RE: Reincarnation and Karma
- 03/09/2002 3:47 AM
An old saying is: "To give a dog a bad name." This implies that
a "label" placed on anything epitomizes its assemblage of
qualities. It also implies that readers might accept such an
evaluation without further inquiry. This "dummies" the reader.
It is unfair as it provides no REASONS for such a
I read in a recent posting: "Reincarnation is purely a religious
Yes, reincarnation, or the return of the Real Man into flesh was
and is still a great "belief" of many faiths and of many peoples
down the ages. Its presence can be traced in many philosophies
and religions of the past.
Let us take Christianity and Judaism for example, since
Christianity derives from a reform of Judaism.
REINCARNATION AND THE BIBLE
Reincarnation or re-embodiment is the lost chord of Christianity.
It is a doctrine of the Jews and widely known at the time of
Jesus' ministry. Jesus did not deny or contradict it.
Jesus said he intended to uphold and buttress the law. We find
Herod listening attentively to discussions that John or Jesus was
this or that returning prophet or great man of olden
times--speculating on the doctrine of reincarnation, of "coming
back." It was then a matter of court gossip, which, to an
Eastern potentate, would be a warning that a returning great
personage would of necessity have, not only knowledge but also
power; and that people, if attracted to such a new leader, would
have their minds inflamed beyond control with the idea that a
wise one of old had returned to live and work with them.
Reincarnation when brought to Jesus' attention is not found to be
condemned, refuted or denied by him, but tacitly accepted and
even declared to be true. This illustrated below.
Old Jewish traditions held that the soul of Adam reincarnated in
David and will have to come again in the expected Messiah.
Hebrew interpreters said that since Adam had sinned it was
necessary for him to reincarnate on earth to make good the evil
committed by him. David sinned against Uriah... This doctrine
was also applied by the Jewish Rabbis to Moses, Seth, and Abel
(Habel). Cain died and was reincarnated as Yethrokorah.
Similarly it was held by them that Bileam, Laban and Nabal were
reincarnations of the same soul or individuality. Job is said to
have been once Thara, the father of Abraham. We find Jeremiah
speaking of Esau and Jacob "returning." And, the people spoke of
Elias "who was yet to first come;" and also that some of the old
prophets were there in Jesus and in John the Baptist. "Proverbs"
gives the doctrine where Solomon says he was with the Creator
"from the beginning" and that then his (Solomon's) delights were
with the sons of men and in habitable parts of the earth.
Matthew in Ch. 11, v. 14 relates what Jesus said concerning Elias
"which was for to come." Here he took the doctrine for granted.
And, in the 17th Chapter he says among other things: "But I say
unto you that Elias is come already, and they knew him not...and
the disciples understood that he spake to them of John the
Baptist." This is repeated in Mark Ch. 9, v. 13 but there the
name of John is omitted.
There is the case of the man born blind--Jesus neither denied nor
condemned the doctrine when this was discussed. They asked Jesus
if he had been punished by the Almighty or for some sin he had
committed, or one done by his parents, thus voicing the accepted
views of the doctrine of reincarnation. Jesus replied, saying
that the cause was not because of past sin, but for an
extraordinary purpose. In another case when he revived one whose
death had not proceeded beyond recovery, this gave him an
opportunity to demonstrate the powers he had. Had the doctrine
been untrue and pernicious he would have denounced it. He did
not, but brought up to his followers the case of John, on the
coast of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus asked the disciples: "Who do
men think that I am ?" using the prevailing idea of the time.
(Matthew xvi, v. 13) There he seems to have deliberately brought
up the old doctrine to distinguish himself from the common lot of
sages and prophets by showing himself to be an incarnation of God
and not a reincarnation of any saint or sage. Had the doctrine
been wrong, then was the time for Jesus to denounce it, putting
his condemnation on it for all time. (see St. John, ix).
St. John could have meant nothing but that doctrine when in
Revelations, Ch. iii, v, 12 he said: "Him that overcometh will I
make a pillar in the temple of my God and he shall no more go
out." Evidently he had "gone out" before, or this could have no
place or meaning.
If the Church now does not agree with the views of Jesus, and
chooses to explain them away, then we ought to consider giving up
such Church views since they are guilty of doubting the wisdom of
Jesus and his ability to conduct a great movement. The Church is
well known to have promulgated dogmas and condemned doctrines
wholly without any authority, and some that Jesus himself held it
has placed anathema upon. The Church has cursed the doctrine he
taught. Which is right? The true believer in Jesus must reply
that Jesus is. Why should the Church have done this? Perhaps
because such a doctrine places all men on an equal basis, and
hence, weakens the chosen position of the Church, as the human
rulers of heaven and access thereto.
Such an important doctrine, Jesus could not afford to pass over,
and if it was wrong, it would be his duty to condemn it--we may
then suppose that he would have done so were it not entirely
right. He went further, affirming it and approving of it. We
should also remember that Jesus said that his mission was
primarily to the Jews and not the Gentiles: "I am not sent but
unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
John the Revealer (Revelations, 3, 12) says that the Almighty
declared that the man who would overcome should "go out no more"
from heaven. This is mere rhetoric if reincarnation is denied.
St. Paul in his epistles refers to the cases of Jacob and Esau,
saying that the Lord loved one and hated the other before they
were born. They could not have been non-existent in that case,
and the Lord (or Karma, the Law) held these views because of
their past actions, which would shape their future.
Origen, who died about A.D. 254, held to and taught "the original
and indestructible unity of God and all spiritual essences."
Origen, taught pre-existence, and the wanderings of the soul
(a'leen b'gilgoola--cycle of rebirths with the Kabalists and the
Talmudists, described in the Zohar)--an exile from Paradise. He
gave pre-existence and transmigration as a necessary doctrine for
the explaining of the vicissitudes of life and the inequalities
of birth. He was highly regarded by all in the early Church, and
by his contemporaries outside of it. His teachings, and because
of his influence continued, and, it was only some 500 years after
Jesus, that the Church, at the Council of Constantinople saw fit
to anathematize as pernicious the doctrine Jesus had taught and
Origen and others had maintained, for the reasons given earlier.
So, "pre-existence of the soul" fell out of the Church teachings
in the West and became "lost." But it will and should be revived
as one of the Founder's teachings; and, as it gives a forceful
basis for ethics, it is in all truth, one of the most basic and
powerful of teachings. Origen also taught the doctrine of unity
with God, of the final restoration of all souls to pristine
purity, and, of their necessary pre-existence.
If we would consider that the soul, when united to the Spirit and
not the animal, passional soul, is pure, of the essence of God,
and desirous of immortality through a person, we may understand
that the personality may fail, and not be fit for unity with the
spiritual soul. So, ongoing in its quest, other personalities
are ensouled. Each one, if a failure in respect to union with
the Spirit passes into the sum of experience. But, finally, a
personal birth is found wherein all former experiences are
united, affirmed and union is gained with the Spirit. From then
onward there can be no falling back. Immortality through a
personality has been attained. Prior to this great event the
soul existed and hence the doctrine of pre-existence. This is a
process which is within the grasp of all men--each being
considered as embodying a "ray" from God-Spirit. The Higher
Self, the Augoeides has existed from all time. It may cause
rebirths, but not be itself reborn as it merely overshadows each
birth without being, itself, wholly in the flesh. Mystical this
may appear, but it provides for each human his personal God,
within, and That is united to all such Spirits, to be seen in the
infinite radiations of the One GOD-SPIRIT.
When at last the modern Churches will admit that its Founder and
his disciples believed in pre-existence, and that Jesus did not
condemn it, a long step will be taken towards eliminating may
intolerant and illogical doctrines now held. A great step
towards sympathy and universal brotherhood will be taken.
The SERMON ON THE MOUNT is of high importance--if taken literally
it appears to be a string of meaningless promises. These
commandments are broken daily. But the ideas of Karma (justice
and retribution) and Reincarnation (the return of the Soul to
earth to balance its accounts of a moral nature) are seen to be
important and fundamental ethical doctrines. Every ancient
reformer, prophet or sage prior to Jesus' time promulgated and
emphasized these ideas to his people and times.
Wisdom and Truth are synonymous terms, and that which is false or
pernicious cannot be wise. If it is true, as we are told by a
well-known representative of the Church of England, that the
Sermon on the Mount would, in its practical application, mean
utter ruin for his country in less than three weeks, we are left
to choose between two courses. We have either to take Science
and Theology on blind trust and faith, or proclaim them both
untrue and untrustworthy. There is however a third course, as
many do and take, and that is pretend to believe in both at the
same time, and say nothing as many do, pandering to the
prejudices of Society. The ethics of Christ alone purge the mind
of hypocrisy for the true believer. Science to be honest and
true must embrace and investigate every event brought to its
attention without prejudice or preconception. This is the only
hope for truth to prevail in this age, and all of us are
participants in this process. The choice is ours.
The information described above is extracted from some of the
writings of Mr. Judge, one of the founders of the THEOSOPHICAL
SOCIETY. He worked for Theosophy in America under the direction
of Mme. Blavatsky.
Now let us look together at the logic that underlies
Reincarnation and the great and universal Law of Karma. There is
an old saying that runs: "Many a house of life hath held me."
"Reincarnation" means the entering again into flesh. (re - again;
in - into; carne - flesh) So, this word - Reincarnation - tells
us at once that if we are in bodies now, we have been in bodies
before! We reincarnate according to cycles of Karma, just as
seeds of plants do in their seasons. We live our lives in cycles.
Once we were babes, and then children, and now are adults.
Childhood is the spring-time of our lives. Grown up, we are in
the summer-time, Then as our hair grows gray, and our backs
bent, comes the autumn. After autumn comes winter, and the biting
frost comes and kills the growing things. So we have our winter,
too, the dead-time of our bodies. Our life-cycle has made its
complete path - but, it's a spiral path, and it returns and goes
on in a new ring! After winter, comes spring again, when -
"The boughs put forth their tender buds
And life is Lord of all."
So, after the dead-time of our bodies, what will the new turn of
the cycle bring us? New bodies! Once again, we shall be as tiny
babes, children, grown-ups, old, and die again - to have the
cycle bring us back to earth again in yet another new body! Only
We are the Same One going on every turn of the cycle - the same o
ne in the body now who had another body a thousand years ago. We
have lived in many a bodily house!
Just as Cycles and Karma are two ways of looking at Law, so
Reincarnation which comes according to cycles, also comes
according to Karma! It's as if Karma, Cycles, Reincarnation are
three fingers making up the hand of Law. We never think "hand,"
without thinking of fingers, do we? Or "finger" without seeing it
in our minds as part of a hand? There would be no way for effects
to come of some causes, if it were not for Reincarnation.
"The Wheel of the Good Law moves swiftly on. It grinds by night
and day." Now, if Karma works silently from day to day all of our
lives, what else can it mean than that we are making Karma to the
day, to the minute we leave our bodies? So, we have to get many
effects in new bodies.
More than that, if Karma was working yesterday, two years ago, -
if it never stops - it was working the very day we were born! We
reincarnate because of Karma. According to Karma, we earned the
very kind of a body we have, the very father and mother, the
brothers and sisters we have! If we have no brothers and sisters,
that, too, we earned. We earned the very color of our eyes, the
very shape of our bodies. We earned our friends. Many friends we
have not yet found, for the cycle has not yet returned that
brings them to us. The cycle of friendships started in other
lives than this, and so it is often a long cycle of Karma that
brings them back to us. Think of it - when something wonderfully
sweet comes to you that you can't see you deserved: "Why, some
day in some other body, I must have done someone a service - and
my own has come back to me."
And again, there may be a time when everything seems wrong, when
someone uses us harshly, and we know we have done the unkind one
no wrong! Just so, we have earned that pain, and we can think:
"'A harsh word uttered in past lives, ever comes again.' This,
too, is my own come back to me, an echo from the lips I spoke
through in another body."
Our dispositions we brought with us, too, from other lives. Some
of us find our dispositions have much of selfishness, unkindness,
deceit, laziness, and temper in them. That is why we have this
body now. It is a body in which we must cure these bad qualities,
and make our good ones stronger. The more wrong things we cure,
and the more strongly we act for The Inner, the Higher Self - the
better the disposition we shall have when the cycle of this body
ends; consequently, the better conditions we shall bring with us
into our next body. Our natures, and our characters, are all we
bring with us. We don't come all dressed up, with a bag of gold
in our hand when we are born; when we go, we leave behind us all
our houses and riches of every kind. We leave behind all our
burdens and hardships, too!
We bring our characters; we make them better, or worse, and take
them along with us when we go. Theosophy shows how we can make
Often we may say: "Why, I don't see how I can have lived before
in other bodies! I don't remember anything about that!" It
wouldn't be so strange if we didn't remember, when the brains we
are remembering through came new with these present bodies, and
when we have crammed them so full with the things of this life!
Indeed, we don't remember half our days in these bodies!
Certainly, it is a rare one of us who remembers the day they were
born - but we must have been born!
But recognition on sight isn't the only way of remembering. The
surest way of all is by feeling, and that doesn't depend very
much on the brain. In fact, it is the feeling, which some sight
arouses, we should call truly remembering. Your brain does not
tell you that you love someone. You know you love because you
feel love for the other person.
So, we are really remembering the friends of other lives, when we
see them for the first time, and feel we have always known them
and loved them; we are also remembering, when for no reason in
the world we can see, we dislike so intensely another person we
meet. Is it hard to imagine the kind of Karma-seed in other lives
which makes such liking or disliking in this one? What kind of
seeds shall we plant now that will bring us loving friends in
lives to come? Yes, there are other ways of remembering. In deep
sleep, we know all about our past lives, and sometimes a dream
about one or another may come through into our brain, when we are
Very young children, especially between three and six, "remember"
words of a language once they knew. In one family, the parents
were worried because their little girl was not learning to talk
at the age of two years. She was constantly "jabbering," but not
a word could they understand. Then, one day, a soldier who had
been in France came to visit them. He began to pay attention to
the little girl, and in amazement he said to the parents, "Don't
worry about the little one's not talking. She is talking very
Have you ever noticed how some boys and girls seem never to have
to learn some particular thing? For instance, one boy knows how
to use tools without being taught; one girl doesn't need to learn
how to sew, or to read; one boy can sing from the time he can
speak, while most of us are years in learning how; some girls
love to write poetry, or can imitate the ways of speech and
manners of others, but more people never can do it well in this
life, however long and hard they try - even with talking lessons.
All these facilities, or talents, are in evidence now because
there was a skill developed in those things in other lives; or
even a love for them, - because it is the feeling, again, of love
to do these things, that lives, and goes on from life to life.
Perhaps you have noticed that sometimes, too, people grow lazy
with these talents, and they lose them. They must love them
enough to make them always more beautiful by working for them,
and especially, as a service to share with all as needed, if
they, or we, would keep them.
Our "now" is made up of our past, and our "now" is what makes the
future, so it's the "now" that we must use aright. If flashes
from the past, comes into the now, unbidden, perhaps in some
cases, as a sweet odor. We can recognize them, and smile, and
know them for what they are - messengers that are saying: "there
are many houses of life we have lived in, and we have yet to
build for our souls still statelier mansions." Such experiences
it would seem need not be talked about to others. They are only
for the Experiencer to consider. But, do not such strange
"flashes" offer some of the evidence that we have lived before.
All Nature bears evidence of this same law of reincarnation for
all who can see. Each one must see for himself and in himself all
that belongs to him, now or in past lives.
The following story was written by a commercial photographer of
"Anne, my little half-sister, younger by fifteen years, was a
queer little mite from the beginning. She did not even look like
any member of the family we ever heard of, for she was dark
almost to swarthiness, while the rest of us were all fair,
showing our Scotch-Irish ancestry unmistakably.
As soon as she could talk in connected sentences, she would tell
herself fairy stories, and just for the fun of the thing I would
take down her murmurings with my pencil in my old diary. She was
my especial charge - my mother being a very busy woman - and I
was very proud of her. These weavings of fancy were never of the
usual type that children's fairy tales take; for, in addition to
the childish imagination, there were bits of knowledge in them
that a baby could not possibly have absorbed in any sort of way.
Another remarkable thing about her was that everything she did
she seemed to do through habit, and, in fact, such was her
insistence, although she was never able to explain what she meant
by it. If you could have seen the roystering air with which she
would lift her mug of milk when she was only three and gulp it
down at one quaffing, you would have shaken with laughter. This
particularly embarrassed my mother and she reproved Anne
repeatedly. The baby was a good little soul, and would seem to
try to obey, and then in an absent-minded moment would bring on
another occasion for mortification. 'I can't help it, mother,'
she would say over and over again, tears in her baby voice, 'I've
always done it that way!'
So many were the small incidents of her 'habits' of speech and
thought and her tricks of manner and memory that finally we
ceased to think anything about them, and she herself was quite
unconscious that she was in any way different from other
One day when she was four years old she became very indignant
with Father about some matter and, as she sat curled up on the
floor in front of us, announced her intention of going away
'Back to heaven where you came from?' inquired Father with mock
seriousness. She shook her head.
'I didn't come from heaven to you,' she asserted with that calm
conviction to which we were quite accustomed now. 'I went to the
moon first, but - you know about the moon, don't you? It used to
have people on it, but it got so hard that we had to go.'
This promised to be a fairy tale, so I got my pencil and diary.
'So,' my father led her on, 'you came from the moon to us, did
'Oh, no,' she told him in casual fashion. 'I have been here lots
of times - sometimes I was a man and sometimes I was a woman!'"
She was so serene in her announcement that my father laughed
heartily, which enraged the child, for she particularly disliked
being ridiculed in any way.
'I was! I was!' she maintained indignantly. 'Once I went to
Canada when I was a man! I 'member my name, even.'
'Oh, pooh-pooh,' he scoffed, 'little United States girls can't be
men in Canada! What was your name that you 'member so well?'
She considered a minute. 'It was Lishus Faber,' she ventured,
then repeated it with greater assurance, 'that was it - Lishus
Faber.' She ran the sounds together so that this was all I could
make of it - and the name so stands in my diary today, 'Lishus
'And what did you do for a living, Lishus Faber, in those early
days?' My father then treated her with the mock solemnity
befitting her assurance and quieting her nervous little body.
'I was a soldier' - she granted the information triumphantly -
'and I took the gates!'
That was all that is recorded there. Over and over again, I
remember, we tried to get her to explain what she meant by the
odd phrase, but she only repeated her words and grew indignant
with us for not understanding. Her imagination stopped at
explanations. We were living in a cultured community, but
although I repeated the story to inquire about the phrase - as
one does tell stories of beloved children, you know - no one
could do more than conjecture its meaning.
Some one encouraged my really going further with the matter, and
for a year I studied all the histories of Canada I could lay my
hands on for a battle in which somebody 'took the gates.' All to
no purpose. Finally I was directed by a librarian to a
'documentary' history, I suppose it is - a funny old volume with
the 's' like f's, you know.
This was over a year afterward, when I had quite lost hope of
running my phrase to earth. It was a quaint old book,
interestingly picturesque in many of its tales, but I found one
bit that put all others out of my mind. It was a brief account of
the taking of a little walled city by a small company of
soldiers, a distinguished feat of some sort, yet of no general
importance. A young lieutenant with his small band - the phrase
leaped to my eyes - 'took the gates.' And the name of the young
lieutenant was 'Aloysius Le Fèbre.'
The article appeared in the AMERICAN MAGAZINE of July, 1915.
I trust this will prove of interest,
From: Gerald Schueler
Sent: Friday, March 08, 2002 7:05 AM
To: Theosophy Study List
Subject: - Karma
<<<Reincarnation is a purely religious belief, yet Dallas cals it
a "LAW OF NATURE" without providing any evidence or logical
Theosophists, by and large, do not understand the difference
between belief, fact, and law. I have been arguing this for years
and seem to have gotten nowhere. There are some logical
reasonings, but certainly no "proof."