Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that the non-physical essence of a living being starts a new life in a different physical form or body after biological death. It is also called rebirth or transmigration, and is a part of the Saṃsāra doctrine of cyclic existence. It is a central tenet of Indian religions, namely Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism, although there are Hindu groups that do not believe in reincarnation but believe in an afterlife. A belief in rebirth/metempsychosis was held by Greek historic figures, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. It is also a common belief of various ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar, and as an esoteric belief in many streams of Orthodox Judaism. It is also found (in different forms) in some beliefs of North American Natives.
Incarnation and reincarnation are spiritual and religious concepts. Most people mistake that incarnation and reincarnation has the same meaning. Religious people, especially those that believe in these spiritual concepts, believe that there are significant differences between incarnation and reincarnation.
First of all, the concept of incarnation are normally attributed to deities or higher spiritual being descending on a lesser physical being such as the human form. For Christians, this concept can is illustrated by the belief that the sprit of God incarnated into a human form which is Jesus Christ. So there is a higher deeply religious overtone when one is speaking about incarnation.
On the other hand, reincarnation has a less deific meaning. For most spiritualists, reincarnation is the repeated process of incarnation of lesser souls from the spiritual state to physical state. Some religions believe that the body is just a shell or a vehicle of the soul. The body can be destroyed but the soul will remain. So this soul will continue to reincarnate into other physical beings in an endless process of incarnation.
Another big difference between incarnation and reincarnation lies in the question about how these two spiritual processes end. For the spiritualists, incarnation is part of the universe. It is an unending phenomenon as long as there are physical beings living on earth. That is because ‘new’ souls are created continuously by the higher being. These ‘new’ souls therefore will find a physical state to complete the process of incarnation.
On the other hand, the cycle of reincarnation ends when the ‘old’ soul achieves a completion of purpose. This means that the ‘old’ has attained the highest state of physical state and it is now ready to go the ultimate place where souls reside.
Incarnation and reincarnation are different concepts. The former refers to a higher spiritual state descending or transforming itself to a lower physical state. The latter refers to the repeated process of incarnation of old souls until they are ready to take their place in heaven.
Reincarnation, also called transmigration or metempsychosis, in religion and philosophy, rebirth of the aspect of an individual that persists after bodily death—whether it be consciousness, mind, the soul, or some other entity—in one or more successive existences. Depending upon the tradition, these existences may be human, animal, spiritual, or, in some instances, vegetable. While belief in reincarnation is most characteristic of South Asian and East Asian traditions, it also appears in the religious and philosophical thought of local religions, in some ancient Middle Eastern religions (e.g., the Greek Orphic mystery, or salvation, religion), Manichaeism, and gnosticism, as well as in such modern religious movements as theosophy.
In many local religions, belief in multiple souls is common. The soul is frequently viewed as capable of leaving the body through the mouth or the nostrils and of being reborn, for example, as a bird, a butterfly, or an insect. The Venda of southern Africa believe that, when a person dies, the soul stays near the grave for a short time and then seeks a new resting place or another body—human, mammalian, or reptilian.
Among the ancient Greeks, the Orphic mystery religion held that a preexistent soul survives bodily death and is later reincarnated in a human or other mammalian body, eventually receiving release from the cycle of birth and death and regaining its former pure state. Plato, in the 5th–4th century BCE, believed in an immortal soul that participates in frequent incarnations.
The major religions that hold a belief in reincarnation, however, are Asian religions, especially Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, all of which arose in India. They all hold in common a doctrine of karma (karman; “act”), the law of cause and effect, which states that what one does in this present life will have its effect in the next life. In Hinduism the process of birth and rebirth—i.e., transmigration of souls—is endless until one achieves moksha, or liberation (literally “release”) from that process. Moksha is achieved when one realizes that the eternal core of the individual (atman) and the Absolute reality (brahman) are one. Thus, one can escape from the process of death and rebirth (samsara).
Jainism—reflecting a belief in an eternal and transmigrating life principle (jiva) that is akin to an individual soul—holds that karma is a fine particulate substance that settles upon the jiva according to the deeds that a person does. Thus, the burden of the old karma is added to the new karma that is acquired during the next existence until the jiva frees itself by religious disciplines, especially by ahimsa (“nonviolence”), and rises to the place of liberated jivas at the top of the universe.
Although Buddhism denies the existence of an unchanging, substantial soul or self—as against the notion of the atman it teaches the concept of anatman (Pali: anatta; “non-self”)—it holds to a belief in the transmigration of the karma that is accumulated by an individual in life. The individual is a composition of five ever-changing psycho-physical elements and states, or skandhas (“bundles”)—i.e., form, sensations, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness—and terminates with death. The karma of the deceased, however, persists and becomes a vijnana (“germ of consciousness”) in the womb of a mother. The vijnana is that aspect of consciousness that is reborn in a new individual. By gaining a state of complete passiveness through discipline and meditation, one can achieve nirvana, the state of the extinction of desires and liberation (moksha) from bondage to samsara by karma.
Sikhism teaches a doctrine of reincarnation based on the Hindu view but in addition holds that, after the Last Judgment, souls—which have been reincarnated in several existences—will be absorbed in God.
The hymns may, in general, be said to express a positive attitude toward human life and to show interest in the full enjoyment of life here and hereafter rather than an anxiety to escape from it. The idea of transmigration and the conception of…also were ideas of human reincarnation. The name of a deceased person was given to a child who “became” that person by being addressed with kinship terms appropriate to the deceased… .
Avatar, Sanskrit avatāra (“descent”), in Hinduism, the incarnation of a deity in human or animal form to counteract some particular evil in the world. The term usually refers to the 10 appearances of Vishnu: Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varaha (boar), Narasimha (half man, half lion), Vamana (dwarf), Parashurama (Rama with the axe), Rama (hero of the Ramayana epic), Krishna (the divine cowherd), Buddha, and Kalkin (the incarnation yet to come). The number of Vishnu’s avatars is sometimes extended or their identities changed, according to local preferences. Thus, Krishna’s half brother, Balarama, is in some areas included as an avatar. One formulation of the doctrine is given in the Bhagavadgita when Krishna tells Prince Arjuna:
Whenever there is a decline of righteousness [dharma] and rise of unrighteousness then I send forth Myself. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of righteousness, I come into being from age to age.
Copyright © 2018 SEAN-O-VISTA
Powered with By Wi-Mikandra