Reincarnation/Thoughts, and Ideas!?
QUESTION: Hi Stephen, I stumbled upon this site and have read through several pages of yours and others' responses and found it very fascinating. I have a few questions I’d like to ask and would appreciate your input.
Let me first say that I was raised in a very oppressive and cult like religion in my early life. My Mother was a Jehovah’s Witness, and now I am something of an apostate of the “Church”. I call it that because that is what it is, even though they try to separate themselves by referring to it as a “Kingdom Hall”, like something as trivial as changing a few adjectives makes it any different than countless other religions. I harbor no ill will to followers of the church, and in fact enjoy when they come to my door because maybe we can help or learn from each other in some way. That being said, I have a very hard time with any formal indoctrinations that try to preach that they have it all figured out or have some information that others are missing out on. I reject the idea of some omnipotent being constantly casting judgment upon his creation, rather I think (emphasis on think, I don’t pretend that it is anything other than a hunch) it is a symbiotic relationship shared with God. By this, I mean we simultaneously share our experience with some universal consciousness. Neither we, nor that consciousness is subordinate, rather we both are learning what it is to live. The bad helps us realize the good and vice versa, for without it, there is no point of reference.
Maybe you can shed some light on a few questions I have about reincarnation because it’s seems you have done extensive study in this field. I think the evidence supporting not only reincarnation, but life after death is overwhelming, even if it is anecdotal. I don’t think Folks who have had NDE’s or past life regression are just blowing smoke for attention, well maybe some are but surely not the majority, so why should we not give real credence to these experiences? In that breath, I would like to gather your take on the following:
Are we only reincarnated to this Earth? Surely time is a construct of man and on the grand scale of eternity, would not that mean that there is no order or linear progression to reincarnation? Or is there? And if so, how to we account for population fluctuations? Do we get reborn over and over with the same groups of souls (i.e. Husband/wives, mother/father’s, Sibling’s, family, friend’s etc.)? What is the point or significance of reincarnation when some of us have no recall or recollection of past lives? Are we always human, because I have heard varying beliefs on this subject? What kind of Karmic atonement can come of being a Cockroach for example?
I hope I did not overwhelm you with this and please don’t take any of my questions as antagonistic or anything I really am just curious on your take of the subject. I have always gravitated towards the deeper questions in life and spend hours a day researching and learning about fringe theories and ideas. Normal things like money, bills, or mainstream news outlets do not interest me in the least bit, and actually kind of frustrate me because I feel alienated. To me the majority do not focus on what truly matters in life, the bond’s and friendships of the people and things around us, and get caught up on issues that make no difference in the grand scheme of things. I don’t want to come off like I think I am better than anyone either because I truly don’t. I just have never felt like I have found my place and feel like I am running out of what little time I do have on this Earth. Hopefully you may be able to shed some light on these subjects and I really look forward to hearing from you. Thank very much for your time, Noah.
ANSWER: Dear Noah,
You've asked several of the classical objections to reincarnation, and of course I can't write a book in response, but I'll try to touch on each briefly, according to my studies.
I'm not sure what you mean by the first question, "Are we only reincarnated to this Earth," as relates to "order or linear progression"? Do you mean, "Is that all there is?" No, there is a purpose to it, but that is a difficult subject to sum up in 10 words or less. It is dealt with thoroughly in "God Speaks" by Meher Baba (disclosure, that is my Guru). I can cut through some of this by saying that we are actually God, imagining we are individual people. So the end purpose of reincarnation is to realize that, consciously. Through the Creation, including the process of reincarnation, God is asking the question, experientially, "Who am I?" Then at the end, He wakes up with the grand epiphany, "I am God." God dreaming, as man, and God awake, as God, exist side-by-side simultaneously, in terms of consciousness. So when God relates to man, it is God-awake relating to God-dreaming. Conversely, when man relates to God, it is God-dreaming relating to God-awake. In this sense, it is *neither* that God is superior, *or* that God is equal. Clearly, however, God is superior in consciousness, and this point must not be glossed over.
Yes, in general, it is my understanding that we get reborn with the same group of souls. One has described it as logs bumping into each other on their way downstream. That doesn't mean these are the only people you interact with. Connections are, as I believe, built up gradually over centuries. In fact, I believe you cannot be close to anyone whom you haven't gradually gotten to know over multiple lifetimes.
Ah, but we do
have past-life recall--just not conscious recall. That's the whole point. We have to have a situational fresh start to try and do better in each lifetime. But we remember the past lives viscerally, subconsciously, and emotionally. Occasionally, we may even remember them consciously. Children do, routinely. Past-life memory shuts down, normally, at about age seven. So it is not the philosophical problem it seems. Only, life is a school, and remembering your past lives would be like an open-book test. The school of life requires close-book tests.
The point of reincarnation is learning, but not simply didactic learning. Swami Vivekananda called the earth a "moral gymnasium." We are learning wisdom, and gaining character. Reincarnation promotes deeper and deeper understanding, by providing the opportunity for well-rounded experience. There is much more to this subject, having to do with the opposites of life, and the end goal.
No, the rule is that people do not reincarnate backwards on the evolutionary scale. This is a myth. There may be very rare exceptions. I would guess that while in Christianity, it was convenient to keep the masses in line by threatening eternal hell, in Hinduism, it was convenient to scare them by telling them they could reincarnate as a cockroach. This one idea certainly works to discredit the concept of reincarnation for thinking people. Just as it's not "nice to fool Mother Nature," so it is not nice to fool with Truth. The consequences of the lies told about reincarnation have been far-reaching, and for the most part, unanticipated, both in the East and in the West.
I think that's all of your questions.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
Thank you for getting back to me so promptly, and thanks for addressing some of the questions I had. Excuse me if I missed the mark however on a few, but I am not sure I got a clear and concise answer to some of my questions. Time is all relative to personal experience, and is merely a construct of man’s conciseness. This was proven by Albert Einstein and backed up countless times over the years since by individuals much more smart than I. So taking that into account, time being a construct of man, and when dealing with eternity, there is no beginning or end, rather layers of time when dealing with anything in the physical universe. So would that not mean that everything is happening all simultaneously everywhere at all times? If so, why would we experience past, present and future lives in a linear progression, if time only exists within the physical universe?
Was I perpetuating “Lies about reincarnation” by asking questions dealing with things I don’t understand? I certainly hope I did not come across this way, and do not pretend to have any preconceived ideas formulated on the inner workings of reincarnation or didactic thinking when approaching existential questions. With that in mind, how does your Guru explain fluctuations in population in regards to reincarnation? Does that mean we get born on other Planets or alternate time-lines to account for this? If so are we always human in linear reincarnation progression? What decides promotions to a higher tier of existence, self since it is just an extension of God, or God itself? Are bugs a conciseness in the teachings? How do we do “better on the closed book test” if everything is an extension of God? Is there dualities of what some interpret as “good or bad” in God and if so why then would one behavior of man be less desirable? I have an idea why, but I would like to understand what has been taught traditionally on this?
Thank you for your time,
It strikes me that questions are like climbing mountains--when you get to the top there is always another one. The final answers are found in a realm above the mind, meaning, above the intellect, where the mind is stilled.
I can't pretend to understand Einstein's theories, but nothing in physics is "proven." Like the mountain range, in a few decades, one theory supplants the last one. My understanding is that there is a state of consciousness in which everything exists in the Eternal Present. But in the state of consciousness in which you find reincarnation, there are cycles of time. Small cycles, like the menstral cycle, larger cycles, like the life cycle, and much larger cycles like the ages or "yugas" spoken of by the Hindu sages. So there is a progression, but it is not a *linear* progression, it is, rather, cyclical. Reincarnation is just one of many cycles, and in this sense, it is both predicted from everything else, and natural.
No, I was not directing my comment about "lies about reincarnation" to you.
What I understand about the population question is that it is a result of not understanding the scale of the thing. Reincarnation has been going for many ages or large cycles. When one planet used as earth wears out, another is used, instead. Location is no obstacle to incarnation, as distance is not an issue. Presumably, to the soul about to reincarnate, all physical locations are equi-distant. There are, as I understand, other planets where souls incarnate, but this isn't the main answer to the population question. The answer is that it has been going so long, that there are vastly more souls in the astral realm than there are on earth at any one time. Therefore, when the earth population is at a low ebb, fewer of the total in the astral realm are incarnate; but when the earth population is at a high tide, somewhat more of them are incarnate. But presumably, all of the souls in the astral realm would never fit upon the earth, in either phase. When I say "souls," I mean, persons living in and through their astral bodies, which we all have.
Everything is conscious, including bugs, but it is a very low level of consciousness. The more evolved the species, the higher the consciousness, with mankind at the apex. All of this is in "God Speaks." I can only paraphrase with limited understanding.
The question about "what decides promotions to a higher tier of existence" is too vague. I don't know precisely what you mean by that. The evolution of consciousness, and then, the "involution" of consciousness, is explained in Meher Baba's work.
It is not precisely that everything is an extension of God, although Sri Ramakrishna, who was in the same exalted state of consciousness as Meher Baba, did put it that way, saying, "I see that it is God who has become all of this."
I also don't understand the question, "How do we do better on the closed book test, if everything is an extension of God?" Do you mean, how can God be ignorant and need to learn? The entire Creation is God waking up. If you have ever woken up from a very deep sleep and had to orient yourself as to who you are, where you are, what's going on, then, it is like that. So as God begins to wake up from sound sleep, He asks, as it were, "What am I?" and the first answer is stone, where there is just a little consciousness; then plants, where there is a little more, and so-on. You will see this expressed also by the poet Rumi (also in this State), where he says, "I died as stone and became plant; I died as plant and became animal..." (paraphrasing from memory). So the long interval between the first incarnations as stone, and the final ones as a man about to realize God, is just that interval of God waking from deep sleep. But it is individualized--when one soul awakes and finds itself as God, all do not awake. Again, each time one question is answered, 10 more appear in its place. It is said to be the mischief of the mind. The final solution is to stop the mind altogether, while retaining consciousness. Meher Baba said that if you could experience the state of sound sleep, while retaining consciousness, you would experience God. He said that the original question is, "Who am I?" and the final answer is "I am God"--and that all other questions and answers fall in between those two.