Afterlife and Reincarnation Part 6 Modern Reincarnation
An explanation of the beliefs different religions have about the afterlife and reincarnation, the practitioners and modern believers in reincarnation.
Afterlife and Reincarnation
It is well known that reincarnation is accepted by most Hindus and Buddhists (though not all), but in fact just about every society has some sects which believe in reincarnation. The Egyptians and the Greeks both adopted the idea as their religious ideas developed, though it was never universally accepted in Greece. The Druids would even lend money with the understanding that it would be repaid in a future incarnation. Algonquin Indians, Australian aborigines, and many African tribes include reincarnation in their beliefs, despite the common Western idea that the concept originated in Asia. Among the Jews, the Essenes and Pharisees accepted the idea, which continued to be popular among European Jews until at least medieval times. The Druses, a Muslim sect, not only believe in reincarnation but regard memories of past lives as common-place, though until recently they were forbidden to discuss the memories outside their own people.
Many modern reincarnationists are Christians who find no dichotomy in the 2 belief systems. It is known that reincarnation was a common belief at the time of Jesus, and many feel that the fact that he did not speak against it indicates an acceptance of the belief. St. Augustine, though he obediently followed the church line against rebirth, was a great admirer of Plato and Plotinus, both reincarnationist thinkers, and some scholars feel that there the hints at rebirth in some of his writing. Origen, a church father considered to be 2nd only to Augustine in his influence on the early growth of the Church, openly espoused reincarnation. Some Christians believe that Christ's forgiveness involves the removal of negative karma for people who are "saved." Thus the "wheel of life" (as the constant cycle of rebirths is called) is broken and they will not have to return again, though others will.
Reincarnation would explain the many apparent injustices in the world and, contrary to what is believed by the uninitiated, should not cause a fatalistic "That's my karma, there's nothing I can do about it" attitude. Rather, it gives a sense of total self-responsibility. There are no "outs," no excuses, no they who can be blamed for our difficulties and failures. Rather, our present is created from what we did in our past, and our future is being formed right now by how we handle our present. It is the present which is important to the sincere reincarnationist. To be always fussing about what we were, peasant or potentate, priest or princess, is like a high-schooler worrying about the work he did in elementary school. It is not yesterday's lessons that should be on our minds but today's, for they are all that we can learn today.
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