Reincarnation and Religion
Papus (Gerard Encausse)
We will conclude our study of reincarnation here. For the completion of our work we need only include some notes referring to traditions.We have seen in the preceding chapters that reincarnation was among the secret teachings in all of the temples of antiquity. Presented originally as a part of the initiation into the great mysteries of ancient Egypt, this revelation has now passed to all mystical religions. We find it repeatedly among the classic authors, of whom we have given numerous examples, and we find it repeatedly in Buddhism.The relatively modern study of writings from India has altered ideas about the fabulous antiquity of the Indian alphabet. The works of Philippe Berger and other sages, who only go back to about 500 years before Jesus Christ, that being the time of the Buddha. According to the Academy of Grammarians the Sanskrit alphabet, that is to say the alphabet of Thebah, was in use during the time of Gautama the Buddha, a Brahman initiate who left his father’s palace — the center of initiation — to offer part of the mysteries to the profane world.
We should not imagine, however that the Buddhist religion is the creator of this idea of reincarnation. Rather Buddha, at considerable sacrifice in service to humanity, was the one to reveal this to the common people.People interested in these matters will find in a volume by M.de Lafont titled Buddhism, precise texts and teachings, which will satisfy their interest fully.Has reincarnation been a part of the Christian religion at some time? One can frankly respond in the affirmative to this.Significantly the gospels tell us in plain language that Saint John the Baptist was the reincarnated Elias. This was a mystery and Saint John the Baptist, when questioned, kept quiet but others knew the truth of it.The parable of a man blind from birth is another example. The suggestion that he was being punished for previous sins presents an interesting matter for reflection.The Christian religion is a direct continuation of the Egyptian, and each one of the evangelists is represented by a symbol that is one in the four of the sphinx: the human head, or the angel, an eagle, a lion and a bull.The idea of reincarnation was contained in the secret teachings of the Church, as were many of the initiatory concepts of Egypt.It has been said that the Church condemned reincarnation; this is false.
A council has said though, that those believed to have returned to earth were not accepted into heaven; but far from condemning reincarnation this warning of the Council indicates the contrary. It was also part of the teachings that if someone returned voluntarily through reincarnation, not because heaven was displeased with him or her, but for love of their neighbor, the curse would not apply to them (Rozier).Lastly, according to the teachings of the Roman Catholic church, who have kept much less of the occult tradition than the Russian orthodox church, a considerable span of time lapses between the judgment at the end of life and the final judgment. It is at that final judgment, according to Catholicism, that the soul is assigned its final destination. Until this moment the spirit can change, during this time between the two trials. And how does the spirit function during this time lapse between the two trials?
You can appreciate that heaven, hell and purgatory are experiential states that can be lived in material form. This is what Swedenborg taught and Mohammed also, even though he had an aversion to all forms of traditional esotericism. Yet he indicates that he was aware of these things when saying in his chapter “The women of the Koran” that Christ would return at the end of time to judge between the living and the dead.It is certain that the idea of reincarnation that was an illuminating lighthouse in antiquity has not been lost by any religion. In modern times this idea has reappeared and is supported by three traditions: the cabalist tradition brought out of Egypt and passed along to us by the Pythagoreans and the Neopatonists; the Asian tradition passed along to us by the Buddhists of which we have just spoken, and lastly the modern revival of Spiritualism.Rivail, well known by the alias of Allan Kardec, has rendered western humanity a great service by popularizing the dogma of reincarnation. If this idea troubles certain weak minds, consider in other times, say around the year 100, the impact of the idea of hell. The idea has prevented so many suicides and given so much hope that it would be appropriate to congratulate the creator of contemporary spiritism as well as its successors, such as Gabriel Delanne, León Denís and Leymarie, to have spread among the masses such a beautiful instrument of hope.Child prodigies are easily explained by the idea of reincarnation, as are the experiences of people who find a curious familiarity in certain places and lands. Without becoming dogmatic we can appreciate the clarity that the doctrine of reincarnation provides in understanding a number of personal and social issues. It is not our intention here to present an extensive historical or bibliographical exploration.
Our main purpose is rather to awaken the sleeping god within our readers, causing the god of memory in the heart to speak, creating in each of our readers the inner enthusiasm that will prompt this deity to reveal the true mysteries.Then every man may begin to understand the earthly economy, its nature as a natural necessity and that as Barlet and Lejay have said, the social order is merely a tool and not an end purpose. Our higher abilities deserve to be devoted to finer things than the earthly ideals of acquiring material wealth and gratification of ones pride. To follow Christ it is necessary to abandon everything without regret, as one abandons an old garment in order to clothe themselves in garments of an initiate’s light. To understand earthly life as something more than a comedy in which we play our particular part as characters during our brief existence, it is necessary to partake of the mysteries of the Father. It is necessary to willingly sacrifice all that is not eternal. When we know the mysteries of reincarnation we are able to join Saint Paul in saying, “Oh death, where is thy terror? Oh grave, where thy sting?”Doctor Rozier in fact says: “I wish only to prove that the Catholics are entitled to believe what seems most rational to them in this manner: the generally held opinion among them is that one lives only once on the earth, but no real prohibition exists to believing otherwise. An opinion, and in point of fact that is what it is for those who hold it, is always subject to revision. Certainly, if we are enamored of a theory that contradicts that held by men of considerable learning and honor, the Fathers of the Church for example, we should be restrained by demanding arguments of substance if we continue to profess this, but we should not surrender to these arguments by virtue of their considerable force without looking at the matter and considering it from both sides.”The old Christian reincarnationists did not propose that mortal life on earth is the result of a diminishing of God’s grace, or one’s losing their love of God but quite to the contrary, that earthly life is imposed to evolve us and make us the masters of the material world to which, by the fall of Adam, we became slaves.
This earthly existence would not mature without difficulties if it were prolonged much beyond a hundred years for reasons that it is pointless to address here, but a hundred years is insufficient to obtain a definitive victory. It has therefore been necessary to grant us a longer span of time, and that segmented by intervals similar to the intervals between the dreams of deep sleep and daydreams. Each type of dream may be called a death. Certainly each existence is accompanied by forgetfulness of those that have preceded it, but this forgetfulness is providential. It facilitates evolution because with complete memory it would be difficult to change on this plane of existence. When we have finally awakened a sufficient number of times to achieve the purpose of our efforts, the sanctification, we die one final time and return no more. It is then that we are judged finally and relegated to our place in heaven or purgatory. If, on the contrary, in each existence we descend lower and lower until we reach a point at which no hope of salvation exists any longer, we will die one last time and go to hell, but this is a most unusual occurrence.Considered this way the theory of reincarnation, as presented by the old Christian reencarnationists, can be accepted or rejected by the Catholics but does not fall under the curse as previously mentioned. However, if the theory is rejected no breach should be opened by presenting exceptions.