Before we continue with Harold’s thread on reincarnation, I thought it might be a good idea to make a quick general overview of some thoughts on subject.
Reincarnation is the doctrine that a person’s soul or spirit returns to life in a new physical body after it dies. A central tenet of religions of the East, in the West (read the Abrahamic faiths) it has mostly been rejected as an official doctrine in favor of the doctrine of an eternal afterlife in a heaven or hell, and/or a final ontological resurrection. One of the main differences in these doctrines between East and West seems to hinge upon each culture’s overall understanding of time. In the East, time is mainly viewed as cyclical, wherein the same patterns are repeated over and over, whereas the West views time as predominantly linear, a historical process with no real “do overs” and which culminates in a final end. But what if this East/West dichotomy isn’t an either/or issue but rather a both/and one? Where would that lead us?
In his “Covenant of the Heart” Valentin Tomberg, a traditional Roman Catholic, writes from the both/and perspective:
The view that repeated earthly lives are possible belongs to the realm of freely acceptable or rejectable opinions. In particular, Jesus Christ himself basically indicated this view by saying to his disciples regarding John: “And if ye will receive it, he is Elijah who was to come (Matt. 11,13). “If ye will receive it”: nothing can clearly and surely express the fact that the reappearance of Elijah in John – and with it the entire complex of reincarnation – does not belong to the essential truths of salvation, but to the sphere of freely acceptable or rejectable opinions. Correspondingly, the antithesis of reincarnation – that there exists only one single life on earth – also belongs to the realm of opinions freely open for acceptance or rejection…. For a Christian who is wholly oriented toward the ideal of resurrection and who at the same time is convinced (through experience) of repeated earthly lives, reincarnation signifies the possibility granted by divine goodness and mercy for every human being to tread the whole path of earthly experience in fulfillment of the earthly task until its completion, i.e. until resurrection. Reincarnation means to him a step-by-step preparation for resurrection as an overcoming of death…. For just as the ideal state of eternal remembrance (unforgetting) is preceded by a rhythmic alternation of forgetting and remembrance – and as the ideal state of full awakening of consciousness is preceded by rhythmic alternation of sleeping and waking – so for the Christian who is convinced of reincarnation, the ideal state of deathlessness (resurrection) is preceded by the rhythmic alternation of death and birth.
What do YOU think? We’ll continue whith Preston Harold’s thoughts in our next post. Until then, peace.