How the Major Religions View Reincarnation


The Bhagavad-Gita, the holy text of the Hindus, observes that "…as the dweller in the body experiences childhood, youth, old age, so passes he on to another body." In 2:19–25, the holy book declares that a man who regards himself as a slayer, or another who thinks he is the slain, are both ignorant:

You are never born; you will never die. You have never changed; you can never change. Unborn, eternal, immutable, immemorial, you do not die when the body dies. Realizing that which is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and unchanging, how can you slay or cause another to be slain? As a man abandons his worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within. The Self cannot be pierced with weapons or burned with fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. The Self cannot be pierced or burned, made wet or dry. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundation of eternity. The Self is unmanifested, beyond all thought, beyond all change. Knowing this, you should not grieve.

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893–1952), the founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship, which seeks to blend Hindu and Christian concepts, once presented three truths to be employed by those who wished to rise above karma. The first truth, the Yogi said, is that when the mind is strong and the heart is pure, we are free. "It is the mind that connects you with pain in the body," he said. "When you think pure thoughts and are mentally strong, you can endure the painful effects of evil karma." The second truth is that in subconscious sleep, we are free. Truth number three, he revealed, is when we are in ecstasy, identified with God, we have no karma. "This is why the saints say, 'Pray unceasingly.' When you continuously pray and meditate, you go into the land of superconsciousness, where no troubles can reach you."

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