book of the Aeneid.[49] It persists down to the late classic thinkers, Plotinus and the other Neoplatonists. In the Hermetica, a Graeco-Egyptian series of writings on cosmology and spirituality attributed to Hermes Trismegistus/Thoth, the doctrine of reincarnation is central.

In Greco-Roman thought, the concept of metempsychosis disappeared with the rise of Early Christianity, reincarnation being incompatible with the Christian core doctrine of salvation of the faithful after death. It has been suggested that some of the early Church Fathers, especially Origen still entertained a belief in the possibility of reincarnation, but evidence is tenuous, and the writings of Origen as they have come down to us speak explicitly against it.[50]

Some early Christian Gnostic sects professed reincarnation. The Sethians and followers of Valentinus believed in it.[51] The followers of Bardaisan of Mesopotamia, a sect of the 2nd century deemed heretical by the Catholic Church, drew upon Chaldean astrology, to which Bardaisan’s son Harmonius, educated in Athens, added Greek ideas including a sort of metempsychosis. Another such teacher was Basilides (132–? CE/AD), known to us through the criticisms of Irenaeus and the work of Clement of Alexandria. (see also Neoplatonism and Gnosticism and Buddhism and Gnosticism)

In the third Christian century Manichaeism spread both east and west from Babylonia, then within the Sassanid Empire, where its founder Mani lived about 216–276. Manichaean monasteries existed in Rome in 312 AD. Noting Mani’s early travels to the Kushan Empire and other Buddhist influences in Manichaeism, Richard Foltz[52] attributes Mani’s teaching of reincarnation to Buddhist influence. However the inter-relation of Manicheanism, Orphism, Gnosticism and neo-Platonism is far from clear.

The Celts

In the 1st century BC Alexander Cornelius Polyhistor wrote;

The Pythagorean doctrine prevails among the Gauls’ teaching that the souls of men are immortal, and that after a fixed number of years they will enter into another body.

Julius Caesar recorded that the druids of Gaul, Britain and Ireland had metempsychosis as one of their core doctrines;[53]

The principal point of their doctrine is that the soul does not die and that after death it passes from one body into another….. the main object of all education is, in their opinion, to imbue their scholars with a firm belief in the indestructibility of the human soul, which, according to their belief, merely passes at death from one tenement to another; for by such doctrine alone, they say, which robs death of all its terrors, can the highest form of human courage be developed.

Judaism

In Judaism, the Hasidic tzadik was believed to know the past lives of each person through his semi-prophetic abilities.

Taoism

Taoist documents from as early as the Han Dynasty claimed that Lao Tzu appeared on earth as different persons in different times beginning in the legendary era of Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. The (ca. 3rd century BC) Chuang Tzu states: “Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting-point. Existence without limitation is Space. Continuity without a starting point is Time. There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in.”[54]

Middle Ages

Around the 11-12th century several reincarnationist movements were persecuted as heresies, through the establishment of the Inquisition in the Latin west. These included the Cathar, Paterene or Albigensian church of western Europe, the Paulician movement, which arose in Armenia,[55] and the Bogomils in Bulgaria.[56]

Christian sects such as the Bogomils and the Cathars, who professed reincarnation and other gnostic beliefs, were referred to as “Manichean”, and are today sometimes described by scholars as “Neo-Manichean”.[57] As there is no known Manichaean mythology or terminology in the writings of these groups there has been some dispute among historians as to whether these groups truly were descendants of Manichaeism.[58]

Norse mythology

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Sváfa holding the dying Helgi in their first incarnation of three.

Reincarnation also appears in Norse mythology, in the Poetic Edda. The editor of the Poetic Edda says that Helgi Hjörvarðsson and his mistress, the valkyrie Sváfa, whose love story is told in the poem Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar, were reborn as Helgi Hundingsbane and the valkyrie Sigrún. Helgi and Sigrún’s love story is the matter of a part of the Völsunga saga and the lays Helgakviða Hundingsbana I and II. They were reborn a second time as Helgi Haddingjaskati and the valkyrie Kára, but unfortunately their story, Káruljóð, only survives in a probably modified form in the Hrómundar saga Gripssonar.

The belief in reincarnation may have been commonplace among the Norse since the annotator of the Poetic Edda wrote that people formerly used to believe in it:

Sigrun was early dead of sorrow and grief. It was believed in olden times that people were born again, but that is now called old wives’ folly. Of Helgi and Sigrun it is said that they were born again; he became Helgi Haddingjaskati, and she Kara the daughter of Halfdan, as is told in the Lay of Kara, and she was a Valkyrie.[59]

Renaissance and Early Modern period

While reincarnation has been a matter of faith in some communities from an early date it has also frequently been argued for on principle, as Plato does when he argues that the number of souls must be finite because souls are indestructible,[60] Benjamin Franklin held a similar view.[61] Sometimes such convictions, as in Socrates’ case, arise from a more general personal faith, at other times from anecdotal evidence such as Plato makes Socrates offer in the Myth of Er.

During the Renaissance translations of Plato, the Hermetica and other works fostered new European interest in reincarnation. Marsilio Ficino[62] argued that Plato’s references to reincarnation were intended allegorically, Shakespeare made fun[63] but Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake by authorities after being found guilty of heresy by the Roman Inquisition for his teachings.[64] But the Greek philosophical works remained available and, particularly in north Europe, were discussed by groups such as the Cambridge Platonists.

19th to 20th centuries

 

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American psychologist and philosopher William James (1842 – 1910) was an early psychical researcher.[65]

By the 19th century the philosophers Schopenhauer[66] and Nietzsche[67] could access the Indian scriptures for discussion of the doctrine of reincarnation, which recommended itself to the American Transcendentalists Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson and was adapted by Francis Bowen into Christian Metempsychosis.[68]

By the early 20th century, interest in reincarnation had been introduced into the nascent discipline of psychology, largely due to the influence of William James, who raised aspects of the philosophy of mind, comparative religion, the psychology of religious experience and the nature of empiricism.[69] James was influential in the founding of the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) in New York City in 1885, three years after the British Society for Psychical Research (SPR) was inaugurated in London,[65] leading to systematic, critical investigation of paranormal phenomena.

At this time popular awareness of the idea of reincarnation was boosted by the Theosophical Society‘s dissemination of systematised and universalised Indian concepts and also by the influence of magical societies like The Golden Dawn. Notable personalities like Annie Besant, W. B. Yeats and Dion Fortune made the subject almost as familiar an element of the popular culture of the west as of the east. By 1924 the subject could be satirised in popular children’s books.[70]

Théodore Flournoy was among the first to study a claim of past-life recall in the course of his investigation of the medium Hélène Smith, published in 1900, in which he defined the possibility of cryptomnesia in such accounts.[71] Carl Gustav Jung, like Flournoy based in Switzerland, also emulated him in his thesis based on a study of cryptomnesia in psychism. Later Jung would emphasise the importance of the persistence of memory and ego in psychological study of reincarnation; “This concept of rebirth necessarily implies the continuity of personality… (that) one is able, at least potentially, to remember that one has lived through previous existences, and that these existences were one’s own…”.[68] Hypnosis, used in psychoanalysis for retrieving forgotten memories, was eventually tried as a means of studying the phenomenon of past life recall.

Reincarnation research

Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson, from the University of Virginia, investigated many reports of young children who claimed to remember a past life. He conducted more than 2,500 case studies over a period of 40 years and published twelve books, including Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation and Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. Stevenson methodically documented each child’s statements and then identified the deceased person the child identified with, and verified the facts of the deceased person’s life that matched the child’s memory. He also matched birthmarks and birth defects to wounds and scars on the deceased, verified by medical records such as autopsy photographs, in Reincarnation and Biology.[72]

Stevenson searched for disconfirming evidence and alternative explanations for the reports, and believed that his strict methods ruled out all possible “normal” explanations for the child’s memories.[73] However, a significant majority of Stevenson’s reported cases of reincarnation originated in Eastern societies, where dominant religions often permit the concept of reincarnation. Following this type of criticism, Stevenson published a book on European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. Other people who have undertaken reincarnation research include Jim B. Tucker, Brian Weiss, and Raymond Moody.

Some skeptics, such as Paul Edwards, have analyzed many of these accounts, and called them anecdotal.[74] Skeptics suggest that claims of evidence for reincarnation originate from selective thinking and from the false memories that often result from one’s own belief system and basic fears, and thus cannot be counted as empirical evidence. Carl Sagan referred to examples apparently from Stevenson’s investigations in his book The Demon-Haunted World as an example of carefully collected empirical data, though he rejected reincarnation as a parsimonious explanation for the stories.[75]

Objection to claims of reincarnation include the facts that the vast majority of people do not remember previous lives and there is no mechanism known to modern science that would enable a personality to survive death and travel to another body. Researchers such as Stevenson have acknowledged these limitations.[76]

Reincarnation in the West

During recent decades, many people in the West have developed an interest in reincarnation.[5] Feature films, such as The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, Dead Again, Kundun, Fluke, What Dreams May Come and Birth, contemporary books by authors such as Carol Bowman and Vicki Mackenzie, as well as popular songs, regularly mention reincarnation.

Recent studies have indicated that some Westerners accept the idea of reincarnation[5] including certain contemporary Christians,[77] modern Neopagans, followers of Spiritism, Theosophists and students of esoteric philosophies such as Kabbalah, and Gnostic and Esoteric Christianity as well as of Indian religions. Demographic survey data from 1999-2002 shows a significant minority of people from Europe and America, where there is reasonable freedom of thought and access to ideas but no outstanding recent reincarnationist tradition, believe we had a life before we were born, will survive death and be born again physically. The mean for the Nordic countries is 22%.[78] The belief in reincarnation is particularly high in the Baltic countries, with Lithuania having the highest figure for the whole of Europe, 44%. The lowest figure is in East Germany, 12%. In Russia, about one-third believes in reincarnation. The effect of communist anti-religious ideas on the beliefs of the populations of Eastern Europe seems to have been rather slight, if any, except apparently in East Germany.[78] Overall, 22% of respondents in Western Europe believe in reincarnation.[78] According to a 2005 Gallup poll 20 percent of U.S. adults believe in reincarnation. Recent surveys by the Barna Group, a Christian research nonprofit organization, have found that a quarter of U.S. Christians, including 10 percent of all born-again Christians, embrace the idea.[79]

Skeptic Carl Sagan asked the Dalai Lama what would he do if a fundamental tenet of his religion (reincarnation) were definitively disproved by science. The Dalai Lama answered; “if science can disprove reincarnation, Tibetan Buddhism would abandon reincarnation… but it’s going to be mighty hard to disprove reincarnation.”[80]

Ian Stevenson reported that belief in reincarnation is held (with variations in details) by adherents of almost all major religions except Christianity and Islam. In addition, between 20 and 30 percent of persons in western countries who may be nominal Christians also believe in reincarnation.[81]

One 1999 study by Walter and Waterhouse reviewed the previous data on the level of reincarnation belief and performed a set of thirty in-depth interviews in Britain among people who did not belong to a religion advocating reincarnation.[82] The authors reported that surveys have found about one fifth to one quarter of Europeans have some level of belief in reincarnation, with similar results found in the USA. In the interviewed group, the belief in the existence of this phenomenon appeared independent of their age, or the type of religion that these people belonged to, with most being Christians. The beliefs of this group also did not appear to contain any more than usual of “new age” ideas (broadly defined) and the authors interpreted their ideas on reincarnation as “one way of tackling issues of suffering”, but noted that this seemed to have little effect on their private lives.

Waterhouse also published a detailed discussion of beliefs expressed in the interviews.[83] She noted that although most people “hold their belief in reincarnation quite lightly” and were unclear on the details of their ideas, personal experiences such as past-life memories and near-death experiences had influenced most believers, although only a few had direct experience of these phenomena. Waterhouse analyzed the influences of second-hand accounts of reincarnation, writing that most of the people in the survey had heard other people’s accounts of past-lives from regression hypnosis and dreams and found these fascinating, feeling that there “must be something in it” if other people were having such experiences.

Contemporary religious philosophies

Hinduism

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/e/e1/Reincarnation2.jpg/220px-Reincarnation2.jpgIn some teachings of Hinduism, the soul (atman) is immortal and reincarnated through the cycle of lives known as Samsara, each time in a body which is born and dies. People gain karma by acting, which prompts the need for reincarnation.

The Bhagavad Gita states;

Hindus believe the self or soul (atman) repeatedly takes on a physical body.

Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be. As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from childhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change. (2: 12-13)

and,

Worn-out garments are shed by the body; Worn-out bodies are shed by the dweller within the body. New bodies are donned by the dweller, like garments. (2:22)[84]

According to the Hindu sage Adi Shankaracharya, the world – as we ordinarily understand it – is like a dream: fleeting and illusory. To be trapped in samsara (the cycle of birth and death) is a result of ignorance of the true nature of our existence. It is ignorance (avidya) of one’s true self that leads to ego-consciousness, grounding one in desire and a perpetual chain of reincarnation. The idea is intricately linked to action (karma), a concept first recorded in the Upanishads. Every action has a reaction and the force determines one’s next incarnation. One is reborn through desire: a person desires to be born because he or she wants to enjoy a body,[85] which can never bring deep, lasting happiness or peace (ānanda). After many births every person becomes dissatisfied and begins to seek higher forms of happiness through spiritual experience. When, after spiritual practice (sādhanā), a person realizes that the true “self” is the immortal soul rather than the body or the ego all desires for the pleasures of the world will vanish since they will seem insipid compared to spiritual ānanda. When all desire has vanished the person will not be born again.[86] When the cycle of rebirth thus comes to an end, a person is said to have attained liberation (moksha).[87] All schools agree this implies the cessation of worldly desires and freedom from the cycle of birth and death, though the exact definition differs. Followers of the Advaita Vedanta school believe they will spend eternity absorbed in the perfect peace and happiness of the realization that all existence is One Brahman of which the soul is part. Dvaita schools perform worship with the goal of spending eternity in a spiritual world or heaven (loka) in the blessed company of the Supreme Being.[88]

Jainism

 

Jainism is historically connected with the sramana tradition with which the earliest mentions of reincarnation are associated.[89]

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The hand with a wheel on the palm symbolizes the Jain Vow of Ahiṃsā. The word in the middle is “ahimsa”. The wheel represents the dharmacakra which stands for the resolve to halt the cycle of reincarnation through relentless pursuit of truth and non-violence.

Karma forms a central and fundamental part of Jain faith, being intricately connected to other of its philosophical concepts like transmigration, reincarnation, liberation, non-violence (ahiṃsā) and non-attachment, among others. Actions are seen to have consequences: some immediate, some delayed, even into future incarnations. So the doctrine of karma is not considered simply in relation to one life-time, but also in relation to both future incarnations and past lives.[90] Uttarādhyayana-sūtra 3.3–4 states: “The jīva or the soul is sometimes born in the world of gods, sometimes in hell. Sometimes it acquires the body of a demon; all this happens on account of its karma. This jīva sometimes takes birth as a worm, as an insect or as an ant.”[91] The text further states (32.7): “Karma is the root of birth and death. The souls bound by karma go round and round in the cycle of existence.”[91]

Actions and emotions in the current lifetime affect future incarnations depending on the nature of the particular karma. For example, a good and virtuous life indicates a latent desire to experience good and virtuous themes of life. Therefore, such a person attracts karma that ensures that his future births will allow him to experience and manifest his virtues and good feelings unhindered.[92] In this case, he may take birth in heaven or in a prosperous and virtuous human family. On the other hand, a person who has indulged in immoral deeds, or with a cruel disposition, indicates a latent desire to experience cruel themes of life.[93] As a natural consequence, he will attract karma which will ensure that he is reincarnated in hell, or in lower life forms, to enable his soul to experience the cruel themes of life.[93]

There is no retribution, judgment or reward involved but a natural consequences of the choices in life made either knowingly or unknowingly. Hence, whatever suffering or pleasure that a soul may be experiencing in its present life is on account of choices that it has made in the past.[94] As a result of this doctrine, Jainism attributes supreme importance to pure thinking and moral behavior.[95]

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The soul travels to any one of the four states of existence after the death depending on its karmas

The Jain texts postulate four gatis, that is states-of-existence or birth-categories, within which the soul transmigrates. The four gatis are: deva (demi-gods), manuṣya (humans), nāraki (hell beings) and tiryañca (animals, plants and micro-organisms).[96] The four gatis have four corresponding realms or habitation levels in the vertically tiered Jain universe: demi-gods occupy the higher levels where the heavens are situated; humans, plants and animals occupy the middle levels; and hellish beings occupy the lower levels where seven hells are situated.[96]

Single-sensed souls, however, called nigoda,[note 1] and element-bodied souls pervade all tiers of this universe. Nigodas are souls at the bottom end of the existential hierarchy. They are so tiny and undifferentiated, that they lack even individual bodies, living in colonies. According to Jain texts, this infinity of nigodas can also be found in plant tissues, root vegetables and animal bodies.[97] Depending on its karma, a soul transmigrates and reincarnates within the scope of this cosmology of destinies. The four main destinies are further divided into sub-categories and still smaller sub–sub categories. In all, Jain texts speak of a cycle of 8.4 million birth destinies in which souls find themselves again and again as they cycle within samsara.[98]

In Jainism, God has no role to play in an individual’s destiny; one’s personal destiny is not seen as a consequence of any system of reward or punishment, but rather as a result of its own personal karma. A text from a volume of the ancient Jain canon, Bhagvati sūtra 8.9.9, links specific states of existence to specific karmas. Violent deeds, killing of creatures having five sense organs, eating fish, and so on, lead to rebirth in hell. Deception, fraud and falsehood leads to rebirth in the animal and vegetable world. Kindness, compassion and humble character result in human birth; while austerities and the making and keeping of vows leads to rebirth in heaven.[99]

Each soul is thus responsible for its own predicament, as well as its own salvation. Accumulated karma represent a sum total of all unfulfilled desires, attachments and aspirations of a soul.[100][101] It enables the soul to experience the various themes of the lives that it desires to experience.[100] Hence a soul may transmigrate from one life form to another for countless of years, taking with it the karma that it has earned, until it finds conditions that bring about the required fruits. In certain philosophies, heavens and hells are often viewed as places for eternal salvation or eternal damnation for good and bad deeds. But according to Jainism, such places, including the earth are simply the places which allow the soul to experience its unfulfilled karma.[102]

Buddhism

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/32/Dazu_Wheel_of_Reincarnation.JPG/170px-Dazu_Wheel_of_Reincarnation.JPG

 

In this 8-meter (25-foot) tall Buddhist relief, made sometime between the years 1177 and 1249, Mara, Lord of Death and Desire, clutches a Wheel of Reincarnation which outlines the Buddhist cycle of reincarnation.

The early Buddhist texts make it clear that there is no permanent consciousness that moves from life to life.[103] Gautama Buddha taught a distinct concept of rebirth constrained by the concepts of anattā, that there is no irreducible ātman or “self” tying these lives together, which serves as a contrast to Hinduism, where everything is connected, and in a sense, “everything is everything.”[104] and anicca, that all compounded things are subject to dissolution, including all the components of the human person and personality.

In Buddhist doctrine the evolving consciousness (Pali: samvattanika-viññana)[105][106] or stream of consciousness (Pali: viññana-sotam,[107] Sanskrit: vijñāna-srotām, vijñāna-santāna, or citta-santāna) upon death (or “the dissolution of the aggregates” (P. khandhas, S. skandhas)), becomes one of the contributing causes for the arising of a new aggregation. At the death of one personality, a new one comes into being, much as the flame of a dying candle can serve to light the flame of another.[108][109] The consciousness in the new person is neither identical to nor entirely different from that in the deceased but the two form a causal continuum or stream. Transmigration is the effect of karma (kamma)[110][111] or volitional action.[112] The basic cause is the abiding of consciousness in ignorance (Pali: avijja, Sanskrit: avidya): when ignorance is uprooted rebirth ceases.[113]

The Buddha’s detailed conception of the connections between action (karma), rebirth and causality is set out in the twelve links of dependent origination. The empirical, changing self does not only affect the world about it, it also generates, consciously and unconsciously, a subjective image of the world in which it lives as ‘reality’. It “tunes in” to a particular level of consciousness which has a particular range of objects, selectively notices such objects and forms a partial model of reality in which the ego is the crucial reference point. Vipassana meditation uses “bare attention” to mind-states without interfering, owning or judging. Observation reveals each moment as an experience of an individual mind-state such as a thought, a memory, a feeling or a perception that arises, exists and ceases. This limits the power of desire, which, according to the second noble truth of Buddhism, is the cause of suffering (dukkha), and leads to Nirvana (nibbana, vanishing (of the self-idea)) in which self-oriented models are transcended and “the world stops”.[114] Thus consciousness is a continuous birth and death of mind-states: rebirth is the persistence of this process.

While all Buddhist traditions accept rebirth there is no unified view about precisely how events unfold after death. The Tibetan schools hold to the notion of a bardo (intermediate state) that can last up to forty-nine days. An accomplished or realized practitioner (by maintaining conscious awareness during the death process) can choose to return to samsara, that many lamas choose to be born again and again as humans and are called tulkus or incarnate lamas. The Sarvastivada school believed that between death and rebirth there is a sort of limbo in which beings do not yet reap the consequences of their previous actions but may still influence their rebirth. The death process and this intermediate state were believed to offer a uniquely favourable opportunity for spiritual awakening. Theravada Buddhism generally denies there is an intermediate state, though some early Buddhist texts seem to support it,[115][116] but asserts that rebirth is immediate.

Some schools conclude that karma continues to exist and adhere to the person until it works out its consequences. For the Sautrantika school each act “perfumes” the individual or “plants a seed” that later germinates. In another view remaining impure aggregates, skandhas, reform consciousness. Tibetan Buddhism stresses the state of mind at the time of death. To die with a peaceful mind will stimulate a virtuous seed and a fortunate rebirth, a disturbed mind will stimulate a non-virtuous seed and an unfortunate rebirth.[117] The medieval Pali scholar Buddhaghosa labeled the consciousness that constitutes the condition for a new birth as described in the early texts “rebirth-linking consciousness” (patisandhi).

Sant mystics and Sikhism

Reincarnation remained a tenet of the Sant Bhakti movement and of related mystics on the frontiers of Islam and Hinduism such as the Baul minstrels, the Kabir panth and the Sikh Brotherhood. Sikhs believe the soul is passed from one body to another until Liberation. If we perform good deeds and actions and remember the Creator, we attain a better life while, if we carry out evil actions and sinful deeds, we will be incarnated in “lower” life forms. God may pardon wrongs and release us.[118] Otherwise reincarnation is due to the law of cause and effect but does not create any caste or differences among people. Eckankar is a Western presentation of Sant mysticism.[119] It teaches that the soul is eternal and either chooses an incarnation for growth or else an incarnation is imposed because of Karma. The soul is perfected through a series of incarnations until it arrives at “Personal Mastery”.

African Vodun

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/The_Childrens_Museum_of_Indianapolis_-_Egungun_masquerade_dance_garment.jpg/220px-The_Childrens_Museum_of_Indianapolis_-_Egungun_masquerade_dance_garment.jpg

 

A Egungun masquerade dance garment in the permanent collection of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

The Yoruba believe in reincarnation within the family. The names Babatunde (father returns), Yetunde (Mother returns), Babatunji (Father wakes once again) and Sotunde (The wise man returns) all offer vivid evidence of the Ifa concept of familial or lineal rebirth. There is no simple guarantee that your grandfather or great uncle will “come back” in the birth of your child, however.

Whenever the time arrives for a spirit to return to Earth (otherwise known as The Marketplace) through the conception of a new life in the direct bloodline of the family, one of the component entities of a person’s being returns, while the other remains in Heaven (Ikole Orun). The spirit that returns does so in the form of a Guardian Ori. One’s Guardian Ori, which is represented and contained in the crown of the head, represents not only the spirit and energy of one’s previous blood relative, but the accumulated wisdom he or she has acquired through a myriad of lifetimes. This is not to be confused with one’s spiritual Ori, which contains personal destiny, but instead refers to the coming back to The Marketplace of one’s personal blood Ori through one’s new life and experiences. The explanation in The Way of the Orisa[120] was really quite clear. The Primary Ancestor (which should be identified in your Itefa (Life Path Reading)) becomes – if you are aware and work with that specific energy – a “guide” for the individual throughout their lifetime. At the end of that life they return to their identical spirit self and merge into one, taking the additional knowledge gained from their experience with the individual as a form of payment.

Islam

The idea of reincarnation is accepted by a few Muslim sects, particularly of the (Ghulat),[121] and by other sects in the Muslim world such as Druzes.[122] Historically, South Asian Isma’ilis performed chantas yearly, one of which is for sins committed in past lives.[123] (Aga Khan IV) Sinan ibn Salman ibn Muhammad, also known as Rashid al-Din Sinan, (r. 1162-92) subscribed to the transmigration of souls as a tenet of the Alawi,[124] who are thought to have been influenced by Isma’ilism.

Modern Sufis who embrace the idea of reincarnation include Bawa Muhaiyadeen.[125] However Hazrat Inayat Khan has criticized the idea as unhelpful to the spiritual seeker.[126]

Judaism

Reincarnation is not an essential tenet of traditional Judaism.[127] It is not mentioned in the Tanakh (“Hebrew Bible”), the classical rabbinical works (Mishnah and Talmud), or Maimonides13 Principles of Faith, though the tale of the Ten Martyrs in the Yom Kippur liturgy, who were killed by Romans to atone for the souls of the ten brothers of Joseph, is read in Ashkenazi Orthodox Jewish communities. Medieval Jewish Rationalist philosophers discussed the issue, often in rejection. However, Jewish mystical texts (the Kabbalah), from their classic Medieval canon onwards, teach a belief in Gilgul Neshamot (Hebrew for metempsychosis of souls: literally “soul cycle”, plural “gilgulim”). It is a common belief in contemporary Hasidic Judaism, which regards the Kabbalah as sacred and authoritative, though unstressed in favour of a more innate psychological mysticism. Other, Non-Hasidic, Orthodox Jewish groups while not placing a heavy emphasis on reincarnation, do acknowledge it as a valid teaching.[128] Its popularisation entered modern secular Yiddish literature and folk motif.

The 16th-century mystical renaissance in communal Safed replaced scholastic Rationalism as mainstream traditional Jewish theology, both in scholarly circles and in the popular imagination. References to gilgul in former Kabbalah became systemised as part of the metaphysical purpose of creation. Isaac Luria (the Ari) brought the issue to the centre of his new mystical articulation, for the first time, and advocated identification of the reincarnations of historic Jewish figures that were compiled by Haim Vital in his Shaar HaGilgulim.[129] Gilgul is contrasted with the other processes in Kabbalah of Ibbur (“pregnancy”), the attachment of a second soul to an individual for (or by) good means, and Dybuk (“possession”), the attachment of a spirit, demon, etc. to an individual for (or by) “bad” means.

In Lurianic Kabbalah, reincarnation is not retributive or fatalistic, but an expression of Divine compassion, the microcosm of the doctrine of cosmic rectification of creation. Gilgul is a heavenly agreement with the individual soul, conditional upon circumstances. Luria’s radical system focused on rectification of the Divine soul, played out through Creation. The true essence of anything is the divine spark within that gives it existence. Even a stone or leaf possesses such a soul that “came into this world to receive a rectification”. A human soul may occasionally be exiled into lower inanimate, vegetative or animal creations. The most basic component of the soul, the nefesh, must leave at the cessation of blood production. There are four other soul components and different nations of the world possess different forms of souls with different purposes. Each Jewish soul is reincarnated in order to fulfil each of the 613 Mosaic commandments that elevate a particular spark of holiness associated with each commandment. Once all the Sparks are redeemed to their spiritual source, the Messianic Era begins. Non-Jewish observance of the 7 Laws of Noah assists the Jewish people, though Biblical adversaries of Israel reincarnate to oppose.

Rabbis who accepted reincarnation include the mystical leaders Nahmanides (the Ramban) and Rabbenu Bahya ben Asher, Levi ibn Habib (the Ralbah), Shelomoh Alkabez, the Baal Shem Tov and later Hasidic masters, and the Mitnagdic Vilna Gaon. Rabbis who have rejected the idea include Saadia Gaon, David Kimhi, Hasdai Crescas, Joseph Albo, Abraham ibn Daud and Leon de Modena. Among the Geonim, Hai Gaon argued in favour of gilgulim.

Native American nations

Reincarnation is an intrinsic part of many Native American and Inuit[130] traditions. In the now heavily Christian Polar North (now mainly parts of Greenland and Nunavut), the concept of reincarnation is enshrined in the Inuit language.[131]

The following is a story of human-to-human reincarnation as told by Thunder Cloud, a Winnebago shaman referred to as T. C. in the narrative. Here T. C. talks about his two previous lives and how he died and came back again to this his third lifetime. He describes his time between lives, when he was “blessed” by Earth Maker and all the abiding spirits and given special powers, including the ability to heal the sick.

T. C.’s Account of His Two Reincarnations

I (my ghost) was taken to the place where the sun sets (the west). … While at that place, I thought I would come back to earth again, and the old man with whom I was staying said to me, “My son, did you not speak about wanting to go to the earth again?” I had, as a matter of fact, only thought of it, yet he knew what I wanted. Then he said to me, “You can go, but you must ask the chief first.” Then I went and told the chief of the village of my desire, and he said to me, “You may go and obtain your revenge upon the people who killed your relatives and you.” Then I was brought down to earth. … There I lived until I died of old age. … As I was lying [in my grave], someone said to me, “Come, let us go away.” So then we went toward the setting of the sun. There we came to a village where we met all the dead. … From that place I came to this earth again for the third time, and here I am. (Radin, 1923)[132]

Christianity

Though the major Christian denominations reject the concept of reincarnation, a large number of Christians profess the belief. In a survey by the Pew Forum in 2009, 24% of American Christians expressed a belief in reincarnation.[133] In a 1981 Survey in Europe 31% of regular churchgoing Catholics expressed a belief in reincarnation.[134]

Geddes MacGregor, an Episcopalian priest who is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a recipient of the California Literature Award (Gold Medal, non-fiction category), and the first holder of the Rufus Jones Chair in Philosophy and Religion at Bryn Mawr, demonstrates in his book Reincarnation in Christianity: A New Vision of the Role of Rebirth in Christian Thought,[135] that Christian doctrine and reincarnation are not mutually exclusive belief systems.

New religious movements

Theosophy

The Theosophical Society draws much of its inspiration from India. The idea is, according to a recent Theosophical writer, “the master-key to modern problems,” including heredity.[136] In the Theosophical world-view reincarnation is the vast rhythmic process by which the soul, the part of a person which belongs to the formless non-material and timeless worlds, unfolds its spiritual powers in the world and comes to know itself. It descends from sublime, free, spiritual realms and gathers experience through its effort to express itself in the world. Afterwards there is a withdrawal from the physical plane to successively higher levels of Reality, in death, a purification and assimilation of the past life. Having cast off all instruments of personal experience it stands again in its spiritual and formless nature, ready to begin its next rhythmic manifestation, every lifetime bringing it closer to complete self-knowledge and self-expression. However it may attract old mental, emotional, and energetic karma patterns to form the new personality.

Eckankar

Awareness of past lives, dreams, and soul travel are spiritual disciplines practiced by students of Eckankar. Eckankar teaches that each person is Soul, which transcends time and space. Soul travel is a term specific to Eckankar that refers to a shift in consciousness. Eckists believe the purpose of being aware of past lives is to help with understanding personal conditions in the present. Practicing students of Eckankar can become aware of past lives, through dreams, soul travel, and spiritual exercises called contemplations. This form of contemplation is the active, unconditional practice of going within to connect with the “Light and Sound of God” known as the divine life current or Holy Spirit.

Scientology

Past reincarnation, usually termed “past lives”, is a key part of the principles and practices of the Church of Scientology. Scientologists believe that the human individual is actually an immortal thetan, or spiritual entity, that has fallen into a degraded state as a result of past-life experiences. Scientology auditing is intended to free the person of these past-life traumas and recover past-life memory, leading to a higher state of spiritual awareness. This idea is echoed in their highest fraternal religious order, the Sea Organization, whose motto is “Revenimus” or “We Come Back”, and whose members sign a “billion-year contract” as a sign of commitment to that ideal. L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, does not use the word “reincarnation” to describe its beliefs, noting that: “The common definition of reincarnation has been altered from its original meaning. The word has come to mean ‘to be born again in different life forms’ whereas its actual definition is ‘to be born again into the flesh of another body.’ Scientology ascribes to this latter, original definition of reincarnation.”[137]

The first writings in Scientology regarding past lives date from around 1951 and slightly earlier. In 1960, Hubbard published a book on past lives entitled Have You Lived Before This Life. In 1968 he wrote Mission into Time, a report on a five-week sailing expedition to Sardinia, Sicily and Carthage to see if specific evidence could be found to substantiate L. Ron Hubbard’s recall of incidents in his own past, centuries ago.

Meher Baba

The Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba stated that reincarnation occurs due to desires and once those desires are extinguished the ego-mind ceases to reincarnate:

The power that keeps the individual soul bound to the wheel of life and death is its thirst for separate existence, which is a condition for a host of cravings connected with objects and experiences of the world of duality. It is for the fulfillment of cravings that the ego-mind keeps on incarnating itself. When all forms of craving disappear, the impressions which create and enliven the ego-mind disappear. With the disappearance of these impressions, the ego-mind itself is shed with the result that there is only the realisation of the one eternal, unchanging Oversoul or God, Who is the only reality. God-realisation is the end of the incarnations of the ego-mind because it is the end of its very existence. As long as the ego-mind exists in some form, there is an inevitable and irresistible urge for incarnations. When there is cessation of the ego-mind, there is cessation of incarnations in the final fulfillment of Self-realisation.[138]

Notes

1.      ^ The Jain hierarchy of life classifies living beings on the basis of the senses: five-sensed beings like humans and animals are at the top, and single sensed beings like microbes and plants are at the bottom.

References

1.       ^ The Buddhist concept of rebirth is also often referred to as reincarnation.see Charles Taliaferro, Paul Draper, Philip L. Quinn, A Companion to Philosophy of Religion. John Wiley and Sons, 2010, page 640, Google Books.

2.       ^ Gananath Obeyesekere, Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth. University of California Press, 2002, page 15.

3.       ^ Hitti, Philip K (2007) [1924]. Origins of the Druze People and Religion, with Extracts from their Sacred Writings (New Edition). Columbia University Oriental Studies. 28. London: Saqi. pp. 13–14. ISBN 0-86356-690-1

4.       ^ Heindel, Max (1985) [1939, 1908] The Rosicrucian Christianity Lectures (Collected Works): The Riddle of Life and Death. Oceanside, California. 4th edition. ISBN 0-911274-84-7

5.       ^ a b c Popular psychology, belief in life after death and reincarnation in the Nordic countries, Western and Eastern EuropePDF (54.8 KB)

6.       ^ Tucker, Jim B. (2005). Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children’s Memories of Previous Lives, p.186.

7.       ^ “Encyclopædia Britannica”. Concise.britannica.com. http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/article-9063098/metempsychosis. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

8.       ^ Karl Sigmund. “Gödel Exhibition: Gödel’s Century”. Goedelexhibition.at. http://www.goedelexhibition.at/goedel/goedel.html. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

9.       ^ “Heart of Hinduism: Reincarnation and Samsara”. Hinduism.iskcon.com. http://hinduism.iskcon.com/concepts/102.htm. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

10.    ^ Brodd, Jefferey (2003). World Religions. Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press. ISBN 9780884897255.

11.    ^ Teachings of Queen Kunti by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Chapter 18 “To become Brahma is not a very easy thing…. But he is also a living entity like us.”

12.    ^ “Reincarnation in Buddhism: What the Buddha Didn’t Teach” By Barbara O’Brien, About.com

13.    ^ Transform Your Life: A Blissful Journey, pages 52-55), Tharpa Publications (2001, US ed. 2007) ISBN 978-0-9789067-4-0

14.    ^ “The Five Precepts”. Urbandharma.org. http://www.urbandharma.org/kusala/revkus/5precepts.html. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

15.    ^ Mullasadra.org[dead link]

16.    ^ (French) Faye, Louis Diène, “Mort et Naissance Le Monde Sereer”, Les Nouvelles Edition Africaines (1983), pp 9-10, ISBN 2-7236-0868-9

17.    ^ Gravrand, Henry, “La Civilisation Sereer – Pangool“, vol.2, Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines du Senegal, 1990. pp, 9, 20 & 77, ISBN 2-7236-1055-1

18.    ^ Gravrand, Henry, “Cosaan”, p 62-87

19.    ^ Gravrand, Henry, “Pangool”, pp 150-172

20.    ^ Gravrand, Henry, “La civilisation sereer, Cosaan : les origines”, vol.1, Nouvelles Editions africaines (1983), p 33, ISBN 2723608778

21.    ^ Faye, Louise Diène, “Mort et Naissance le monde Sereer”, Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines, 1983. pp 17-25. ISBN 2-7236-0868-9

22.    ^ Thiaw, Issa Laye, “La religiosité des Seereer, avant et pendant leur islamisation”, in Éthiopiques, no. 54, volume 7, 2e semestre 1991

23.    ^ Diodorus Siculus thought the Druids might have been influenced by the teachings of Pythagoras. Diodorus Siculus v.28.6; Hippolytus Philosophumena i.25.

24.    ^ one modern scholar has speculated that Buddhist missionaries had been sent to Britain by the Indian king Ashoka. Donald A.Mackenzie, Buddhism in pre-Christian Britain (1928:21).

25.    ^ M. Dillon and N. Chadwick, The Celtic Realms, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London,[page needed]

26.    ^ Ara, Mitra (2008). Eschatology in the Indo-Iranian traditions: The Genesis and Transformation of a Doctrine. Peter Lang Publishing Inc., New York, USA. ISBN 1433102501. pp. 99-100.

27.    ^ Flood, Gavin. Olivelle, Patrick. 2003. The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Malden: Blackwell. pg. 273-4. “The second half of the first millennium BCE was the period that created many of the ideological and institutional elements that characterize later Indian religions. The renouncer tradtion played a central role during this formative period of Indian religious history….Some of the fundamental values and beliefs that we generally associate with Indian religions in general and Hinduism in particular were in part the creation of the renouncer tradition. These include the two pillars of Indian theologies: samsara – the belief that life in this world is one of suffering and subject to repeated deaths and births (rebirth); moksa/nirvana – the goal of human existence…..”

28.    ^ Gavin D. Flood, An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press (1996), UK ISBN 0-521-43878-0 p. 86 – “A third alternative is that the origin of transmigration theory lies outside of vedic or sramana traditions in the tribal religions of the Ganges valley, or even in Dravidian traditions of south India.”

29.    ^ Arvind Sharma’s review of Hajime Nakamura‘s A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Jul., 1987), page 330.

30.    ^ T.U.Mehta,Path of Arhat – A Religious Democracy Pujya Sohanalala Smaraka Parsvantha Sodhapitha, 1993, Pages 7-8

31.    ^ P. 99 Religion and aging in the Indian tradition By Shrinivas Tilak

32.    ^ Provide reference(s) if this refers to rebirth?

33.    ^ “As is now almost universally accepted by informed Indological scholarship, a re-examination of early Buddhist historical material, …, necessitates a redating of the Buddha’s death to between 411 and 400 BCE.” Paul Dundas, The Jains, 2nd edition, (Routledge, 2001), p. 24.

34.    ^ Karel Werner, The Longhaired Sage in The Yogi and the Mystic, Curzon Press, 1989, page 34. Wayman… traces them particularly in the older Upanishads, in early Buddhism, and in some later literature.”

35.    ^ Paul Williams, Anthony Tribe, Buddhist thought: a complete introduction to the Indian tradition. Routledge, 2000, page 84.

36.    ^ Karel Werner, The Yogi and the Mystic. Routledge 1994, page 27.

37.    ^ Gavin D. Flood, The ascetic self: subjectivity, memory and tradition. Cambridge University Press, 2004, page 136.

38.    ^ Joanna Macy, Mutual causality in Buddhism and general systems theory: the dharma of natural systems. SUNY Press, 1991, page 163.

39.    ^ Schibli, S., Hermann, Pherekydes of Syros, p. 104, Oxford Univ. Press 2001

40.    ^ “The dates of his life cannot be fixed exactly, but assuming the approximate correctness of the statement of Aristoxenus (ap. Porph. V.P. 9) that he left Samos to escape the tyranny of Polycrates at the age of forty, we may put his birth round about 570 BCE, or a few years earlier. The length of his life was variously estimated in antiquity, but it is agreed that he lived to a fairly ripe old age, and most probably he died at about seventy-five or eighty.” William Keith Chambers Guthrie, (1978), A history of Greek philosophy, Volume 1: The earlier Presocratics and the Pythagoreans, page 173. Cambridge University Press

41.    ^ Linforth, Ivan M. (1941) The Arts of Orpheus Arno Press, New York, OCLC 514515

42.    ^ Long, Herbert S. (1948) A Study of the doctrine of metempsychosis in Greece, from Pythagoras to Plato (Long’s 1942 Ph.D. dissertation) Princeton, New Jersey, OCLC 1472399

43.    ^ Long, Herbert S. (16 February 1948) “Plato’s Doctrine of Metempsychosis and Its Source” The Classical Weekly 41(10): pp. 149—155

44.    ^ Menander, The Inspired Woman

45.    ^ Lucian, Gallus, 18 et seq.

46.    ^ Poesch, Jessie (1962) “Ennius and Basinio of Parma” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 25(1/2): pp. 116—118, page 117, FN15

47.    ^ Lucretius, (i. 124)

48.    ^ Horace, Epistles, II. i. 52

49.    ^ Virgil, The Aeneid, vv. 724 et seq.

50.    ^ The book Reincarnation in Christianity, by the theosophist Geddes MacGregor (1978) asserted that Origen believed in reincarnation. MacGregor is convinced that Origen believed in and taught about reincarnation but that his texts written about the subject have been destroyed. He admits that there is no extant proof for that position. The allegation was also repeated by Shirley MacLaine in her book Out On a Limb. Origen does discuss the concept of transmigration (metensomatosis) from Greek philosophy, but it is repeatedly stated that this concept is not a part of the Christian teaching or scripture in his Comment on the Gospel of Matthew (which survives only in a 6th-century Latin translatio): “In this place [when Jesus said Elijah was come and referred to John the Baptist] it does not appear to me that by Elijah the soul is spoken of, lest I fall into the doctrine of transmigration, which is foreign to the Church of God, and not handed down by the apostles, nor anywhere set forth in the scriptures” (13:1:46–53, see Commentary on Matthew, Book XIII

51.    ^ Much of this is documented in R.E. Slater’s book Paradise Reconsidered.

52.    ^ Richard Foltz, Religions of the Silk Road, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010

53.    ^ Julius Caesar, “De Bello Gallico”, VI

54.    ^ tr. Giles 1889, p. 304

55.    ^ “Newadvent.org”. Newadvent.org. 1911-02-01. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11583b.htm. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

56.    ^ Steven Runciman, The Medieval Manichee: A Study of the Christian Dualist Heresy, 1982, isbn=0521289262, Cambridge University Press, The Bogomils, Google Books

57.    ^ For example Dondaine, Antoine. O.P. Un traite neo-manicheen du XIIIe siecle: Le Liber de duobus principiis, suivi d’un fragment de rituel Cathare (Rome: Institutum Historicum Fratrum Praedicatorum, 1939)

58.    ^ “Newadvent.org”. Newadvent.org. 1907-03-01. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01267e.htm. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

59.    ^ “Bellow’s translation of Helgakviða Hundingsbana II”. Sacred-texts.com. http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe20.htm. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

60.    ^ “the souls must always be the same, for if none be destroyed they will not diminish in number.” Republic X, 611. The Republic of Plato By Plato, Benjamin Jowett Edition: 3 Published by Clarendon press, 1888.

61.    ^ In a letter to his friend George Whatley written May 23, 1785: Jennifer T. Kennedy, Death Effects: Revisiting the conceit of Franklin’s Memoir, Early American Literature, 2001. JSTOR

62.    ^ Marsilio Ficino, Platonic Theology, 17.3-4

63.    ^ “Again, Rosalind in “As You Like It” (Act III., Scene 2), says: I was never so be-rhimed that I can remember since Pythagoras’s time, when I was an Irish rat” — alluding to the doctrine of the transmigration of souls.” William H. Grattan Flood, quoted at Libraryireland.com

64.    ^ Boulting, 1914. pp. 163-64

65.    ^ a b Berger, Arthur S.; Berger, Joyce (1991). The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. Paragon House Publishers. ISBN 1557780439.

66.    ^ Schopenhauer, A: “Parerga und Paralipomena” (Eduard Grisebach edition), On Religion, Section 177

67.    ^ Nietzsche and the Doctrine of Metempsychosis, in J. Urpeth & J. Lippitt, Nietzsche and the Divine, Manchester: Clinamen, 2000

68.    ^ a b “Shirleymaclaine.com”. Shirleymaclaine.com. http://www.shirleymaclaine.com/articles/reincarnation/article-318. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

69.    ^ David Hammerman, Lisa Lenard, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Reincarnation, Penguin, p.34. For relevant works by James, see; William James, Human Immortality: Two Supposed Objections to the Doctrine (the Ingersoll Lecture, 1897), The Will to Believe, Human Immortality (1956) Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-20291-7, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (1902), ISBN 0-14-039034-0, Essays in Radical Empiricism (1912) Dover Publications 2003, ISBN 0-486-43094-4

70.    ^ Richmal Crompton, More William, George Newnes, London, 1924, XIII. William and the Ancient Souls; “The memory usually came in a flash. For instance, you might remember in a flash when you were looking at a box of matches that you had been Guy Fawkes.”

71.    ^ Théodore Flournoy, Des Indes à la planète Mars, Étude sur un cas de somnambulisme avec glossolalie, Éditions Alcan et Eggimann, Paris et Genève, 1900

72.    ^ Cadoret, Remi. Book Review: European Cases of the Reincarnation Type The American Journal of Psychiatry, April 2005.

73.    ^ Shroder, T (2007-02-11). “Ian Stevenson; Sought To Document Memories Of Past Lives in Children”. The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/10/AR2007021001393.html?nav=hcmodule.

74.    ^ Rockley, Richard. Book Review: Children who remember previous lives

75.    ^ Sagan, Carl (1996). Demon Haunted World. Random House. p. 300. ISBN 978-0394535128.

76.    ^ “Ian Stevenson; Sought To Document Memories Of Past Lives in Children”. Washingtonpost.com. 2007-02-11. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/10/AR2007021001393.html?nav=hcmodule. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

77.    ^ Tony Walter and Helen Waterhouse, “A Very Private Belief: Reincarnation in Contemporary England“. Sociology of Religion, Vol. 60, 1999

78.    ^ a b c “Popular psychology, belief in life after death and reincarnation in the Nordic countries, Western and Eastern Europe” (PDF). http://www.hi.is/~erlendur/english/Nordic_Psychology_erlhar06.pdf. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

79.    ^ China Regulates Buddhist Reincarnation[dead link]

80.    ^ Lynda Obst (February 2006). “Valentine to science – interview with Carl Sagan”. Interview. p. 2. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1285/is_n2_v26/ai_18082728/pg_3. Retrieved 20 May 2008. [dead link]

81.    ^ Jane Henry (2005). Parapsychology: research on exceptional experiences Routledge, p. 224.

82.    ^ Walter, T.; Waterhouse, H. (1999). “A very private belief: Reincarnation in contemporary England”. Sociology of Religion 60 (2): 187–197. doi:10.2307/3711748. JSTOR 3711748. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0SOR/is_2_60/ai_55208520/. Retrieved 2009-06-25.

83.    ^ Waterhouse, H. (1999). “Reincarnation belief in Britain: New age orientation or mainstream option?”. Journal of Contemporary Religion 14 (1): 97–109. doi:10.1080/13537909908580854. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a794456285. Retrieved 2009-06-26.

84.    ^ Bhagavad Gita II.22, ISBN 1-56619-670-1

85.    ^ See Bhagavad Gita XVI.8-20

86.    ^ Rinehart, Robin, ed., Contemporary Hinduism19-21 (2004) ISBN 1-57607-905-8

87.    ^ Karel Werner, A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism 110 (Curzon Press 1994) ISBN 0-7007-0279-2

88.    ^ Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Translation by Swami Nikhilananda (8th Ed. 1992) ISBN 0-911206-01-9

89.    ^ “The sudden appearance of this theory [of karma] in a full-fledged form is likely to be due, as already pointed out, to an impact of the wandering muni-and-shramana-cult, coming down from the pre-Vedic non-Aryan time.” Kashi Nsadcwath Upadhyaya, Early Buddhism and the Bhagavadgita. Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1998, page 76.

90.    ^ Kuhn, Hermann (2001) pp. 226–230

91.    ^ a b Krishan, Yuvraj (1997): p. 43.

92.    ^ Kuhn, Hermann (2001) pp.70–71

93.    ^ a b Kuhn, Hermann (2001) pp.64–66

94.    ^ Kuhn, Hermann (2001) p.15

95.    ^ Rankin, Aidan (2006) p.67

96.    ^ a b Jaini, Padmanabh (1998) p.108

97.    ^ Jaini, Padmanabh (1998) pp.108–09

98.    ^ Jaini, Padmanabh (2000) p.130

99.    ^ Krishan, Yuvraj (1997) p.44

100.^ a b Kuhn, Hermann (2001) p.28

101.^ Kuhn, Hermann (2001) p.69

102.^ Kuhn, Hermann (2001) pp.65–66, 70–71

103.^ The many references in early Buddhist scriptures include; Mahakammavibhanga Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 136); Upali Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 56); Kukkuravatika Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 57); Moliyasivaka Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya 36.21); Sankha Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya 42.8). For an explicit rejection of this view in the early texts see David J. Kalupahana, Causality–the central philosophy of Buddhism. University Press of Hawaii, 1975, page 119.

104.^ Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught (London: Gordon Fraser Limited, 1990), p. 51

105.^ (M.1.256) “Post-Classical Developments in the Concepts of Karma and Rebirth in Theravada Buddhism.” by Bruce Matthews. in Karma and Rebirth: Post-Classical Developments State Univ of New York Press: 1986 ISBN 0-87395-990-6 pg 125

106.^ Collins, Steven. Selfless persons: imagery and thought in Theravāda Buddhism Cambridge University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-521-39726-X pg 215, Google Books

107.^ (D.3.105) “Post-Classical Developments in the Concepts of Karma and Rebirth in Theravada Buddhism. by Bruce Matthews. in Karma and Rebirth: Post-Classical Developments State Univ of New York Press: 1986 ISBN 0-87395-990-6 pg 125

108.^ Tucker, 2005, p.216

109.^ “PTS: Miln 71-72; 82-83; 84 (Pali Canon)”. Accesstoinsight.org. 2010-06-30. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/miln/miln.3x.kell.html#miln-3-5-05. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

110.^ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life (New York: Atria Books, 2002), p. 46

111.^ Bruce Matthews in Ronald Wesley Neufeldt, editor, Karma and Rebirth: Post Classical Developments. SUNY Press, 1986, page 125. Google.com

112.^ Rahula, p. 144

113.^ Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Accesstoinsight.org.

114.^ Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind. Curzon Press 1995, page 247.

115.^ Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. 1, p. 377

116.^ The Connected Discourses of the Buddha. A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Translator. Wisdom Publications

117.^ Transform Your Life: A Blissful Journey, page 52), Tharpa Publications (2001, US ed. 2007) ISBN 978-0-9789067-4-0

118.^ Reincarnation as understood by Sikh Religion[dead link]

119.^ Edwards, L. (2001). A Brief Guide to Beliefs: Ideas, Theologies, Mysteries, and Movements. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0664222595. http://books.google.com/?id=edT9ZBiroCQC&pg=PR11&dq=Echankar.

120.^ The Way of the Orisha by Philip John Neimark: Publisher HarperOne; 1st edition (May 28, 1993) ISBN 9780062505576

121.^ Wilson, Peter Lamborn, Scandal: Essays in Islamic Heresy, Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia. (1988). ISBN 0-936756-13-6 hardcover 0-936756-12-2 paperback

122.^ Seabrook, W. B., Adventures in Arabia, Harrap and Sons 1928, (chapters on Druze religion)

123.^ Char Joog No Chanto – Seeking forgiveness for sins from past lives

124.^ Wasserman, James (2001). The Templars and the Assassins – The Militia of Heaven. Inner Traditions International. pp. 133–137. ISBN 0-89281-859-X.

125.^ see his To Die Before Death: The Sufi Way of Life

126.^ Gnostic liberation front The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan

127.^ Reincarnation – Ask the Rabbi

128.^ Aish.com[dead link]

129.^ Sha’ar Ha’Gilgulim, The Gate of Reincarnations, Chaim Vital

130.^ Hare, John B.. “Inuit Religion”. sacred-texts.com. http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/inu/index.htm. Retrieved 1 December 2011.

131.^ Rink, Henry. “Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo”. adapted by Weimer, Christopher, M.. http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/inu/tte/index.htm. Retrieved 1 December 2011.

132.^ Jefferson, Warren (2008). Reincarnation beliefs of North American Indians : soul journeys, metamorphoses, and near-death experiences. Native Voices. ISBN 1570672121. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/272306114.

133.^ ANALYSIS December 9, 2009 (2009-12-09). “Pewforum.org”. Pewforum.org. http://pewforum.org/Other-Beliefs-and-Practices/Many-Americans-Mix-Multiple-Faiths.aspx. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

134.^ “Spiritual-wholeness.org”. Spiritual-wholeness.org. http://www.spiritual-wholeness.org/faqs/reinceur/reineuro.htm. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

135.^ Cranston, Sylvia. “Reincarnation in Christianity: A New Vision of the Role of Rebirth in Christian Thought (Quest Books) (9780835605014): Geddes MacGregor: Books”. Amazon.com. ASIN 0835605019.

136.^ “Theosophy and reincarnation”. Blavatskytrust.org.uk. http://www.blavatskytrust.org.uk/html/wr_reincarnation.htm. Retrieved 2011-12-06.

137.^ Does Scientology believe in reincarnation or past lives?

138.^ Baba, Meher, Discourses, Volume III, Sufism Reoriented, 1967, ISBN 1880619091, p. 96.

Resurrection And Afterlife

 

RESURRECTION AND AFTERLIFE

 

My dear friend, if you wish for a discussion of resurrection and the hereafter in simple and common language, in a straightforward style, then listen to the following comparison, together with my own soul.

Once two men were travelling through a land as beautiful as Paradise (by that land, Resurrection And Afterlifewe intend the world). Looking around them, they saw that everyone had left open the door of his home and his shop and was not paying attention to guarding it. Money and property were readily accessible, without anyone to claim them. One of the two travelers grasped holds of all that he fancied, stealing it and usurping it. Following his inclinations, he committed every kind of injustice and abomination. None of the people of that land moved to stop him. But his friend said to him:

“What are you doing? You will be punished, and I will be dragged into misfortune along with you. All this property belongs to the state. The people of this land, including even the children, are all soldiers or government servants. It is because they are at present civilians that they are not interfering with you. But the laws here are strict. The king has installed telephones everywhere and his agents are everywhere. Go quickly, and try to settle the matter.”

But the empty-headed man said in his obstinacy: “No, it is not state property; it belongs instead to some endowment, and has no clear or obvious owner. Everyone can make use of it as he sees fit. I see no reason to deny myself the use of these fine things. I will not believe they belong to anyone unless I see him with my own eyes.” He continued to speak in this way, with much philosophical sophistry, and an earnest discussion took place between them.

The first the empty-headed man said: “Who is the king here? I can’t see him,” and then his friend replied:

“Every village must have its headman; every needle must have its manufacturerResurrection And Afterlife and craftsman. And, as you know, every letter must be written by someone. How, then, can it be that so extremely well ordered a kingdom should have no ruler? And how can so much wealth have no owner, when every hour a train2 arrives filled with precious and artful gifts, as if coming from the realm of the unseen? And all the announcements and proclamations, all the seals and stamps, found on all those goods, all the coins and the flags waving in every corner of the kingdom – can they be without an owner? It seems you have studied foreign languages a little, and are unable to read this Islamic script. In addition, you refuse to ask those who are able to read it. Come now, let me read to you the king’s supreme decree.”

The empty-headed man then retorted:

“Well, let us suppose there is a king; what harm can he suffer from the minute use I am making of all his wealth? Will his treasury decrease on account of it? In any event, I can see nothing here resembling prison or punishment.”

His friend replied: “This land that you see is a maneuvering ground. It is, in addition, an exhibition of his wonderful royal arts. Then again it may be regarded as a temporary hospice, one devoid of foundations. Do you not see that every day one caravan arrives as another departs and vanishes? It is being constantly emptied and filled. Soon the whole land will be changed; its inhabitants will depart for another and more lasting realm. There everyone will be either rewarded or punished in accordance with his services.”

That treacherous empty-headed one retorted rebelliously: “I don’t believe it. Is it at all possible that a whole land should perish, and be transferred to another realm?”

His faithful friend then replied: “Since you are so obstinate and rebellious, come, let me demonstrate to you, with twelve out of the innumerable proofs available, that there is a Supreme Tribunal, a realm of reward and generosity and a realm of punishment and incarceration, and that just as this world is partially emptied every day, so too a day shall come when it will be totally emptied and destroyed.

The first aspect: Is it at all possible that in any kingdom, and particularly so splendid a kingdom as this, there should be no reward for those who serve obediently and no punishment for those who rebel? Reward and punishment are virtually non-existent here; there must therefore be a Supreme Tribunal somewhere else.

The second aspect: Look at the organization and administration of this kingdom! See how everyone, including the poorest and the weakest, is provided with perfect and ornate sustenance. The best care is taken of the sick. Royal and delicious foods, dishes, jewel encrusted decorations, embroidered garments, splendid feasts – all are to be found here. See how everyone pays due attention to his duties, with the exception of empty-headed people such as yourself. No one transgresses his bounds by as much as an inch. The greatest of all men is engaged in modest and obedient service, with an attitude of fear and awe. The ruler of this kingdom must Resurrection And Afterlifepossess, then, great generosity and all-embracing compassion, as well as, at the same time, great dignity, exalted awesomeness and honor. Now generosity requires liberality; compassion cannot dispense with beneficence; and awesomeness and honor make it imperative that the discourteous be chastised. But not even a thousandth part of what that generosity and awesomeness require is to be seen in this realm. The oppressor retains his power, and the oppressed, his humiliation, as they both depart and migrate from this realm. Their affairs are, then, left to the same Supreme Tribunal of which we speak.

The third aspect: See with what lofty wisdom and ordering affairs are managed, and with what true justice and balance transactions are effected! Now a wise polity requires that those who seek refuge under the protecting wing of the state should receive favor, and justice demands that the rights of subjects be preserved, so that the splendor of the state should not suffer. But here in this land, not a thousandth part of the requirements of such wisdom and justice is fulfilled; for example, empty-headed people such as yourself usually leave this realm unpunished. So again we say, matters are postponed for the consideration of a Supreme Tribunal.

The fourth aspect: Look at these innumerable and peerless jewels that are displayed here, these unparalleled dishes laid out like a banquet! They demonstrate that the ruler of these lands is possessed of infinite generosity and an inexhaustible treasury. Now such generosity and such a treasury deserve and require a bounteous display that should be eternal and include all possible objects of desire. They further require that all who come as guests to partake of that display should be there eternally and not suffer the pain of death and separation. For just as the cessation of pain is pleasurable, so too is the cessation of pleasure painful! Look at these displays and the announcements concerning them! And listen to these heralds proclaiming the fine and delicate arts of a miracle-working monarch, and demonstrating his perfections! They are declaring his peerless and invisible beauty, and speaking of the subtle manifestations of his hidden beauty; he must be possessed, then, of a great and astounding invisible beauty and perfection. This flawless hidden perfection requires one who will appreciate and admire it, thus displaying it and making it known.

As for concealed and peerless beauty, it too requires to see and be seen, or rather to behold itself in two ways. The first consists of contemplating itself in different mirrors, and the second of contemplating itself by means of the contemplation of enraptured spectators and astounded admirers. Hidden beauty wishes, then, to see and be seen, to contemplate itself eternally and be contemplated without cease. It desires also permanent existence for those who gaze upon it in awe and rapture. For eternal beauty can never be content with a transient admirer; moreover, an admirer destined to perish without hope of return will find his love turning to enmity whenever he imagines his death, and his admiration and respect will yield to contempt. It is in man’s nature to hate the unknown and the unaccustomed. Now everyone leaves the hospice of this realm very quickly and vanishes, having seen only a light or a shadow of the perfection and beauty for no more than a moment, without in any way being satiated. Hence, it is necessary that he should go towards an eternal realm where he will contemplate the Divine beauty and perfection.

The fifth aspect: See, it is evident from all these matters that that peerless Being is possessed of most great mercy. For he causes aid to be swiftly extended to every victim of misfortune, answers every question and petition; and mercifully fulfils even the lowliest need of his lowliest subject. If, for example, the foot of some herdsman’s sheep should hurt, he either provides some medicine or sends a veterinarian.

Come now, let us go; there is a great meeting on that island. All the nobles of the land are assembled there. See, a most noble commander, bearing exalted decorations, is pronouncing a discourse, and requesting certain things from that compassionate monarch. All those present say: “Yes, we too desire the same,” and affirm and assent to his words. Now listen to the words of that commander favored by his monarch:

“O King that nurtures us with his bounty! Show us the source and origin of these examples and shadows you have shown us! Draw us nigh to your seat of rule; do not let us perish in these deserts! Take us into your presence and have mercy on us! Feed us there on the delicious bounty you have caused us to taste here! Do not torment us with desperation and banishment! Do not leave your yearning, thankful and obedient subjects to their own devices; do not cause them to be annihilated!” Do you not hear him thus supplicating? Is it at all possible that so merciful and powerful a monarch should totally fulfill the finest and highest aim of his most beloved and noble commander?

Moreover, the purpose of that commander is the purpose of all men, and its fulfillment is required by the pleasure, the compassion and the justice of the king, and it is a matter of ease for him, not difficulty, causing him less difficulty than the transient places of enjoyment contained in the hospice of the world. Having spent so much effort on these places of witnessing that will last only five or six days, and on the foundation of this kingdom, in order to demonstrate instances of his power, he will, without doubt, display at his seat of rule true treasures, perfections and skills in such a manner, and open before us such spectacles, that our intellects will be astonished.

Those sent to this field of trial will not, then, be left to their own devices; palaces of bliss or dungeons await them.

The sixth aspect: Come now, look! All these imposing railways, planes, machines, warehouses, exhibitions show that behind the veil an imposing monarch exists and governs.

Such a monarch requires subjects worthy of himself. But now you see all his subjects gathered in a hospice for wayfarers, a hospice that is filled and emptied each day. It can also be said that his subjects are now gathered in a testing-ground for the sake of maneuvers and this ground also changes each hour. Again, we may say that all his subjects stay in an exhibition-hall for a few minutes to behold specimens of the monarch’s beneficence, valuable products of his miraculous art. But the exhibition itself changes each moment. Now this situation and circumstance conclusively shows that beyond the hospice, the testing-ground, the exhibition, there are permanent palaces, lasting abodes, and gardens and treasuries full of the pure and elevated originals of the samples and shapes we see in this world. It is for the sake of these that we exert ourselves here. Here we labor, and there we receive our reward. A form and degree of felicity suited to everyone’s capacity awaits us there.

Resurrection And AfterlifeThe seventh aspect: Come, let us walk a little, and see what is to be found among these civilized people. See, in every place, at every corner, photographers are sitting and taking pictures. Look, everywhere there are scribes sitting and writing things down. Everything is being recorded. They are registering the least significant of deeds, the most commonplace of events. Now look up at the tall mountain; there you see a supreme photographer installed, devoted to the service of the king; he is taking pictures of all that happens in the area. The king must, then, have issued this order; “Record all the transactions made and deeds performed in the kingdom.” In other words, that exalted personage is having all events registered and photographically recorded. The precise record he is keeping must without doubt be for the sake of one day calling his subjects to account.

Now is it at all possible that an All-Wise and All-Preserving Being, who does not neglect the most banal doings of the lowest of his subjects, should not record the most significant deeds of the greatest among his subjects, should not call them to account, should not reward and punish them? After all, it is those foremost among his subjects that perform deeds offensive to his glory, contrary to his pride and unacceptable to his compassion, and those deeds remain unpunished in this world. It must be, therefore, that their judgement is postponed to a Supreme Court

The eighth aspect: Come, let me read to you the decrees issued by that monarch. See, he repeatedly makes the following promises and dire threats: “I will take you from your present abode and bring you to the seat of my rule. There I shall bestow happiness on the obedient and imprison the disobedient. Destroying that temporary abode, I shall found a different realm containing eternal palaces and dungeons.”

He can easily fulfill the promises that he makes, of such importance for his subjects. It is, moreover, incompatible with his pride and his power that he should break his promise. So look, o confused one! You assent to the claims of your mendacious imagination, your distraught intellect, your deceptive soul, but deny the words of a being who cannot be compelled in any fashion to break his promise, whose high stature does not admit any such faithlessness, and to whose truthfulness all visible deeds bear witness. Certainly you deserve a great punishment. You resemble a traveler who closes his eyes to the light of the sun and looks instead upon his own imagination. His fancy wishes to illuminate his awesomely dark path with the light of his brain, although it is no more than a glowworm. Once that monarch makes a promise, he will by all means fulfill it. Its fulfillment is most easy for him, and moreover most necessary for us and all things, as well as for him too and his kingdom.

There is therefore, a Supreme Court, and a lofty felicity.

The ninth aspect: Come now! Look at the heads of these offices and groups. EachResurrection And Afterlife has a private telephone to speak personally with the king. Sometimes too they go directly to his presence. See what they say and unanimously report that the monarch has prepared a most magnificent and awesome place for reward and punishment. His promises are emphatic and his threats are most stern. His pride and dignity are such that he would in no way stoop to the abjectness inherent in the breaking of a promise. The bearers of this report, who are so numerous as to be universally accepted, further report with the strong unanimity of consensus that “the seat and headquarters of the lofty monarchy, some of whose traces are visible here, is in another realm far distant from here. The buildings existing in this testing-ground are but temporary, and will later be exchanged for eternal palaces. These places will change. For this magnificent and unfading monarchy, the splendor of which is apparent from its works, can in no way be founded or based on so transient, impermanent, unstable, insignificant, changing, defective and imperfect matters. It is based rather on matters worthy of it, eternal, stable, permanent and glorious.

There is, then, another realm, and of a certainty we shall go toward it.

The tenth aspect: Come, today is the vernal equinox.6 Certain changes will take place, and wondrous things will occur. On this fine spring day, let us go for a walk on the green plain adorned with beautiful flowers. See other people are also coming toward it. There must be some magic at work, for buildings that were mere ruins have suddenly sprung up again here, and this once empty plain has become like a populous city. See, every hour it shows a different scene, just like a cinema screen, and takes on a different shape. But notice, too, that among these complex, swiftly changing and multifarious scenes perfect order exists, so that all things are put in their proper places. The imaginary scenes presented to us on the cinema screen cannot be as well ordered as this, and millions of skilled magicians would be incapable of this artistry. This monarch whom we cannot see must, then, have performed even greater miracles.

O foolish one! You ask: “How can this vast kingdom be destroyed and reestablished somewhere else?”

You see that every hour numerous changes and revolutions occur, just like that transfer from one realm to another that your mind will not accept. From this gathering in and scattering forth it can be deduced that a certain purpose is concealed within these visible and swift joining and separations, these compounding and dissolving. Ten years of effort would not be devoted to a joining together destined to last no longer than an hour. So these circumstances we witness cannot be an end in them; they are a kind of parable of something beyond themselves, an imitation of it. That exalted being brings them about in miraculous fashion, so that they take shape and then merge, and the result is preserved and recorded, in just the same way that every aspect of a maneuver on the battleground is written down and recorded. This implies those proceedings at some great concourse and meeting will be based on what happens here. Further, the results of all that occurs here will be permanently displayed at some supreme exposition. All the transient and fluctuating phenomena we see here will yield the fruit of eternal and immutable form.

All the variations we observe in this world are then, for the sake of a supreme happiness, a lofty tribunal, for the sake of exalted aims as yet unknown to us.

The eleventh aspect: Come, o obstinate friend! Let us embark on a plane or a train travelling east or west, that is, to the past or the future. Let us see what miraculous works that being has accomplished in other places. Look, there are marvels on every hand like the dwellings, open spaces and exhibitions we see. But they all differ with respect to art and to form. Note well, however, what order betokening manifest wisdom, what indications of evident compassion, what signs of lofty justice, and what fruits of comprehensive mercy, are to be seen in these transient dwellings, these impermanent open spaces, these fleeting exhibitions. Anyone not totally devoid of insight will understand a certainty that no wisdom can be imagined more perfect than his, no providence more beauteous than his, no compassion more comprehensive than his, and no justice more glorious than his.

If, for the sake of argument, as you imagine, no permanent abodes, lofty places, fixed stations, lasting residences, or resident and contented population existed in the sphere of his kingdom; and if the truths of his wisdom, compassion, mercy and justice had no realm in which to manifest themselves fully (for this impermanent kingdom is no place for their full manifestation) – then we would be obliged to deny the wisdom we see, to deny the compassion we observe, to deny the mercy that is in front of our eyes, and to deny the justice the signs of which are evident. This would be as idiotic as denying the sun, the light of which we clearly see at midday. We would also have to regard the one from whom proceed all these wise measures we see, all these generous acts, all these merciful gifts, as a vile gambler or treacherous tyrant. This would be to turn truth on its head. And turning a truth into its opposite is impossible, according to the unanimous testimony of all rational beings, excepting only the idiot sophists who deny everything.

There is, then, a realm apart from the present one. In it, there is a supreme tribunal, a lofty place of justice, an exalted place of reward, where all this compassion, wisdom, mercy and justice will be made fully manifest.

The twelfth aspect: Come, let us return now. We will speak with the chiefs and officers of these various groups, and looking at their equipment will inquire whether that equipment has been given them only for the sake of subsisting for a brief period in that realm, or whether it has been given for the sake of obtaining a long life of bliss in another realm. Let us see. We cannot look at everyone and his equipment. But by way of example, let us look at the identity card and register of this officer. On his card, his rank, salary, duty, supplies and instructions are recorded. See, this rank has not been awarded him for just a few days; it may be given for a prolonged period. It says on his card: “You will receive so much salary on such-and-such a day from the treasury.” But the date in question will not arrive for a long time to come, after this realm has been vacated. Similarly, the duty mentioned on his card has not been given for this temporary realm, but rather for the sake of earning a permanent felicity in the proximity of the king. Then, too, the supplies awarded him cannot be merely for the sake of subsisting in this hospice of a few days’ duration; they can only be for the sake of a long and happy life. The instructions make it quite clear that he is destined for a different place that he is working for another realm.

Now look at these registers. They contain instructions for the use and disposition of weapons and equipment. If there were no realm other than this, one exalted and eternal, that register with its categorical instructions and that identity card with its clear information, would both be quite meaningless. Further, that respected officer, that noble commander, that honored chief, would fall to a degree lower than that of all men; he would be more wretched, luckless, abased, afflicted, indigent and weak than everyone. Apply the same principle to everything. Whatever you look upon bears witness that after this transient world another and eternal world exists.

O my dear friend! This temporary world is like a field. It is a place of instruction, a market. Without doubt a supreme tribunal and ultimate happiness will succeed it. If you deny this, you will be obliged also to deny the identity cards of all the officers, their equipment and their orders; in fact, you will have to deny too all the order existing in the country, the existence of a government in it and all the measures that the government takes. Then you will no longer deserve the name of man or the appellation of conscious. You will be more of a fool than the sophists.

Beware; do not imagine that the proofs of the transfer of creation from one realm to another are restricted to these twelve. There are indications and proofs beyond counting and enumeration, all showing that this impermanent, changing kingdom will be transformed into a permanent and immutable realm. There are also innumerable signs and evidences that men will be taken from this temporary hospice and sent to the eternal seat of rule of all creation.

Resurrection And AfterlifeNow, o my dear friend, it is your turn to speak. Say what you have to say.

“What should I say? What can be said to contradict all of this? Who can speak against the sun at midday? I say only: Praise be to God. A hundred thousand thanks that I have been saved from the dominance of fancy and vain imagination, and delivered from an eternal dungeon and prison. I have come to believe that there is an abode of felicity in the proximity of the monarch, separate from this confused and impermanent hospice.”

 

Purgatory

Purgatory

The notion of purgatory is associated particularly with the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. In the Catholic Church All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven or the final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a “cleansing fire” although it is not always called purgatory.

Anglicans of the Anglo-Catholic tradition generally also hold to the belief. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, believed in an intermediate state between death and the resurrection of the dead and in the possibility of “continuing to grow in holiness there”, but Methodism does not officially affirm this belief and denies the possibility of helping by prayer any who may be in that state.[6]