Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Religion And Reicarnation


Our experience shows that one cannot exclude man's religious problems from psychotherapy. It is only from lack of meaning the soul sickens. The person who is ill in his psyche has, in fact, already touched on a reality which is, for the most part, totally unknown to the “average person”. The neurotic sees more than his “normal” fellows, but cannot stand reality – he sickens from the poison of truth. Looking at it in homeopathic terms, he can only become healed through the truth that has made him ill. It can never be the aim of our path to bring the patient back to the normality that he enjoyed before his illness. Rather, after a successful therapy the patient must stand above normality to the same degree as his neurosis formerly pushed him below it.
If one accompanies someone on this path of individuation one necessarily encounters questions about meaning, God, redemption and so on. These themes are not – as many people maintain – suggested by the therapist, but are, in fact, purposely avoided by most threapists.
Therapy is not a medium for religious proselytising. Discussing the pros and cons of this or that belief or denomination is not the same as a true encounter with re-ligio. Unfortunately in most people the religious consciousness has a decidedly infantile character. This childishness in matters of religion is just as pronounced among opponents of the Church as among its supporters. It is alarming how seldom either group grasps the essence of religion. Thus there is a wide gulf between what churches teach and what religions themselves teach – this has always been so and will always remain so. Even ecclesiastical institutions are human creations and just as fallible as all other institutions. The accumulation of power is part of the essence of an institution, but power is the greatest enemy of all religion.
Thus from time to time true initiates appear among humanity and reassert the true, unadulterated, eternally valid teaching – but they are invariably persecuted and crucified by the official “Scribes and Pharisees” of the time. When we speak of religion here we always refer to the pure teaching and not to churches and institutions. If during therapy a patient has learned the true content of religion it is up to him whether he turns to a particular religion or denomination or pursues his own individual way. Furthermore, he who has understood religion will no longer feel angry about the mistakes of human society but will know how to make them part of the ritual background to his own life.
This brings us to the question of reincarnation and Christianity. The official Christian churches reject the doctrine of reincarnation with the exception of the Christian Community which is influenced by the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and is an illustration of how Christianity and the concept of reincarnation are fully compatible. Although it is hard to prove, there is much evidence that at the time of Christ and in the early centuries of the Christian era belief in reincarnation was taken absolutely for granted. Not until the year 533, at the Echumenical Council under the emperor Justinian, was the doctrine of reincarnation anathematised: “He who teaches the fabulous doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul and the monstrous idea of restoration to life, let him be anathema.”
It is said that at the same time the relevant passages were deleted from the scriptures, though confirmation of this could only come from the Vatican library. Nevertheless there remain passages in the Bible which, although not sufficient to make reincarnation a definite part of Christian teaching, do show quite clearly that the notion of reincarnation was taken for granted by the disciples of Christ. In all four Gospels, for example, we find passages dealing with the question of whether John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elias. In Mark 8, 27 we read:

And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea and Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.

Compare this with Matthew 16, 13-16 and with Matthew 17, 10, where we find:

And his disciples asked him saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of men suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

Compare also Mark 9, 11 and Matthew 11, 13 where we read:

For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

This question about Elias, which appears in all the Gospels, can only be understood in the context of reincarnation. This applies particularly to the passage in St. John's Gospel 9, 1:

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

The question of whether the cause of the blindness lay in his own sin or in that of his parents presupposes the acceptance of earlier incarnations. This is not affected by Jesus' answer, which does not cast doubt on the validity of the question but merely reveals a third aspect that was not taken into account by the questioner.
Many more statements about reincarnation are to be found in the writings of the Church Fathers whose pronouncements on the subject are often unequivocal. K. O. Schmidt in his book Wir leben nicht nur einmal (“We don't live only once”), has collected many relevant quotations, some of which are worth repeating here. The great Origen writes:

If one wants to know why the human soul at one moment follows good and at another evil, we must look for the reason in another life which precedes this one. - Each one of us hastens towards completeness through a succession of lifetimes. - We are bound always to lead new and better lives, be it on earth or in other worlds. Our surrender to God which cleanses us of all evil, signifies the end of our reincarnations.

Other Church Fathers who clearly supported the doctrine of reincarnation were St Jerome, Clement of Alexandria, Gregor of Nyssa, Rufinus, St Justin, St Hilary, Tertian, Philo, Nemesius and others.
The Archbishop Louis Pasavali wrote:
In my opinion we would make a considerable step ahead if we could publicly support the concept of reincarnation, that is reincarnation on earth as in other worlds, for thereby many riddles would be solved which at present cast a troubling mist of uncertainty over the mind of man.

None of these names or quotations should give the impression that it is possible to prove reincarnation to be a component of Christian doctrine. One could find sufficient passages and authorities to support virtually any standpoint. I do not believe that the debate about reincarnation should be carried out on the basis of Bible quotations. In my view it makes more sense to examine seriously whether or not the theory of reincarnation contradicts the Christian philosophy and the true teaching of Christ. An impartial investigation of this question will reveal no such contradiction. The individual is therefore not faced with having to decide between remaining a Christian and believing in reincarnation. A true Christian attitude has always required the courage to go the way of one's conscience regardless of accepted views – in this respect nothing has changed up to the present day. Even in Christ's time the scribes were not to be counted among the disciples.

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