by Ralph Calabria
Executive Editor DMC
Theodosius Dobzhanski, the great evolutionary geneticist, said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Life evolves upward physically over millions of years.
Let us consider extending Dobzhanski’s argument to religion as well. Consider: “Nothing in religion makes sense except in the light of the evolution of the soul.” In other words, we as individuals evolve upward spiritually over a very long time period (many lives). Reincarnation could explain some hard-to-understand concepts. For example, can anyone actually live up to Jesus’ command to “be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” in one lifetime? (Matthew 5:48). Pefection, yes, because Jesus said, “ye are gods” (John 10:34).
To evolve totally towards perfection in one lifetime is not a fair or reasonable expectation. To complete this colossal spiritual assignment, we are given many opportunities to achieve perfection through the oftentimes painful, always protracted trial-and-error process of reincarnation.
Jesus DID teach reincarnation, privately and publicly, but after 2,000 years, there is almost no acceptance of that teaching left in mainstream Christianity. Many of today’s Christians believe reincarnation was never part of the Christian religion. The deliberate efforts to erase or deny Jesus’ references to reincarnation were not completely successful, however. A few obvious references to reincarnation remain in the Bible.
Here is an example of Jesus teaching reincarnation privately to his disciples.
And the disciples asked him (Jesus), “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” He (Jesus) answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands. Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17: 10-13).
Elijah was a Jewish prophet and miracle worker living in Israel during the reign of King Ahab (9th century BC). That soul reincarnated as John the Baptist in the time of Jesus. Jesus said they “did to him whatever they pleased.” Indeed, King Herod had John beheaded. “So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” Jesus knew he would be killed by Pontius Pilate.
Here is an example of Jesus teaching reincarnation publicly to a crowd.
“Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: (Mat. 11:7). “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” (Matt. 11:14). Jesus knew his disciples had accepted the truth about Elijah’s reincarnation, but only some of the crowd were “willing to accept it.”
Notice that Jesus expected his disciples to understand reincarnation, but for the public, he only offered the concept without expectation. Masters are wise not to insist to those who are not ready. They know that we will all learn sooner or later, if not in the current life, then in a future one. Instead, they focus most of their teaching efforts on their disciples who are willing and receptive.
It is reasonable to theorize that Jesus’ disciples recorded other instances of Jesus teaching about reincarnation which might have appeared in the Bible for posterity. Indeed, they did, as the Gnostic gospels (discovered only in 1945!) show us. These teachings had been lost for centuries because Church authorities had suppressed and burned them.
In the early centuries after Jesus, reincarnation was accepted by some, debated by others. Early Christians read Plato (429–347 B.C.E) who taught that as physical bodies die, the soul is continually reborn (metempsychosis) in subsequent bodies. Early Church Fathers, such as Basilides and Valentinus taught reincarnation. Origen (185–254 AD), described as “the greatest genius the early church ever produced”, wasn’t sure about reincarnation. In a sense, he went half-way. He believed in the pre-existence of the soul before birth, but the Roman Church had great difficulty with this because of it opened up the slippery slope to reincarnation.
At the Second Council of Constantinople in AD 553, the concept of reincarnation was effectively discarded when the Council declared there is no pre-existence of the soul before birth. More than FIVE HUNDRED YEARS after Jesus walked and taught on Earth, ordinary men decided they knew better than the Master.
What has been the effect of this change?
Just reflect for a little while. If you accepted that you had lived in other physical bodies before the one you currently inhabit, and that you will live in other physical bodies in the future, how would it change how you live this current life?
Might you….be less afraid of death?
Might you…be kinder to everyone around you, knowing that your misdeeds will haunt you sometime in the future, when you no longer remember the seeds you planted? “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7).
Might you….be less obsessed with accumulating wealth? “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith” (1 Ti 6:10).
Might you strive to evolve spiritually to overcome the cycle of birth and death….or might you slack in your efforts, figuring you have plenty of time?
Reincarnation versus one life (many opportunities versus a single opportunity) is yet one more example of the wide disparity between what Jesus actually taught and what today’s churches say that he taught.
We have the freedom and liberty to choose the teaching of Jesus (reincarnation) or the teaching of a council of bishops (one life, a single opportunity), whose names most people don’t even remember. The Masters inform, they do not demand or insist.
Jesus tells us what happens when, through our long journey of many lives and opportunities, we have learned all our lessons. “Him that overcometh, (is victorious, successful) will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out”(Rev. 3:12). Achieving this perfection, the soul finally goes “no more out” into the physical realm, but remains in the spiritual realm, the “temple of my God.”
Next blog: how to speed up your spiritual evolution.