Readings on Reincarnation
Written by: Michelle Belanger
I write a lot. Easily ninety percent of the articles on this Website were penned by me. But when it comes to beliefs that some find controversial, sometimes it's better to hush up and let others speak. Read more to learn what a number of great minds have written on the subject of reincarnation."Polish scholar Wicenty Lutoslawski in Pre-Existence and Reincarnation:
If we could gather the wisest men of all countries and ages in order to ask their opinion as to palingenesis [reincarnation], we should easily ascertain that a great majority of them not only believed in their own pre-existence and reincarnation, but had also made the further step of widening their personal belief into a general theory, valid for all men, even for those who are totally unaware of their past and uncertain of their future....
In the ninteenth century, the number of those who professed belief in palingenesis increased very considerably all over the world, but in no other country is the unanimity in this respect so complete as in Poland. All the greatest poets of Poland, such as Mickiewicz, Slowacki, Krasinski, Norwid, Wyspianski, mention their past lives as a matter of course, and the greatest masterpiece of Polish literature, the Spirit-King of Slowacki, is a mystic autobiography in which the poet narrates his past incarnations. Besides the poets, also the famous philosopher Ceiszkowski and the mystic Toianski admit palingenesis.
Goethe in his letters:
I am certain that I have been here as I am now a thousand times before, and I hope to return a thousand times.
from the Books of Hermes:
The Soul passeth from form to form; and the mansions of her pilgrimage are manifold. Thou puttest off thy bodies as raiment; and as vesture dost thou fold them up. Thou art from old, O Soul of Man; yea, thou art from everlasting.
Ralph Waldo Emerson in Journals:
The soul is an emanation of the Divinity, a part of the soul of the world, a ray from the source of light. It comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, it goes out of it anew; it wanders in ethereal regions, it returns to visit it ... it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.
Victor Hugo, quoted in A.M. Baten's The Philosophy of Life:
For half a century I have been writing my thoughts in prose and verse; history, philosophy, drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode and song; I have tried all. But I feel I have not said a thousandth part of what is in me. When I go down to the grave I can say like many others I have finished my day's work, but I cannot say, I have finished my life. My day's work will begin again the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes on the twilight. It opens on the dawn.
More Victor Hugo in Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography:
The whole of creaton is a perpetual ascension, from brute to man, from man to God. To divest ourselves more and more of matter, to be clothed more and more with spirit, such is the law. Each time we die we gain more of life. Souls pass from one sphere to another without loss of personality, become more and more bright ...
George Sand in the magazine Lucifer, April 1889:
From age to age, from race to race, we accomplish a tardy progress, tardy but certain, an advance of which, in spite of all the skeptics say, the proofs are manifest. If all the imperfections of our being and all the woes of our estate drive at discouraging and terrifying us, on the other hand, all the more noble faculties, which have been bestowed on us that we might seek after perfection, do make for our salvation, and deliver us from fear, misery and even death. Yes, a divine instinct that always grows in light and strength helps us to comprehend that nothing in the whole world wholly dies and that we only vanish from the things that lie about us in our earthly life, to reappear among conditions more favorable to our eternal growth in good.
Benjamin Franklin (explaining his famous epitaph):
When I see nothing annihilated (in the works of God) and not a drop of water wasted, I cannot suspect the annihilation of souls or believe that He will suffer the daily waste of millions of minds ready made that now exist, and put Himself to the continual trouble of making new ones. Thus, finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or another, always exist; and, with all the inconveniences human life is liable to, I shall not object to a new edition of mine, hoping, however, that the errata of the last may be corrected.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in A History of Spiritualism:
When the question is asked, Where were we before we were born? we have a definite answer in the system of slow development by incarnation, with long intervals of spirit rest between, while otherwise we have no answer, though we must admit that it is inconceivable that we have been born in time for eternity. Existence afterwards seems to postulate existence before.
As to the natural question, Why, then, do we not remember such existences? we may point out that such remembrance would enormously complicate our present life, and that such existences may well form a cycle which is all clear to us when we come to the end of it, when perhaps we may see a whole rosary of lives threaded upon one personality.
The convergence of so many lines of theosophic and Eastern thought upon this one conclusion, and the explanation which it affords in the supplementary doctrine of Karma of the apparant injustice of any single life, are arguments in its favour, and so perhaps are those vague recognitions and memories which are occasionally too definite to be easily explained as atavistic impressions.
Count Leo Tolstoy in a letter published in The Voice of Universal Love, No. 40, 1908:
Now our whole life, from birth until death, with all its dreams, is it not in its turn also a dream, which we take as the real life, the reality of which we do not doubt only because we do not know of the other more real life? ...
The dreams of our present life are the environment in which we work out impressions, thoughts, feelings of a former life. ... As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other, more real life ... I wish you would understand me; I am not playing, not inventing this: I believe in it, I see it without doubt.
Feodor Dostoevsky in a letter to Nikolay Lukitch Feb. 1878:
And then reflect on the I which can grasp all this. If the I can grasp the idea of the universe and its laws, then that I stands above all other things, stands aside from all other things, judges them, fathoms them. In that case, the I is not only liberated from the earthly axioms, the earthly laws, but has its own law, which transcends the earthly. Now, whence comes that law? Certainly not from earth, where all reaches its issue and vanishes beyond recall. Is that no indication of personal immortality?
If there were no personal immortality, would you, Nikolay Lukitch, be worrying yourself about it, be searching for an answer, be writing letters like this? So you can't get rid of your I, you see; your I will not subject itself to earthly conditions, but seeks for something which transcends earth, and to which it feels itself akin...
Albert Schweitzer in Indian Thought and Its Development:
If we assume that we have but one existence, there arises the insoluable problem of what becomes of the spiritual ego which has lost all contact with the Eternal. Those who hold the doctrine of reincarnation are faced by no such problem. For them that non-spiritual attitude only means that those men and women have not yet attained to the purified form of existence in which they are capable of knowing the truth and translating it into action.
Gustav Mahler in his letters:
We all return; it is this certainty that gives meaning to life and it does not make the slightest difference whether or not in a later incarnation we remember the former life. What counts is not the individual and his comfort, but the great aspiration to the perfect and the pure which goes on in each incarnation.
Thomas Edison in the St. Louis Star-Times:
The only survival I can conceive is to start a new earth cycle again.
For more quotes, consult Reincarnation: An East West Anthology edited by Joseph Head and S.L. Cranston. Aeon Publishing Company, Santa Barbara, California: 1999