Religion’s Lost Dimension
Neutral narratives regarding the reality of
reincarnation are rare. In view of this, a considerable repression can be found
in the history of this important element of the past; but for more than one
fourth of the of the 2,000-year history of western religions, this element,
reincarnation, also belonged to branches of the Christian Church.
Most of this world's religions and religious denominations are based on
a conviction of a continuation after death. It has been said that without that
perception we would have no pyramids, no works by Dante or Homer, no Hamlet,
etc. The general idea behind the doctrine of reincarnation (re 'again', in 'in', and karne
'flesh') is that after death the soul will again let itself be borne in a
physical ("mortal") body.
Many times the spiritual philosopher Rudolf
Steiner maintained that between each life the soul - the eternal soul never
dying away - stayed between or on the stars in the universe. - This theme was
also worshipped in ancient
Exclusive cultic knowledge from an early mystery cultic superstructure
of Moses' religion can still be traced in the Bible - coherent to a degree not
previously possible to prove. This included a knowledge comprising the learning
of 'afterlife' and new life - the reincarnation. Ideas of reincarnation can be
traced in all historic civilizations at all times.
The oldest Christian Church or congregation was founded on the basis of
ancient Christian groups in the first century AD. From the beginning special
branches were very influenced by initiation cults and other Middle East religious ideas, many especially from
A comprehensive group was called the Gnostics - the name stems from
Greek gnosis, i.e. 'recognition'. A large part of these united with many other
Christian groups were also believers in reincarnation, and after the 3rd and
4th century they were persecuted by the Church.
The basic idea in reincarnation is that mortal death is not the same as
total death - the human potential loses a 'shelter', but has the possibility to
find another one. To get a new body is among Indian Yogis compared with simply
"changing coat". A universal track without ending and with station
after station - "life is existence is eternal".
The perceptions of reincarnation are very different. Through times many
who accepted the idea, have understood a variety of ideas subjectively - e.g.
the way of reincarnation, time distances between re-birth etc. - as a firm
pattern without the feature that individual differences were valid for
everybody! A broad overview will reveal that this does not seem to happen
according to firm rules, but rather according to certain, superior principles.
Throughout history reincarnation has been subject to a number of
different traditions and descriptions. The differences stem from popular
imaginations about reincarnation and also from particular interpretations, e.g.
with cultic initiated.
Hindus and Jains learn that the row of incarnations can get an ending,
and that a complete sequence of such a long cycle of lives, deaths, and
re-births may last for 8.4 million years. The cycle can be interrupted if the
person in question can reach the same state of recognition and purity "as
the 24 great gurus".
By these religions as well as in traditional
Buddhist cosmology, the lives of the individual can be in any of a large number
of states of being, including those of humans, any kind of animal, and several
types of supernatural being. The type of rebirth that arises at the end of one
life is conditioned by the karmas (actions of body, speech and mind) of the
previous life; good karmas can yield a happier rebirth, bad karmas may produce
one which is more unhappy.
Differences exist mutually between traditional oriental ideas about reincarnation and also the perceptions introduced by the present western world - now interpreted in the light of western evolutionary optimism, e.g. the row of lives as a school by which the person becomes more and more capable, life after life.
The entire eternal universe is cyclical, and so are the lives; the same
tings can happen again and again, however, they can also eventually "mutate"
into new forms and levels - cyclically coiling.
In the much respected work of wisdom from Egyptian antiquity, "Corpus Hermeticum", its Treaty 11:2 seems to approach certain conditions of the Einstein relativity theory and thoughts, which for instance are expressing that basically the universe has no time.
However, our memory of time is contributing to the creation of a
"mathematical" idolizing of an idea or an imagination of time.
We perceive the factor of time by the sequences of the phenomena -
however, concerning "life after life" normally the remembrance of
earlier links in a chain seems oblivious.
Therefore, the perception of the interplay between these mechanisms and
structures - in the world, in life, in cosmos - very early was considered being
of greatest importance.
In the living universe the spiritual
dimensions which in ancient Egypt were perceived as crossing through the
universe - may be hard to understand on the present basis of another perception
of the world, because western culture in certain ways has evolved to become
history's first prevailing "non-religious" civilization.
The Japanese reformative Buddhist monk, Nichiren Daishonin, 1222–1282,
by whom a particular form of this philosophy was developed, wrote: "… Life
is indeed an elusive reality that transcends both the words and concepts of
existence and non-existence. It is neither existence nor non-existence, yet
exhibits the qualities of both. …"
One of his most leading followers today,
Daisaku Ikeda, president of Soka Gakkai International, has stated - in his
guest lecture in 1993, at Harvard University, Cambridge – that:
Few hundred years after, many of the Gnostics and later Christian
Gnostics when supporting the idea of reincarnation seem to have missed just
that. In spite of having marvellous clear thoughts about many aspects of life,
death, world, and cosmos many of the Gnostics maintained often a limiting and
pessimistic view on these essential factors.
Quite early Buddhist missionary monks also operated in
Today, many Buddhist practitioners of
certain developed branches with their philosophical learning are interested in
modern theories of quantum physics, especially concerning the interplay and
interaction between a person (the observer) and the (focused) universe itself.
When improving the person's spiritual and ethical level and relating to the
universe, it aims at an improving effect on the universe - as cause and effect
work both ways. The person will be in command more and more positively also concerning
his individual karma and reincarnation.
the beginning of our new millennium, the modern man with a spiritual
provincialism ("only this life, only this place/plan exists") of the
western world has in many respects never been closer to having better
conditions and possibilities - by maturing contact with the universe and
re-establishment of the importance of spiritual dimensions - for transforming
to be able to obtain insight in life, death, existence, etc, and in this way
understand humanity and universe as a great whole of mutual influence.
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