Posted by: Lisa | December 18, 2011

Belief in Reincarnation, Part 1

Early Christians, for the first three hundred years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, believed in reincarnation – or at least maintained an openness to the concept.  Then, one of the early church councils decided to condemn belief in reincarnation.  Christians were no longer allowed to hold such a belief.  If they persisted in their belief, they were branded as heretics.

In my opinion, this change in doctrine was all about power and control over the people.  The church hierarchy didn’t want people putting off repentance from sinful ways, thinking they could just wait to become “good” and “holy” in their next life.  People were taught to believe they have only one life – so they’d better get it “right” NOW – otherwise, spend eternity in the fires of hell.

I’ve always believed in reincarnation.  As a teen, I read several books on the topic and always sensed they were speaking truth.  In high school (Catholic school!), I did a presentation on the topic of reincarnation.  I still remember how fired-up I was about it.  The presentation was supposed to be five to ten minutes, but I went on for twenty.  My classmates seemed interested and asked many intriguing questions.

Then, for many years, I forced myself to stop believing in reincarnation because I knew Christians weren’t supposed to believe – and I wanted to be a “good” Christian.  I eventually returned to belief because I needed to be true to what seemed correct to me.

At first, this return to belief in reincarnation brought me no comfort.  I’ve always been very sensitive to the pain and suffering people endure in this life.  The pain far outweighs the pleasure or joy, in my opinion.  As Buddha taught, “Life is suffering” – or unsatisfactoriness. 

For me, the thought of having to return to this world over and over again is worse than enduring hell for eternity!  Yet I understand (and believe) that our karma and unfulfilled desires cause us to be reborn in a new body – to give us more time to work out the effects of our past karmas (actions) and to experience the things we desired but couldn’t have in the past.

The only way to become free of the ongoing cycles of rebirth is to purify all the effects of our past karmas (good and bad, helpful and harmful) and to be in a place (mentally and spiritually) where we no longer desire anything this world has to offer – when we no longer say, “If only I could, if only I had, etc.”  We must get to the point where we can die in peace, without even the tiniest regrets or the faintest unfulfilled desires.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – where I will share how reincarnation now gives me a sense of relief, patience, peace and hope.

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Responses

  1. I tend to believe in reincarnation, too; it makes a lot more sense to me than the old Heaven and Hell concept, which I don’t believe in. I don’t necessarily feel that life holds more pain than joy; it’s probably pretty evenly balanced for most people. For those who experience more pain and sorrow, I guess they might have more lessons to learn.

    • Thanks, Cleriece!

    • Yeah, the other thing for me is that reincarnation seems to explain things about me (my idiosyncrasies) and my life situations that don’t make sense without supposing that these things got started in a previous life. I also do agree that some people are somehow predisposed to experience more pain and sorrow than the average person. This is probably due to karma. However, there are also people who are naturally more sensitive to the pain and suffering of all beings in this world. That’s actually a GOOD thing – but it can be hard to manage, to cope with, such sensitivity.

  2. Hi guys,

    I was born with my past lives memories to varying degrees. As I grew older events from those lives would often overlap events in this life, and I would learn so much from the experiences. As odd as it might sound, that was before I even knew what the concept of reincarnation actually was. I was raised in a non-practising Christian household and ‘stuff like that’ was not discussed. LOL It makes sense of so many questions we cannot find answers for in the bible, like ‘what happens to babies who die before they are baptised’. And I just found a reference to it in Job .. to add to my collection.

    Thank you, Lisa. I am enjoying your thoughts,
    Love & Peace
    Ama

    • Ama, yes – I know what you mean to some degree. I believe I have spent past lives in religious communities and even meditating in the forest as a hermit. As a child, I used to sit under trees for hours and never feel bored. I used to do this during recess in school and my teachers thought I was odd! They worried that something was wrong with me. I used to always go to be near trees or in trees when I felt devoid of human comfort. I think I was trying to meditate but since I had no training in meditation in this life, I didn’t really know what I was doing and there was no one to teach me. Also, I have a friend whose little boy, at the age of 2-3, was already talking all about airplanes. He knew the names for different kinds of planes – things you wouldn’t expect such a young child to know. How could he possibly know such things unless from a past life? His parents are devout Christians and would never even entertain the idea of reincarnation.
      What is the reference in the book of Job you mentioned? I’m curious.
      Thank you for reading my posts!

      • Hello Lisa,

        I went to quote the passage and realised I had misread it, so I apologise. You do know the more obvious ones .. eg John the Baptist being Elijah?

        Love & Peace
        Ama

      • Yes, I know some of them. However, the one about John the Baptist is contradictory because Jesus says John is Elijah but John himself says he is not.

      • I guess its up to us whether we believe that Jesus knew more than John did? I know plenty of people who didn’t know their past lives, but once they connected to them, it helped make their current lives make sense.

        Always fascinating. 🙂

        Love & Peace
        Ama


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