The principle of reincarnation stems from the lawful nature of the universe and the infinite nature of consciousness. Doctrines of reincarnation exist in all the eastern religions and most of the primitive religions on earth. There are exceptions in the Semitic traditions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but there are ever increasing numbers of adherents in even those religions who are persuaded in the veracity of reincarnation. A 2005 Gallop poll estimated that 20% of adult Americans believed in reincarnation.
If reincarnation were imaginary there wouldn’t be such logical parallels between the various accounts of those in near death experiences and the metaphysical traditions and accounts of countless mystics and seers throughout the ages. Anything can be argued and is argued on this subject but it would be advantageous to drop the arguments and look at some of the most recent accounts of this teaching from a western psychiatric point of view.
Contact with the teachings of reincarnation in the nineteenth century led such notables as Emerson, Thoreau, William James and Carl Gustav Jung to postulate the possibility of such a reality in metaphysics. By metaphysics we mean a universal set of laws that govern human consciousness including a principle of eternal life, which is taught by nearly all religious traditions, and transmigration of individualized soul including memory of past lives.
It is argued by religious scholars that the teaching of reincarnation was suppressed between 250 and 600 A.D. in Christendom. The second council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. is prominently mentioned by supporters of the “suppression of reincarnation”. This is not universally proven but certainly there were some believers in reincarnation who were labeled heretics. The religion of love wanted to control what its followers believed. In retrospect this is always a fear based motive.
In the twentieth century Ian Stevenson of he University of Virginia has done notable research with children relating memories of past lives and verification of facts the children could not have known in the present. He has documented more than 2500 cases in his research. There are several other well known researchers, among them Brian Weiss M.D. who regressed patients in his psychiatric practice over many years and wrote several books which support the basic tenets of Yogic and Buddhist practitioners. There is overwhelming evidence to support reincarnation on the one hand and intellectual skepticism based on tradition opposing the notion. The ones who doubt are generally resistant to balanced review of the data and its metaphysical underpinnings.
In this new age of science, open minded study and acceptance of rational evidence for this law of psychological cause and effect will revolutionize the religious practices of humankind. Ritualized ignorance will gradually give way to the truth that ‘doing unto others’ IS doing unto oneself.