Jesus said: "You must be reincarnated"
What was Jesus talking about when he said: "You must be born again"?
The text is found in John 3: "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (Jn 3:6-8 NIV)
A growing number of modern New Age Christians are coming to the view that to be born again means to be reincarnated.
Although emerging evidence suggests that Jesus taught reincarnation, it is fair to observe that some church-based Christians still feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of individual human beings living a succession of different physical lives during their evolutionary return to God. But reincarnation, being born again, has become an important new emphasis in Western spirituality over the last 150 years.
The underlying idea of reincarnation and karma is very simple. Human perfection ("salvation") is the assured destiny of the spiritual self of everyone. Reincarnation, as the evolutionary method, provides the necessary time and opportunity for self-perfecting. The law of action and constantly modified reaction ensures justice to all. "God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Gal 6:7b – NIV) The attainment of perfection is rendered certain by the interior presence of an infinite, divine power ceaselessly at work within the spiritual self of every human being.
Jesus of Nazareth, himself, taught reincarnation and those around him took it for granted. There are passages in the Bible where it is evident that Jesus' inner circle understood and accepted reincarnation as part of the natural mechanism of humanity's spiritual journey.
When Jesus said: "You must be born again" (Jn 3:7b – NIV), he was talking about reincarnation. When Jesus said: ".... before Abraham was born, I am!" (Jn 8:58b – NIV), he was talking about reincarnation. When Jesus, perhaps with Malachi 4:5 in mind, explained to the crowd that John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah (Mt 11:7-15), he was talking about just that.
It seems that the people around Jesus were equally at home with the reality of reincarnation. On one occasion Jesus asked his disciples: "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." (Mt 16:13b-14 - NIV) In other words, people were taking the view that John or Elijah or Jeremiah had been reincarnated as the Son of Man.
On another occasion, Jesus and his group encountered a man who was congenitally blind. The disciples asked Jesus: "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life...." (Jn 9:2b-3 - NIV)
The question as to whether the man himself had sinned and in consequence had been sightless shows the clear thought that justice demanded that the transgression should have occurred in a physical body. As this could only have happened in a former life on Earth, belief in reincarnation is implicit in the question. In the disciples' minds the man might have been born blind because of events in one of his previous lives.
But important objections can be made to all this: If Jesus believed in reincarnation, wouldn't he have talked about it more? And wouldn't what he said about reincarnation have been expressed in rather more explicit terms?"
These are fair points. One possibility is that the cultural milieu within which Jesus taught at that time (like that of the more advanced spiritualities in the East) accepted without question that reincarnation happened. It was not therefore necessary for Jesus to be explicit about it.
A further possibility is the exact opposite. It may have been Jesus' view that the people he spoke to were not yet spiritually equipped to assimilate the concept of reincarnation, and so he played it down or coded it into metaphor in his teachings.
A third possibility is more sinister. This is that there were plenty of explicit references to reincarnation in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible (in the texts as originally given), including many clear statements on the subject by Jesus himself, but these references were edited out of the Bible for political reasons in the sixth century.
Prior to the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 CE, the indications are that there had been many clear references to reincarnation in the Bible. But Justinian I (483-565), an energetic Byzantine Emperor, and his wife, didn't like the idea of reincarnation – it tended to reduce the power of priest-caste dogma, and therefore their own power – so they convoked the Council and, among much other gerrymandering, got the Church Fathers to issue a decree to remove most of the references to reincarnation from the extant biblical texts.
But in the early Christian communities, reincarnation was a datum. Origen (c185-254) asks: "Is it not more in conformity with reason that every soul for certain mysterious reasons is introduced into a body, and introduced according to its deserts and former actions? Is it not rational that souls should be introduced into bodies, in accordance with their merits and previous deeds, and that those who have used their bodies in doing the utmost possible good should have a right to bodies endowed with qualities superior to the bodies of others? The soul, which is immaterial and invisible in its nature, exists in no material place without having a body suited to the nature of that place; accordingly, it at one time puts off one body, which was necessary before, but which is no longer adequate in its changed state, and it exchanges it for a second." (from 'Contra Celsum')
And in another place, Origen says: "The soul has no beginning nor end. Every soul comes into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of its previous life. Its place in this world as a vessel appointed to honour or dishonour is determined by its previous merits or demerits. Its work in this world determines its place in the world which is to follow this." (from 'De Principiis')
These two passages from Origen are cited in "Reincarnation: An East-West Anthology" edited by J.Head & S.L.Cranston (1961); Quest Books ISBN 0-8356-0035-1.
A capable essay entitled "Reincarnation in Christian History" can be found here and more historical detail about the Second Council of Constantinople is compiled here.
Among several books of scriptural status which were kept out of the official church Bible, perhaps for fear that they might empower the vulgar, was the Pistis Sophia. In this text there is a passage in which Jesus explains a little more about the reincarnation of Elijah as John the Baptist than the Bible (at Mt 11:7-15) has space for: "I found Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, before she had conceived him and I cast into her a power which I had received from the Little Jao, the Good, who is in the Midst, so that he should be able to preach before me, and prepare my way and baptise with water of forgiveness. Now that power was in the body of John. And again, in place of the soul of the archons which he was due to receive, I found the soul of the prophet Elias in the aeons of the sphere; and I took it in and I took his soul again; I brought it to the Virgin of the Light, and she gave it to her paralemptors. They brought it to the sphere of the archons, and they cast it into the womb of Elisabeth. But the power of the Little Jao, he of the Midst, and the soul of the prophet Elias were bound in the body of John the Baptist." (Pistis Sophia - Book 1 - Chapter 7)
The full text of Book 1 of the Pistis Sophia can be found here, G.R.S.Mead's introduction to the Pistis Sophia can be found here and an instructive blurb about J.J.Hurtak's influential book on the Pistis Sophia is accessible online here.
Richard Holmes' well-regarded website has a section entitled The Reincarnation FAQ. This covers reincarnation life histories, past life regressions, and some of the common questions which people ask about the workings of reincarnation.
Some people think that reincarnation is a deception wrought by demons on the undefended Christian mind. An intelligent presentation of why orthodox Christianity and reincarnation may be incompatible is offered by Ernest Valea here.
I died in spaceshuttle crash says four-year-old Indian girl
Upasama Kumar is a four year-old girl who has been drawing crowds to the village of Nar Mohammadpur in Uttar Pradesh (India). She was born two months after the death of Kalpana Chawla, the Indian astronaut who was killed in the US spaceshuttle Columbia above Texas (USA) on the 1st February 2003. Ever since she learned to talk Upasama has insisted that her real name is Kalpana Chawla and she died up in the skies four years ago when a huge ball of ice collided with the spaceshuttle and destroyed it. Locals say that it would appear that Upasama Kumar is the reincarnation of Kalpana Chawla. Upasama even knows the name of Kalpana Chawla's father.
Source: Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India) 07.07.07.
China bans reincarnation in Tibet
United Press International (Washington, USA) 03.08.07
China tells living Buddhas to obtain permission before they reincarnate
The Times (London, UK) 04.08.07
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