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REINCARNATION ••• Have you lived before? Will you live again?

The subject of reincarnation is attracting new attention.
What is it all about?
Can reincarnation explain the inequities in this life?
Is it possible you have lived before?
Who are you really?
Now you can know!


IS IT FAIR? The vast majority of human beings spend their whole lives in poverty and want. Only a small minority live in luxury and wealth.


Why will millions go to bed hungry tonight, while others have food to waste? Why do some lose their health, homes or family and others do not? How is it the "good" people seem to suffer, and scoundrels often prosper?

Are the vast majority of humans condemned to some kind of punishment, while the relatively few receive material reward? Is there any sensible and just explanation for the inequities of life? And what happens after this life?

These are questions that many people ask — questions that traditional Christianity has failed to satisfactorily answer. Yet these questions need an answer.

A growing number of people in the West in seeking answers to these questions are adopting, in one form or another, an ancient belief widely held among religions of the East: reincarnation.

Reincarnation claims to answer the question of how a God of "love and mercy" could let tragedies occur.

Yes, why do uncalled-for tragedies occur? What do they mean?


What is "Reincarnation"?

Reincarnation is the name given to the belief that after the death of the body, an "immortal soul" comes back to earth in another body or form.

Belief in reincarnation has been around for a long time. Thousands of years in fact. Ancient Egyptians believed it was possible, at least for a privileged few, to choose what life form they wished

to reside in after death. Plato taught the migration of a fixed number of souls. Pythagoras, another Greek philosopher and mathematician, claimed in past lives he had been a Trojan warrior, a prophet burned to death, a peasant, the wife of a shopkeeper and a Phoenician prostitute.

In its divers forms reincarnation is an important part of many Oriental religions. Simply stated, reincarnation is the belief that after death a person's "soul" takes up residence at birth in another human body, an animal, an insect or even a plant, until death of the receptacle once again causes the "soul" to migrate.

There are different ideas as to where "souls" come from and where they are headed. The most prevalent belief, is that through a process of many reincarnations humans finally attain a state of perfection. The Hindu religion has perhaps the most complex set of beliefs.


A "Better Life"

The idea of reincarnation carries with it the hope for a better life (or lives) in the future. A lecturer put it this way: "The process of reincarnation is man's drive to become perfect. Eventually every man will be divine."

The sufferings of this life are assumed to become more bearable, or more understandable.

Consider the following note, left by a student who committed suicide because he deeply yearned for a better life: "What do I expect to achieve by this?" the seventeen-year-old son of a psychiatrist wrote. "Ancient sages of India as well as some modern philosophers say the soul incarnates itself many times on its way to perfection. I am merely jumping one life in hopes of a better one . . . I'm rid of . . . this roasting weather, the torture of four more years of school and two more years of detestable military life, the threat of having to go into some sort of monotonous manual labor."

To him, reincarnation seemed to offer escape from this life's problems.

Reincarnation attracts people plagued with doubt. The inequities of this life are only temporary; they will be rectified in a future life, they hope.


Current Interest

There are other reasons for the increased interest in reincarnation: psychology and parapsychology.

To some extent this facet of the subject has been sensationalized by stories of famous individuals, usually in the entertainment industry, who claim to have had past "lives." For example, one periodical recently told of several: a stage personality who said she was Queen Hatshepsut (explaining that since childhood she has felt an "eerie link" with Egypt and made drawings of camels and pyramids when she was three years old). A well-known musician who credits his musical talents to a previous life as Stephen Foster. An actor who believes he was a cowboy in the Old West. An actress who thinks she was a Christian who was fed to the lions in ancient Rome.

One of the most prominent persons seriously examining reincarnation today is Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. For the last twenty years he has been objectively exploring the subject. He has files jammed with reports on some 1,700 subjects he has investigated. These are individuals who claim to have lived previous lives.

Some of the stories of those who claim to be reincarnated raise questions that cannot be adequately answered by standard explanations. There are the publicized cases such as Bridey Murphy, who had never been to Ireland and yet who spoke of a place in Cork called the Meadows. Or Dolores Jay, a Virginia housewife who claimed to have been murdered in Germany one hundred years ago, and who, under hypnosis, could speak German, though Dolores Jay had never been exposed to anyone who spoke the language.

Many other accounts have been compiled where previous existences have been "recalled, "usually under hypnosis. For example, one man suffering constant migraine headaches, supposedly revealed under hypnosis that as an officer in the Air Force during World War II he had gotten drunk and walked into a whirling airplane propeller that cut off his head. A check of official military records revealed the death in 1942 of just such an officer with the exact serial number given under hypnosis.

There are many similar cases where individuals apparently are able to accurately recall details of circumstances and locations where they have never been in their present lives. How can this be explained?

Such strange recollections are to Dr. Stevenson at least "suggestive of reincarnation." However, Dr. Stevenson confides: "I have to admit that the results in parapsychology [the study of psychic phenomena] aren't that good. There have been no great breakthroughs."

Cases indicating reincarnation are set forth in the book Psychic Voyages. "But," the author adds, "there may be other explanations. The first that springs to mind is that they are all due to fraud or some sort of delusion. However, there are too many anecdotes and too many carefully investigated cases on record for this easy solution to be acceptable. The only other explanation that seems at all tenable is that the alleged memories of former lives are acquired by extrasensory perception." (Emphasis ours)

Extrasensory perception. That means perceiving information from other than "normal" sensory channels. Keep that in mind because we shall come back to it.

Other phenomena have also been offered to explain the concept of reincarnation, but such phenomena as childhood fears, alter-personalities, "strange memories," recurrent dreams and sexual identity problems have other possible explanation than reincarnation.

So to many people the belief in reincarnation seems to offer solutions to nagging problems or puzzlements. But is there really such a thing as reincarnation? Have you lived before? Will you live again? What are we anyway?

It is time to find out the truth once and for all!


How We Can Know

There is only one sure, unmistakable source from which to learn the truth about what we are, why we are on earth and what happens after death. That source is God himself — the Creator of all that is.

He claims to have given this vital knowledge to us in his handbook for human beings — the Holy Bible. In it he speaks in the first person — "I . . . "to man. And in his Book he commands us to pay attention to his revelation to man of essential knowledge we could not otherwise discover.

The Bible is very clear on the subject of reincarnation. It is "appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). We are not given ten, one hundred or one thousand opportunities to die and live again. Just one.

The concept of reincarnation is dependent upon the belief that each human has an "immortal soul" that continues to exist after the body dies. The Bible, however, shows that man does not have a soul — man is a soul!

God created Adam out of the dust of the ground and "man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). And God told Adam, "dust thou [a living soul] art, and unto dust shalt thou [a living soul] return" (Genesis 3:19).

According to the Bible, souls die. The soul that sins shall die says Ezekiel 18:4 and 20. They do not live on and take up residence in another body.

The idea that souls do not die originated with Satan in the garden of Eden. He told Eve she had an immortal soul. "Ye shall not surely die," he lied (Genesis 3:4). Most people ever since have believed his deception.

It is not possible for a human being to recall thoughts and impressions from a "previous existence." Psalm 146:4 declares that when a person dies "his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." They do not continue on to be picked up or recalled by future "reincarnations." They perish. So says God. The dead "know not any thing" (Ecclesiastes 9:5).

What about the cases where people claim (often under hypnosis) to remember former lives and where details inexplicably match historical records?

After all possibilities of fraud, coincidence and honest mistakes are eliminated, there remain cases that defy normal physical or psychological explanation. This is where "extrasensory perception" comes into the picture. By "extrasensory perception" in this context is meant information that is perceived from sources beyond the physical world. What are those sources? Certainly not "immortal souls"!