Confusion in the reincarnation camp!
Different cultures have different theories about reincarnation. Consequently, there are multiple ways to understand the concept of soulmate, reincarnation and karma. The concept of soulmate is embedded in the worldview of reincarnation and karma. In this post, I will explain the difference between New Age reincarnation theory and Buddhist reincarnation theory. I don’t favor one over the other, in fact, I believe that both theories complement each other. I hope future spiritual philosophers develop their own reincarnation theories which unify both Western and Eastern traditions. (This is one of the reasons I am not a Buddhist – I do not follow everything that Buddhists teach.)
The concept of reincarnation has been studied in many cultures – including western culture – for centuries. Because of the politics involved in Christianity, the concept of reincarnation has not been part of the Christian doctrines since the first council meeting in Nicene in 325 AD. This concept did not die out, it merely went underground. Few Christian sects still believe in reincarnation.
The concept of reincarnation and soulmate took on a new form in the 20th century. There are a number of important writers and researchers in this field, such as Michael Newton, “Journey of Souls”, and Brian Weiss, “Same Soul, and Many Bodies” and scientist Ian Stephenson.
According to popular New Age belief, before returning to the earth plane we have a meeting with senior souls to hammer out the moral lesson that we need to learn. We choose our body, gender and parent. Our souls return to this world to learn the pre-determined moral lessons that we need to learn. This is what gives us life-purpose. This theory implicitly posits that there is a will involves in the reincarnation process.
Before introducing what make the Buddhist reincarnation different from the above New Age rebirth theory, let us refresh the structure of consciousness propounded by the Buddhist-Mere Consciousness School. According to this perspective, there are 8 consciousness. The first 5 consciousness are our 5 senses, the 6th consciousness is our conceptual mind, the 7th consciousness is our awareness as a separate entity and the 8th consciousness is a memory bank which has a structure to store all the emotional thoughts, ideas and original essence of divine nature. In this post, the concept of soul means the combined 7th and 8th consciousnesses.
Many Buddhists believe that 7 and 8th consciousness will take on a new body based on previous life karma within 49 earth days. There is no need to go through committee meeting to hammer out the moral lessons that each spirit needs to learn. This theory implicitly posits that there is no need for the will of the spirits because the karmic principle in the universe can automatically sort thing out. For more information how about how 7th and 8th consciousness moves from one earth life to the next, readers may review The Tibetan Book of Death.
Although there are differences between the New Age and the Buddhist theory of reincarnation, there are at least two elements in common.
- Life is a continuum and memory plays a crucial role in the rebirth cycle. (The concept of soulmate makes sense here, because of the capacity for memory that each soul has. The strong emotional memories allow souls to reconnect with each other in a human form.)
- There is a definite past, present and future expressed in each theory of reincarnation.
Have you ever tried out past life regression to know yourself better?
How do you reconcile the concept of a ‘timeless now’ with the concept of reincarnation and karma which clearly embodies the temporal dimension of past, present and future?