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The Media Desk

"So as through a glass and darkly
    The age long strife I see
    Where I fought in many guises,
    Many names - but always me."
- George S. Patton (1885 - 1945)

      General Patton was known to be a devout Christian. While he was "Ol' Blood and Guts" to the rank and file of his armies, in his private moments, he actively sought the Will of God. And yet he believed that he had been reborn many times, always into the role of a soldier.

      How is it possible to be a professing Christian while one believes in Reincarnation?

      That is just one of the aspects of the ancient and enormous topic that we'll look at. And as with all of these sorts of Media Desk articles, there are TONS of links below from a variety of sources, some more credible than others (which is part of the fun, right?) on the majority of the points we focus on as we pass by.

      Of course, there is far more to it than we can possibly cover in one of these outings. There's stuff that we'll miss, sometimes big stuff, such as the complete topic of African tribal religions and what the Original Residents of Australia thought about it, and how does the idea of Artificial Intelligence and the 'downloading' of a human mind into a calculator play into it?
      But we will touch on a lot of other individual ideas on our way through, such as: is the Jain concept of reincarnation similar to what some Jews and Muslims profess? How did this idea sneak its way into certain Christian beliefs? Another is where this idea crosses the boundary of "soul sleeping" after death. Then we have to look at whether or not the Chinese Communist Party has any idea what they are dealing when when they said they will appoint the next Dalai Lama. And then we get to chew on various theories that "we" exist in multiple universes, perhaps in sequence, or even 'all at once', and how that plays into our death in This Universe.

      And now we have to address another issue. We're stating this up front, right here in the beginning, and it's a good bet we're going to all but ignore it the rest of the way through.
      This is a highly emotional issue. People get excited about it, on both sides. And some of the arguments are totally irrational. But such are human emotions when you bring up things like Death, and Eternity, and the Soul. And the emotional baggage is hard to jettison from an objective overview of the topic. But we will try to do just that and stick to the facts, such as they are, as best we can. Remember we mentioned "soul sleeping", that's one of the Emotional Topics that people get red in the face about. Towards the end we hit it at full speed, and move on.

      As you can see, we're setting sail for some seriously deep and murky waters, but, that's never stopped us before, and it shan't stop us now. And along the way we'll have a few quotes on the topic, perhaps a musical interlude, and check out some other items of interest.

      But first, we must define our term. Or rather, explain the difference between two terms:

Is it Resurrection or Reincarnation?
      It is easy to become somewhat confused when tossing around these two concepts. Both deal with some form of reanimation after one's body has assumed room temperature. Both allow for everything that was the unique consciousness of that individual person to drop out of our time and space for a period, and then re-enter the daylight world as a living being again. And that's about the end of the similarities.
      There is a lot behind both doors, so we'll break it down to a few lines and move on.
      The difference is the form that living being takes when it joins us in our neighborhood again, after the 'old body' has been pronounced dead. With the concept of Resurrection, you are revived as you, perhaps in a 'new and improved' body, but it is still you in terms of your mind and soul. Those three parts that Were you, Are you once again.

      This is one of the core beliefs of the Jews as clearly stated as the last point in ....

"The Thirteen Articles of Maimonides"
... ...
13. The Belief in the resurrection of the dead.
- Shloshah Asar Ikkarim, the "Thirteen Fundamental Principles" of the Jewish faith, see link below.

      That basic statement conflicts directly with the idea of "gilgul", which is the Jewish word for the Greek concept of Metempsychosis or the trans-migration of the soul from you to a zebra. This idea is all through the Kabbalah and is found in the Zohar although some of the passages are heavily couched in mystical language and even poetry. That massive work is linked below, and you are welcome to try to wade through it at your leisure, however, you may want to make a pot of coffee before you start (you'll need it!).
      Somewhere through all this we will mention Elijah and the idea that he had returned as John the Baptist, and the related prophecies as proof that the Jewish Bible, and thereby Christianity, endorses the idea of Reincarnation.
      Well, that's a stretch. As much of the language of the Prophets of Old, including Malachi, was Hebrew Apocalyptic Poetry, it is most likely that the language was symbolic, and it simply was saying that somebody like Elijah of Old, a figure who stood out in a crowd and could not be ignored, would come to "make straight the way of the Lord" as Isaiah puts it. We'll check in with him and his 'pinch hitter' before the end of this, stand by.

      With Reincarnation, as usually conceived and taught, there may or may not be anything recognizable as the original person in either the previous being (animal or human) or the new one, or the next one. In a few scattered, and a couple of spectacular cases, which you can check out later at the link below, there are memories and knowledge that has been transferred from the "old one" to the "new one", but most individuals haven't a clue that they've been here before. The 'life essence / atman / soul' has been transferred, reborn even, into the new living body, whatever it may be, with no other effect on the living being. What was You, is now that zebra we mentioned earlier, or maybe a person of the opposite sex on the other side of the world, five hundred years later, and so on, in an all but endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Until your 'soul' (atman) can escape it. And we'll talk about "the wheel of Samsara" some more later.
      And, when we get to the quantum theory side of this, is your coming to life in another dimension or even another entire universe one or the other of these, or even 'both', which could be considered a type of reincarnation and resurrection at the same time.
      Yes, a question from over by the coffee pot...

"Isn't reincarnation mainly a Hindu and Buddhist belief?"

      Yes, and, as we just saw, there are a few surprising no's as well.

      Let's stay in the West and drop back a few years.... well, more than 'a few' years:

"Souls never die, but always on quitting one abode pass to another. All things change, nothing perishes. The soul passes hither and thither, occupying now this body, now that... As a wax is stamped with certain figures, then melted, then stamped anew with others, yet it is always the same wax. So, the Soul being always the same, yet wears at different times different forms."
- Pythagoras (?570 - 490? BC)

      Yes, this was the famous Pythagoras of the triangle equation that you may remember from geometry class in high school. But the great Greek thinker had other ideas than how to give math students headaches for centuries to come.
      He had some other interesting ideas, including one that he and other teachers may have picked up by listening to traders from caravans and ships from the East. "Metempsychosis" was / is the idea that the soul would come back to this world after death, and could inhabit the bodies of other living beings, animals as well as humans, later. This concept has persisted into the world of modern philosophy where it is also sometimes called "transmigration" and a few other terms. See part 4.1 at the link below for a Pythagorian view of the subject.

      Sometimes the concept of 'soul migration' is wrapped around the idea that the soul is a spark of eternal energy that is trying to perfect itself to ascend back to... well... "God" for lack of an equally understandable term.
      Some, like the Jain religion we mentioned earlier, do not have a Creator God. To them, the universe is, in the bigger scheme of things, as it always was, and, generally, as it will always be. And our part in it is inconsequential, unlike the central role humanity plays in Western concepts. However, they do believe in doing good instead of perpetuating evil, and as the soul seeks moksha and/or nirvana, and to be released from the cycle of death and rebirth and achieve freedom. The best way to do that is to be totally at peace with everything, including going beyond being a vegetarian to not even consuming a root vegetable such as an onion, which destroys the whole plant, instead of just eating the leaves. There is a lot more at the Jain Encyclopedia linked below, and we'll run across this teaching in other campsites as we travel, including one called 'Eck'.
      Back to the point of the transmigration of the atman or soul, and karma.

      Yes, "karma" is part of this idea.
      Most commonly understood as "what comes around goes around", in context of what we're talking about the idea becomes a lot more serious as part of one's "dharma", the foundational moral law you live This Life under, in terms of the Next Life. Some will even take metempsychosis in both hands and claim that a bad person will end up as a lower animal. An idea that has leaked into the West.
      In the Hindu beliefs, karma is action, and action is karma. Which includes outcome, reaction, consequences, and the next action resulting from the last one... etc. This also includes decisions to not act, which can also have consequences. Of course the focus of the teachings is on decisions and actions which are directly and intentionally good or evil. But there are a lot of both that are effectively neutral both in immediate result and long term consequence, which evidently helps maintain the balance of the cosmos, and the person in it. There's a "BAPS" link below that explains all this, and we will come back to it briefly later.

      Even some of the Egyptian sects had the idea that there was an immortal part of a human, and that if the person had acted with evil intent during their life, and had intentionally harmed others, then that aspect of the person was sent back as an animal, and then, much later, they'd get another shot to get it right. But the idea never caught on in the mainstream culture of the country and remained on the fringe. Something it seems to have done for the next five thousand years in the West. And shows up in some writings by the Early Church Fathers:

"Every soul... comes into the world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of its' previous life. Its' place in this world as a vessel appointed to honor or dishonor, is determined by its' previous merits or demerits. Its' work in this world determines its' place in the world which is to follow this."
- attributed to Bishop Origen of Alexandia (?182 - 254?) but we'll come back to that stay tuned
      The idea of reincarnation has been part of Western thought throughout history. First adopted by the Gnostics in their overall adoption of various Greek / Platonic philosophy into Christian theology, then later by the Manichaean sect, which was in turn addressed by Augustine.

"His knowledge is not like ours, which has three tenses: present, past, and future. God's knowledge has no change or variation."
- Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430), see biographical link below

      And yet in spite of being somewhat UNofficially denounced by the Roman Church, and later the Eastern Church (see link below), it never went away. In spite of statements that you find all over the Web, the Second Council of Constantinople, or the Council of Nicea, never addressed the issue. Yes, the one in 553 aid that Origen had been a bad boy, but other than that, the issue is never mentioned in the official records of the event. So any stand on the idea is to be inferred from other teachings.
      In fact, the idea that it was a 'forbidden doctrine' made it irresistible to breakaway groups like the Cathars of south central Europe who incorporated it as a minor part of their teachings (but it was there). In some cases, there were major political differences with the church besides the religious ones. Such as with the related group, the Albigensians, which resulted in a full military crusade against them and certain others from 1209 to 1229 and ended with the genocide of several settlements and a nearly complete assimilation of what had been a culturally different region into the kingdom of France.
      To be sure, the Cathars and Albigsens had some other unusual, and flatly strange theological ideas, many of which they had adapted from the Gnostics, including a version of reincarnation, but they were Christian! Maybe only just, but they were Christian none the less. It was their belief that the Roman church was hopelessly corrupt and the ranking clergy of the organization were simply enriching themselves while they perverted the Gospel, which was essentially true, that was their undoing. Unfortunately for them, the Catholic French Kings of the time had other ideas, and the need for some quick money and land.
      It ended badly for the Albigensians...

"Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius."
      "Kill them all. The Lord knows those that are his own" - reportedly said by Papal Legate Arnaud Amalric to the crusaders in July 1029, (see link below for more on this dark period of human history).

      We need a transition from an episode of absolute violence, including the burning of a local church with the congregation inside, to an episode of peace and good will.
      Let's go East.

"Reincarnation is not an exclusively Hindu or Buddhist concept, but it is part of the history of human origin. It is proof of the mindstream's capacity to retain knowledge of physical and mental activities. It is related to the theory of interdependent origination and to the law of cause and effect."
- Dalai Lama
      Central to Tibet's unique belief system is the active and predictable reincarnations of its senior leadership. Not only the famous Dali Lama, but the 'second in authority' Panchen Lama who governs a separate monastery and thusly a region in the country and has not been seen since being arrested by the Chinese authorities in 1995, as well as certain other individuals in Tibetan Buddhism, are seen as great teachers and spiritual leaders are reincarnated in a documented and predictable way. The stories of their stating when and where they will be reborn into this life after their current body expires are well documented and legendary.
      The recognition of the new Lama involves a number of tests of recognition of objects and individuals important to the previous life, and includes a number of 'false items' which the former person would never have seen or used. All of which is arranged under the religious leadership of various Buddhists monks.
      Which means, the Chinese Authorities have no part in the process, and their hand selected Panchen Lama has never been accepted by the faithful as anything other than a political puppet. Which he is.
      There is a link below to a flatly one sided view of the matter, as well as an academic review. And other views, including a somewhat odd press release from China can be found through the search engine of your choice, in this life or the next, as you see fit.

      Historically speaking, there is no "first occurrence" of the idea of the reincarnation of the human soul in recorded history. The idea is mentioned in passing in various accounts, as something that is simply taken for granted, or as something 'they believe way over yonder'. But it dissolves into the mists of prehistory as part of the human condition.

      There is archaeological evidence that every ancient civilization that can reasonably be called 'a civilization' had some belief in an afterlife, and there is significant anthropological evidence that the most primitive human groups since the last Ice Age also had a concept that what had been the intangible aspects of the person that had died survived their body. Those two points are only disputed by dry-mouthed academics that have nothing else to do but argue about the obvious. Now, whether or not those same ancient cultures had a concept of that that same deceased person may be reborn to this world at some point we cannot know. We do know that many of them had the idea that the "next world" their dead went to was a lot like this world... but was it "this world" at some future time? Again, we can't know.
      But there are accounts of the phenomenon occurring in modern times, with some documentation that the story of a previous life being told by the person claiming to be reborn was true. And in many of these cases, the person claiming to have "passed this way before" is a young child with no way to have access to the detailed information they are relaying about what had happened to them, in some cases, many years before and thousands of miles away.
      For more on some of these cases see the Psychology Today article from 2021 about the Evidence for Reincarnation linked near the top of our resource section below.
      Other accounts are available through the search engine of your choice. Many of those do not have the academic credibility of the mainstream magazine listed, which is why they're not linked here.

      Another issue that comes up in discussions like that is intentional investigation of previous lives.
      One popular method of doing this is through dedicated Tarot readings that gives symbolic hints of previous runs through this world. The idea is that with several such readings, you'll be able to put together a puzzle of clues that will shine a light, however misty and vague, into who and /or what you were in a previous existence.
      And there's a tie in to our heretic friends in Northern Italy and Southern France, the region of the Cathars and others is also the home, a couple of hundred years later (the practice is known to have been in place before 1500 - see link below), to the rise of the use of divination of future, and past, through the reading of specialized and heavily decorated playing cards.
      Another, slightly more mainstream, way in which those so inclined can investigate their own 'history' is through past life regression during hypnosis or deep meditation. However, when either involves a "guided session" there are issues about the power of suggestion and whether the memories so recovered are genuine or are in response to statements made by the 'guide'. A similar matter to the problems of "recovered memories" several years ago when such information was used to ruin the lives of totally innocent people who were sometimes sent to prison over the memories of others that were later proven to be false or incomplete. An overview by a practitioner is available at the link below.
      Which raises an interesting side note to all this. Most people expect to have been the member of a royal family, perhaps a famous opera singer, or something equally noteworthy in a bygone era. Which is something you run into if you look into those that do "past life regressions", some that offer guidance in this even promise you that you'll find fame, if not fortune, if you look far enough. But what if you find out you had been a criminal of some description, perhaps a member of a brutal regime who killed hundreds of innocent people, what then? Maybe if the overall idea is true that we are now better off with amnesia. Now, hang on to that overall idea, because we're going to 'turn a card' and come back to it later.

.... now we're going to take a turn into the realm of faith

"Doctrine of reincarnation is neither absurd nor useless. It is not more surprising to be born twice than once."
- Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

      The ancient Hindu book, the "Bhagavad-gita" takes it for granted that human souls, the 'atman' or "life essence" that is in all living creatures, 'recycles' through all of nature until they achieve perfection. You may read the entire text of the book at the link below, in English, for free! pay particular attention to Chapter 13.
      Now, as to what 'perfection' means is open to debate. Some teachers maintain it comes down to how you treat others, an idea that rings true to Christians with the Golden Rule. Others will point to some sort of Enlightenment such as was achieved by Gautama Buddha who maintained that by reaching that state he had freed himself of the cycle of birth-life-death-rebirth (samsara). And then there is a school of thought that it comes down to something different for each person, a lesson to be learned or an experience had, and you won't know about it, and indeed, can not know about it, until after you check out. So if you didn't "get it right" this time, you'll be back to have another go at it.

      There are several mystical sects of Islam, especially in the Sufi tradition, that embrace reincarnation to a greater or lesser degree based on a very broad interpretation of only a couple of verses in the Quran, which is essentially how you get some of these same ideas in both Judaism and Christianity.
      One of passages is in Surah Al-Bararah, 2 : 28
"How can you deny Allah? You were lifeless and He gave you life, then He will cause you to die and again bring you to life, and then to Him you will all be returned." (link below)

      One of those smaller groups is the Druze. They have a great deal in common with the Cathars and the others that we met earlier in France. They have a.... unique .... concept of religion, and follow a teaching that the mainstream branches of that faith consider heretical. But they are still, barely, under the larger umbrella of Islam. And one of those concepts is to incorporate a version of Reincarnation into their concept of the soul. There's a link below to a review of their history from Harvard University.
      Another group is the Alawite in Syria whose secrecy regarding their beliefs, and their, rightful, distrust of outsiders makes it difficult to find good hard information about them, but their version of Islam also appears to incorporate reincarnation. There is a link below to more about them.

      As we have already spent some time in Southern Europe we'll jump The Pond and move to the New World for a moment.
      But, as we'll see, those traditions from the Far East turn up here as well. In at least one case, they didn't even bother to rename them.

      In the Native American world there were a couple of kinds of Spirit Guides, but they may well have been the same thing.
      If you've watched some old movies about "Indians" you've probably heard a passing reference to one who had a bear or a wolf as a Spirit Guide. Except the animal spirits that would manifest during trance meditations could be absolutely anything from the zoo, or even some fabulous beast that was not based in reality. The spirit animal seen "bear / wolf / raven" was seen as possessing some attribute that the Great Spirit thought the one in the vision quest needed, or that represented some aspect of the message being conveyed. The bear was seen as a strong, almost irresistible force, the wolf was fierce and relentless, the raven was shrewd and clever, and so on, which were probably good general advice for most of the people involved.
      Another aspect of the Spirit Guide phenomenon comes into play in our discussion here. The Spirit speaking to the seeker could also be an ancestor, who may appear as that fox or eagle, or as themselves. A vision of one's own grandfather, or 'great-grand' was very powerful, and their message was not to be taken lightly. It isn't a very long journey to take the step that since the spirits of the Old Ones are still hanging around to believe that one of them got tired of whispering messages in the dark and is now in the body of a newborn baby.

      Some aspects of the ideas we've talked about are seen in some modern Western organizations. And some of them may surprise you because, officially at least, they totally reject the concept.

      Let's look at "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" as a good example.
      What is popularly called "the Mormon Church", based on the name of their text, will say that they do not believe in reincarnation as a concept. But then they point to various texts in their book that talk about a pre-incarnate existence of the human soul, who are then sent to Earth to dwell on it for awhile. There's a link below to the "Mormonwiki" that goes into much greater detail.

      Even such out of the mainstream beliefs as Eck / Eckankar has merged some of these ideas: spirit guides, the reincarnating wheel of samsara (that cycle of birth and death), with a dose of Sikh mysticism and polished it up for a modern Western audience.
      They definitely believe that they have "been here before" and talk about karma and the "wheel of reincarnation" and how you can "make this lifetime count", as you can see on their own page about "past lives" as linked below.
      Whether this is a 1960's cult that settled down and applied to be a tax exempt religion or anything else is beyond what we're doing today. However, their concept that their masters have broken the cycle, as had The Buddha, and are 'here now' as an adept teacher is right in our field of play. While they do not openly proclaim that their current leader is a reincarnation of anybody in particular, they most certainly imply that he has come by his special insight from "the ancient line of ECK masters". So whether they were his Spirit Guide, or maybe his spirit, puts them in this discussion. See link below to the New York branch with a nice writeup on the current master.

      If you journey down the Rosicrucian winding path, you learn several things. The first being that the modern day group of the Rose and Crown have very little in common with group of the same name from the Middle Ages, or perhaps even before if you believe their own documentation. The second is that Reincarnation is integral to the beliefs of the ancient order. Exactly how ancient the order is is beyond the scope of this article if anything is.
      You'll see in an interesting passage linked below about how the Human Soul journeys from world to world, as it evolves, and that is the terms they speak in. Which comes right back to the Eastern belief that "we" are here to learn and experience, and to complete whatever task or mission we need to fulfill, even if it takes more than one lifetime to do so, and then move on.
      That idea does hold some interest from the point of view that "we" do have a purpose here, and, as we're just as likely to screw up our life as we are to get it right, we have a second shot at it later. And, most likely, if that is true, we're on life 39, and just from the way things are going, in a few years, we'll be on 40. Maybe, Eventually, we'll do what we're supposed to do, and before we get to triple digits, we'll earn our ticket off this carousel.... "the Wheel of Samsara". There's links below that explain that, and we touch on it again later.

      The topic even crops up in some discussions inside mainstream Freemasonry which drew a great deal of its symbolism and philosophy from Sufi mysticism and symbolism which began in Sunni Islam. Once again, it is not an official teaching of the group. But there it is. Because part of the core of Masonry is the belief that one has an immortal soul, what happens to that soul once the body ceases functioning becomes part of the discussion, see link below for one Mason's ideas on the subject.
      You can run aground on the idea when you look into the statements of some of the founders of the Nation of Islam in America (whose religious ideas were strange, even by our standards). And then you see it when it may not be meant literally in fields like politics or theater where a new person on the stage reminds people of a former great to the point that they say that this one is 'the new' Old One.
      And, then there's where it turns up in everything from TV shows to songs. But we'll come back to the latter in a moment.
      Yes, you had something to say?

"But it is appointed for man ONCE to die...."

      Well. Yes. That's true. But what if that isn't talking about a physical death, but instead, a metaphysical death?

"?... a what death?"

      Let's phrase it like this: Everything that is the non-physical you, your consciousness, your soul, even your mind, may have been born once, long ago, and it hasn't died, and it won't die, until "the end of the world."
      As was expressed musically in the song "the Highwayman"...

"I sailed a schooner 'round the Horn to Mexico
I went aloft to furl the mainsail in a blow
And when the yards broke off they said that I got killed
But I am living still."
- the Highwayman, Song by Jimmy L Webb, as released 1977, album "el Mirage", Atlantic Records, later recorded by 'them'. see more below
      Which brings us to that multiverse thing we mentioned in the opening.
      It's OK, we'll keep the theoretical existence of multiple worlds down to a manageable level. Most people have at least heard about an "alternate world", ok? still with us? Good.
      In the world of quantum mechanics, 'world' is plural. Some models limit the number of alternative universes, where the possibilities play out, to a reasonable number, you see the number of universes at eleven, and then you can come across a theory where ALL POSSIBLE scenarios play out for EVERY choice across EVERY universe, which means the number of 'alternate worlds' is infinite, and growing (we're good with eleven). There's a link to an MIT article that tries to explain this madness in understandable terms.

"If you think you understand quantum mechanics,
      you don't understand quantum mechanics.
- Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988) Nobel Prize in Physics 1965

      Remember that time when you were trying to cross the street and that car, maybe it was a taxicab, came around the corner and you saw it at the last second and got out of its way? That's Universe 1. In Universe 2, you were killed. In Universe 3, you were injured, but survived, and have been living as a quadriplegic. In 4 you were hit by the car, but not seriously injured, but it changed your life in significant ways. In Universes 5, 6 and 7, the taxi driver swerved to miss you and hit the side of another car and injured, or killed, them. In Universe 8, when the taxi hit the other car the taxi driver was killed.... and so on, as all possible outcomes play out in different quantum realities.
      Your crossing the street is the 'quantum event'. The outcomes diverge from that event. Each plays out in a different reality. Some call them dimensions, or branes, and other terms, they all amount to the same sort of thing.
      The same can be said for decisions. More than likely your decision as to whether you want the tuna salad or the grilled chicken for lunch today isn't a quantum event. But it could become one if you develop food poisoning from one or the other, and events spiral from there. So we USUALLY can't tell if a decision is going to become a 'quantum event'.
      There's a link below to a readable outing on this idea, but it doesn't go into our particular aspect of it. But we can get a cup of really strong coffee, or perhaps a cup of really strong bourbon, or Both! and head on down that road just as well.

      When you deal with the cosmological AND the Metaphysical implications of modern quantum theory you run into ideas of multiple universes existing simultaneously. Some theorists maintain that they all began from one universe at the Big Bang (of Creation) and as various quantum events happened, or didn't happen, the universes branched off each other creating an ever greater number of options where all possible outcomes of every change or choice play out.
      Others state that a set number of multiple universes were created, and when there is a quantum event, the players involved shift from one universe where the car didn't have a wreck caused by a flat tire on the way to the wedding, to one where it did. Both outcomes are possible, and both are mutually exclusive, so the two outcomes must occur in different universes. The most famous thought experiment along these lines is the "cat in a box" concept by Erwin Schodinger. The cat inside the box with the radioactive source is both dead and alive until the box is opened and the cat is observed. The outcomes are mutually exclusive, the quantum event isn't when the cat dies or doesn't, the event is when the person opens the box to check on the cat. Which harkens back to our unfortunate encounter with a taxi.
      In the case of our current topic, there is a universe where you are alive, and one where you are not. Or, more likely, several of each. There may even be a universe where all of this makes sense!

      We'll let that idea stew for a moment while we look at another related topic.

We were destined to do this article.
      There are multiple ideas in play here, and some are even scriptural.
      And, keep sight of that taxicab, it comes back to haunt us later.

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his sonne, that hee might bee the first borne amongst many brethren. Moreouer, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also iustified: and whom he iustified, them he also glorified."
- Romans 8 : 29 and 30, the 1611 King James, resource link below
      Let's skip the Shakespearean era language and see what it is actually saying in the original Greek and look at those verses in context, then try to decide what the Apostle Paul is actually saying to us.
      The statement begins in verse 28 where we are told that everything works together for the good For Those That Love God for good, for those called for His purpose. Then comes the passage above.
      The first word we need to look at is what the 1611 translated as 'foreknow' is "proegno" which is the root for Precognition. The same word is used in a similar context in chapter 11.
      The second word is what this section is titled, "proorizo", a more complete, although slightly wordy translation would be 'to draw up boundaries or limits beforehand'. To compare it to a TV show, it wouldn't be writing a scripted show with the dialogue and action in fine detail including that 'it is two in the afternoon and raining when Joe meets Sally at the bus stop, she's wearing a yellow coat', as much as a general shooting outline for a travel show visit to a national park where it says, "if it's sunny we get the view from the top of El Capitan. if it is raining we go to the nature center. Then we go up the valley in the bus." It is a general idea of what can happen, without specifying exactly what and when things happen but allows certain variables to be in play, and Sally may not ever get a yellow rain coat.
      We see this in the various prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament. Taken as a whole the prophecies are surprisingly exact, but individual prophecies are 'exact' only in terms that they apply to a male descendant of the linage of King David, they do NOT specify the 'step-child' of a journeyman carpenter who didn't live in Judea before the birth next door to a bunch of sheepherders. It is when you look at the hundreds of them together that you get the complete picture.

      Where this comes into play with our current topic of reincarnation is probably best exemplified by the person of John The Baptist.
      The prophet Elijah lived from about 900 to 850 BC, give or take a handful of years. His most famous scene involving the prophets of Baal is from 1 Kings 18, which comes immediately after he restores the widow's son to life. So clearly GOD was with Elijah.
      The book of Malachi was written several hundred years after Elijah had caught his ride out of here in 2 Kings 2. Yet in Malachi 3 : 1 it says a messenger will come before the Lord, and in 4 : 5 it famously names him as "Elijah the Prophet".
      Malachi was also written several hundred years, most estimates say between 400 to 450 years, before John the Baptist arrived on the scene.
      The Jews knew all about the prophecy that Elijah would return, and many of them thought that John was the reincarnation of the prophet of old. And at least a few thought the new edition of Elijah was Christ, when the reality was something else entirely. While the Jews knew the prophecy, they didn't completely understand it. See passages in Matthew 12 and especially Luke 9.

"anybody else hungry?

      You probably won't be in a moment.

      Part of the idea that something persists after the body is gone comes into play when you look at the recipe book for some of the cannibalistic tribes throughout the world.
      Yes, it is known that in times of famine and a general protein shortage that people either consumed those that died naturally, or killed and ate others, including their own children. You can see this in a Biblical context in 2 Kings 6 : beginning around verse 20. And this was foretold in Deuteronomy 28:53, and there is a similar prophecy in Jeremiah and in the Minor Prophets. But that isn't the type of cannibalism we're talking about.

      There is another sort of the consumption of human meat where those doing the eating are trying to absorb some of the attributes of the previous occupant of the body. Sometimes referred to "exocannibalism" or "war cannibalism". While reports are sketchy, and some activists have lobbied to sanitize the histories of their own people, you can still find accounts from various locations where the warriors of the winning side feasted on the hearts or livers, and other parts, of the vanquished enemy so they could partake in the bravery or strength of their foes. Of course there is a link below to more about this to get you started if you are so inclined.... to read more about it, that is.

      Another known use was where a sorcerer or other practitioner of the Black Arts would make a potion or other medicine from various body parts of someone else. Either so the sorcerer could take on some attribute of the other, or that their patron could.
      While not directly reincarnation, the underlying idea is still that something of the person could move from one body to the other. Which, might be considered as a related.

      Moving on.

      OK, everybody is hopelessly confused, the coffee is cold, the booze is gone, the spell checker is blinking about an update... it's time to bring this one to a close.

"Finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other, always exist."
- Benjamin Franklin

      Remember that quote from Origen about "soul victories"?
      It seems he never actually wrote that in any document known to be his that has survived.
      There's a rumor around that it was a quote by Justinian I (482 - 565) to another figure that then quoted it to somebody else, or perhaps he mis-quoted Origen. But as Ol' Justin was the Roman Emperor at the time, nobody called him on it. But again, trying to find direct attribution to him is something of a lost cause.

      And so it went with a lot of research on this topic. You see a lot of references to something somebody way back when said, but then when you go to what is known to be their books or letters, you can't find it. Such as what we found with the Council of Constantinople, maybe somebody did say something about reincarnation over a round of drinks after supper one evening, but it never made it into the official documentation of the event. However, that hasn't stopped anybody from citing it as a ruling of the church against the teaching.

      However some may interpret various verses of the King James and other translations, there is a virtually unknown ancient document that holds the core of the Christian faith nearly unchanged since it was written somewhere in the Very Late First or early in the Second Century, probably in the Roman Province of Syria, or possibly Egypt, by somebody who was a Christian, but who was very familiar with Jewish practices as well. While the author was most likely not one of the Apostles, it is clear they had been taught by them.
      It is called the Didache. The full title is "The Lord's Instruction to the Gentiles Through the Twelve Apostles". There's a couple of links below to good English translations of it.
      Our topic, Reincarnation, and variations on that theme, are NOT mentioned in the Didache. If it had been addressed, either way, in support of the idea or a total dismissal of it, we would not be so engaged in this now.
      One statement from Paul in Second Corinthians is always brought out in these types of discussions. Which the Desk has an answer for that either gives people a headache, or makes them angry, or, sometimes both. First the passages usually cited.
      In 2 Corinthians 5 : 8 Paul says "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". Which is true. Except there is no time period associated with it. While Christ told the dying thief that he would be with Him that day in Paradise, that was Christ Himself saying it. Paul also says that "we shall not all sleep" in 1 Corinthians 15, and a similar passage in 1 Thessalonians talking about those that are "asleep".
      We'll look at a couple of points that the Desk brings up and move on.
      What does time mean to God? Is HIS clock the same as ours?
      When you go to sleep at night, are you actually aware of how much time has passed? Don't you wake up occasionally and feel that it should be morning when in fact you've only been in bed for a hour or two, or even worse, the other way round and it's morning when you feel like you just laid down? Even more so, what would the passage of time mean to you when you're dead? Would a few days, or a few thousand years of the passing of time in the world mean any more to you than it does to God? You close your eyes in death now, and the next time you are aware of anything, you are in the presence of the Almighty... are you going to check your watch?

"So, if it isn't in the Bible in so many words, or the Quran for that matter, why is it so entwined in Western thought?"

      How about a really short answer for once? OK, ready? Here goes:
      Because the idea of coming back to This World to live, and to Be Alive, AGAIN, is part of the human condition. It apparently always has been, and most likely will always be.
      That may be the shortest answer ever given to that sort of question.

Overview and Summary

      We know Patton wrote the opening poem. It's in his papers, but some other widely used quotes and passages on this topic did NOT check out, and so we passed them by. And as it turned out, we didn't need them, the topic was plenty rich with material without them.

      Did Ben Franklin, a known deist although he still held that he was a Christian, believe in Reincarnation?
      Well, we know he believed in the final Resurrection by God, as he had written as a young man in what he said was to be his epitaph.

"The Body of B. Franklin, Printer; like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost; For it will, as he believ'd, appear once more, In a new and more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended By the Author."
- Benjamin Franklin, In His Own Words, from the Library of Congress (see link below)
      In the earlier quote he could well have been speaking about how his writings, ideas, and inventions would continue on forever. And, so far, they have.
      Also, it could well be that, like General Patton, Doctor Franklin's own beliefs were somewhat complicated.
      Which is a good summary of the entire topic.

      Now, we're some eight thousand words into this, with dozens and dozens of links below to topics sacred, serious, and .... otherwise....
          ... we've discussed ancient peoples and modern frauds, offbeat religions, some playing cards with odd images on them, looked at zebras, and sang along with The Highwaymen, and now it is time to put a lid on this one and check the fishing forecast for tomorrow.
      No, really, as soon as this is saved that's what we're going to do.

      So, where does the Desk stand on the idea of the Reincarnation of Humans, the Transmigration of Souls, gilgul, samsara, and whatever else you care to call it?
      OK, an answer, then a quote.
      The Desk does not believe that the human soul / spirit / life force / whatever, is recycled in THIS world. While it is NOT beyond the realm of possibility, after all we CAN NOT KNOW in any rational and objective way what happens to "us" later on. And while there is some good evidence that something like that may happen on odd occasion to individuals, on the whole, it isn't likely that that is the answer for everybody.
      So for this one, we'll quote another old master and close it out.

"I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud."
- Carl Jung (1875 - 1961) in address to the Society for Psychical Research in England

        oh, by the way, tomorrow is supposed to be cold and rainy. oh, well.

Resource Links All links were working as of date of original posting.
No endorsement of a site by the Desk, or of the Desk by any of these sites is intended or to be inferred.

We begin with the Holy Books mentioned in alphabetical order:

The BHAGAVAD-GITA in English
"The Song of God"

"This is the day that the Lord has made, we shall rejoice and be glad in it."
The King James Bible, 1611 edition

The Quran: The Clear Quran - translation by Dr. Mustafa Khattab

The Zohar (The Book of Splendor) is the central work in the literature of the Kabbalah.

The Zohar Online

We'll lead with the publication mentioned from a couple of years ago: "Evaluating the Evidence"
... resurrection

The Thirteen Articles of Maimonides

The encyclical about the Second Council of Constantinople ? 553 A.D.

"Beloved ancestors who cared for and protected us in life have left a layer of love around us, also. I believe that even when the souls of these ancestors aren?t able to come back to us in a time of need, this layer of love can be activated and manifested in their form.
"How you can contact your spirit guide"

"What does Judaism say about it?"

"JAINpedia - The Jain Universe Online":
Cycle of rebirth

Right View and Reincarnation: The Connection to Laws of Karma

Krishna Consciousness: About Reincarnation

Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS): "'As you sow, so shall you reap' is a common phrase in life which concisely sums up the law of karma."

"China is Preparing the Dalai Lama's Succession"

The Dalai Lama Fact Sheet
World Religions, University of Northern Iowa


Link to more about the Druze sect,propagated%20by%20Hamza%20ibn%20Ali.

The Alawite of Syria

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Origen (185 - 253) was a Christian exegete and theologian
Saint Augustine of Hippo

Ask An Orthodox Priest:
"As Greek Orthodox can we believe in reincarnation?"

Mormonism and Reincarnation

Reincarnation and Freemasonry: "the viewpoint of living life after life has profound implications consistent with Masonic values."

Universal Theosophy

Moses, and Cain, and Abel, and justice: "Incarnations of the Ancients"
Prophet Exekiel

from a Rabbi

The Religious Life of George S. Patton

"The Rosicrucians are a community of philosophers who study Natural Laws in order to live in harmony with them. Our mission is to provide seekers with the spiritual wisdom necessary to experience their connectedness with the miraculous world around us and to develop Mastery of Life."
(.... remember we said something about a few of these 'lacking credibility'?....)
The Rosicrucians And Their Secret Doctrine, See part XI "The Soul's Progress"

An overview of the topic, that includes other overviews of the topic, downloadable for free: "The Destiny of the Soul: A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life" - Author: William Rounseville Alger

"The Albigensian Crusade (aka Cathars' Crusade, 1209 - 1229), was the first crusade to specifically target heretic Christians..."

"Is It Possible You're Never Going To Die? People Are Confused By Quantum Immortality"

"A Fascinating Journey through the history of Tarot Cards"

"Past life regression therapy helps us connect to our past. Could recovering memories from a previous life help you in your current one? A conversation with a trained therapist."

"What did Schrodinger's Cat experiment prove?"

The Many-Worlds Theory, Explained: "in this world, crazy does not necessarily mean wrong, and being more crazy does not necessarily mean more wrong."

An Encyclopedic look at:
"cannibalism : human behaviour"

And a note about the: Magical Power of Cannibalism, University of Queensland, PDF.
If the link does not work, search for the above and it will come up.

The Argument over Reincarnation in Early Christianity

REINCARNATION- Did The Church Suppress It?

A clearinghouse of early Christian writers.
Which includes the Didache: the Teachings of the Twelve Apostles to the Nations.

"Unveiled" VIDEO: "Is Reincarnation Real?"

From the Library of Congress: Benjamin Franklin: In His Own Words

And Finally.......

"..... I'll fly a starship
Across the Universe divide
And when I reach the other side
I'll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
But I will remain
And I'll come back again, and again
And again and again and again and again
And again......"

- Song by Jimmy L Webb, as released 1977, album "el Mirage", Atlantic Records

NOTE: The above article is presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. No immortal souls were harmed during the production of the article.