Reincarnation Essay, Research Paper
written by: Sivan Kaplan
Reincarnation is the belief that after death, one’s soul keeps existing and
is reborn another person or animal. It keeps reborning until it redeems itself.
Then it returns to the temple of god, which the Buddhists call “Nirvana” -
eternal tranquillity. Two of the many ancient tribes who believed in
reincarnation are the Greeks and the Egyptians.
Karma, the belief that our actions determine our future, is one of the
foundations of reincarnation. For example, a person who lived a sinful life will
return, after death, as an animal, as opposed to a person who lived an honest
life, who will return as a person.
Despite the resistance of many Jewish leaders, reincarnation also played a
role in Judaism due to the Kabala who developed this idea. Some Jewish
philosophers even believed that a soul of a sinner can enter a live man’s body
and “posses” him. Special rituals were used in order to “cure” the man.
T. Gomertz, a famous philosopher, thought of three very good reasons why one
should believe in reincarnation:
1. It is believed that dreams are attempts of the soul to live the body. If this
is true, than the soul can leave the body and it does so when a person dies.
This also means that a soul can exist without a body.
2. If we assume that the soul dies with the body it is connected to, than we
will have to assume there is an endless number of souls which is improbable.
3. Matter is enduring and, therefore, so is the soul. If the soul exists after
death, hens it had existed before birth.
Gomertz believes the origin of this belief is in India, where it was
believed that every action had a hidden reaction, other than the obvious one.
This reaction is obscure at first and is only later revealed, sometimes even in
the next life.
Reincarnation in Different Cultures and Religions
Judaism: In this religion, it was believed that a sinners soul can posses a
living man. This is called an Obsession but it’s actually very similar to
This belief only exists in Judaism. It appears repeatedly in “The Glow”
which is a book written in the 16th century. This book claims that every soul
has its purpose / mission. If this mission isn’t completed, the soul returns to
earth and possesses someone. It stays in this state until it either completes
its mission or is banished by special rituals which are performed by the Rabby.
This belief was most popular in the 16th century. At that period, in some
parts, every illness was considered an obsession.
Buddhism: Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, renewed reincarnation by stating
the possibility of redeeming one’s self from the endless circle of reincarnation.
Reincarnation is interpreted differently in Buddhism – the Buddhists do not
believe there is a soul. They believe that the force which travels from body to
body is not an individual self but a stream of energy with out a definite
personality. This flow of energy, which is similar to the continuos stream of a
waterfall, is not eternal and at some point it redeems itself and reaches the
Brahminism: Reincarnation is one of the most important principles of
Brahminism. The Brahmins believe that death is not the end of our life but
merely a stop on the long life we live. In this stop our future is determined.
For example, a person who lived a sinful life will return to earth as an animal.
Unlike someone who lived an honest life who will return as a human.
Christianity: According to the Evangelists, Jesus often spoke about the
rewards of the righteous and the punishments of the sinners. According to
Christianity, the people who believe in Jesus and follow his foot steps will get
to live eternal lives while those who are easily tempted by the evils of life
will burn in hell eternally.
Different Views on Reincarnation
Plato: He believed that the soul existed before life. However, he only
speculated about the form it was in. In his opinion, after death, the soul
either enjoyed or suffered from the consequences of its life. However, after a
thousand years, the soul can either keep reincarnating or rest forever.
Rudolf Steiner: He is a 20th century philosopher who came up with a new
philosophical foundation for reincarnation. He based his new foundation on the
theory of heredity which says that there is a significant difference between the
part of heredity in man and in animal. Much like the animal, man gets his
anatomic structure from his birth parents. However, he gets his spiritually
qualities from his prior reincarnations.
Pitagoras: He was a Greek philosopher and mathematician. His belief was that
the soul is immortal and that after death, it returns to earth and gets to be
reborn. He believed that animals and humans coma from the same origin. Therefore,
a person can return after death as an animal too. However, one can avoid rebirth
as an animal by living an honest life.