I’ve been absent(minded) for a little while, doing a little reading amongst other things. Most notably, I’m reading about reincarnation and how it was a common belief long before and during the turn of the clock from B.C. to A.D. (biblical times). Plato is highly quoted in his teaching about it, and you might say, he was and still is a strong authority for those who are open to study it. Yet the concept arose earlier than 600 B.C. as seen in the writings of Hinduism. Who knows, it could go back much further.
What is fascinating is that Jesus and most Jews probably believed in reincarnation. Why else would Jesus ask his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they replied, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” That’s when he asks them, “Well, who do YOU say I am?”
Another time, the time the disciples asked Jesus (concerning the man who had been born blind from birth), “Who sinned? This man or his parents that he was born blind?”
A question I always asked myself was: How could a man sin before he was born?
He could sin only if he’d sinned in a previous life and this was the karma, the consequence, of a previous sin. You know, what you sow is what you reap…even if it isn’t in the same lifetime.
This in itself doesn’t prove Jesus believed in reincarnation. But how about these statements from Jesus himself, For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen! (Matt. 11:13-15)
And later, 10 And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 11 He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; 12 but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist. (Matt. 17:10-13)
Christianity and Islam took a departure from mystical Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other traditions who were honestly trying to foster the growth of positive and good individuals. Christianity came up with “one life and then you go somewhere for eternity,” influenced by Greek mythology, and Islam (began in 600 A.D.) adopted that concept, too.
One life and then you are judged doesn’t answer hard questions like – why was I born as a Caucasian, in an American home, privileged, Christian, and blessed while another person was born in the rocky hills of Haiti, starving, oppressed, and fearful of the Voodoo god? Who’s going to stand a better chance of the “one life and then you are judged” outcome? What did I do to deserve a better chance in life than the Haitian?
The concept of reincarnation actually answers a lot more questions than you might imagine. It also requires a change in the way people think about what they were taught about life-after-death. Theologians don’t realize how wide open it breaks the stale, concretized walls that fourth century religious leaders formed around their way of thinking. It could bring quite a field day of creative and life-giving ideas.
But since people don’t like change, especially those entrenched in religion formed for them by an institutional body called the church (which wielded under the dominating authority of Emperor Justinian in the 6th century and declared the teaching to be cursed, then used the Inquisition to destroy those who still believed it), the efforts to resurrect reincarnation have fallen on deaf ears.
Maybe it’s time to resurrect the teaching. If it was good enough for Jesus, maybe it’s something we ought to talk about some more. What do you think?
Let anyone with ears listen!