For the next two weeks we will consider Reincarnation.

“Intimately, or rather indissolubly, connected with Karma, then, is the law of re-birth, or of the re-incarnation of the same spiritual individuality in a long, almost interminable, series of personalities. The latter are like the various costumes and characters played by the same actor, with each of which that actor identifies himself and is identified by the public, for the space of a few hours. The inner, or real man, who personates those characters, knows the whole time that he is Hamlet for the brief space of a few acts, which represent, however, on the plane of human illusion the whole life of Hamlet. And he knows that he was, the night before, King Lear, the transformation in his turn of the Othello of a still earlier preceding night; but the outer, visible character is supposed to be ignorant of the fact.”

— H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol II, p. 306

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From the Key to Theosophy

WHY DO WE NOT REMEMBER OUR PAST LIVES?
ENQUIRER. You have given me a bird’s eye view of the seven principles; now how do they account for our complete loss of any recollection of having lived before?

THEOSOPHIST. Very easily. Since those “principles” which we call physical, and none of which is denied by science, though it calls them by other names, 2 are disintegrated after death with their constituent elements, memory along with its brain, this vanished memory of a vanished personality, can neither remember nor record anything in the subsequent reincarnation of the EGO. Reincarnation means that this Ego will be furnished with a new body, a new brain, and a new memory. Therefore it would be as absurd to expect this memory to remember that which it has never recorded as it would be idle to examine under a microscope a shirt never worn by a murderer, and seek on it for the stains of blood which are to be found only on the clothes he wore. It is not the clean shirt that we have to question, but the clothes worn during the perpetration of the crime; and if these are burnt and destroyed, how can you get at them?

ENQUIRER. Aye! how can you get at the certainty that the crime was ever committed at all, or that the “man in the clean shirt” ever lived before?

THEOSOPHIST. Not by physical processes, most assuredly; nor by relying on the testimony of that which exists no longer. But there is such a thing as circumstantial evidence, since our wise laws accept it, more, perhaps, even than they should. To get convinced of the fact of re-incarnation and past lives, one must put oneself in rapport with one’s real permanent Ego, not one’s evanescent memory.

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How much of our past year do we remember? As each year passes we retain less and less of what happened in previous years.

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It is interesting to note that everything manifest makes a record in the astral light and can be read upon demand by the enlightened mind.  Nothing is lost.

The fact that we forget much of the past says volumes about the condition of our consciousness.  In some ways I wonder if it is a form of protection provided by nature. If we maintained awareness of every thought, feeling and emotion of the past we might be immobilized.

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From WQJ

The Purpose of Reincarnation

HOW man has come to be the complex being that he is and why, are questions that neither Science nor Religion makes conclusive answer to. This immortal thinker having such vast powers and possibilities, all his because of his intimate connection with every secret part of Nature from which he has been built up, stands at the top of an immense and silent evolution. He asks why Nature exists, what the drama of life has for its aim, how that aim may be attained. But Science and Religion both fail to give a reasonable reply.

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Why does Theosophy put so much emphasis on the idea of Reincarnation?  HPB seems to draw a focus on Brotherhood, Karma and Reincarnation.

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From the Ocean of Theosophy

What then is the universe for, and for what final purpose is man the immortal thinker here in evolution? It is all for the experience and emancipation of the soul, for the purpose of raising the entire mass of manifested matter up to the stature, nature, and dignity of conscious god-hood. The great aim is to reach self-consciousness; not through a race or a tribe or some favored nation, but by and through the perfecting, after transformation, of the whole mass of matter as well as what we now call soul. Nothing is or is to be left out. The aim for present man is his initiation into complete knowledge, and for the other kingdoms below him that they may be raised up gradually from stage to stage to be in time initiated also. This is evolution carried to its highest power; it is a magnificent prospect; it makes of man a god, and gives to every part of nature the possibility of being one day the same; there is strength and nobility in it, for by this no man is dwarfed and belittled, for no one is so originally sinful that he cannot rise above all sin. Treated from the materialistic position of Science, evolution takes in but half of life; while the religious conception of it is a mixture of nonsense and fear. Present religions keep the element of fear, and at the same time imagine that an Almighty being can think of no other earth but this and has to govern this one very imperfectly. But the old theosophical view makes the universe a vast, complete, and perfect whole.

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Reincarnation makes so much more sense when seen in the light of the whole broad scope of Evolution.  When we contemplate the enormity of the undertaking reincarnation seems only logical.

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I agree with Grace.  Reincarnation makes a great deal more sense than any other explanation put forth by various religions and ideologies.  Living only one life and then going to hell because you didn't do it right just doesn't seem right at all.  If we view life as a learning and unfolding processes in which we evolve it makes life that much more worth living and (sometimes) suffering through.  Otherwise, what is the point?