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Five Religions That Presuppose The Transmigration Of Souls

Illustration of a gray flower - like symbol and two male evolutionary figures. from: PWCD - Rebirth Religions

Spiritual

Written by: m.wilson and Nedelina Petkova

When you think about reincarnation, does the idea kind of make sense? If so, here are five religions containing reincarnation doctrine you may want to get started with (or just study on the side).

Yoga is not listed in this article as a religion, however, reincarnation – transmigration – rebirth, like Yoga, is rooted in Indian spirituality, the earliest texts being found in the Upanishads during the late Vedic period 1100 – 500 BCE. Yoga may have been developed as early as 3300 BCE but was first written about, as in the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali for example, around the same time as reincarnation, in 500 BCE, (or perhaps within five or six hundred years of one another).

The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali, according to Yogapedia, is considered an ancient foundational text, and suggests techniques for ‘learning about past lives,’ through spiritual liberation called moksha, which frees the soul from the cycle of reincarnation. According to Subhendu Das (2013), reincarnation and the soul theory (the existence of soul and its incarnations) are foundational to the Yogic practice. Das goes on to suggest that past life memories may have something to do with various social and physiological conditions such as gender dysmorphia.

1. BUDDHISM

“When this physical body is no more capable of functioning, energies do not die with it, but continue to take some other shape or form, which we call another life. … Physical and mental energies which constitute the so-called being have within themselves the power to take a new form, and grow gradually and gather force to the full.”

– WALPOLA RAHULA (WHAT THE BUDDHA TAUGHT (1959)/ LEARN RELIGIONS)

In Buddhism, Karma (volitional action) brings about rebirth and which is what a person is referring to or dealing with during their lifetimes. Self is a composition of the Skandhas – or of the mind and its senses, so that when this part of you dies the energies do not, and will go on to formulate another lifetime.

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2. HINDUISM

In the Bhagavad gita it states:

“Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discards worn out bodies and wears new ones.”

In Hindu religion the soul must live a multitude of lives as a way to perfect itself (the evolution of life and consciousness) and to become one with the Source. The souls that succeed, return to the Source in the process of Prakriti but the souls that do not must complete the process when the destruction occurs at the end of each time cycle.

3. JAINISM

Of the five religions discussed, Jainism is probably the most zealous about reincarnation, which is principal to their philosophy. When souls have karmas bound to them they are reborn into the cycle of birth called Samsara – and Jainism is the way of becoming free of that karma. The cycle of birth for one soul is an Aeon, which might normally include 8,400,000 lives, while the Jina (an enlightened human being who shares the principals of Jainism), will have few lives. When the soul is finally liberated it becomes Siddha – and disembodied, it rises up to the apex of the universe to join the other Siddhas.

4. KABBALAH

In Kabbalah souls descend from heaven for the purpose of “rectification.” The Jewish Kabbalist literature refers to this rebirthing process in three different ways called Gilgul, Ibbur, and Dybbuk. In Gilgul – the soul transmigrates to a different body; Ibbur – is when a soul descends to impregnate a living soul; and Dybbuk is a sinful soul seeking refuge by incarnating through possession. Gilgul is the main aspect of Kabbalistic reincarnation, which means “rolling,” as the soul rolls into various bodies throughout time; and is referred to, for example, in the Sefer Ha – Zohar (the book of radiance) a 13th century Jewish mystical Torah written in Aramaic.

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5. ROSICRUCIANISM

Rosicrucianism, originating in Germany during the 16-17th century, (and according to legend derived from the conversion of Ormus by Mark in 46 CE), does not refer to itself as a religion and may be more akin to a type of spiritual synthesis. However, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, central to Rosicrucianism is the belief that ‘its members possess secret wisdom that was handed down to them from ancient times.’ Rosicrucians refer to Metempsychosis (transmigration at death) as:

“the survival of the individual soul after it passes from the physical body in death, and its reimbodiment in a physical body by a rebirth after a sojourn in the resting place of the souls (Watchtower, 2021).”

Jesus Christ, according to AMORC – the Ancient Mystic Order Rosae Crucis, is one of the only incarnate to ‘complete re-incarnation and unite with God.’

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Perhaps the belief in reincarnation stems from the universal perception that everyone has infinite potential, which cannot be developed within this life but must be achieved someday. And because there are so many things in the world waiting for each of us to experience, it would be naïve to think of missing them. It is entirely possible that every soul possesses a mission that will be with them throughout the centuries of this world to the end of eternity, and which will eventually lead them to their full, self-realization.

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