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Reincarnation + Karma in the Bible

To: alt.metaphysics.alchemy,alt.consciousness.mysticism,alt.meditation,,talk.religion.newage,,alt.theosophy,alt.metaphysics.a-a-bailey
From: (RH)
Subject: Reincarnation + Karma in the Bible
Date: 21 Jul 2004 08:53:01 -0700

Reincarnation and Karma in the Bible 
by Jeanine Miller

Generally speaking, people are unaware that there are definite
references in the New Testament that unequivocably imply
reincarnation. In fact, many ask why, if the subject of reincarnation
is so important from the religious point of view, there is so little
mention of it in the Bible.

One obvious answer is that the reality of reincarnation, at least in
the New Testament, was simply taken for granted, just as we take for
granted that a healthy tree, which has lost its leaves for the winter,
will get a new crown of leaves in the following spring. Let us examine
the evidence which leads to this conclusion.

The first sign of a taking for granted of the doctrine is found in
Matthew, 11:13- 14; 16:13. Jesus is asking his disciples Whom do men
say that I, the son of man, am, (Matt. 16:13) and the disciples answer
Some say that thou art John the Baptist, some Elias and others
Jeremias or one of the prophets. How could Jesus be thought to be any
of these except in a past life? Elias and Jeremias lived centuries
before. As for John the Baptist, since he had recently been put to
death, there could not have been a reincarnation, but it seems that
some people thought that his spirit could have inspired Jesus. If
people could speak in this way they obviously took the doctrine for
granted. That Jesus is actually asking the question shows he is aware
of the doctrine and considers it valid.

Jesus himself tells his disciples who John the Baptist really was in
the past: For all prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if
ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come. He that hath
ears to hear let him hear. (Matt. 11:13-14)

So Elias, according to Jesus himself, came back to earth in the
personality of John the Baptist. This is repeated or confirmed in
Matt. 17:12: But I say unto you that Elias is come already and they
knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise
shall also the son of man suffer of them. 13. The disciples understood
that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

The third reference comes as a question concerning a blind man. The
disciples ask Jesus: Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he
was born blind?" (John 9:2-3) How could a man sin before he was born,
unless the sin was committed in another life? The apostles are not
asking what kind of sin resulted in blindness, but *who* sinned,
taking for granted that the act of sinning itself brought about this
dire result.

Furthermore, the sin could have been committed either by the man in a
previous existence, or by his parents. This implies both that the sins
of the parents are visited upon the children, which is a biblical
doctrine, and that the soul exists and therefore pays for the
transgressions of previous lives.

Jesus does not rebuff the apostles for asking such a question. If the
doctrine had been alien to his mind, he would have told them that they
were talking nonsense. He simply takes a different attitude. His
answer: Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents, but that the
works of God should be made manifest in him, (John 9:3) implies that
the doctrine of karma (and therefore its corollary, reincarnation) is
not always understood rightly and that the calamities that befall
humans should not necessarily be laid at its door.

Superficially we might take the meaning that the works of God should
be made manifest as referring to his own healing ministry; that it can
be shown that he, as God incarnate, can heal all, even blindness from
birth. But I would tend to think that his answer has several levels of
much deeper meaning, one possibly being that the man's blindness (if
we take it as a literal physical blindness) was not brought about by
sin but by a deliberate choice by the soul for a certain crucial
experience necessary for its development. Out of that experience the
soul would emerge triumphant through its perfect faith and trust in
the Christ, by which could have been meant the external Jesus Christ
or as the inner divinity to which Saint Paul referred when he said: My
little children of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be
formed in you. (Galatians 4:19)

Transformation of the Inner Man

That the doctrine of karma (and reincarnation) is all too often used
as a crude palliative, to resolve problems that appear unresolvable,
may have been understood to some extent in biblical times, even as it
is nowadays in certain cultures and communities. This may be gathered
from Leviticus where we find the following: And if a man cause a
blemish in his neighbor as he hath done, so shall it be done to him.
Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he hath caused a
blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. (Lev. 24:19-20;
cf. Ex. 21:24. Deut. 19:21)

In this Jewish expression of the law there seems to be no room for the
transformation of the man, the change of heart and mind that would
automatically bring about a different reaction. Jesus seems to have
tried to counteract this notion of an inexorable law that leaves no
room for human change of attitude in his new commandment: that ye love
one another. This commandment superseded all the others, and is the
law of laws which conveys compassion, forgiveness and grace, and
implies the possibility of transformation.

With regard to karma, an interesting passage is found in Luke
concerning the Galileans whose blood Pilate has shed in the midst of
their sacrifices. (Luke 13:1) In his commentary, Jesus says: Suppose
ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because
they suffered such things? I tell you nay; but except ye repent ye
shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:2-3)

The implication is that calamity does not occur to some because they
have sinned more than others, but that all of us have wrong attitudes,
and wrong attitudes lead us into misfortunes of one kind or another.
To change one's attitude, to transform one's self, is the whole
purpose of the many parables by which Jesus taught his disciples.

The important point of the Gospels' teachings is the transformation of
the inner man, the psychological man.

In its esoteric sense Jesus' remark to Nicodemus: Thou must be born
again, cannot be interpreted as referring to reincarnation, but to
that inner transformation of man, equivalent to a new birth. That
alone can transmute us into new beings capable of entering into that
spiritual state called the kingdom of heaven. This is the main concern
of the Gospels and of Jesus' teachings.


Other articles about reincarnation & past lifes:

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