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Puffin. Modified detail. Original by By OscarV055.
Are many puffins in time reborn as fishes of a sort they feed on?

The sage is quick to act, and prompt to detect bad faith. He aims for gains in self-respect [Soc 57, 67]. That is not enough by itself to constitute goodness, but why not train yourself in "tending upwards liberally" by heeding basic sayings of Confucius (551-479 BC)?

As for reincarnation and the belief in it, there are a few things to sort out:

  • To hold private opinions is a human right, endorsed by UN.
  • However, opinions that are exposed in the public sphere, can be more determining for one's fare, and should be safe to voice - safe for oneself, safe for others, so that no one is led astray by the wrong sides to the faith, if there are any.

There are so many and conflicting faiths on the planet, and some persons play on proclivities of others to lord it over them by the faith. Or they use harsh conformism and "doctrination" to see it through. And that is bad. In any case, faith without good evidence may be full of errors, and dangerous, and is often weakening to one's rational sides. Also, faith with factual, sachlich, and fit evidence, is not gross faith any more: it tends more towards certainties.

So beware of assumptions. If erroneous and faith follows them anyway, many effects may evolve into lousy business of a sort - even faith business. Have you learnt nothing from the Church yet, learn that. And beware of faith.

There is an alternative complex for sorting out faith things

  • Keep unchecked or unverified assertions at bay, at arm's length (in suspense).
  • Discard wrong notions if you are sure they are wrong and bad.
  • See what others have made out of them.
  • And to be on the winning side, manage to adhere to Gautama Buddha's Kalama Sutta ideas. They constitute the discipline.
That is about it. Learn the norms of firm Sachlichkeit, fit factualness, and also develop the skills that go into it. [Some hints for cultivating factualness, with books on the subject]

A faith that consists of opinions may not work well for you; you could also be ridiculed for it, depending on how many there are who say that reincarnation is a fact, and how many who don't think so, and to which classes they belong. Besides, there will be less to redress later and much later, if you get fact-based to begin with and don't start out on one of many, many dumb faith tracks by your assumptions and unfulfilled drives -

Many Asian religions hold that reincarnation is no myth. The teaching goes along with the teachings of retributions, or karma.

The question is: How well may it be documented that life goes on after this one, and that at least some have lived previous lives, and reincarnate? Much depends on sound documentation. And how can reincarnation be proved? Various methods exist to recall former lives, and deep meditation is one of them, according to such as Yogananda. Others tell from earlier lives without props or means. Some researchers have in fact been able to verify things told by such "innocents". Ian Stevenson (1918–2007) was one such researcher. The subject - reincarnation - demands proper methods. There are many sources of errors to get to grips with [◦Link].

Try to let basic facts come first, and study the evidence. Dr. Stevenson has conducted interesting research into the field that Yogananda talks about. Get the research results first, to save you the embarrassment of the gullible; some of them succumb to blind faith for not good enough reasons.

Yogananda Teaches

If the king's will is good, and none opposes it, all may be well; but if it is not good, and yet none opposes it, has he not almost succeeded in ruining his country . . .? - Confucius, Soc 46]

This insight pertains to leader teachings and cultish stupidity of the leader-adapted too. Now, Yogananda has some things to say about reincarnation and belief in it. Below you find some gist of the teachings of Yogananda. Yogananda, who talked for reducing sleep even by many hours, while ignoring that the need for sleep varies among persons, and that some need more sleep than others. Much research has been done on sleep and alarming consequences of sleep deprivation. [More]

There is another side to Yogananda's faith-linked teachings. Many followers believe he was this and that known person in the history of man, just because he said so, although he left no fully satisfying proof. Cult acceptance at once resulted: [Link 1] [Link 2]

The capsules that follow are rooted in his "Reincarnation, How Can It Be Scientifically Proved?" The article was first published in his East West magazine, Volume 1 - 3 March 1926 - April 1926.


MOST OF those who believe in a just God, base their faith on belief only. They do not dare to scrutinize or deeply question their faith.

Why should not the methods of experimentation used by the scientist be applied in investigating spiritual law? One is to watch the state of sleep, and the method has been discovered, the rules laid down, and the result is open - ◊

ENERGY withdraws on the occasion of death.

OFTEN, people are aware that they are dreaming - (5)

In the Big Sleep of death [you stop living]. By certain practices, this further relaxation may be produced consciously. [A quite alarming first message?] (6)

Can the truth of reincarnation be scientifically proven to the satisfaction of sceptics? Can the theory of reincarnation be in any way scientifically experimented on? Ancient Hindus found that death was the withdrawal of the electricity of life [prana] from the bulb [kosha, sheath] of human flesh.  


It should pay to scrutinise whatever fair evidence of claimed reincarnation that exists, so that some inculcated teaching or faith will not down you by grades over time.


Five Sources of Reincarnation Ideas

Below are sources of information and lore on reincarnation:

Indian Philosophies

All the six orthodox philosophies in Hinduism accept reincarnation. These schools of of philosophy are Mimamsa, Vedanta, Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, and Vaisesika. They are regarded as orthodox because they accept the authority of the Vedas. Buddhism and Jainism do not believe in the authority of the Vedas, and hence are called heterodox.

All of these eight systems of thought accept the law of karma, which is a corollary to reincarnation. The law of karma says, simply put, that actions have consequences, and some may "spill over" into future lives. There is room for free will and personal endeavour too. [Wo 5-6, 14-17]

Ian Stevenson's studies

Ian Pretyman Stevenson (1918-2007), M.D., researched reincarnation claims, near-death experiences, and survival of the human personality after death, among other things. His research presentation was addressed to the academic and scientific community, covers over 3,000 study cases, and provides evidence suggestive of reincarnation. Professor Stevenson himself recognised there is no evidence of a physical process by which a personality could survive death and travel to another body. [◦Link 1] [◦Link 2]

Rudolf Steiner

Dr Rudolf Steiner Learning to live under the influence of the ideas of reincarnation and karma we shall come to know that our life cannot be assessed on the basis of what has taken expression in one life between birth and death, but that a period extending over many lives must be taken into account. - Rudolf Steiner, "Reincarnation and Karma", 5th lecture, 1977

Dr Rudolf Steiner, originator of Waldorf Education, lectured extensively on reincarnation (and karma). "Between Death and Rebirth" is one lecture series, and "Reincarnation and Karma" is another. "The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebirth" is another. "Past Incarnations of the Peoples of Today" and "The Souls Progress through Repeated Earth Lives" are other lectures.

Professor Robert A. McDermott has gathered much Steiner content in his The Essential Steiner. In it he writes: "Steiner wrote at great length on all aspects of the double topic of karma and rebirth." McDermott then suggests the second chapter of ◦Theosophy [Tis] as the place to start. [Es 367]

An excellent source of Steiner lectures: [◦Link]

Buddhist teachings

Buddha's karma teachings: [Link]

Access to Insight is an excellent repository of Theravada Buddhism documents. The topic of 'rebirth': [◦Link]


In the Autobiography of a Yogi [Ha] reincarnation is frequently talked of: see the index of the book.

In Journey to Self-Realization there are other talks and essays on reincarnation, such as "Did We Meet Before?" (131 ff) "Preparing for Your Next Incarnation" (254 ff). In The Divine Romance there are "Do Souls Reincarnate?" (268 ff), "Where are Our Departed Loved ones?" (284 ff) - and in Man's Eternal Quest are "Reincarnation can be Scientifically Proven" (211 ff) and "Reincarnation: They Soul's Journey to Perfection" (216 ff), and also "Will Jesus Reincarnate Again?" (229).

In other books of his, such as Sayings of Yogananda and "Where There Is Light", there are shorter quotations and references of him about reincarnation and other subjects. He also brings in the subject of reincarnation in the commentary called God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, and The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gitas which is derived from the quite extensive commentary. In The Yoga of Jesus there are a few reincarnation references too - that book is derived from Yogananda's commentary of New Testament, The Second Coming of Christ. He reads the topic of reincarnation into the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, in The Wine of the Mystic, the guru's commentary on it.

The sources listed above are not conclusive as to Yogananda reincarnation output, but quite so. The Hindu swami was raised in an environment where belief in reincarnation was and is rooted in scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita. The guru later read reincarnation dubiously into the Bible too.


Reincarnation documentation and topics and sources, Paramahansa Yogananda sayings, Literature  

Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.

Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946.

Crc: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You. 2 Vols. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2004.

Dr: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Divine Romance. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1993.

Gt: Yogananda, Paramahansa. God's Talk with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, 2 Vols. 2nd ed. Paperback. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2001.

Ha: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 12th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1981.

Jse: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Journey to Self-realization: Discovering the Gift of the Soul. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2000.

Lfb: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Living Fearlessly: Bringing Out Your Inner Soul Strength. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2003.

Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958. The same book:Tms: Self-Realization Fellowship. The Master Said: Sayings and Counsel to Disciples by Paramhansa Yogananda. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1957. And with a different pagination:Spa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1980.

Wl: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Where There Is Light: Insight and Inspiration for Meeting Life's Challenges. Paperback. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2000.

Wm: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Wine of the Mystic: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: A Spiritual Interpretation. Paperback. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1996.

Yi: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita: An Introduction to India's Universal Science of God-realization. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2007.

Yj: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Yoga of Jesus: Understanding the Hidden Teachings of the Gospels. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2007.


McClelland, Norman C. Encyclopedia of Reincarnation and Karma. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., 2010.

O'Flaherty, Wendy Doniger. Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980.

Steiner, Rudolf. Reincarnation and Karma: Their Significance in Modern Culture. Trs. D. S. Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry. (GA 135). London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1977.

Talbot, Michael. Your Past Lives: A Reincarnation Handbook. New York: Harmony Books, 1987.

Es: McDermott, Robert, ed. The Essential Steiner: Basic Writings of Rudolf Steiner. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1984.

Soc: Giles, Lionel, ed. The Sayings of Confucius: A Translation of the Confucian Analects. Twickenham: Tiger Books, 1998.

Tis: Steiner, Rudolf. Theosophy: An Introduction to the Supersensible Knowledge of the World and its Destination. GA 9. Tr Henry B. Monges. Rev by Gilbert Church. Herndon, VA: The Anthroposophical Press. 1971. On-line.

Wo: Chatterjee, Satischandra, and Dhirendramohan Datta. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. 7th ed. Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1968.

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