Reincarnation Essay, Research Paper
Do human beings live only once, or are we granted the opportunity to return after death and experience many different lives? The question of reincarnation has been examined for thousands of years and has been embraced in various degrees by numerous religions. Scientists speculate that even the people who lived during the New Stone Age (10,000B.C.E – 5,000B.C.E.) believed that once a person died, their journey had not yet concluded. Because ideas about a society that lived so long ago are frequently not concrete and can be difficult for present day culture to grasp, many scholars point towards Hinduism as being one of the earliest religions to offer explanations of reincarnation. Hinduism, originating sometime during the fourth millennium BCE is the most ancient of the surviving great religions. The adoption of the belief of rebirth can be found in Hindu scriptures dating around 600 BCE As time progressed, suggestions of reincarnation began to be found in Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, and Christianity. While this is certainly not a complete list, or a statement that each of these religions embraces and in turn teaches the theory of rebirth, it does shed light to the fact that among very diverse beliefs and lifestyles there is a great desire to know what happens after death. In addition to the search about what transpires posthumously, many people see reincarnation as an explanation for many of the great questions about life. Such as, why is there suffering in the world? is there a meaning to life? How can child prodigies be explained? and are memories about past lives valid? Following is a discussion of how the theory of rebirth can answer some of life’s most difficult questions and provide supportive evidence collected throughout the years for Western minds who find the idea of multiple lives difficult to grasp. Religion in the Western region of the world is predominately Christian. Among the people practicing Christianity, the idea that God is omnipotent is very prevalent. However, the idea of the all-powerful God brings up and interesting dilemma. If God is responsible for all that happens in the universe, why is there widespread suffering? Is this God an unsympathetic God and does he feel the need to punish some people? Many people cannot accept the idea that the center of their worship would have cruel tendencies. Therefore, many are of the belief that God is a loving and kind God. But if God controls the universe with a loving hand, why have there been floods, deadly famines, children born into poverty or deformed, and why do some people seem to live such difficult lives? There are no clear answers to any of these questions. However, reincarnation suggests the idea that there is in fact justice in the world. Ancient wisdom teaches that divine justice does rule the world and that there is a meaning and purpose behind human life. Despite the appearance of injustice, perfect justice is in fact insured to every human being by the operation of a compensatory law, the law of cause and effect known in the East as Karma. The Law of Karma is the law of causality extended in the world of human action. More simply stated, every human action, mental, emotional or physical, produces and exactly appropriate reaction. However, the reaction may not be received in during the current life. Therefore, suffering is an expression of past deeds and a entrance to pending life experiences and is not a result of God’s hatred or indifference, but rather a definite universal law. Reincarnation offers the hope for a better future because it suggests that with each “life” we gain more knowledge and are more prepared for the next life. If suffering is an unavoidable part of life, many people can’t help but ask is life worth living? Is there a purpose to human existence if it can be extremely painful or just end suddenly? In broad terms, it can be said that the purpose of life is the evolution of the human soul. The process of growth through physical experience continues until death and is continuous throughout different bodies. The time and how the death occurs is governed by the Law of Cause and Effect. The final stage of the cycle occurs when the soul is free from desire and is perfectly happy with life and everything that has been experienced. At the end of the journey, the soul is reabsorbed into the higher self from whence it came. This is often referred to nirvana or enlightenment in Eastern religions. In Christianity, this idea is expressed by St. Paul in Ephesians 4.13, “Till we all come in of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, into a perfect man, into the measure of the fullness of Christ”. This attainment is represented for every person in the Bible, “Be ye therefore of perfect, even as your father which is in Heaven is perfect” Matthew 5.48. Christianity does not embrace reincarnation and teaches that once a person dies, their soul can go to Heaven, Hell, or in some cases Hell on earth. However, a single life span, even when there are a variety or experiences of, the attainment of physical, intellectual, and spiritual “perfection” would be impossible. A person would need to experience both the life of an animal and a human as well as both sexes and different races and lifestyles to be able to grasp the vast diversity of the universe.