Monday, November 14, 2011

Augustine Asks the Big Questions

Augustine in his Confessions 6:9 asks:

tell me, O merciful One, in pity tell a pitiful creature whether my infancy followed yet an earlier age of my life that had already passed away before it. Was it such another age which I spent in my mother's womb? For something of that sort has been suggested to me, and I have myself seen pregnant women. But what, O God, my Joy, preceded that period of life? Was I, indeed, anywhere, or anybody? No one can explain these things to me, neither father nor mother, nor the experience of others, nor my own memory. Dost thou laugh at me for asking such things?

Well Augustine, old chap, it was indeed the belief of your Jewish friends:

The belief is common in Orthodox Judaism. Indeed there is an entire volume of work called Sha'ar Ha'Gilgulim (The Gate of Reincarnations), based on the work of Rabbi Isaac Luria (and compiled by his disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital). It describes the deep, complex laws of reincarnation. One concept that arises from Sha'ar Ha'gilgulim is the idea that gilgul is paralleled physically by pregnancy.

Many Orthodox siddurim (prayerbooks) have a nightly prayer asking for forgiveness for sins that one may have committed in this gilgul or a previous one, which accompanies the nighttime recitation of the Shema before going to sleep.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jewish Traditions on Reincarnation and the Second Council of Constantinople

Yes it is part of the Jewish tradition- a fact not generally known by Christians!
One of the texts the mystics like to cite as a scriptural allusion to the principle of reincarnation is the following verse in the Book of Job:
Behold, all these things does God do -- twice, even three times with a man -- to bring his soul back from the pit that he may be enlightened with the light of the living. (Job 33:29)
Here is an article on the council held between the 5th May until 2nd June, 553, that changed the view of the Church on the subject of reincarnation:

So you see, reincarnation was part of Christian doctrine (as it was in Jewish doctrine) for the first five and more centuries.

This council produced fourteen new anathemas against the authors of the Three Chapters and other Christian theologians. The eleventh anathema included Origen's name in a list of heretics.

The first anathema reads: "If anyone asserts the fabulous preexistence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema." ("Restoration" means the return of the soul to union with God. Origenists believed that this took place through a path of reincarnation.) It would seem that the death blow had been struck against Origenism and reincarnation in Christianity.

After the council, the Origenist monks were expelled from their Palestinian monastery, some bishops were deposed and once again Origen's writings were destroyed. The anti-Origenist monks had won. The emperor had come down firmly on their side.

In theory, it would seem that the missing papal approval of the anathemas leaves a doctrinal loophole for the belief in reincarnation among all Christians today. But since the Church accepted the anathemas in practice, the result of the council was to end belief in reincarnation in orthodox Christianity.

Monday, November 07, 2011

More Proof

More proof:
"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name."
Revelation 3:12

Evidently he had gone out into incarnation before or the words "no more" could have no place or meaning.

Quite frankly, I don't believe an honest viewing of Biblical verses can prove or disprove reincarnation. It is up to the individual.

To me, there's no more sensible solution to the riddle of life. What fairer a system could there be?

How do you account for the different fates that human beings start out with in life? What of early deaths, severe mental retardation, poverty, wealth, "bad childhoods" etc? What of those who spend an entire lifetime totally shielded from any knowledge of Christianity?- are they bound for eternal damnation?

No, reincarnation is the fairest system which God in His Wisdom has put in place that we may be healed and purified- as St. Gregory put it.
"It is absolutely necessary that the soul should be healed and purified, and if this does not take place during its life on earth it must be accomplished in future lives."

-St. Gregory of Nyssa

There it is, thank you St. Gregory- who must be the patron saint of reincarnation. The early Christians believed in reincarnation - as indeed the Jews did before them, and still do today! 

There are four ways which one might argue the case for reincarnation:
  1. Looking at reincarnation in the Holy Scriptures- the hints in the Bible.
  2. And looking at the belief as it occurs in Judaism. (I have posted before on this.) I think it took until the 6th century before a belief in reincarnation was banned by the Church.
  3. (And this is more convincing for me.) The philosophical/theological argument. If God is a God of justice why is it that we are born into such varying circumstances? Why do some only have short lives? Are they then judged for eternal life after only having scant experience?
  4. And lastly, direct inarguable experience. Without attempting to present any of the above arguments, Tomberg plainly states that it was part of his direct knowledge and that is that. If folk don't believe in reincarnation now, they will, when through initiation they
    come to it directly.
And what if they are born mentally handicapped or with some other malady that prevents them from making adequate spiritual decisions?

Physical circumstances: If becoming a Christian is so important why is it next to impossible for plenty to come to this decision- because of remoteness (the middle of a New Guinea jungle for example) or because they live in an atheistic/communist or Muslim society.

All these questions must be answered by proponents of the "one life" doctrine.

There are reasons for our circumstances and those of others. Life goes on and we develop further- we build on our strengths and make good our deficiencies. We experience all positions on the wheel of fortune.

Talking on the subject recently a friend said to me "Oh but when are we going to be with God." Personally I believe that on average we spend about one thousand years in the heavenly worlds- enough time for R &  R.

As for being at one with our Father God, Tomberg states that at the midnight hour between birth and death we have to be sheltered from the sight of Nirvana (totally at-one-ness) because the blissfulness is such that you would never want to leave!

BTW the teaching of reincarnation and karma does not in any way preclude the doctrine of Original Sin and Grace. These are greater issues which affect humanity as a whole. There is a lecture on Original Sin by Dr. Steiner available.

Our own repository of personal sin is our Double or Doppelganger, who sometimes wanders off on his own for a time. Our own "Mr. Hyde"- good name considering his hidden nature.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Jeremiah & Ecclesiastes

Jeremiah was certainly around before he arrived in his mother's womb: "Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
-Jeremiah 1:4

We may not remember a former life. What does Ecclesiastes say about this-

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Josephus & Philo Judeus

Josephus is well known to Christian apologists.
In his Antiquity of the Jews (Book i8, Chap. 1, No.2), Josephus states that there were three sects of philosophy amongst the Jews: the Essenes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. The doctrine of the Sadducees was that souls die with the bodies, but both the Essenes and the Pharisees, he affirms, believed in rebirth. As to the Essenes, who have now become famous owing to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, he states elsewhere:

They smiled in their very pains and laughed to scorn those who inflicted torments upon them, and resigned up their souls with great alacrity, as expecting to receive them again.

For their doctrine is this, that bodies are corruptible, and that the matter they are made of is not permanent; but that the souls are immortal, and continue for ever: and that they come out of the most subtile air, and are united to their bodies as to prisons, into which they are drawn by a certain natural enticement; but that when they are set free from the bonds of flesh, they then, as released from a long bondage, rejoice and mount upward. . . .
These are the divine doctrines of the Essenes about the soul....

Jewish War, Book 2, Chap. 8, Nos. 10- 11

[The Pharisees] believe that souls have an immortal vigour in them [and that the virtuous] shall have power to revive and live again: on account of which doctrines they are able greatly to persuade the body of the people.
Antiquity of the Jews, Book i8, Chap. 1, No.3
 [From an address of Josephus to some Jewish soldiers who desired to kill themselves rather than be captured by the Romans:]

The bodies of all men are, indeed mortal, and are created out of corruptible matter; but the soul is ever immortal, and is a portion of the divinity that inhabits our bodies. . . . Do ye not remember that all pure Spirits when they depart out of this life obtain a most holy place in heaven, from whence, in the revolutions of ages, they are again sent into pure bodies; while the souls of those who have committed self-destruction are doomed to a region in the darkness of Hades?
Jewish War, Book 3, Chap. 8, No. 5

Flavius Josephus (A.D. 37-100)

More evidence that the Jews definitely believed in reincarnation:
Philo Judeus (20 B.C.-A.D. 54)

Alexandrian Philosopher and Jew

The air is full of souls; those who are nearest to earth descending to be tied to mortal bodies return to other bodies, desiring to live in them.
De Somniis
The company of disembodied souls is distributed in various orders. The law of some of them is to enter mortal bodies and after certain prescribed periods be again set free. But those possessed of a diviner structure are absolved from all local bonds of earth. Some of these souls choose confinement in mortal bodies because they are earthly and corporeally inclined...

All such as are wise, like Moses, are living abroad from home. For the souls of such formerly chose this expatriation from heaven, and through curiosity and the desire of acquiring knowledge they came to dwell abroad in earthly nature, and while they dwell in the body they look down on things visible and mortal around them, and urge their way thitherward again whence they came originally: and call that heavenly region ... their citizenship, fatherland, but this earthly region in which they live, foreign.

Rebirth in the Kabbalah

The Kabbalah it seems, is now fashionable, what with Hollywood types studying it. The Kabbalah along with other Jewish works, demonstrates that the Hebrews certainly entertained the idea of reincarnation.

Of course there were Christian Kabbalists who used the technique with missionary zeal. A famous one being Raymond Lull.

"The Kabbalah is said to represent the hidden wisdom behind the Hebrew scriptures, derived by the Rabbis of the middle ages from still older secret doctrines. The first Jews to call themselves Kabbalists were the Tanaim who lived in Jerusalem about the beginning of the third century B.C. Two centuries later three important Jewish Kabbalists appeared: Jehoshuah ben Pandira; Hillel, the great Chaldean teacher; and Philo Judaus, the Alexandrian Neo-Platonist. During medieval times there were many celebrated Kabbalists, Spain being one of the important seats of their activity. Rabbi Isaac Luria founded a school of the Kabala around 1560, and the great exponent of his teachings, Rabbi Chajim Vital, wrote a famed work called Otz Chiim, or the Tree of Life, from which Baron Knorr von Rosenroth, a Christian Kabbalist, took the Book on the Rashith ha Gilgalim, revolutions of souls, or scheme of reincarnations."
The Talmudic Miscellany by Paul Isaac Hershon contains the following quotations from the Kabbalah:

If a man be niggardly either in a financial or a spiritual regard, giving nothing of his money to the poor, or not imparting of his knowledge to the ignorant, he shall be punished by transmigration into a woman.

Know thou that Sarah, Hannah, the Shunamite (2 Kings, iv. 8), and the widow of Zarepta, were each in turn possessed by the soul of Eve.

The soul of Rahab transmigrated into Heber the Kenite, and afterwards into Hannah; and this is the mystery of her words: "I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit" (I Sam. i. 15)- for there still lingered in her soul a sorrowful sense of inherited defilement. . . .
 Sometimes the souls of pious Jews pass by metempsychosis into Gentiles, in order that they may plead on behalf of Israel and treat them kindly.
Yalkut Reubeni, Nos. 1, 8, 61, 63

Gilgul describes a Kabbalistic concept of reincarnation. In Hebrew, the word gilgul means "cycle" and neshamot is the plural for "souls." Souls are seen to "cycle" through "lives" or "incarnations", being attached to different human bodies over time. Which body they associate with depends on their particular task in the physical world, spiritual levels of the bodies of predecessors and so on. The concept relates to the wider processes of history in Kabbalah, involving Cosmic Tikkun (Messianic rectification), and the historical dynamic of ascending Lights and descending Vessels from generation to generation. The esoteric explanations of gilgul were articulated in Jewish mysticism by Isaac Luria in the 16th century, as part of the metaphysical purpose of Creation.

Hebrews 9:27

Regarding an objection that might be made - Hebrews 9:27 - here's a note from a Lutheran: the late great Gerry Palo:

"Whenever the question arises whether it is possible to reconcile the idea of reincarnation with Christianity without sacrificing the essential Christian beliefs about the uniqueness and divinity of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the Earth and man, and the veracity of the Bible, sin, salvation, and the Last Judgement, someone invariably raises the apparently justifiable objection that Hebrews 9:27 proves that reincarnation is incompatible with Christianity.
"In the following paragraphs from Christianity and Reincarnation, Rudolf Frieling discusses this verse and the whole of Hebrews in context to show that it does not conflict with reincarnation."

From Christianity and Reincarnation by Rudolf Frieling:

"Something from the Letter to the Hebrews should also be mentioned which is often carelessly quoted as a negation of the idea of reincarnation: 

'And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgement' (9:27)......

"It is the Letter to the Hebrews which again and again uses the word 'once' (hapax or ephapax) in relation to the deed of Christ in order to make it quite clear that Christ made the descent into the sphere of death, into sarx, through Golgotha once and for all, and that His 'coming again' will be a spiritual event occurring under entirely different conditions. The idea of death is here used as indicative of something irrevocable and decisive that concludes a man's life on earth and happens in the course of it only once.

"A mortal on earth is thereby able to understand just what in the highest sense is meant by 'once' in relation to Christ's deed......

"This uniqueness of the experience of death would not be affected by thoughts of reincarnation. As a particular person, a man dies only once. In a following incarnation, the eternal individuality that goes through all of them builds up another person, through which it 'sounds' (per-sonat - The word comes from the latin 'persona', an actor's mask. Translator's note.) But death is something that happens once to each person. After that--judgement. This would also be affirmed from the point of view of reincarnation. Death is followed by the experience of the sternest trials.

"Besides, the original text of that Letter to the Hebrews does not say 'the judgement', but only 'judgement' (krisis).

"There is indeed also in the New Testament the concept of a Last Judgement but that does not exclude 'judgement' being experienced 'already now' in each case after death. There are also moments even in earthly life when one can be profoundly shaken by the experience of a 'judgement'. It meant judgement for Peter when he said to Christ: 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord' (Luke 5:8).

"Thus, this sentence from the Letter to the Hebrews contains nothing that would stand in the way of the possibility of repeated lives on earth.

[Note: In the following chapters Frieling discusses in depth the reality of the Last Judgement and its treatment in the New Testament. Just as this Christian view of reincarnation differs with the oriental one in that it acknowledges the divinity of Christ and the central and world changing significance of his incarnation, death and resurrection, so it also takes seriously the idea of the Last Judgement - an idea that even many modern Christians deny or at least would rather not think about.]"

"Christ is not the teacher, as one is wont to say, Christ is not the inaugurator, He is the content of Christianity."
- Schelling.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I have still much to say to you

Dr. Steiner said it best when he said:
"By realizing that Christianity will bring forth from its depths an increasing flow of new and more living creations, we enhance its greatness. Those who are always saying: ‘That is not in the Bible, that is not true Christianity and those who maintain that it is, are heretics’, must be reminded that Christ also said: ‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now’. He did not say this in order to indicate that He wished to withhold anything from men, but that from epoch to epoch He would bring them new revelations. And this He will do through those who are willing to understand Him. Those who deny that there can be new revelations do not understand the Bible, neither do they understand Christianity. For they have no ears for what is implied in the admonition given by Christ: ‘I have still much to say to you — but prepare yourselves in order that you may be able to bear it and understand it.’
"The true Christians of the future will be those who are willing to hear what the Christians who were contemporaries of Christ were not yet able to bear. Those who allow Christ's Grace to flow into their hearts in ever increasing abundance — they will be the true Christians. The ‘hard of heart’ will resist this Grace, saying: Go back to the Bible, to the literal text of the Bible, for that alone is true. This is a disavowal of the words which in Christianity itself kindle light, words which we will take into our hearts: ‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.’ Good it will be for men when they can bear more and more in this sense: for thereby they prepare themselves for the ascent into the spiritual heights. And to these spiritual heights Christianity leads the way."

-Conceptions of Original Sin and Grace

Thanks Be to God, our Heavenly Father, for His Grace, that there is much to learn. May we be open to ever new insights and inspirations!

Is Life Fair?

How do we account for those who have no possibility of hearing the Gospel in this life- those in restrictive countries, those deep in the jungle, the deaf, the mentally challenged, those that die as babies? Have they no chances at all for salvation?

Christians believe that one must accept Christ in this life to be saved, but there are many who never have the opportunity through the circumstances outlined above, and many more. Is this fair? No, of course not.

Neither is it fair the way in which humans find themselves incarnated in this life. Some are born with silver spoons in their mouths, some in abject poverty, some have all opportunity, others seem to try and fail, some have congenital weaknesses, missing limbs, stupidity; others have rude good health and are wonderfully "gifted". There is inequality everywhere in this life. Is life fair? Why some with gifts and others short-changed?

Life doesn't appear to be fair at all, but our God is a God of Justice and Love- isn't there a disparity here? No, not if we understand the truth of reincarnation. Everything falls into place when we understand rebirth and karma.

Reincarnation & the Gospels

THE old Augustinian model of predestination has long had its day. As an explanation of the different circumstances human beings find themselves in at birth, it is totally haphazard and at odds with a God of Justice and Love.
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:48
Perfection isn't won in a day or even three score and ten years.

Here are some notes from William Judge on the matter:
"In the first place, it must be remembered that the writers of the biblical books were Jews with few exceptions, and that the founder of Christianity - Jesus - was himself a Jew...

"........The Jews then most undoubtedly believed in reincarnation. It was a commonly accepted doctrine as it is now in Hindustan, and Jesus must have been acquainted with it. This we must believe on two grounds: first, that he is claimed by the Christian to be the Son of God and full of all knowledge; and second, that he had received an education which permitted him to dispute with the doctors of divinity. The theory of reincarnation was very old at the time, and the Old Testament books show this to be so.

"Elias and many other famous men were to actually return, and all the people were from time to time expecting them. Adam was held to have reincarnated to carry on the work he began so badly, and Seth, Moses, and others were reincarnated as different great persons of subsequent epochs. ....

If readers will consult any well educated Jew who is not "reformed," they will gain much information on this national doctrine.

".........When there was brought into the presence of Jesus a man who was born blind, the disciples naturally wondered why he had thus been punished by the Almighty, and asked Jesus whether the man was thus born blind for some sin he had committed, or one done by his parents. The question was put by them with the doctrine of reincarnation fully accepted, for it is obvious the man must have lived before, in their estimation, in order to have done sin for which he was then punished. Now if the doctrine was wrong and pernicious, as the church has declared it to be by anathematizing it, Jesus must have known it to be wrong, and then was the time for him to deny the whole theory and explode it, as well as definitely putting his seal of condemnation upon it for all time. Yet he did not do so; he waived it then and said the blindness was for other reasons in that case. It was not a denial of it.

"But again when John the Baptist, who had, so to say, ordained Jesus to his ministry, was killed by the ruler of the country, the news was brought to Jesus, and he then distinctly affirmed the doctrine of reincarnation. Hence his waiving the matter in the case of the blind man is shown to have been no refusal to credit the theory. Jesus affirmed the doctrine, and also affirmed the old ideas in relation to the return to earth of the prophets by saying that the ruler had killed John not knowing that he, John, was Elias "who was for to come."

"On another occasion the same subject arose between Jesus and the disciples when they were talking about the coming of a messenger before Jesus himself. The disciples did not understand, and said that Elias was to come first as the messenger, and Jesus distinctly replied that Elias had come already in the person called John the Baptist. This time, if any, was the time for Jesus to condemn the doctrine, but, on the contrary, he boldly asserts it and teaches it, or rather shows its application to certain individuals, as was most interesting and instructive for the disciples who had not enough insight to be able to tell who any man was in his real immortal nature. But Jesus, being a seer, could look into the past and tell them just what historical character any one had been. And so he gave them details about John, and we must suppose more particulars were gone into than have come down to us in the writings naturally incomplete and confessed to be but a partial narrative of the doings and sayings of Jesus.

"........John the Revealer believed it of course, and so in his book we find the verse saying that the voice of the Almighty declared that the man who overcame should "go out no more" from heaven. This is mere rhetoric if reincarnation be denied; "

"St. Paul also gives the theory of reincarnation in his epistles where he refers to the cases of Jacob and Esau, saying that the Lord loved the one and hated the other before they were born. It is obvious that the Lord cannot love or hate a non-existing thing, and that this means that Jacob and Esau had been in their former lives respectively good and bad and therefore the Lord- or Karma loved the one and hated the other before their birth as the men known as Jacob and Esau. And Paul was here speaking of the same event that the older prophet Malachi spoke of in strict adherence to the prevalent idea. Following Paul and the disciples came the early fathers of the church, and many of them taught the same. Origen was the greatest of them. He gave the doctrine specifically, and it was because of the influence of his ideas that the Council of Constantinople 500 years [553] after Jesus, saw fit to condemn the whole thing as pernicious."

Monday, September 05, 2011

Original Sin & Grace

Karma is literally the protector of our being- as you sow, so shall you reap.

Are the conceptions of  Original Sin and Grace contradictory to Karma? This lecture may be helpful:

"Therefore to speak of the existence of Original Sin and of Grace does not denote misunderstanding of the idea of karma. For in speaking of the idea of karma we are speaking of the reincarnation of the ego in the different earth-lives. Karma is inconceivable without the presence of the ego: Original Sin and Grace, impulses which lie below the surface of karma, [are] in the astral body. We can say with truth that human karma was first brought about because man had burdened himself with Original Sin. Karma flows through the incarnations and before and after there are happenings which introduce and subsequently expurgate it. Before karma, Original Sin; and after, the victory of the Christ Impulse, the fullness of Grace."
-Rudolf Steiner


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Psalm 90, the Thousand Years

Thanks be to Our Dear Christ and Our Loving Father God that we are granted the blessing of reincarnation. This blessing will enable us to go forward to perfect our beings in your Holy Name.

We have the teaching from the Holy Scriptures which describes the time we spend out of incarnation as one thousand years*:

Before mountains were brought forth,
And Thou dost form the earth and the world,
Even from age unto age Thou [art] God.
Thou turnest man unto a bruised thing,
And sayest, Turn back, ye sons of men.
For a thousand years in Thine eyes [are] as yesterday,
For it passeth on, yea, a watch by night.
Thou hast inundated them, they are asleep,

In the morning as grass he changeth.
In the morning it flourisheth, and hath changed,
At evening it is cut down, and hath withered.

- Psalms 90:2-6

* A period of time indicated by Rudolf Steiner.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Welcome to the Reincarnation & Christianity Blog

Welcome one and all, to this fine blog. We will be espousing the wonderful truths of reincarnation here; so stick around and enjoy the fun.

So many of the Bible fundamentalists have neglected to tell us of the evidences of reincarnation within the Holy Scriptures. We will correct that.

The Bible thumper is, unknowingly, committing the sin of idolatry. Yes indeed, they worship the graven image in print and paper rather than the Living God. They will even tell you that the Bible in inerrant. Only Father God is Perfect.

Of course, our Lord did not commit pen to paper- He certainly knew the pitfalls of the "dead letter".