21st October

Re-Incarnation Or Resurrection?

When the body is buried it is mortal; when raised it will be immortal. When buried, it is ugly and weak; when raised, it will be beautiful and strong. When buried, it is a physical body; when raised it will be a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15: 42 – 44

Most people believe in some kind of after life; for a human life to be snuffed out does not seem to fit with the fact of so much unfulfilled potential, or with out of the body experiences. Many believe in re-incarnation. Its great appeal is that it keeps alive hopes of future development. But let us look a little closer.

Some believe that we are re-incarnated in either a higher or a lower being, but this belief is often ego-centric: that other people will be re-incarnated in a lower being, we ourselves will be reincarnated in a higher being! A school boy whose grandfather had died was heard telling a class-mate “My mum says the cat is my grand dad’. I wonder if mum found grand dad difficult? To feed our own ego it is easy to claim that, in contrast to people we don’t like, we ourselves were once incarnate in, for example, a royal personage.

These are selfish views of re-incarnation. There is another, self-negating view of re-incarnation: that my essence will be absorbed into the cosmic stream of life. I lose all individuality. I am no longer a person in the next life.

The pre-Christian people of Britain had a third view of re-incarnation: we will be the same person in the next life, but the environment will be immeasurably better. Thus a warrior will have superb horses and endless victories in the Other World. The Christians were able to say to these folk: Yes, we, too, believe that we will still be the same persons in the next life. But we are all so selfish that our ego as well as our body has to die first. Then, and only then, will there will be a resurrection of our true personality. If we were fighters on earth, our fighting in the next life will be transformed. For a Christian death is not a full stop, it is the end of the first page of our story.

May you be as free as the wind
As soft as sheep’s wool
As straight as an arrow
That you may journey ever nearer to the heart of God