Theosophy – August 1897

WHY I BELIEVE IN REINCARNATION — E. A. Neresheimer

Life's problems: "Why, How, Whence?" easily arise in one's mind when it but slightly deviates from the dreamy groove in which most of us pass our days.

Nature sometimes gently nudges us at the point of waking from this slumber, and invitingly coaxes, "Come, look at me, lay me bare"; but no, the dreamer goes on dreaming, till he finds himself rudely shocked by pain.

Exoteric creeds with the crude promise of Heaven and the dread of Hell give no help in the solution of these problems to the aspiring soul; nor are the philosophical systems of this cold age calculated to aid much in the construction of a satisfactory doctrine of life and death. No light anywhere, in spite of all the pretence to show us the way out of the darkness. After vain search in the field of other men's thoughts, one hesitatingly turns to his own, almost despairing that there too he shall meet with no better success. But once he is forced by vexatious experiences to take a deep plunge into the inner sanctuary of his own nature, he at last finds there a chord that vibrates in unison with all else; and here must be the clue to the mystery.

Then wells up a deep sympathy for our suffering fellow-man, and there arises a burning desire to know why is all this misery, why and where am I, and what is my connection with the world around me? In a Universe so well regulated, so orderly, so beautiful and just, can it be that man alone is singled out to shift for himself, that he is separate from the rest, and does not share in the harmonious procession of things and events? Never!

What a relief then in this dreary desolation to hear for the first time in so many words of the ancient doctrine of "Rebirth, Continuity of Existence."

Every person is a born metaphysician, no matter how lowly his station. Each one constructs his own philosophy, in spite of religious views, preconceived notions, heredity or education; each one for himself records and assimilates his experience and out of it hews a system peculiar to himself, a thread on which he spins and builds all through his life. He may be soaked with belief in some particular system, and march through one life after another perfectly content to depend on the thoughts of others, till at last experience comes which drives him inward, and then he shall hear of the truth, and hearing it, shall understand.

I had marched through life for many weary years looking at the sights and panorama of the world, casting enquiring glances at Religion, Philosophy, Materialism, Spiritualism, in the hope of finding my own experiences interpreted; but without success.

In early youth, before receiving my education, I dreamt continuous dreams of standing before audiences of the highest culture, addressing them on subjects of deep significance, founded on the spiritual unity of the Universe, with a clearness of perception that baffled reflection in the waking state.

Several years later, when engaging in philosophical discussion, I advanced these ideas with positiveness and conviction, though they were foreign to my general trend of thought and education. All through life I have been conscious that what knowledge I possess has only in part been acquired during the present life, and my reflections on these subjects were not connected in the least with the experiences of my youth: they were distinct and bore the aspect of continuity with the past.

The temptation to assert these convictions became a source of embarrassment, because they were not the result of education consciously checked at every step and detail, as I had been brought up to believe was necessary.

The various aspects of human life presented themselves to my view, but with no concurrent explanation: belief in immortality and universal justice were innate and supreme.

Queries presented themselves: "Can the apparent injustice of the suffering of deserving individuals, or the ease and affluence of the undeserving be explained? What of the method of Evolution? How is it applied to human nature?"

The Esoteric Philosophy alone is consistent in its answer; it alone gives a true philosophy of life.

Underlying its various doctrines is one fundamental proposition, namely the existence of one eternal immutable principle: hence the essential Unity of all life and being. This eternal principle is in everything, and everything is of it. Manifestation of Life takes place as a result of differentiation in this Unity: the purpose of differentiation is evolution, and the end of evolution is the return or involution of all manifestation to its source and original unity.

Differentiation and return to Unity take place in accordance with the law of periodicity, the law of Evolution and Involution, representing a great Cycle. This is repeated by and is analogous to all other minor cycles observable everywhere in nature; ebb and flow, life and death, waking and sleeping, outbreathing and inbreathing, summer and winter, day and night, etc., following one another in unerring succession. All are manifestations of the same principle and the same law governs them also. If this be applied to ourselves, it gives a meaning and an aim to human life and a logical basis for a belief in Evolution.

What evolves is the Soul, the Thinker, not only the body: the latter is merely the vehicle or temporary garment which belongs to a kingdom of its own. Reincarnation makes the evolution of the soul possible. At death, a cycle closes for the purpose of allowing the soul to assimilate the experiences of the life just past, and when the term of rest is ended, the soul will come out of that state and clothe itself with a new body. In the same way the Thinker lives through minor cycles of day's and years in each life, being perfectly conscious of the continuity of consciousness, in spite of the change, waste and decay of the body.

Life corresponds to Day and to the waking state, and Death to Night and Sleep: they alternate and each follows the other.


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