Metaphysics

The cycle of reincarnation

The concept of reincarnation, the belief in the rebirth of the soul in a new body after death, is a central tenet in many Eastern religions and has been embraced in various forms by New Age and spiritual movements around the world. This belief posits that the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth—samsara—is driven by karma, the law of moral causation.

Reincarnation in New Age Spirituality

From a New Age perspective, reincarnation is often viewed not just as a series of physical rebirths but as a profound tool for spiritual evolution and self-realization. Each life is seen as an opportunity to learn specific lessons, resolve past karma, and advance one’s soul towards higher consciousness. The ultimate goal, similar to Eastern traditions, is to achieve enlightenment or spiritual liberation, thereby escaping the cycle of continuous rebirths.

New Age teachings often incorporate elements from various spiritual and religious traditions, blending ideas from Buddhism, Hinduism, Gnosticism, and even quantum physics, to provide a modern interpretation of these ancient concepts. This synthesis aims to empower individuals by providing them with a personal connection to the divine and a direct responsibility for their spiritual development.

Historical Changes in Religious Teachings on Reincarnation

The assertion that all religions once taught reincarnation but that references to it were removed early in the Christian era is a subject of considerable debate and interest among historians, theologians, and spiritual seekers. This perspective is often highlighted in New Age circles, which suggest that early Christian teachings, as well as those of other major religions, initially included reincarnation.

Indeed, some early Christian sects and Jewish mystical traditions like the Kabbalah hinted at beliefs in the transmigration of souls. Figures such as Origen, an early Christian theologian, are sometimes cited as proponents of pre-existence or reincarnation-like concepts. However, during the ecumenical councils, such as the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 AD, many of these teachings were deemed heretical and expunged from orthodox Christian doctrine. This council, in particular, is often pointed to in New Age teachings as a significant turning point where the concept of reincarnation was formally rejected by the mainstream Christian Church.

The reasons for these doctrinal shifts are complex and involve theological, political, and social factors. From a New Age perspective, the removal of reincarnation from the teachings of major Western religions is seen as a loss of a vital component of spiritual understanding—a component that New Age spirituality seeks to reintroduce to modern spiritual practice.

The Universal Nature of Reincarnation

Many New Age teachings suggest that the belief in reincarnation is universal, transcending individual religious or cultural boundaries. This universality is seen as evidence of its truth and relevance to human spiritual needs. The resurgence of interest in reincarnation in the West, particularly through the influence of New Age thinking, psycho-spiritual practices like past life regression, and the global exchange of Eastern spiritual teachings, reflects a broader search for meaning beyond material existence.

The cycle of reincarnation offers a rich framework for understanding human experience and spiritual growth. From a New Age perspective, reintegrating reincarnation into modern spiritual discourse challenges us to look at life as a continuous journey of learning and evolution, with each incarnation bringing us closer to spiritual enlightenment. Whether viewed through the lens of ancient wisdom or modern interpretation, reincarnation remains a compelling narrative about the eternal nature of the soul and its inexorable progress toward the divine.

Dolores Cannon and Edgar Cayce

Dolores Cannon and Edgar Cayce are two prominent figures whose works provide significant insights into the afterlife, reincarnation, and the journey of the soul, as viewed from a New Age spiritual perspective. Both have contributed extensively through their research and purported psychic readings, shaping contemporary beliefs about what happens after we die.

The Cycle of REINCARNATION

Transition from the Physical Body

According to both Cayce and Cannon, the first stage after death involves moving out of the physical body. This experience is described as a detachment where the soul consciousness separates from the physical form, often accompanied by a sensation of peace and lightness. This transition is typically devoid of pain, and the soul is able to observe the body and surroundings from a detached perspective.

The Experience of Darkness and Waiting

The soul may then experience a period of darkness, which is not described as frightening but rather as a neutral or calming space of transition. This period serves as a threshold between the physical life just ended and the next stages of the afterlife. It acts as a buffer zone, giving the soul time to adjust to its non-physical state.

Moving to a Realm of Love and Light

Following this period of darkness, the soul moves towards a realm that is consistently described as filled with love and light. This stage is characterized by an overwhelming sense of peace, acceptance, and unconditional love, often described as returning “home.” This is where souls are said to be greeted by loved ones who have passed before, spiritual guides, or angelic beings who help in the transition.

Rest and Reflection

In this loving space, the soul has an opportunity to rest and recover from the life just lived. This is a time for healing and rejuvenation, especially if the previous life was filled with trauma or pain. The soul is given time to reflect on the experiences and lessons learned during the last incarnation.

Life Review

One of the key components of the afterlife experience, as described by both Cayce and Cannon, is the life review. During this process, the soul reviews every moment and every decision of the life just lived. This is not a judgmental process but a self-assessment to understand the lessons learned and the progress made. It’s a moment of profound introspection, where the soul sees not only its actions but also the ripple effects of those actions on others.

Planning the Next Life

After the life review, the soul begins to plan its next life. This is a highly intentional process where the soul, along with its guides, determines the lessons it needs to learn in the next incarnation to continue its spiritual evolution. This involves choosing the life circumstances that will best facilitate those lessons, including selecting parents, the country of birth, and other life conditions. This stage may also involve forming contracts with other souls who will play significant roles in the upcoming life, ensuring mutual growth and learning.

Reincarnation

Finally, with the plan set, the soul prepares to reincarnate, choosing the appropriate time and circumstances that align with the lessons chosen. The cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth continues each cycle designed to lead the soul toward greater enlightenment and cosmic understanding.

These descriptions combine elements of metaphysical theory, spiritual philosophy, and speculative theology, offering a framework that resonates with many who seek to understand life’s larger purpose and the continuity of consciousness beyond physical existence. Such perspectives encourage a view of life as a meaningful journey of learning and spiritual evolution, governed by a profound, orderly process that transcends our earthly existence.

Ian Stevenson

Ian Stevenson, MD, who died in 2007, was a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia. Over his career, Dr. Stevenson compiled and studied approximately 2500 cases involving children who spontaneously remembered past lives in detail.  His work provided some of the most compelling and rigorously documented cases in the field. Among these, the stories of James Leininger and Ryan Hammons stand out as particularly intriguing.

James Leininger

James Leininger’s case is one of the most famous and well-documented in the study of children’s past life memories. Born in 1998, James began expressing memories of what many believe to be a past life from a very young age. Around the age of two, James started having nightmares of crashing an airplane. He described being shot down by the Japanese, with detailed visions of being in a plane with a specific kind of cockpit.

James’s parents initially thought these were typical childhood nightmares until he began to provide startling details about the life of a former World War II pilot. He named a specific aircraft carrier, the USS Natoma Bay, and said his name was “James” in that life too. His parents, Bruce and Andrea Leininger, were astonished when they researched these details and discovered their accuracy. They learned that a pilot named James Huston, Jr., who flew off the USS Natoma Bay, was indeed shot down by Japanese forces during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

James Leininger provided other specific details such as the names of fellow pilots and friends, details of the aircraft he flew, and the events surrounding his death, many of which were later verified by researchers and journalists, adding significant credibility to his story.

Ryan Hammons

Ryan Hammons, another of the more notable cases studied by researchers interested in reincarnation, began speaking of a past life when he was around 4 years old. He would tell his mother that he wished to go home to Hollywood and talked about his life on set and his work in the entertainment industry. Ryan’s memories included specific details such as dancing in New York, meeting stars like Rita Hayworth, and working for an agency where people changed their names.

His mother, Cyndi, intrigued and somewhat perplexed by her son’s vivid memories, began researching based on the details he provided. With the help of Dr. Jim Tucker, who continued Dr. Stevenson’s work at the University of Virginia, they identified the man Ryan claimed to have been—a Hollywood agent named Marty Martyn who had indeed worked as an extra in movies and later became a powerful Hollywood agent.

Dr. Tucker confirmed that many of Ryan’s memories matched verified facts about Martyn’s life, including the names of people he knew, his work details, and personal history. Remarkably, Ryan was able to recall that Martyn had two sisters, correctly described the location and structure of Martyn’s house, and recounted that he had a wife named “Tracy” – all details that turned out to be accurate.

These cases, meticulously documented, provide some of the most compelling evidence for those who believe in reincarnation. The details provided by James Leininger and Ryan Hammons, which were specific and verifiable, challenge conventional understandings of memory and personality continuity. Researchers like Stevenson and Tucker argue that these cases suggest the existence of some form of personality or consciousness that persists beyond death, opening intriguing questions about human life, consciousness, and the possibility of reincarnation.

the field of reincarnation research includes several other notable cases that have captured public interest and academic scrutiny, thanks to the details provided by the children involved. Here are a few more examples that highlight the diversity and intriguing nature of these cases:

1. Shanti Devi

One of the earliest and most documented cases of reincarnation comes from India. Shanti Devi, born in Delhi in the 1920s, began recalling her past life when she was just four years old. She insisted that her real home was in Mathura, where she had a husband and son. She claimed her name was Lugdi Devi and she died after giving birth. Researchers, including Mahatma Gandhi, took an interest in her case and set up a commission to investigate. The commission’s findings confirmed many of Shanti’s statements. She recognized her previous family members and provided detailed descriptions of her old home and lifestyle, which were verified upon investigation.

2. Cameron Macauley

Cameron Macauley from Scotland is another child who reportedly remembered a past life. From the age of two, Cameron spoke of a previous life on the Isle of Barra, a remote island in the Outer Hebrides, some 160 miles from his home in Glasgow. He described a white house on the beach, his black-and-white dog, and a family car. He even mentioned that his father’s name was Shane Robertson, who had died because “he didn’t look both ways.” After visiting Barra, his mother found a house that matched Cameron’s description precisely. The family who lived there decades ago were the Robertsons, adding credibility to Cameron’s memories.

3. Swarnlata Mishra

Swarnlata’s case is cited by Dr. Ian Stevenson as another impressive instance of past life recall. Born in 1948 in India, Swarnlata Mishra started recalling her previous life at the age of three. She claimed she was from Katni, about 100 miles away, and her name was Biya Pathak. She remembered details of her home, her family, and events like dances and her brother’s distinctive motorbike accident. In 1959, when Swarnlata was 11, members of the Pathak family from Katni visited her, confirming that her memories matched known facts about Biya, who had died in 1939.

4. Purnima Ekanayake

A case from Sri Lanka involves Purnima Ekanayake, who at the age of three, started speaking about a past life in a town she had never visited. She claimed she had been a male incense manufacturer and described his house and workplace in detail. When researchers took her to the town, she recognized the house and factory and recounted details that were later verified by the family of the deceased man she claimed to have been.

These cases are often studied with a mix of skepticism and fascination. For many researchers, especially those like Dr. Stevenson and his successor Dr. Jim Tucker, these stories are not merely anecdotes but are part of a larger framework to explore the continuity of consciousness beyond death. The consistency and verifiability of the details provided in these cases make them particularly compelling, inviting both scientific and philosophical inquiries into the nature of life and human existence.

If you know of any other stories, please share them with us.  It’s such a fascinating topic that intrigues me.

 

 


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