Rebirth, or reincarnation, "reentering the flesh", implies rebirth of souls in new human bodies. Hindus, Jainists, Celtic pagans, Buddhists, and others teach reincarnation, and so does a significant minority of people in the West. Ancient Hindu scriptures, such as the Rigveda (10:90) mention reincarnation, and from around the middle of the first millennium BCE in India, reincarnation is discussed as a philosophical subject there, too. For example, an early Upanishad, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, mentions that the soul takes birth repeatedly, after periods in the beyond in between these lives.
The early Buddhist texts discuss techniques for recalling previous births, predicated on the development of high levels of meditative concentration. The later Yoga Sutras of Patanjali . . . give similar instructions on how to attain the ability. The Buddha reportedly warned that this experience can be misleading and should be interpreted with care. Tibetan Buddhism has developed a unique "science" of death and rebirth, a good deal of which is set down in what is popularly known as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. [WP, "Reincarnation"]
Finally souls graduate from the schools of hard knocks that we call earthly life. Some go on to get it better, others to much as before, and others get it worse, says Gautama Buddha and elaborates on the outcomes as well.
Belief in reincarnation is common in Orthodox Judaism, but most Christian denominations reject the notion of reincarnation. Among the Christian denominations that support reincarnation are the Christian Community, the Liberal Catholic Church, the Unity Church, and some others. Edgar Cayce, the the American psychic, supports the idea of reincarnation too.
Reincarnation also appears in Norse mythology, in the Poetic Edda. The editor of the Poetic Edda says that Helgi Hjörvarðsson and his mistress, the valkyrie Sváfa . . . were reborn as Helgi Hundingsbane and the valkyrie Sigrún. Helgi and Sigrún's love story is the matter of a part of the Völsunga saga and the lays Helgakviða Hundingsbana I and II. They were reborn a second time as Helgi Haddingjaskati and the valkyrie Kára . . .
Hinduism teaches these worthy goals of life: going for (1) wealth, (2) sense delights and pleasure, (3) righteousness, and (4) freedom, moksha. Freedom means freedom from [having to be] reborn again, through elevated attainments within. Enlightenment, Awakening, Atmajnana (Self-Knowledge) are words used to refer to such a deep state.
At death the soul sheds its gross human form, but keeps the central "I" intact, and also keep its emotions (astral body) and thoughts (causal body) all right, in most cases. Some go up to brighter realms, and some go down.*
To fill in a little: Going upwards and so on depends in part on how well one has lived in many lives and not only the last one - and the complex or interlaced goings that karma brings, teaches Buddha. Buddhism speaks of rebirths that are conditioned by karma. Good karma may be built, and most important, one may reach "the other side", Nirvana, a state of joy.
The souls continues to have experiences in the beyond too, until it is born again in another physical body [or freed from the rounds of births and death through Self-knowledge and skills that help it, for example aplomb].
Ultimately the human soul goes beyond the level of life on Earth and is released by inner attainments. Many believe in karma, or "giving-back", and reincarnation as a sort of twin couple. By reaping the consequences of bad and good deeds, we back up good deeds and get elevated within, reach better conditions here and in the beyond, and are on our way to great release - Nirvana is the Buddhist term for that state of joyousness.
Among researchers, Professor Ian Stevenson has explored the issue of reincarnation. More reincarnation research is needed for definite conclusions. [More]
Edgar Cayce was born on a farm near Hopkinsville in Kentucky. In time he managed to enter a self-induced sleep state and respond to questions in it. The sessions of questions and sleep-answers were written down by a secretary, and his answers and other responses have since been called "readings".
From Cayce's perspective, we are spiritual beings who are currently having a material experience on earth in order to learn lessons that will enable us to return to our former state of spiritual awareness. We may also bring some measure of spirituality into the earth. Experiences are subject to choices we make: By our will and positive attempts we may turn obstacles into stepping-stones for growth. Otherwise, we may become negative. While on earth we often meet the consequences of previous deeds and attitudes, Cayce teaches. His view about it resembles the karma concept a lot. Cayce holds that karma consists of deep, subtle impressions that influence our relationships and our faults and abilities.
Yet it did not matter to Cayce if an individual believed in reincarnation or not, for main things, according to him, included to grow to get thoroughly aware of our deeper nature and of relationships. Also, it mattered less who the individuals who came to him had been and done in former lives, than what they focused on and the opportunities and challenges that faced them in their present lives - a proper focus is on choices, actions, and free will in the present.
To remember your own past lives the Cayce readings recommend such things as personal inventories of your talents, abilities, likes, and dislikes; working with meditation and dreams; taking part in imaginative past-life reveries, and further.
Also, we often meet the consequences of previous deeds and attitudes, teaches Cayce. Cayce's form of reincarnation belief is that each of us goes through a series of lifetimes for the purpose of spiritual growth and soul development.
Cayce says that "I AM who I am" is the Creator, the first cause of manifestations, and that what life is about, is to get worthy of and companionable to, the "I Am" within. The essence of a form is its spirit entering into cause, principles, and essences as the result of one or more impetuses from the Source.
A human's deep self or soul is the origin of abilities, productions, gains, and certain changes that are manifested.
Crucial things for a soul is what it does about the knowledge it is given, and in what direction it is heading by its choices and goings. Influences turn conscious through ideations, and experiences bear similar fruits. In such way the deep mind is a builder.
Animal sides to man draw us into avarice and greed, whereas the Spirit goes for "good deeds" and knowing the Maker first-hand.
Life itself manifests God, says Cayce.
As humans we are subjected to the Law, says Cayce. That subtle Law is set, and is at work. He also teaches that heaven and hell is built by the soul.
[Gleanings from Cayce reading 5753-1]
John Melton (1942-) is the religious author of more than twenty-five books on American religion and new religious movements, including his Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America. His areas of research include religious traditions and vampirology. Melton has spent almost four decades in identifying, counting and classifying the many different churches, major religious traditions, new religions and alternative religions found in North America. His major emphasis has been on collating primary source data on religious groups and movements. He has generally made direct, personal contact with the leaders or official representatives of a church or religious group to obtain the group's main religious literature to ascertain their principal teachings and practices. Much of his writings has focused on the phenomenology of new religions.
Melton has also written an article called "Edgar Cayce and Reincarnation: Past Life Readings as Religious Symbology". It is on-line. Below are keynotes:
Melton shows that much of the American myth-maker Cayce's telling about past lives are linked to Theosophy. As a result of the readings and conversations with Arthur Lammers from Dayton, Ohio, Cayce became quite familiar with the Theosophical cosmology, writes Melton. Lammers studied such as astrology and Eastern religion, and questioned Cayce about many things therein. Further, Lammers was identified with Hector (of the Trojan War).
After conversing with Lammers and sleep-responsing to his questions, the role of past lives became a focus in Cayce's readings. However, there is much repetition in the Cayce readings.
The great majority of Cayce's readings were for individuals and included (besides an astrological reading) the delineation of (usually) four past lives, each of which was said to have some karmic effect in the present. In telling about past lives, Cayce chose from a limited number of points in time and places in the world. There is a marked repetition of a limited particular time-culture periods in his readings to different persons. "Cayce's readings show an extremely limited number" thus, writes Melton. By this he means that in his sleep readings Cayce speaks of former lives from a quite limited variety of countries and times only. Mellon presents how many times Cayce speaks of past lives lived in ancient Egypt, America, and so on. Egypt is on the top of the list, as the following examples show.
Reincarnation cultures Cayce refers to
Further, England, 300+. France, 250+. Greece, 250+ - some Grecian incarnations relate to Uhjldt's rule in Persia. Crusades, 139. India, 97. Peru, 79 - Peru and the Yucatan are significant as locations for incarnation only as places to which Atlanteans migrated when their home was destroyed. Gobi, 73. Scandanavia, 74 - many of the Norwegian (and "Scandinavian") incarnations are of Norwegian birth (or in one case of Norwegian ancestry). Numbers 1431, 1437, and 1450 are such cases. The Norwegian incarnations are in most cases also related to either Eric the Red or Leif Erickson - the only Norwegians most Americans had heard of at the time. Troy, 52. German, 52. Yucatan, 41. Spain, 34.
His readings do not mention Africa south of the Sahara, China, Russia and Latin America.
By time-culture slot is meant the particular place and moment in time and history that an incarnation takes place. A mere fifteen time-culture slots account for approximately 90 percent of all the incarnations which Cayce recounted. Further, the most recent incarnation mentioned of each sitter at the Cayce readings was, in almost all cases in which it was mentioned, in America.
The percentage of royalty and other elites (priests, generals, etc.) in the readings is as high as 50 percent in some time-culture slots.
Vocations of people might be aligned to past incarnations. And about half of the Atlanteans he mentioned, were princes, princesses, and rulers, temple priests and temple officials, ans technicians and engineers. Those sitters who Cayce said had been priests in ancient Egypt, had educational abilities and it should be good for them to instruct others. Several hundred readings identified people as having been among the elite mentioned in the Bible.
Repetitiveness in the Cayce readings is shown in the general vocational patterns he delineates, and when two individuals are given the same exact reading, which happened more than once. It happened that different persons that came to Cayce for a reading, were told they had been the same person in former lives. The subject of reading 1432 was identified as the woman taken in adultery in the biblical story. But #295 was also identified as this personage. Also, two different people were identified as the central figure in the biblical story of the rich young ruler (#2677 and #1416).
Cayce was talking about eras he had been taught about by his public school education, church school, and by the Theosophist Arthur Lammers. Basing a belief in reincarnation on the Cayce material is basing a significant part of one's worldview on weak ground, says Melton.
When an individual incarnated in the earth, he has possibly passed through all the various spheres, either once, twice, many times – yet the changes bring [many similar] conditions about for an understanding of each relationship in its magnified sphere. 311-2
(Incarnations) do not come at regular, given, periods – but more as cycles, dependent upon what the individual, the entity, has done, or has accomplished through its cycle of the earth's passage through this solar system. 311-2
Q. If a soul fails to improve itself, what becomes of it?
A. That's why the reincarnation, why it reincarnates; that it may have the opportunity. 826-8
[T]o know ye spoke unkindly and suffered for it, and in the present may correct it by being righteous – that is worth while. 5753-2
You only became aware of this [and that of the past] as it became necessary for you to make practical application in your experience. 2301-4
(Many incarnations) are not well even to be known by self, thus have they been blotted from the book of thy remembrance. 5231-1
As to race, color, or sex – this depends upon that experience necessary for the completion, for the building up of the purposes for which each and every soul manifests in the material experience. For as is generally accepted, and is in greater part true, the experiences of a soul-entity in materiality... are as lessons or studies in that particular phase of the entity's or soul's development . . . 294-189
Q. Does the incoming soul take on some of the parents' karma?
A. Because of its relative relationship to same, yes. Otherwise, no.
Q. What will convince me of reincarnation?
A. An experience. 956-1
Q. When an entity has completed its development, such that it no longer needs to manifest on earth's plane, how far then is it along towards its complete development toward God?
A. Not to be given. Reach that plane, and develop in Him, for in Him the will then becomes manifest. 900-20
Oft, the longer the periods between the earthly sojourns the greater has been – or may be – the development of the soul entity to that which each soul is to attain through its appearances among men. 1486-1
Q. Were my parents selected by me before my present incarnation? Is such a choice usually accidental – or deliberate?
A. A whole dissertation might be given on this subject . . . the individual entity, of self, chose – partially – because of there being created the channel through which expression might be found. 2170-1
Q. From what side of my family do I inherit most?
A. You inherit most from yourself, not from family! 797-1
Q. What keeps the physical body living until the soul enters?
A. Spirit! 2390-2
Q. Describe some of the planes into which entities pass on experiencing the change called death.
A. Passing from the material consciousness to a spiritual or cosmic, or outer consciousness, oft does an entity or being not become conscious of that about it; much in the same manner as an entity born into the material plane only becomes conscious gradually of that designated as time and space for the material third dimensional plane . . . 5749-3
[W]e see manifested in the material plane . . . but a shadow of that in the spiritual plane. 5749-3
[M]any an individual has remained in that called death for what ye call years without realizing it was dead! . . . The ability to communicate is that which usually disturbs or worries others . . . As to how long it requires to lose physical consciousness depends upon how great are the appetites and desires of a physical body. 1472-2
Q. Where do entities recede to after leaving earth's plane?
A. [A] sojourn is taken, until the entity is ready for again manifesting through the flesh that development attained in the spiritual entity. 294-15
A. [L]ife, in its continuity, is that experience of the soul or entity – including its soul, its spirit, its superconsciousness, its subconscious, its physical consciousness, or its material consciousness, in that as its development goes through the various experiences takes on more and more that ability of knowing itself to be itself, yet a portion of the Great Whole, or the One Creative Energy. 900-426
Q. Are the desires of the earth's plane carried over into the spiritual plane?
A. When those desires have fastened such hold upon the inner being as to become a portion of the subconsciousness, those desires pass on. Such as one may have in gluttonousness, or in any condition that benumbs the mental forces of the entity. For the subconscious, as given, is the storehouse of every act, thought, or deed. Hence, as we have been given, all are weighed in the balance ... 900-20
When the soul departs from the body . . . it has all the form of the body from which it has passed – yet it is not visible to the carnal mind, unless . . . 2533-8
Learn to live! 900-465
Q. Have I karma from any previous existence that should be overcome?
A. Well that karma be understood . . . it may be likened unto a piece of food, whether fish or bread, taken into the system; it is assimilated by the organs of digestion, and then those elements that are gathered from same are made into the forces that flow through the body, giving the strength and vitality to an animate object, or being . . . Its thoughts make for that upon which the soul feeds, as do the activities. 440-5
[D]estiny, or karma – depends upon what the soul has done about that it has become aware of. 267-7
Cause and effect to many are the same as karma. 2981-21
What is karma but giving way to impulse? 622-6
Beware, ever, of two influences in the life from that experience . . .: – Nicotine in any form, and alcohol, in its hard forms. These will become stumbling experiences if there are indulgences [and] they become habitual . . . 1417-1
Q. What influence causes me to be afraid of darkness?
A. . . . The experiences in the dungeon in which thou wert plunged. 852-12