Karma & Reincarnation

Sikhism, Hinduism and Jainism, among others, share the belief that one’s current incarnation is base on the cumulative karma from one’s deeds in past lives. One must work their way, over the course of many lifetimes, to enlightenment by committing themselves to good lives and the correct religious beliefs/rites.

Traditional European and many forms of neo-paganism argue that reincarnation has no basis in accumulated karmic retribution; we only pay for our bad deeds and are rewarded for our good deeds in this life, not the next, and our incarnations are chosen (some argue) either through the drawing of lots (pulling straws representing entire lives and destinies), or through randomness or choice (think “What Dreams May Come”).

The belief in reincarnation does not necessarily disregard the existence of heaven and hell, but takes a different approach.

In Eastern reincarnation, the lesser creatures one might incarnate into are considered a form of hell, for they are meant to be punishment for one’s bad deeds in past lives. Also, what is referred to as Nirvana, complete enlightenment, is equivalent to heaven, being that one is at one with the gods and the universe, in total peace and balance, and all-knowing.

In Modern Western reincarnation, many reject the concept of hell, and call their heaven by the name of “the Summer-lands,” being beautiful, expansive fields and forests that are always plentiful, and people run around making merry.

A somewhat lesser known-about after-life (more accurately “between-life”) is the one explained in Plato’s “Republic: The Myth of Er.” It asserts that souls are punished in hell for their sins according to their value, then travel to heaven and are rewarded for their good deeds. Finally, those souls ready for reincarnation pull lots to determine their destiny. The order in which they choose lots starts first with the soul that recently lived the most modest life: the earthworm before the donkey before the million-heir.

The similarities between religions often outrank their differences, so you don’t have to believe in it, but respect others’ beliefs.


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment