Around the world, many people — perhaps the majority overall — accept a belief in reincarnation as part of their religion.
Not many people in the West believe in it, though. In fact, many scoff at the very idea and regard it as nonsense.
This is largely because in the West we are enamored with the benefits of scientific knowledge and increasingly sceptical of the old religions — rightly so, in my view.
The knowledge science provides can be systematically checked to ensure that it is valid and reliable. This is why it is of such great value.
Besides, what science can see is limited to that which is physical and objective. Reality itself is not necessarily so limited. If we limit our understanding of what reality can be to just what science can see, we are leaving ourselves half-blind.
A wealth of information is now available from a wide variety of sources which, despite their differences, give surprisingly coherent and mearningful insights into the nature of the soul and its evolution.
Thanks to a combination of channelled teachings, insights from near-death experiences, reports of hypnotic regression, transpersonal experiences induced by meditation, breath-work or psychoactive substances, after-death communications, and even scientific research into children’s spontaneous descriptions of their past lives, it is now possible to put together a very clear picture of reincarnation.
Regardless of the medium (no pun intended), the message is consistent. Whether one regards such information as factual knowledge or as loony nonsense depends upon one’s openness to non-physical sources of information.
Interestingly, in light of this accumulation of knowledge, we can now see that even within those Eastern cultures that believe in reincarnation, many people’s understanding of it is confused by all sorts of religious doctrines that are just plain wrong.
So, here are ten things about reincarnation which I think are valid and reliable and which I believe everyone — East or West — would benefit from knowing:
1. The soul exists
The soul isn’t just a myth or an illusion or a relic of pre-scientific superstition. All human beings are a combination of physical, mortal body and non-physical, immortal soul.
Your soul is the absolute essence of you — the only true answer to the question, “Who am I?” It is who you always are regardless of how you feel or what you believe or how you perceive yourself.
From the body’s perspective, the soul is the conscious, animating life force within it. From the soul’s perspective, the body is a vehicle for inhabiting the physical world and experiencing physical existence.
The soul is pure consciousness, pure energy, pure being. It exists on a timeless, non-physical level of reality. It is a piece of Spirit or God or Source, a spark of divine light and love, a fragment of absolute perfection.
2. The soul evolves
All souls are on a mission to evolve (grow, develop) through their own experiences and efforts.
To evolve as a soul is to become increasingly self-aware and self-capable as a unique expression of Spirit.
By evolving, the soul changes in its level of beingness and consciousness, from new-born innocence to greater and greater levels of love, power and wisdom. In effect, that which is created rejoins the Creator — after eons of evolution.
3. The soul evolves most effectively in physical form
Evolution of the soul comes about through individual experience and choice.
A soul evolves most effectively by facing and making choices as a separate individual, making choices big and small, and experiencing the effects of each choice.
To do so, the soul incarnates — that is, the soul fuses with a physical body for a whole lifetime, from birth to death.
By doing so, the soul gets to experience being physically limited and physically separated from others and from all-that-is. This is actually an illusion, a trick of the senses, as the soul itself is never really limited or separate.
But the illusion creates enough desire, fear and other pressures to cause the soul to experience conflicts and dilemmas and to make choices. It also puts the soul’s own perceptions, feelings and decisions under the microscope, as it were.
The experiences and choices of a lifetime serve as lessons for the soul once the life is completed. After death (the soul’s exit from the physical realm), the soul and its guides review what happened during the life and what lessons can be learned from it.
The soul not only reviews its own experiences and choices but also discovers the effects of its own choices on others during the life. For example, the decision to steal a sum of money at one point may have caused the victim significant hardship and anxiety.
The soul learns that all choices have experiential consequences, not just for the self but for everyone involved.
4. The soul undergoes the full range of meaningful experiences and choices by reincarnating
One lifetime is not enough to experience the whole gamut of life circumstances and to make all choices.
For example, the soul needs to experience life as both male and female; as both victim and perpetrator; as both student and teacher… Hence, the soul re-incarnates many times over in order to experience the full spectrum of life.
Being human again and again, each time with a different body, different life circumstances and different relationships, enables the soul to experience the full range of possible perspectives and relationships and all the lessons that these entail.
Through many different human experiences, the soul gradually becomes more self-aware, gradually discovers more of its true capabilities (love, power, wisdom), and gradually learns how to overcome the illusory limitations of being physical.
Generally, the soul learns best through a “compare and contrast” process, not through blind repetition. Hence any given lifetime may be completely different in some way from the last one.
(From the soul’s point of view, there is little value in repeating the same kind of life again and again — unless, that is, there is a specific lesson within that lifestyle which has yet to be learned — in which case, Groundhog Day is an excellent metaphor).
Each human lifetime is an opportunity to learn specific lessons. One lifetime, for example, might focus on learning greater self-responsibility while the next might focus on being kinder to others.
If in one lifetime the soul experiences being a man with a lot of power over women, say, it would then be of value to contrast that with the experience of being a powerless woman.
The soul has no preference for one side of the equation or the other, since both sides help draw out different aspects of the soul.
5. The soul has no nationality, creed, race or gender
There is no such thing as a Jewish soul or a Chinese soul or whatever. We are just souls, and as souls we are free to experience the whole variety of human cultures across the planet.
We choose our birth location, race and nationality to suit our purposes for any given lifetime. Sometimes race and creed are a deliberate choice; at other times they are merely incidental to what the life is about.
Because the soul learns through a process of “compare and contrast”, one who has just experienced a life as (say) an Israeli soldier might decide to be (say) a Palestinian orphan in the next.
There is no such thing as a male soul or a female soul. Gender is a biological phenomenon, not a spiritual one. Human beings are of two sexes and so we have to choose which one to be before each life begins.
Because we want to experience, compare and contrast all possible perspectives, we will choose to experience lives as both men and women. We can be male or female as often as we please. We can be male in one lifetime and female the next.
Or we can be male for ten lifetimes and female for the next fifty lifetimes. It is all a matter of choice. Even if we have a strong preference for one gender, we will still tend to incarnate as the other gender every now and then, just to maintain a balanced perspective.
6. The soul sticks to one species at a time
Contrary to certain teachings, the souls of human beings reincarnate only as human beings.
That’s not to say we did not experience life in simpler life forms before that. But at some point in our earlier evolution, we selected the human species as our vehicle of choice (no pun intended) to evolve as self-aware individuals.
The soul’s mission is to expand in consciousness, and there is no value for the soul already at the human level in experiencing life at a “sub-human” level of consciousness.
There may be rare exceptions where a soul who is normally human experiments with being a dolphin, say, but as a rule we do not return as insects or cows or blades of grass or what have you.
We are spiritual beings on a human journey, learning to be ourselves through human experiences, human relationships and human choices.
7. Each lifetime is pre-planned
Before taking birth, the soul (along with its guides in spirit) will decide what experiences and choices the life should include.
The appropriate circumstances and relationships will be chosen and set up with the cooperation and agreement of other souls who will be involved.
For example, let’s say the soul wants to experience being compassionate towards children. The soul may decide that the life to come should include its own childhood experience of abandonment by the mother.
This would help drive the personality in adult life to want to help abandoned children. Another soul will then agree, out of love, to be the mother who abandons this soul in childhood.
Most major events in life are pre-planned: the birth, the family, the school, the relationships, the career and so on. This includes deaths, accidents and illnesses.
There is, however, plenty of room for unplanned things to occur. The choices we make on the ground matter far more than “destiny”.
The body is also chosen by the soul before birth. Souls are aware of which fetuses are viable and which are not, and which are going to be terminated before birth. (Hence, abortion is not really ‘murder’).
Some lifetimes are explicitly set up for the soul to undergo a particular learning experience (such as being a teacher, for example), while some are actually undertaken for the benefit of others‘ learning experiences.
For example, we might opt to live a life as a much-loved child who suddenly dies while still young, purely in order to help another soul undergo the experience of tragic loss.
8. There is a law of karma…
… but it is not like many people think it is.
If soul A kills soul B in one lifetime, then in a later lifetime soul B will kill soul A. That is the effect of karma.
But karma is not (repeat not) about cosmic justice or divine retribution. From the perspective of Spirit, there is no need for cosmic justice because there is no such thing as cosmic injustice.
Karma is really about learning through “entanglement”. If I do something in physical life that violates your free will, we become entangled. We both feel the lack of equilibrium between us.
It’s like we have become tied together by a rope. The only way to restore equilibrium is to undo the entanglement — by having you violate my free will in a similar way. That way, we both know from experience what it is like to be both the violator and the violated.
Souls tend to commit karmic acts in the early stages of their reincarnations when they have less experience of human existence.
Typical karmic acts are: murder, rape, dismemberment, imprisonment, abandonment.
In all cases, one person imposes something on another against the other’s will. There is no karmic entanglement for acts that are accidental or not by choice.
9. Reincarnation has a beginning and an end
Contrary to certain teachings, we are not tied to a wheel of endless death and rebirth, to be saved only by renouncing the world and seeking spiritual liberation.
The whole journey of evolving through reincarnation begins with us at a certain level and ends once we reach another level. It takes (typically) well over 100 lifetimes. From first human life to last requires thousands of years, depending upon the availability of physical bodies.
In spirit, the whole path is clear to us and we know exactly what we are doing. Each lifetime is a deliberate adventure and is undertaken out of love and a desire to evolve.
10. There is no urgency
Contrary to what many teach on the subject, there is no urgency for us to become enlightened, or to complete our reincarnational cycle.
It is not “better” to evolve quickly over a few lives than to evolve slowly over many lives.
Reincarnation is not a challenge to reach the end of evolution as quickly as possible. We are not “caught” in the cycle of human death and rebirth.
The physical world is not a hell-hole to be climbed out of.
God is not wishing we would get a move on.
From the perspective of Spirit, there is no passage of time. Time is just a perceptual phenomenon for us while in physical form.
Souls literally do not care how many thousands of years it takes to get from one level of reincarnation to another. The passage of time in human terms is, to the soul, irrelevant.
A final word
I would also add one more correction to certain teachings: souls do not normally reincarnate instantly after death.
Usually there is a period of several years or decades between one life and the next, during which the soul recuperates, considers the lessons learned from the last life and plans its next one.
It should come as no surprise to learn that we have had a past life, or even many past lives.
The only ones who haven’t lived a previous life are those at the very beginning of the reincarnational cycle. The only ones who aren’t coming back after this life are those at the very end of the cycle.
Reincarnation is the norm for all human beings. It is universal. It is what we are all doing here.