In the dharmic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism), the wheel of life (also called by a variety of other names; see the Names section below) is a mandala or symbolic representation of samsara, the continuous cycle of birth, life, death. One is liberated from this endless cycle of rebirth when bodhi, enlightenment, nirvana, moksha, or samadhi is reached.

Reincarnation in

  • Intro
  • Science
  • Christianity & Gnosticism
  • Islam
  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Taoism
  • Judaism & Kabbalah
  • Native Americans
  • Maya
  • Ancient Greece & Egypt
  • Norse Mythology
  • Theosophy & New Age
  • Philosophy & Quotes
  • Sources & External Links

  • Intro:
    We all have our own 'vision of reality.' Our reality tunnel. A construct we've imagined. We can get stuck in this vision.
    Most Westerners, wether they are atheist, agnostic or religious reject the theory of reincarnation as ludicrous.
    Though this wasn't always the case. Reincarnation appears in most religions around the world, even where you least expect it.
    Read around this page to see the amount of peoples who held this belief. Not to accept the theory mind you, I'm not trying to sell it.
    But what if reincarnation could be an aspect of the cycle of life and death?

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Science:
    a) Reincarnation is Now a Scientifically Acceptable Phenomenon
    b) Evidence of Reincarnation

    "Reincarnation is a possibility to be taken seriously."
    Stephen Hawking

    -|-

    a) Reincarnation is Now a Scientifically Acceptable Phenomenon
    The following is an extract out of the linked article (click to read):
    A large amount of data has been accumulated by research workers around the world on matters relating to reincarnation: Spontaneous recall of past lives, past life therapy, child prodigies (and others) who can make use of knowledge and experience gathered in their past lives are some of the aspects that have been subjected to much research and investigation.

    The observations made on the above areas agree with the predictions made in the third stage of the scientific process thereby successfully completing the four step test for scientific acceptability. No scientifically acceptable data that can go to prove the scientific unacceptability of reincarnation have appeared in scientific literature so far.

    On the basis of these tests it is concluded that the scientific acceptability of the phenomenon of reincarnation is proven at least on three counts in terms of the accepted principles of modern science.

    A science minded person often finds it difficult to accept reincarnation because he/she had failed to perceive a reincarnation mechanism that is intelligible within the outdated Decartes' classical science frame work. But Modern Science, specifically Quantum Mechanics, has compelled us to accept unintelligible mechanisms of natural phenomena like the behaviour of electrons and we do not hesitate to accept them. Likewise with the data available we are compelled to accept reincarnation as a reality. (click to read the entire article)

    -|-

    b) Evidence of reincarnation
    The most detailed collections of personal reports in favor of reincarnation have been published by Dr. Ian Stevenson in works such as Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects, which documents thousands of detailed cases where claims of injuries received in past lives sometimes correlate with atyptical physical birthmarks or birth defects.

    Perhaps the most significant anecdotal evidence in this regard is the phenomenon of young children spontaneously sharing what appear to be memories of past lives, a phenomenon which has been reported even in cultures that do not hold to a belief in reincarnation. Upon investigating these claims, Stevenson and others have identified individuals who had died a few years before the child was born who seem to meet the descriptions the children provided.

    In the most compelling cases, autopsy photographs reveal that the deceased individuals have fatal injuries that correspond to the unusual marks or birth defects of the child; for example, marks on the chest and back of a child line up precisely with the bullet entry and exit wounds on the body of an individual who has been shot.

    However, Stevenson cautions that such evidence is suggestive of reincarnation, but that more research must be conducted.

    One hypothesis that comes from the channeller Diandra is past life injuries are stored in the cellular memory of a person's body that can show as birth marks. These cellular memories can also be triggered this lifetime at the same age it occurred in a past lifetime. Diandra sites one example where she was doing a channelled personal session for a doctor that did not believe in channelling or past lives but came to the personal session because his wife wanted him to. The doctor started crying when Diandra moved into a past life where he died of a heart attack at age forty. The doctor revealed he was a heart doctor who had a heart attack at forty this lifetime. Diandra goes on to say that past life cellular memory can be healed as does not have to be repeated. In another personal channelled session Diandra moved into a past lifetime of a women that was in the 1930's dust bowl. The women stopped Diandra and told her she has a fetish of coming home from work everyday and dusting.
    from the Wikipedia article

    -
    ~ Return to Index ~
    -

    Christianity & Gnosticism:
    "`But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished.
    In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.' Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist."
    Jesus (Matthew 17:12, 13)

    "Souls are poured from one into another of different kinds of bodies of the world."
    Jezus (in the Gnostic Gospel: Pistis Sophia)

    "It can be shown that an incorporeal and reasonable being has life in itself independently of the body... then it is beyond a doubt bodies are only of secondary importance and arise from time to time to meet the varying conditions of reasonable creatures. Those who require bodies are clothed with them, and contrariwise, when fallen souls have lifted themselves up to better things their bodies are once more annihilated. They are ever vanishing and ever reappearing."
    Origen - (As the orthodox church in Rome gained more and more political power the more it viewed secret teachings as a threat to their own public teachings.
    But the Church leader who made the final and greatest attempt to revive the secret teachings of Jesus within the orthodox teachings was the first Church Father named Origen (183-253 A.D.))

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Islam:
    The Koran says, "God generates beings and sends them back over and over again until they return to him".
    The Sufis as a group attempted strongly to preserve this belief in reincarnation.

    "And you were dead, and He brought you back to life. And He shall cause you to die,
    and shall bring you back to life, and in the end shall gather you unto Himself."
    Koran (2:28)

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Hinduism:
    The idea that the soul reincarnates is intricately linked to karma. Individual souls, jiva-atmas pass from one plane of existence and carry with them samskaras (impressions) from former states of being. These karmic agglomerations on the soul are taken to the next life and result in a causally-determined state of being.
    In some schools of Hinduism liberation from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth, is considered the ultimate goal of earthly existence. This is known as Moksha, mahasamadhi in Hinduism. (or nirvana, also found in Buddhism)
    Other Bhakti traditions assert that liberation from samsara is merely the begginning of real spiritual life and beyond nirvana activities still continue, but that they are no longer of a worldly nature.

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Buddhism:
    Reincarnation is traditionally understood to be akin to the Buddhist concept of Rebirth, but in fact the two concepts are very distinct philosophically - Buddhism teaches that there is no self to reincarnate. An alternative view is that the teachings of Buddhism might stress one aspect, the teachings of Hinduism might stress another aspect, but that an advanced Buddhist and an advanced Hindu would directly perceive the phenomenon of reincarnation identically.

    Within Buddhism, the term rebirth or re-becoming is preferred to "reincarnation", as the latter is taken to imply there is a fixed entity that is reborn.

    Rebirth is different and can be explained in this way. Take away the notion of a soul or a being living inside the body; take away all ideas of self existing either inside or outside the body. Also take away notions of past, present and future; in fact take away all notions of time. Now, without reference to time and self, there can be no before or after, no beginning or ending, no birth or death, no coming or going. Yet there is life! Rebirth is the experience of life in the moment, without birth, without death; it is the experience of life which is neither eternal nor subject to annihilation.

    The lack of a fixed self does not mean lack of continuity. One of the metaphors used to illustrate this is that of fire. For example, a flame is transferred from one candle to another, or a fire spreads from one field to another. In the same way that it depends on the original fire, there is a conditioned relationship between one life and the next; they are not identical but neither are they completely distinct. The early Buddhist texts make it clear that there is no permanent consciousness that moves from life to life.

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Taoism:
    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. That through which one passes in and out without seeing its form, that is the Portal of God (Chuang Tzu 23).

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Judaism & Kabbalah
    Classic works of the Kabbalah, Shaar ha Gilgulim ("Gate of Reincarnations") of Arizal or Isaac Luria, describes complex laws of reincarnation gilgul and impregnation ibbur of 5 different parts of the soul. It shows many references of reincarnation in the Hebrew Bible (the Tanach) although the notion of reincarnation is not 'openly' mentioned in it.
    In Hebrew, reincarnation is called "gilgul" literally the recycling or transmigration of souls. Gilgul or gilgul neshamot or Gilgul'im neshamot refers to the concept of reincarnation within the Kabbalah of Judaism. in Hebrew, the word gilgul means "cycles" or "circles" and neshamot is the plural for "souls" of souls which are "cycled" through "lives or "incarnations" into the body. This is considered to be a deep "secret of nature" according to the esoteric kabbalah.
    The classic kabbalah work Shaar ha Gilgulim ("Gate of Reincarnations") of Rabbi Isaac Luria, (written by his disciple Rabbi Chaim Vital), describes these deep and very complex laws of reincarnation, (a process akin to physical "impregnation" and "pregnancy") of the ibbur of five different parts of the soul.

    While many Jews today do not believe in reincarnation, the belief is common amongst Orthodox Jews, particularly amongst Hasidim; some Hasidic siddurim (prayerbooks) have a prayer asking for forgiveness for one's sins that one may have committed in this gilgul or a previous one.

    "All pure and holy spirits live on in heavenly places, and in course of time they are again sent down to inhabit righteous bodies."
    Josephus (Jewish historian who lived around the time of Jesus)

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Native Americans:
    Reincarnation is an intrinsic part of many Native American and Inuit traditions. Regardless of the actual religious beliefs and practices of today's Native Americans, with varying religious beliefs, the idea has survived for centuries.

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Maya:
    Like the Aztec and Inca who came to power later, the Maya believed in a cyclical nature of time. The rituals and ceremonies were very closely associated with hundreds (possibly thousands) of celestial/terrestrial cycles which they observed and inscribed as separate calendars.

    The Mayans believed in reincarnation. Told of in the decoded Lid of Lord Pacal at Palenque and epitomised by the pantheon of Gods that changed roles. The original Quetzalcoatl, whose name means 'feathered serpent' and who was identified with the planet Venus, probably lived at the start of the fourth age, around 3114 BC and initiated a highly ethical religion of penance. This later degenerated into human sacrifice: physical hearts instead of emotions being offered to the sun. To ease the passage into the next life for those selected, victims were often drugged before being executed.

    Much of the Maya religious tradition is still not understood by scholars.
    Click here for an interesting take on Lord Pacal - Quetzalcoatl by Maurice Cotterell

    -
    ~ Return to Index ~
    -

    Ancient Greece:
    The ancient Greeks, who received much of their knowledge from Egypt, believed that souls reside in the Milky Way between incarnations, and that there are 2 gates on the Milky Way. These are the Silver Gate of Gemini, through which souls descend to earth, and the Golden Gate of Sagittarius, through which souls ascend. Other versions say the souls of men can ascend by either gate, but that the Silver Gate leads to reincarnation and the ancestors, and the Golden Gate leads beyond reincarnation. The Golden Gate is also that through which the Gods descend.
    Reincarnation was a doctrine closely associated with the followers of the philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras. According to Pythagorean teaching, the soul survives physical death. After a series of reincarnations each one following a period of psychic cleansing in spiritual environments the soul becomes free eternally from the cycle of reincarnations.

    Plato stated the pre-existence of the soul in a celestial world and its fall into a human body due to sin. In order to be liberated from its bondage and return to a state of pure being, the soul needs to be purified through reincarnation. In stating these beliefs Plato was strongly influenced by the earlier philosophical schools of Orphism and Pythagoreanism.

    Ancient Egypt:
    "I am He that was, and is, and shall be"
    from the Egyptian Book of the Dead

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Norse Mythology:
    Reincarnation also appears in Norse mythology, in the Poetic Edda. The editor of the Poetic Edda informs the reader that Helgi Hjörvarđsson and his mistress, the valkyrie Sváva, whose love story is told in the Helgakviđa Hjörvarđssonar, 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 Helgakviđa Hundingsbana I and II. They were reborn a second time as Helgi Haddingjaskati and the valkyrie Kára, but unfortunately their story, Káruljóđ, only survives in a probably modified form in the Hrómundar saga Gripssonar.

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Theosophy & New Age:
    Theosophy is a body of ideas which holds that all religions are attempts by man to ascertain "the Divine," and as such each religion has a portion of the truth. Theosophy, as a coherent system of thought, developed from the writings of Helena Petrova Blavatsky. Together with Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge, and others she founded the Theosophical Society in 1875. Like esoteric Buddhism, from which 'much' of Theosophical thought springs, Theosophy teaches that beings have attained the human state through myriad reincarnations, passing through the mineral, plant and animal stages since the birth of life on earth. However, Theosophy differs from the exoteric belief that regression is possible. Humans cannot reincarnate as animals or plants again except in the rare cases of disintegrating "lost souls". Conversely, humans are considered only the epitome of physical life on Earth and not the end stage of evolution, which continues for three further stages in the form of the Dhyani Chohans or Buddhic beings.
    The idea of reincarnation is also part of the New Age culture. Today, among newer movements, belief in reincarnation is widespread in New Age and Neopagan circles. It is an important tenet of Theosophy, and central to Spiritism, founded by Allan Kardec. Toward the Light is an example of a contemporary work originating in the western world, which very detailed accounts for reincarnation.

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Philosophy & Quotes:
    "As long as you are not aware of the continual law of Die and Be Again, you are merely a vague guest on a dark Earth."
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - German novelist, dramatist, poet, humanist, scientist, philosopher

    "If I work incessantly to the last, nature owes me another form of existence when the present one collapses."
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    "I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence."
    Socrates - Greek philosopher

    "Live so that thou mayest desire to live again - that is thy duty - for in any case thou wilt live again!"
    Friedrich Nietzsche - German philosopher

    "It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection."
    Voltaire - French Enlightenment writer, essayist, deist and philosopher

    "The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson - American essayist and one of America's most influential thinkers and writers.

    "Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him: It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life."
    Arthur Schopenhauer - German philosopher

    "My life often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and no end. I had the feeling that I was an historical fragment,
    an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing. I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries
    and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer; that I had been born again because I had not fulfilled the task given to me."
    Carl Jung - Swiss psychiatrist and founder of Analytical Psychology

    "It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some strange new disguise."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "You are the eternal thing that comes and goes that appears - now as John Jones, now as Mary Smith, now as Betty Brown - and so it goes,
    forever and ever and ever."
    Alan Watts - British-born American philosopher, writer, speaker, and expert in comparative religion.

    "I have been born more times than anybody except Krishna."
    Mark Twain

    "As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God."
    Leo Tolstoy

    "I adopted the theory of reincarnation when I was 26. Genius is experience.
    Some think to seem that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives".
    Henry Ford

    "I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace."
    Mahatma Ghandi

    "The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "So as through a glass and darkly, the age long strife I see, Where I fought in many guises, many names, but always me."
    General George S. Patton

    "Reincarnation contains a most comforting explanation of reality by means of which Indian thought surmounts difficulties which baffle the thinkers of Europe."
    Albert Schweitzer

    "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting. And cometh from afar."
    William Wordsworth

    "I died as a mineral and became a plant, I died as a plant and rose to animal, I died as animal and I was man. Why should I fear ? When was I less by dying?
    Jalalu Rumi (13th century Islamic Poet)

    "Why should we be startled by death? Life is a constant putting off of the mortal coil - coat, cuticle, flesh and bones, all old clothes."
    Henry David Thoreau

    "All human beings go through a previous life... Who knows how many fleshly forms the heir of heaven occupies before he can be brought to understand the value of that silence and solitude of spiritual worlds?"
    Honore Balzac

    "Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him: It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life."
    Arthur Schopenhauer

    "When the physical organism breaks up, the soul survives. It then takes on another body."
    Paul Gauguin (French post-impressionist painter)

    "Friends are all souls that we've known in other lives. We're drawn to each other. Even if I have only known them a day, it doesn't matter. I'm not going to wait till I have known them for two years, because anyway, we must have met somewhere before, you know."
    George Harrison

    "You know, I don't think it would be any more unusual for me to show up in another life, than showing up in this one!"
    Eleanor Roosevelt

    "I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. We shall rise refreshed in the morning."
    Benjamin Franklin

    "Finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other always exist."
    Benjamin Franklin

    Napoleon was fond of telling his generals that he believed in the law of reincarnation and even told them who he believed to have been in a previous life.

    -
    ~
    Return to Index ~
    -

    Sources & External Links:
    Reincarnation: Wikipedia article
    Reincarnation is Now a Scientifically Acceptable Phenomenon
    Reincarnation Quotes at World Mysteries
    Reincarnation and the Early Christians
    Reincarnation: comparative analysis
    Dr Ian Stevenson - parapsychologist and the founder of scientific reincarnation-research - Wikipedia article
    Reincarnation site with loads of quotes

    -
    ~ Return to Index ~
    -