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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?