“To live is by universal consent to travel a rough road. And how can a rough road that leads nowhere be worth travelling? “
A well known philosopher, MacNeille Dixon, asked this question in a series of lectures at Glasgow University in 1938. Good question as they say. He was discussing the concept of re-incarnation. Another writer, Gina Cerminara, has suggested that: ‘Perhaps we have reached a stage of our history where this knowledge (re-incarnation) is necessary to us – otherwise it would not be appearing in so many places.’
The word re-incarnation often provokes the same sniggers that a belief in angels does, but it was an accepted part of Christian belief until the sixth century. Since then the records show that although people have assumed it was banned, according to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, it actually wasn’t. It’s a common belief in many other cultures, though it’s earned itself a bad name for the mistaken interpretation that we come back as animals or insects if we lived a questionable life. In all the cultures around the world re-incarnation is seen as an opportunity to continue the life of the soul and perfect the things that were left undone in other lives.
In most of Asia, and in cultures as far apart as Mexico and Egypt this belief has always been a constant. In Christian history, the Gnostics, the Cathars, the Templars, the Bogomils, the Albigensians were all believers in other lives, and they were all wiped out by the Christian church.
Today, it’s not a dangerous belief in the west, but “a very private belief” according to a survey in the UK which showed that twenty five per cent of people believe in re-incarnation irrespective of their church or creed. It’s the same figure in America. Many orthodox Christians tend to regard it with the same suspicion as clairvoyance. And because it’s been considered a rather eccentric belief – to put it mildly – there are also many misunderstandings about it. The word karma for instance, is often used in a mistaken sense that when bad things happen to us – it’s karma – sort of payback time. But karma is really the unfinished business from other lives, which we choose in this life to complete.
Henry Ford said: ‘The discovery of Re-incarnation put my mind at ease’ … and he wanted others to know what peace of mind it brought. He also said: ‘Genius is experience. Some seem to think it is a gift or a talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives… ‘ When one thinks of Mozart writing music at five, and all the other artistic geniuses and child prodigies who understand branches of mathematics and can speak many languages from their earliest years, this sounds like a logical explanation.
Many famous writers, scientists, philosophers and others believe in re-incarnation. Gustav Mahler the great composer said: ‘We all return; it is this certainty which gives meaning to life, and it does not make the slightest difference whether or not in a later incarnation we remember the former life’…
There’s been a lot of research into what is sometimes called life before life in the last forty years, and there are other methods of returning to previous lives than by hypnosis. Joan Grant who wrote books about her former lives in Egypt in great detail, which could not be faulted by Egyptologists, later used her gift for divining other lives to heal fears, phobias and other psychological traumas in partnership with her psychologist husband. This is how it’s used today, for healing, not for curiosity.
Sometimes people spontaneously return to a time in the past where they faced the same challenge but had failed to understand or respond to it. They see the pattern in this life and are able to work through to a better outcome this time round. And there are many documented examples of children giving the details of their previous life, and the facts being checked and found to be exactly as the child has said- even the family history and family members which they’ve described.
Some people feel that time as a straight line is a human concept which may not bear much relation to reality, and that we may be living parallel lives in a parallel continuum. Joan Grant used to say that her lives were like beads on a string, and the string was the eternal part of her which never died. There are instances of people going forward to lives in the future, as well as lives in the past, and also of lives overlapping, so that a woman dying in a German concentration camp was also living as a five year old child in England.
Whenever we seem to recognise a place or a person, we instinctively know that this is not the first time. When we find certain skills easy or are drawn to different books or periods in history we can be fairly sure that we have known those times before. The Greek philosopher Plotinus said that ‘the spiritual life cannot be described to those who are not living it’. The same applies to re-incarnation. Some people know in their bones that they’ve lived before, while others cannot even imagine the possibility.
The point of re-incarnation is not to go on plodding along making the same muddles and mistakes, but to rise to a higher level of consciousness with each fresh opportunity for growth on earth. This makes nonsense of the cruel beliefs in hell or heaven – a human concept which projects onto the Creator human notions of judgement and punishment. It means that instead, we know that we are part of the long history of the planet in which civilisations rise and fall, in times far beyond our knowledge or recall, in both the past and in the future. And we have been there, and will be again.
Food for Threadbare Gourmets
Organic minced chicken was on special at the village delicatessen, so minced chicken it was. I’d been wanting to try a recipe with it. Take one cup of grated or torn up good bread, ciabatta or sour dough, and soak it in quarter of a cup of milk. Chop three cloves of garlic and two tablesp of parsley. Mix them with 500g of chicken and the bread and milk. Add half a cup of freshly grated parmesan. Season and mix well. Form into walnut sized balls and roll in flour. Cook in hot oil in batches.
Put aside and gently sauté two large leeks, the white parts only, with a dozen sage leaves, until the leeks are soft. Add half a cup of wine and when it’s bubbled up, add the stock and the chicken balls. Simmer for twenty minutes, and then add salt and pepper, a cup and a half of frozen peas, the grated rind of a lemon, and lots of cream. One night we ate it with mashed potatoes, another night with rice.
Food for Thought
They will come back, come back again, as long as the red Earth rolls.
He never wasted a leaf or a tree. Do you think he would squander souls?