CHAPTER NO :- 12 》 WORLD LEADERS OPINION ON CONCEPT OF REINCARNATION, REVIEW OF HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE ON CONCEPT OF REINCARNATION, EVIDENCE FROM PREHISTORIC TIME, REBIRTH OF CIVILIZATIONS AND SCIENTIFIC SURVEY ON REINCARNATION.


1. World Leaders Opinion On Reincarnation

1. Gautama Buddha On  Reincarnation

▪ Samsara - the Wheel of Existence, literally, the “Perpetual Wandering”- is the name by which is designated the sea of life ever restlessly heaving up and down, the symbol of this continuous process of ever again and again being born, growing old, suffering, and dying. (It) is constantly changing from moment to moment, (as lives) follow continuously one upon the other through inconceivable periods of time. Of this Samsara, a single lifetime constitutes only a vanishingly tiny fraction.

2.  Mahatma  Gandhi  On  Reincarnation

▪ Having flung aside the sword, there is nothing except the cup of love which I can offer to those who oppose me. It is by offering that cup that I expect to draw them close to me. I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of Rebirth, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all humanity in friendly embrace. - Young India, April 2, 1931

▪ If for mastering the Physical Sciences you have to devote a whole lifetime, how many lifetimes may be needed for mastering the greatest spiritual force that mankind has known ? (Ahimsa) For if this is the only permanent thing in life, if this is the only thing that counts, then whatever effort you bestow on mastering it is well spent. - Harijan, March 1936.

▪ What your say about rebirth is sound. It is Nature’s kindness that we do not remember past births. Where is the good either of knowing in detail the numberless births we have gone through? Life would be a burden if we carried such a tremendous load of memories. A wise man deliberately forgets many things, even a lawyer forgets the cases and their details as soon as they are disposed of. Yes “ death is but a sleep and a forgetting....” 

▪ There is a survival of the Soul after the dissolution of the body. The form ever changes, ever perishes, the informing Spirit neither changes nor perishes. True love consists in transferring itself from the body to the dweller within and then necessarily realizing the oneness of life inhabiting numberless bodies. 

Gandhi’s letters to a disciple, The disciple being Madeleine Slade, A British Admiral’s daughter, who renounced position and comfort to follow Gandhi New York, Harper & Row.

3. The philosopher David Hume : On Reincarnation

▪ The philosopher David Hume said, in his essay of the Immortality of the Soul : ‘Metempsychosis [reincarnation] is…. the only [survival] system of this kind that philosophy can hearken to.’ Some philosophers, psychologists and thinkers admit that reincarnation is a very sensible idea because it would answer so many questions and problems about human existence.

4. Dr. Bruce Goldberg : On Reincarnation


“ If you don't believe in Karma and reincarnation,  don't worry, probably you will believe in your next life.”  

5. Buddhist monk Nyanaponika Thera   : On Reincarnation

▪ “ if we would approach the research of reincarnation with the same importance as given to the research in other fields of modern science, the potential and credibility given to reincarnation would not be regarded so much as a ‘religion’ but Scientific fact.”Of course it is natural that in order for Western science to accept the proof of reincarnation we have to base our project on the experimental and statistical methods native to this science.

6. Gina Cerminara : On Reincarnation

▪ American born Gina Cerminara is a leading psychologist. She is an authoress of great repute in the realm of reincarnation. The books by her “ Many Mansions ” and “ The world within ” supply abundant material about the wheel of life, and its cycle through many lives. “Many Mansions” is a work specially attempted on Edgar Cayce, and it has evoked considerable interest in reincarnation in the west, and has seen several reprints.


▪ Gina Cerminara views on reincarnation are illuminating “Acceptance of the reincarnation principle throws a floodlight of illumination on the unnoticed background. The landscape so illumined has a strange and beautiful fascination of its own, but its principal importance is that within it can be discerned the slow, winding paths by which traits and capacities and attitudes of the present were achieved. Or to change the analogy, it is as if reincarnation revealed the submerged eight ninths of an iceberg of which psychiatrists had been painstakingly examining the visible ninth. 

▪ Psychiatrists concur in the view that the major life attitudes of the psyche arise from the unconscious. The reincarnation principle merely expands the scope of the unconscious to include the dynamics of past-life experience,”
-Many Mansions

▪ “Countless men and women of many religious faiths have lived great and even saintly lives, in complete ignorance of, or disbelief in reincarnation. And yet it seems likely, to present writer at least, that at a certain stage of evolution a knowledge of reincarnation is indispensable for full comprehension of oneself and of life in general. The final redemption of self could hardly be made without a conscious dredging of the past and conscious transmutation of it. Perhaps we have reached a stage of our history where this knowledge is necessary to us otherwise it would not be appearing in many places.
-Many Mansions  Past life recall is one of the most fascinating areas of unexplained human phenomena. As yet,science has been unable to prove or disprove its genuineness.
  

2.Review of Historical knowledge on Reincarnation

▪ Many belief systems around the world embrace reincarnation, including  Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and a variety of New Age religions.

▪ Each religion professes different beliefs about the cause and purpose  of reincarnation, but some facts remain consistent.

▪ In most cases, reincarnation is a natural and very important part of the development of a soul; it is the process of struggling against some negative  force, such as desire or karma, toward a higher state of being; and it applies to all human beings, if not all living creatures.

What do metempsychosis, the cycle of rebirth and transmigration of the soul mean? Where do they come from?


▪ Metempsychosis, also known as the transmigration of the soul, is a concept from ancient Greek philosophy. It refers to the journey of the soul from one incarnation (fleshly host) to the next.

▪ The soul is released from the body by death and exists briefly in a pure spiritual state before returning to a new body. The cycle of rebirth refers to the continuous process of transmigration and rebirth that attends the history of every soul.

▪ Plato is considered the “father” of these beliefs in Western thought; however, they are prominent in many Eastern religious systems.

▪ People have believed in reincarnation since ancient times. Since prehistoric times, there have been numerous techniques used to explore past lives.

▪ Every religion has an ‘inner teaching’, and within that inner teaching, reincarnation and its evolutionary implications have been accepted as the universal truth. There is sufficient evidence to show that the Hindus, Ancient Celts, the Egyptians, the Tibetans, and the Hebrew Cabalists etc. used past-life remembrance.

Sri Krishna and the Bhagavad Gita


Sri Krishna said in ‘The Bhagavad Gita’, “As a man, casting off worn-out garments, takes new ones, so the dweller in the body, casting off worn-out bodies, enters into others that are new”. He has also said “The misdeeds of our past lives torment us in the form of illnesses or ailments”.

▪ From this we understand how all our ailments have their root cause in past-life actions. This is the fundamental principle on which the entire concept of Past-Life-Regression is based. ‘Past-Life-Regression’ is based on the universal law of cause and effect, which is also known as the Law of Karma.

▪ A person’s past actions affect his or her present conditions. The effect could be on physical health, emotional condition, mental state or spiritual well-being. A few examples of root causes are unfulfilled desires, thoughts, feelings, emotions, vows, promises,decisions, evasions or traumatic experiences. The root causes are invariably in the past.

▪ The famous encouragement of Arjuna by Krishna, given in the Bhagavad-Gita is as follows :
“ These bodies of the embodied One, who is eternal, indestructible and boundless, are known as finite. . .He who regardeth this as a slayer, and he who thinketh he is slain, both of them are ignorant. He slayeth not nor is he slain. He is not born, nor doth he die; nor having been, ceaseth he any more to be; unborn, perpetual, eternal and ancient, he is not slain when the body is slaughtered. Who knoweth him indestructible, unborn,undiminishing, how can that man slay, O Partha, or cause to be slain ? As a man, casting off worn-out garments, taketh new ones, so the dweller in the body, casting off worn-out bodies, entereth into others that are new. Weapons cleave him not, nor fire burneth him,nor waters wet him, nor wind driveth him away. Indivisible he incombustible, and indeed neither to be wetted nor dried away; perpetual, all-pervasive, stable, immovable, ancient, unmanifest, unthinkable, immutable, he is called; therefore knowing him as such thou shouldst not grieve ”.

Patanjali  Maharishi



▪ The ancient Indian sage Patanjali Maharishi, has done extensive work on Past-Life-Regression. In his yoga sutras Patanjali Maharishi called this process of past-life-regression as ‘Prati-Prasav’.

▪ It is the process of reabsorbing back to the cause. This means bringing effect back to the cause or the process of involution.

▪ When a child is born it is Prasav. Prati-Prasav means you are born again in the memory; you go back to the very birth, the trauma when you were born, and you live it again.

▪ If there is something, some trouble, some problem, then we go back to the original source from where it started. Because we can go on trying to solve the problem, but unless we go to the roots it cannot be solved.

▪ Effects cannot be solved unless they are forced back to the cause. For example, if there is an unwanted weed and we go on cutting the branches and the leaves in an attempt to remove the weed, we find that more and more branches and leaves take the place of the ones we cut off.

▪ To remove the weed once and for all, we have to actually remove the weed from the roots.

Theosophy

▪  Theosophy has an elaborate doctrine, which has been greatly modified since its inception. It has a wide spectrum of esoteric teaching which involves involution of the monad (soul) and the evolution of the physical vehicle (body) simultaneously in one individual.

▪ It uses a language quite different from other esoteric disciplines. Theosophical viewpoints
after much modification are now left vague and contradictory. However, these inconsistencies do not alter the theme of moralist karma, intermission and reincarnation.

▪ The three tenets of Theosophical thought on karma and reincarnation are
(a) these are natural laws that cannot be redeemed;
(b) they are for reward and punishment;
(c) they are also for guidance, evolution and healing.

▪ Memories of past life recalls are extraordinary
according to them, because in their view the physical brain and astral brain decompose after death, and therefore these memories are not available except in the higher causal body. So only highly developed people can access their past.

Hinduism:

The first Hindu view is that all souls arose from the Source or Godhead. After many incarnations, they forget that they are divine and that they originated from the Source.

▪ But after many incarnations, they learn that they have to realise who they really are (i.e. self realisation), and from thence onwards the journey is towards returning to the Source.

The second view is that we started as being minerals, going through vegetables and animals and finally to humans. It is only the human that can attain self-awareness and with it freedom of choice and responsibility.

▪ From then onwards, the law of karma comes into play. After many incarnations (840,000 of them) and after liberation (moksha,) the human
soul does not need to come back to earth or other planet for growth. It will now carry on as an angel in the spirit world. These earthly incarnations and intermissions which, are totally guided by karma is called Samsara.

▪ During Samsara, the human soul progresses through four stages :
(1) Lust (kama) - pursuit of pleasure. The sin here is anger.
(2) Materialism (Artha) - The sin here is greed and avarice.
(3) Morality, integrity and religiosity (Dharma).
(4) Enlightenment ( Moksha ) - release from Samsara and no more earthly incarnations.

▪ So one can see that the basic laws of karma and reincarnation are essential for human spiritual growth to return to the Source or Godhead.

▪ The soul before birth possesses a general karmic pool or mass (Sanchita karma) the sum total of karma earned from past lives.

▪ He brings a portion of ripe karma (Prarabdha karma) down to earth in this life.

▪ It is from this ripe karma that he constructs his plan. Then while living this life he incurs more new karma (Kriyamana karma).

▪ A small amount of new karma is resolved in this very life, but the remainder is carried over and added to the main pool (Sanchita karma) for the future.

▪ In Hinduism, there is no place for predestination, luck or fate. However, these views on Hindu karma and reincarnation closely influence their attitude towards the caste system (the untouchables must have behaved pretty badly in their past lives).

▪ Metempsychosis or transmigration of souls to animals is part of this philosophy.

Buddha

▪  Buddha is said to have recounted thousands of his past-lives, of which around 550 have been narrated in the ‘Jataka’ Tales.

▪ Buddha asked his disciples to explore their own past lives to gain a complete understanding of the cycle of birth and death.

▪ According to the teachings of Buddha, one attains ‘Nirvana’ or Salvation when one becomes free from the cycle of birth and death.

▪ This religion is another eastern teaching that solidly supports karma and reincarnation. Its doctrine is very similar to Hinduism except on the question of the soul.

In Theravada Buddhism, the anatta doctrine is the tenet of its teachings. There is no soul or Atman in man's spirit (Jiva). What is carried over to the next life is not an entity or personality, but a collection of habits, tendencies and characteristics. This lack of Atman is translated into an-atman and finally to the anatta doctrine. This transference is like “ an almost burnt out candle which lights up a new candle.”

▪ That is why in Buddhism it is called rebirth rather reincarnation. Intermission between lives is not elaborated here. On the other hand it is said that Buddha himself was able to remember all his previous lives, meaning that he was able to recognise an ongoing personality through all his lives! In the Jataka stories, metempsychosis is also taught, but there is no surety that Buddha
was the source of these stories.

▪ In fact, Buddha never wrote a word, and
other people wrote everything in the Buddhist literature.

▪ Another small point in Tibetan Buddhism: it is said that a developed lama, called a sprul-sku (tulku), can preserve its personality. This is because he is so developed that his will and power can work against the disintegration of his personality He can even predict his future incarnation.

▪ He writes down and describes the whereabouts of the place and house in which he is going to be reborn. The expert detectives who will be looking for this boy were his former associates.

▪ After some divination procedures, these lamas will venture out to look for the boy. The two to three year-old boy will have to recognise possessions and relics of the deceased sprul-sku (tulku).

▪ Lastly, Mahayana Buddhism has an added feature of a Bodhisattva ideal. This plan says that a person who has reached the height of enlightenment has a choice to be reborn in order to help his fellow sentient beings towards enlightenment. Therefore the Bodhisattva has the freedom to choose not to reincarnate or incarnate.

▪ That means he can postpone his entrance
into nirvana to a day when " every blade of grass is enlightened ".

Mahavira

▪  Mahavira called ‘Remembering past-lives’ as ‘Jati-Smaran’. Remembering of past lives is an integral part of ancient Jain Practices. Jain teachings call the attaining of freedom from rebirth as ‘Kaivalya’.

Tibetan  Wisdom

▪ Early Tibetan history contains a wealth of literature on the subject of reincarnation and afterlife states. One of the most important sources of ancient Tibetan wisdom about reincarnation and the afterlife states is the ‘Tibetan Book of The Dead’.

▪ This book was read to those who were dying when their souls were about to vacate their bodies. Also read during funeral ceremonies, the wisdom imparted was supposed to prepare the dying person to make the transition from life to the afterlife state in a smooth manner.

▪ It also taught the near and dear of the deceased person that they should not hold back the dying person by mourning, but that they should graciously send them on their journey with positive thoughts and emotions.

▪ Compiled in the eighth century A.D., this book is a masterpiece that contains the wisdom gathered over a period spanning many centuries from different Tibetan Masters.

▪ A lot of cases of Near Death Experiences are reported even in modern times where people are found to return to life after being pronounced dead. 

▪ These experiences are very similar to early stages of death as described by the Tibetan sages.

▪ As the spirits move toward a realm of light, they slough off emotional attachments to their earlier earthly existence. In the process, they may face spiritual beings who guide them, and who present them with a kind of mirror reflecting their life and actions.

▪ Filled at last with peace and contentment, the deceased prepare either to abandon the world altogether or to reenter the cycle of birth and death with higher awareness of the illusory nature of life.

Christian  Mystics

▪  Many Christian mystics have stated that after death, the soul separates from the body and leaves. There are instances of people with Christian upbringing who had ‘near death experiences’.

▪ They tell us that their spirits entered a ‘ realm of light ’ where they were received by ‘beings of light’. 

▪ They were then shown a complete review (somewhat like a movie except that it took no time) of their all the events of their life and their actions were weighed. This description is very similar to the description given by the Tibetans. 

Egyptian  Civilization

▪ Ancient Egyptians believed in reincarnation. They believed that it took 3000 years to complete all lives that one had to live. All this goes to prove that the ancient Egyptians strongly believed in life after death and reincarnation.


Ancient  Greeks

▪ Reincarnation was not an unknown concept to the ancient Greeks. Noted Greek philosophers like Pythagoras and Plato believed in reincarnation and they have also explained about it in their teachings.

▪ Pythagoras is believed to have remembered and described many of his past lives. Some of the lives that he recounted were as : a Trojan warrior, a prophet, a peasant, a prostitute, and a shopkeeper.

Evidence  from  prehistoric  times

▪ Though reincarnation has been studied scientifically only during recent times, the possibility that we live many lives has been accepted on faith since ancient times.

▪ If one studies the ancient indigenous cultures of Africa, Asia, North America, South America and Australia, one would find ample evidence that reincarnation was one of their core beliefs.

▪ It can be seen that evidence of the belief in reincarnation can be found in people of diverse cultures, from different parts of the world and even people from vastly different time periods - modern, medieval, ancient, prehistoric etc.

▪ There is enough anthropological evidence on survival of human personality and the theory of reincarnation. During the primitive period  it must have gripped the minds of the people in some form or the other, as obtainable through excavations.

▪ Since the dawn of civilisation, the idea of survival and reincarnation has taken root, as clearly manifested in religious and theological doctrines.

▪ Today there is ample material about the subject-offering rich material for further investigation and research.

▪ World Religions mostly provide the base for belief in survival and in reincarnation; curiously though, it is through myths, legends and fables that we get certain fascinating things related to the subject, innumerable instances are available in sacerdotal interpretations, sufficient enough for evolving the framework.

▪ References to survival and reincarnation occur in the Vedas and Upanishads of Hinduism. In Oriental countries, it is Ancient India that occupies a relevant position in this respect. Especially survival and reincarnation form the core of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions.

▪ Survival of the human personality after mortality has been one of the important questions that psychical research too, of late, concerns itself with. 

▪ If it should survive, would it discarnate itself for some time, and then reincarnate or what becomes after that is an absorbing inquiry?

▪ This aspect has attracted the attention of all great thinkers through the ages. For that matter we could include all philosophers of every clime and country through the historical period.

▪ Certain postulates and assumptions were attempted by Pythagoras, Plato, Empedocles, Julian, Leonardo da Vinci Paracelsus, Giordano Bruno, Wilhelm Von Leibniz, Benjamin Franklin, Wolfgang Von Goethe, Shelley, Victor Hugo, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Giuseppe Mazzini, Richard Wagner Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Walt Whitman, Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Edison, Paul Gauguin, August Strindberg, Luther Burbank, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry Ford, Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Lessing, Fichte, Piet Mondrian, Carl Jung, Charles Lindbergh who could either endorse the idea of reincarnation or speculate such a possibility.

▪ Transmigration of souls has been accepted as a plausible theory in order to support the rank inequality and chaos that surround human existence in matters of morality and gross injustice - besides the multi-faceted evil  that combats with the good, thus giving a seeming explanation to the diversity of the creative processes in the life cycle, as applicable, especially to the human existence.

▪ Turning to the contemporary philosophers Mctaggart, Broad and Ducasse discern in the theory of reincarnation, the necessary formulation for substantiating the idea of survival.

▪ That is to say, the character and virtues of the individuals, their innate traits and tendencies of behaviour, and all those things that make them would pass on to the next lives after death.

4. Rebirth  of  Civilisations

▪ Irving Cooper’s “Reincarnation” has been considered as a classic of the Modern era in its unfoldment of the mysteries related to the eternal principle of reincarnation.

▪ The most significant contribution made by the author lies in his ability to interpret and substantiate the civilisations through the historical ages by the application of the concept of reincarnation.

▪ He endeavours to see the upheavals in the tidal waves of civilisations, the flourish and the decay, the new growth and form as an eternal cycle.

▪ According to the author, the British Empire is a synonym of Ancient Rome in its colonial expansion, in its tendency to make its power felt everywhere in the realm of politics, socialisation and governance of the affairs including legal administration and massive architectural designs. 

▪ France, for that matter, is a variation of Ancient Greece in its imaginative glow, love of beauty and Nature, intellectual alertness and alacrity.

▪ Isn’t the Romantic poet John Keats a possible reincarnation in England ever trying to appreciate the glory and grandeur of Ancient Greece.

▪ English statesmen like Macaulay, David Hume and Gibbon could be looked upon as the Great Senators of Ancient Rome.

▪ Isn’t it likely that the spirit of Vedantic philosophy gets its lease of life on the Continent of Europe through the works of Hegel, Fichte and Kant, with all the essential gems intact.

▪ In the same breath we could cite the example of Schopenhauer as a case of recalling of Buddhism.


5. Scientific Survey on  Reincarnation

▪ There have been quite a few theoretical assumptions about the concept of reincarnation. Sometimes logical thinking too goes to add to strengthen the belief.

▪ A few people look upon reincarnation as primitive magical thinking, or as an expression of man’s faith in the permanence through the cycle of births and deaths. Perhaps this could be seen as a genuine attempt to overcome man’s fears of death and the unknown.

▪ Not till recently the memories of previous life were considered seriously. At such times the strong tendency was to attribute some blind beliefs, mental abnormalities and above all culture-bound-conditioned values to such situations. 

▪ Those who had been brought up in an environment of such ideas and beliefs 
took strong interest in digging out many hidden things related to previous life.

▪ Thus opinions and views have been sharply divided, and it is very difficult to get people accept this like a scientific statement, demonstrably verifiable in a laboratory.

▪ However, reports of cases of rebirth started attracting the attention of the people sometime in the late 19th century. Invariably it was children less than 5 years of age that spontaneously remembered details of previous life.

▪ Sometimes two or three lives were also recalled, though rather rare. A few of these reports made their appearance sporadically and it was only after 1890 that these were considered fit enough to be included in books for general consumption.

▪ Curiously though, they were also interpreted purely from the point of view of
spiritualists.

▪ Research in reincarnation through hypnotic regression was quite an accidental development. De Rochas hit upon the clue of regression about earlier life in 1893. Again in 1904 he was quite successful in regressing a young lady of 18 years of age to her birth.

▪ Feeling confident about this, he suddenly decided to take her back to a possible previous life. This enabled the hypnotist to try out this technique on other subjects to establish the fact of reincarnation. (De Rochas 1911, mentioned by Ducasse 1961)

▪ Many hypnotists have succeeded in matters of regression. The kind of investigation made by them offers illuminating information. For that matter we do find an excellent variety. But it required the genius of Professor Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia to give the concept of reincarnation a major turn.

▪ His objective analysis of spontaneous recalling makes the study of reincarnation enjoy the reputation that there is truth in all the findings. It is not mere episodes and anecdotes that matter here but things that deserve scrutiny and the faithfulness of the reports.

▪ Even though no scientific proofs that meet laboratory standards of repeatable exactitude in favour of Reincarnation are offered at present, Reincarnation Research Centre at Bangalore is conducting a research to give scientific validity to Reincarnation by trying to photograph one’s previous existence in detail such as friends and relatives, building and places, events and experiences from person claiming remembrance and also from others through Thoughtography.

▪ The only type of evidence available at present to show that we were living some days, months or years or decades before is that of our remembrance (memories) having lived at that earlier time. This recalling is coherent, and related to the facts that stand the test of verification.

▪ Further the remembered gets all these details in a mood for having lived at that earlier time, in such and such a place. Add to this there is the reproduction of circumstances in such a regression for having done certain things then also for undergoing some experience rather unique in nature, quality and sequence.

▪ Similarly, there are hundreds of persons who now claim to remember having lived on earth a life earlier than the present one. Fascinatingly though, on verification of such instance many persons were able to remember events and identify their kith and kin and others from their previous lives and tendencies, physical features or scars similar to those of the claimed previous personality.

▪ Such instances are not only convincing as evidence but offer us, broadly speaking, diverse varieties of manifestation wherein we may identify the primary ones elucidating the doctrine of previous existence.
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