My Top Threads= Reincarnation

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Bruce Michael, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. Bruce Michael

    Bruce Michael New Member

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    Dear Companions,
    I was checking out which of my threads (from a couple of years ago) had had the most views; and the winner by a long shot was one on reincarnation:

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/christians-are-free-to-accept-8052.html

    With 10,107 views, this must be something that people are really interested in.
    Are they interested in reincarnation in general, or the possibility of Christians accepting this sublime doctrine?

    The next on my list was even more surprising:
    3,560
    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/mani-apostle-of-jesus-christ-7612.html
     
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    This Christian has not died yet (in this incarnation) and (while has read many things from others that indicate they know but have no evidence of actually knowing what occurs after this thing we call life) admits he doesn't know what comes next.

    But does not rule out reincarnation as a possiblity.
     
  3. shawn

    shawn New Member

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    IMO reincarnation is much more believable than the current christian views.
    Nobody can prove anything either way, but I side with the recycling version.
     
  4. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I don't believe that Christianity rules out reincarnation, there are many points in scripture that those that support it point to.

    And if one believes in an forgiving loving intelligent G!d, than thinking we'd get this right in one lifetime or get tossed into eternal fire just doesn't fit.

    Ya know, forgive seventy times seven?
     
  5. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    "This Christian has not died yet...."

    --> Rumors of your death are greatly exaggerated!
     
  6. Bruce Michael

    Bruce Michael New Member

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    I think conditions in the world will definitely improve as we see more and more accepting reincarnation and karma. And the Christian world is catching up in this direction. If you read the polls, there are increasing numbers of believers who hold that reincarnation is possible- despite what their leaders may tell them.

    The "one shot chance" never did make sense. 'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.' It's a rather hard to achieve in three score and ten years. Some of us have only really got going after that!
     
  7. friendofbill

    friendofbill New Member

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    I have often wondered whether the frantic opposition to reincarnation among some ultra-conservative Christian groups is directly related to a vey human yearning to see those who disagree with "us" being roasted forever in a fire. "Look! God always liked us best!"

    The verse most often quoted against reincarnation is Hebrews 9:27: but who is to say that this refers to the death of this physical body? Jesus said, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself." Was He kidding? By the mechanism of reincarnation He could do so.

    And is He [God] not lifted up also in the Vedas, and the Sutras, and A Course In Miracles... wherever men are directed away from loyalty to the "world, the flesh and the devil" and redirectd to spiritual goals?

    Jai Ram
    Art
     
  8. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Reincarnation makes sense for me given my own experience as it currently stands. That is, to make sense of my life right now, it is most helpful and useful to accept that I've reincarnated in the past.

    However, I maintain I have no idea what happens after I die, and I certainly have even less of an idea of what happens to other people after they die.

    Where faith comes in (and I do have faith in God and Christ) is that I completely trust God will do with me exactly what ought to be done, and that if I am wholeheartedly seeking His/Her presence and will in my life, and seeking to follow Christ, then I am doing all that I can and I can have faith that God's grace will do the rest... whatever that is.

    I think heaven and hell are appealing to us because of our human-bound, limited ideas about justice and our rather self-centered desire to have very little work in the grand scheme of things. It's very appealing to feel like we just put in 80 or 100 years and then we get an everlasting vacation in paradise. It makes things really easy for us. At some point, I came to the conclusion that for me, at least, it has not been that way. For others, I haven't a clue. But I can say that I would not feel it were unfair if some people got one life and then went to heaven and I just went round and round doing work on myself and trying to fulfill some purpose. I just figure every being is created to do what it does.

    Ultimately, what kicked me out of the doctrinally approved idea that we get one life and then go to heaven as believers was the Spirit itself, which asked me, "Do you want what I [God] want? Or what you want? Will you trust me to take you where My will directs?"

    I didn't really have much else I could do but give my desires over to God and put faith in God's justice, mercy, and will. To accept the unknown. And later, to rejoice in it.
     
  9. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    friendofbill, you asked,

    "I have often wondered whether the frantic opposition to reincarnation among some ultra-conservative Christian groups...."

    --> I think it has to do with the very nature of reincarnation vs. being saved. Reincarnation puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the person who is reincarnating -- there is no "saving" except that the person saves himself from further reincarnating. It is easy to see how conservative Christians would fight against any idea that says Jesus can save us.

    path_of_one, you said,

    "It's very appealing to feel like we just put in 80 or 100 years and then we get an everlasting vacation in paradise. It makes things really easy for us. At some point, I came to the conclusion that for me, at least, it has not been that way."

    --> It certainly does not make sense that we can work hard for only 80-100 years, and then have it easy for countless billions of years. I, like you, cannot put such an idea into my belief system.
     
  10. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    What makes you think that there isn't going to be any work once we get to heaven? I would be hard pressed to believe that after biblical exhorations to work hard and not be slothful that we would be reclining around sipping mint julips all eternity. Is this what the teachings of the kingdom of God really telling us?

    Adam before the fall, was tasked to keep the garden. It is only because of the curse that that tending became tedious. I'm not sure, incidently, if it was because the world really became cursed or if the sin of Adam changed our nature so that work would be a chore rather than a pleasure. The 'rest' that the bible tells us in Hebrews chapters 3 & 4 is a reversal of that fortune, not necessarily implying freedom from work, rather that it will no longer be a chore, but a delight. At any rate, if the scriptures tell us we will be kings and priests, that suggests to me that at the very least such positions carry a certain responsibility and work is possible. I believe our learning and experience would see unlimited potential in the kingdom.
     
  11. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Dondi,

    I see heaven as a place of rest, while I see nirvana as a "place" of great activity. This way I can see us getting both plenty of rest, and also working very hard after death. (And I see no conflict between the ideas of heaven and nirvana whatsoever.)
     
  12. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    I'm not sure how this follows a belief in reincarnation. Are you suggesting that there is no more growth in heaven?
     
  13. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Dondi,

    To me, heaven is two things: It is a place of rest. It is also a time to sift through all of the experiences we have just undergone, trying to glean as much wisdom and insight from what we have experienced. Once we have gleaned as much as we can, it is time for another "field trip". This works into the idea of reincarnation quite nicely.

    Nirvana is not like that at all.
     
  14. shawn

    shawn New Member

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    What is amusing about these kinds of speculations is that none of us has more than vague clues as to what we really are, or how the Universe really works and our place in it, yet we have all this surety regarding our life cycles beyond the grave.
    Truly laughable.
     
  15. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    To me heaven and hell are states of mind. We can stand side by side in the same situation, one in heaven, one in hell. Mother Theresa and Viktor Frankl come to mind.

    While again, not knowing what hereafter brings (even the next moment) I feel comfortable that it is all good and this is all a growing, learning event for us....this incarnation and the next...if it it and the last one aren't already/still occurring.

    and well, yeah, even then.
     
  16. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I'd agree with your line of thinking. But it's not the predominant one I've heard in Christianity. There seems to be a lot of grumbling about having to work now and looking forward to the endless vacation. I don't think such a position is theologically sound, but it is awfully common.

    I think that's a fascinating idea. I certainly think most of this is "in our heads." There are certain things that are difficult about being here on earth and making a living, but I've met people who do what they feel called to do and who are very happy working hard. I've met a lot of farmers and ranchers that work 12+ hour days of hard physical labor and find a lot of peace and joy and satisfaction in it. I don't think the earth is cursed at all. I think it's our choice whether we experience it that way. (Not to mention that most of the world's injustices and suffering are caused by humans making bad decisions- it's not as if the earth does it to us. We do it to us.)

    I tend to think of a nice paradisal resting place as similar to the Summerlands (Pagan concept). This is really similar to what you're calling heaven. I can't seem to separate nirvana from the Buddhist concept I learned, which involved extinguishing of the self. Nirvana seems to be no-place- it's the absence of oneself. This is why the boddhisattvas delay nirvana for themselves, right? So they still have a self through which to work. After nirvana, there isn't anything anymore. It's a snuffing out of the flame that was that temporary self.

    My own ideas on the matter are more like Wil's combined with reincarnation (for myself, again, no clue about others). Heaven in this sense is a state of being. It's a being in the presence of God. We can have that any time- here, there, alive, dead. It's based on our willingness to perceive that God is already with us. Hell, on the other hand, is the opposite- our determined effort to separate ourselves from God and thus experience the loneliness and pain of this separation. It is a choice to suffer in the deepest way possible. This probably just feels worse after we're dead because we don't have the distractions of other beings to keep us company.

    Neither, in my opinion, have much to do with reincarnation or a resting-place like the Summerlands, since they are states of being.

    However, I realize my concept of "heaven" is not doctrinally mainstream in the Abrahamic traditions. The mainstream idea of heaven as an eternal place we go after we die is quite different- more like an eternal Summerlands (which also doesn't mean no work, but it does mean happy work).

    No, not at all. Sorry for the lack of clarity. Based on my own experience, reincarnation made the most amount of sense when I was attempting to understand my own life (I have past-life memories and other issues that are best resolved through the concept of reincarnation). This upset me, because (1) I was trying for a long time to believe the doctrinally approved/mainstream ideas of Christianity and (2) the idea of never having to be incarnate again was appealing and I had gotten attached to it, treating it a bit like a crutch.

    God's message to me, I think, was not so much to say "Reincarnation is the way it happens!" but rather to ask me, "If I wanted you to reincarnate indefinitely, and this was My will for you, are you willing?"

    For me, it was very difficult to come to terms with reincarnation, but once I did and I let go of my expectations about the afterlife, my spirituality deepened and much of my struggle with my own experience was healed. I was able to let go of my demands for the afterlife to be a particular way, and so my faith and trust in God deepened. And once I could "own" my memories and experiences through the lens of reincarnation, I could deal with associated emotions and other baggage in a productive way. I could begin to use my multi-life journey in a way that helps my growth and healing in this life rather than fighting an internal battle.

    Like I said, I have no real clue on what happens after we die. I don't think everyone reincarnates (or goes to heaven, or whatever). I simply found reincarnation to be a very useful concept through which to understand myself. Even if I am wrong about my own experience, its usefulness remains.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  17. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    path_onf_one, you said,

    "I don't think the earth is cursed at all."

    --> Are you Christian? If so, how do you deal with the fact that the Bible says the earth is cursed?

    "I tend to think of a nice paradisal resting place as similar to the Summerlands (Pagan concept)."

    --> Summerlands is exactly what I believe in. My understanding of it is, there is a whole spectrum of "worlds," all the way from hell to heaven, with various gardiations in between. This idea makes a lot of sense to me.

    "I can't seem to separate nirvana from the Buddhist concept I learned, which involved extinguishing of the self. Nirvana seems to be no-place- it's the absence of oneself."

    --> The way I see it, nirvana is the extinguishing of one's lower principles, while one's higher principles continue on. I think part of us is extinguished, but not all, and this is the mistake in the Buddhist interpretation.

    "This is why the boddhisattvas delay nirvana for themselves, right?"

    --> No. Nirvana is bliss, a much higher bliss than Heaven. Boddhisattvas are willing to make the sacrifice of not entering nirvana, but staying here to help the rest of us who have not achieved nirvana yet. Many people make the mistake of confusing enlightenment and nirvana. Once we understand the difference, things make more sense.

    "So they still have a self through which to work."

    --> I would say they still have a Higher Self through which to work. They just do not have a lower self (the personality) any more

    "After nirvana, there isn't anything anymore."

    --> Rather, I would say that, after nirvna, there isn't any lower self anymore. If everything is extinguished, then we are merely talking annihilation.

    "My own ideas on the matter are more like Wil's...."

    --> What is Wil's idea?

    "Hell, on the other hand, is the opposite- our determined effort to separate ourselves from God and thus experience the loneliness and pain of this separation. It is a choice to suffer in the deepest way possible."

    --> I think the choice is made here on earth (obviously), but it is a choice to do things like allow ourselves to become addicts.

    "This probably just feels worse after we're dead because we don't have the distractions of other beings to keep us company."

    --> It has been said that hell is worse than earth, because earthly life requires us to take very ephemeral thoughts and try to push them through very dense, physical brain cells. Once we stop trying to do that, we are much more receptive to such vibrations. In heaven or hell, we experience much more clearly the vibrations we set up for ourselves in life.

    "The mainstream idea of heaven as an eternal place we go after we die is quite different- more like an eternal Summerlands (which also doesn't mean no work, but it does mean happy work)."

    --> I like to go with the idea that heaven is mainly rest, and nirvana is mainly activity.

    "Based on my own experience, reincarnation made the most amount of sense when I was attempting to understand my own life (I have past-life memories and other issues that are best resolved through the concept of reincarnation)."

    --> So you now believe in reincarnation? I am glad to hear that.

    "...once I could "own" my memories and experiences through the lens of reincarnation, I could deal with associated emotions and other baggage in a productive way."

    --> I am glad to hear that you were finally able to resolve all of this. Good for you.
     
  18. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Hm... am I a Christian. It seems that question is answered more by how others perceive me than how I perceive myself.

    I consider myself a follower of Christ's teachings. I believe the Bible is an account of one people's experiences and conceptualizations of God, humanity, and so on. I don't believe the Bible is infallible, neither in its translation, nor in its accounting of said people's range of experiences and conceptualizations, nor in its accuracy as to the real workings of the universe and the Divine. However, I think it is a sacred text and was inspired by certain people's spiritual experience.

    Categorically, I'm about as close to Quaker doctrinally as one gets... and Quakers are fringe in terms of Christianity. I am closer doctrinally to being Pagan than anything else, really. But I still follow Christ and believe I've been saved by Christ. Christ was my first relationship to a divine entity that bridged my humanity and the Infinite/Transcendent, and continues to be my standard for guidance, both mystically and through the gospels.

    I have no real opinion on this matter. I don't really think religions make mistakes as much as I think any human conceptualization of the divine and the workings of reality are probably pretty far off the mark. I don't necessarily agree with all the Buddhist concepts, but I don't think they are mistakes. I kind of figure what I'm going for in myself is refinement and consistency in my capacity to be aware of the presence and will of God (that is, what I would call harmonious flow). Some of this could be termed enlightenment, but my idea of it is broader than that, and has more to do with an awakening and return to one's spiritual essence and purpose- and less to do with seeing reality as it is. I think it's fine to see it in one's unqiue and flawed way, if one is intuitively connected to one's essence, the Divine, and the harmonious flow of the universe. This enables one to move within one's life in the most harmonious way and one's ideas about it are largely irrelevant. I see religious belief less like science (facts) and more like poetry and art.

    As I understand it, in Buddhism boddhisattvas achieve enlightenment but delay nirvana. Nirvana was described to me by one eminent Asian religions scholar as blowing out the flame of the self. It is an extinguishing. At least according to the Buddhist tradition. It isn't my goal, so I just say I'm not working toward nirvana. Though enlightenment has something to do with my overall sense of ideal standard for development.

    From what I understand of Buddhism, it is annihilation. Because there is no self, so ultimately release from samsara is the ending of the illusion of self.

    Heaven and hell are states of being along a continuum (the terms referring to the extreme points) of being close to or far from God's presence. Since God is everywhere all the time, this has to do with our own state of awareness.

    I would imagine so. My own personal take on it is that earth is very much like a hell in many ways. But it has its positive aspects too. The earth itself is a lovely place, but humanity has largely made the human existence a hell. However, there are some physical/mechanical issues of how earth works, perhaps because of how we contruct it or relate to it, that are very limiting and unpleasant. I have often thought since I was a child that this body and place are rather like being imprisoned and quite hellish compared to their potential, but I've worked toward having a more positive outlook as I got older.

    I have for a number of years, at least for myself. I have no belief about any sort of universal afterlife- it's outside the scope of what I feel I can assess. I think I've believed in reincarnation for about as long as I've been here.

    Thanks- and me too. Resolving past baggage always helps clarify one's present state. As I work through that stuff, it's been very freeing. Some people might believe it's a lot of hogwash, but cognitive science tells us that even if the memories are only strong, detailed dreams or imaginations, there is a part of my brain that can't tell the difference. So whether these memories are "real" or "imagined" is irrelevant. I imagine it is probably nice for people who have no such memories to deal with, but on the other hand, having them has meant a lot of growth for me- in reconnecting with who I am/was, in realizing my spiritual essence and striving to let that permeate who I am in this life, in healing my past hurts, in forgiving and asking for forgiveness for my past failures. It brought me back into contact with the deepest part of myself and the connection I have to the Divine and to other beings. So I'm grateful, even if it is a bit of work and worrying whether I'm a nutcase. ;):D
     
  19. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Path_of_one, you said,

    "I don't really think religions make mistakes…."

    --> I guess we just have to agree to disagree on this one.

    "Some of this could be termed enlightenment, but my idea of it is broader than that, and has more to do with an awakening and return to one's spiritual essence and purpose…"

    --> I think we agree on this. I see enlightenment as merely one step on a much longer path.

    "Nirvana was described to me by one eminent Asian religions scholar as blowing out the flame of the self."

    --> This begs the question: If the self is extinguished, what is left?

    "From what I understand of Buddhism, it is annihilation."

    --> The Buddhists I have talked to usually bristle at the idea of nirvana as annihilation. I do not think it is a Buddhist teaching.

    "What is Wil's idea? --> Heaven and hell are states of being along a continuum…."

    --> I agree. I merely leave out the theistic language.

    "I think I've believed in reincarnation for about as long as I've been here."

    --> It is refreshing to find someone who follows the Christian teachings that also believes in reincarnation.

    "Resolving past baggage always helps clarify one's present state."

    --> I was once told by a great psychic that we cannot achieve enlightenment until we take care of all our emotional garbage (while we can reach heaven before such time). That makes sense to me.

    "Some people might believe it's a lot of hogwash, but cognitive science tells us that even if the memories are only strong, detailed dreams or imaginations, there is a part of my brain that can't tell the difference."

    --> I like to ask people if they believe in a soul. When they say yes, I ask them which they think came first, the physical body or the soul. Most people I have talked to say they think the soul came first. I think this is a valuable concept for people who are considering the idea of reincarnation.

    "…in realizing my spiritual essence and striving to let that permeate who I am in this life, in healing my past hurts, in forgiving and asking for forgiveness for my past failures…."

    --> It sounds like you have made a lot of progress along the path, nirvanic or otherwise.
     
  20. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I suppose it is more that I think all religions make mistakes. I don't think there is one right and perfect way... they all have flaws. It has to do with finite incarnate entities contemplating the Infinite and the limitations thereof. Each religion brings a piece of the human puzzle to the table... how humans connect to the Divine. All religions are very much human, and so very much subject to erroneous judgements, interpretations, histories, and practices. They're a record of the attempt of humans to connect with each other, to form ethical societies, to understand the Divine and the universe.



    Nothing. There was nothing that really existed in the first place. The illusion ends and nothing remains except the impact of that illusion on the other illusions (other beings).



    I am not Buddhist, but it is what I learned from several Asian religions scholars in the university. I think it's one of those issues (best I can tell) that (1) is difficult to translate, (2) manifests diversity in the views of people within Buddhism itself and (3) probably demonstrates a difference between popular belief and "correct" interpretation of the original teachings. Christianity has quite a few of those as well- issues in which many or even most Chrisitans believe one way, but the original teachings in context say something different (which often causes a much more nuanced and sometimes even quite different understanding among the clergy and theologians than you find among the laity).



    I think Wil is a panentheist as I am. So God is pretty all-encompassing- meaning both the Transcendent Divine (that which we cannot really know or comprehend) and the immanent forms (that which is in ourselves and all beings).



    From a psychological perspective, it makes sense to me as well. Though I confess I really don't know how it all works. I think it is possible to achieve enlightenment in any number of ways, depending on one's essence and current life and willingness. I just know that for me, I have realized that knowing at least some of my past and dealing with it was necessary to overcome certain fears and limitations in my current life, which are very much related to my sense of spiritual purpose that is woven throughout all my lives, as well as my capacity to fully birth what I am into the life and form I currently inhabit, you might say. The barriers I had put up before, related to past hurts and failures and fears, were limiting what I could accomplish in this life- both in my personal development and in my broader purpose (why I'm here and now). While I still struggle with a lot of it, it definitely helped to accept it into my conscious mind and deal with it.

    LOL- oh, I'm sure I have plenty of path left to walk. :)

    I think what was most striking to me about what I realized is that, so far as I have experienced and know, I am not traveling toward some unknown shore as much as I am traveling back to my point of origin. And this journey may never end, because it may be more about my capacity to bring that essence into a variety of lives and places than it is about my reaching a destination. I don't think I get to reach a destination, and I'm OK with that. My greatest desire is to do the work I am created to do because it is the only gift I can give to God.
     

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