Posted: 13 Jan 2018 06:41 AM PST
The belief of reincarnation has seemingly become a lot more popular in recent years. Perhaps as more and more people are stepping away from a mainstream version of religion, they are adopting a more open perception when it comes to “the soul” and what happens to it once the body dies. Along with stepping away from religion. It seems that many “new agers” are adopting a belief system that the soul is here to learn, grow, and evolve and that all souls are actually a part of one consciousness that some call God, the Universe, Source or All That Is. Whatever you call it, many are resonating with this idea, and often acknowledge reincarnation that is also a widespread belief of those who follow the Hindu religion. So what exactly is this belief? Let’s have a look at what Hinduism teaches about reincarnation.
Reincarnation According To Hinduism
According to Hinduism, a soul will reincarnate again and again on Earth until it has learned all it’s lessons, evolved and then reunites with Source. During this process the soul will enter into many bodies being born again and again and dying again and again, assuming many different forms until it has learned all of the lessons it set out to learn. This concept is summarized in the following verse of the Bhagavad gita:
“Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discards worn out bodies and ears new ones.” (2.22)
According to Hinduism, a soul has to live many different lifetimes and undergo a substantial amount of various experiences before it attains perfection and becomes one with the Divine, or Source, or God, or whatever it is that you feel comfortable calling, It. The Hindu Theory of Creation begins when the individual souls become separated from the One. It then continues as the evolution of life and consciousness and gradually progresses on Earth in phases. During this process, some souls will return to Source through the transformation of matter, also known as Prakriti, in which they remain hidden and bound. The rest of the souls continue on their journey and return to God in the end, not through the same transformation but through the great destruction that happens at the end of each time cycle. The belief is that this great cycle of creation, which stretches over millions of years will then come to its end.
When the cycle begins, each soul is drawn and bound to a false personality which is known as jiva -loosely translated to living being. This jiva, standing for all living forms by the way, not just humans, it’s also known as the ’embodied self’ or the ‘elemental self’. It has an inner subtle body and an outer gross body. The soul remains encased within the subtle body, which is also known as the linga sarira, this body is made up of the subtle sense, the subtle mind, breath, ego and our intelligence. The gross body is made up of the animal mind, the elemental body and it’s organs – this is the physical aspect of the mind/body/computer. Each jiva has an ego-sense which arises from perceptions, knowledge, memories, desires or attachments and the feeling of diversity and separation -this is all part of the grand plan. Because of this ego-sense of awareness the jiva remains unaware of it’s true identity and experiences a form of delusion (moha), duality (dvanda), attraction (raga) and aversion (dvesa) to the opposing pairs like heat and cold or pain and pleasure. The jiva acts as though they are different and separate from the rest of all creation, this is what offers our souls the lessons that we need in order to grow and evolve. Egosim causes the desire-ridden actions and selfishness and the souls end up suffering because of it.
The body is essentially a prison and the soul is held within it as the prisoner. When the body dies the physical body and gross mind return to the earth, but the subtle body survives and then accompanies the soul to the next lifetime.
Is There More To This?
Of course, there is a lot more to this belief system and many more layers and levels in the scriptures about this whole process of life and death, birth and rebirth.
What is interesting is that we are starting to hear more and more stories of children who actually vividly remember their past lives. Some accounts are so clear and detailed with information that they simply could not have known otherwise which is causing many non-believers to at least question the theory of reincarnation. Surely, there must be something to this. You can read more about these stories HERE.
There was a really good movie that came out a few years ago called I Origins that covered this topic quite extensively in the form of a compelling cinematic film. What are your beliefs around the topic? Whether you are religious or not, how does the theory of reincarnation sit with you? Have you had any past life regression therapy or had some kind of innate knowing that this is the answer? Personally, I was raised with very minimal emphasis put on religion, we did however go to a Presbyterian church and Christian camp. As soon as I learned about Buddhism and reincarnation I felt intuitively that this was the answer. It was like a light bulb went off in my head and it just made so much more sense than anything I had been previously taught about the story of Jesus. Although, I do believe there is still some truth to that as well.
One who knows.
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