Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reincarnation and Resurrection

Today is celebrated as ‘Ash Wednesday’ by the Christian church, a day of atonement and the start of the Lenten season. Faithful are smeared with ash on the forehead and the officiating priest utters these profound words “form dust you came and unto dust you will return”. During this period we contemplate the salvific process of Jesus but tend to attach the significance to His death and resurrection rather than on the internal process that Jesus went through as a preparation for transcending the earthly existence. Many of the mystics and rishis knew when their physical existence is coming to an end. Swami Vivekananda predicted that he will not see his fortieth birthday. These enlightened souls were in constant preparation for the inevitable end. They knew that this transition is another phase of existence. Hence the concept of resurrection or reincarnation became a matter of philosophical enquiry, especially today when so much research is being done on consciousness and its nature.

This subject has been discussed over many millennia by various spiritual masters.
The view of four spiritual traditions; Vedic, Christian, Islamic and Zoroastrianism are brought out to illustrate the underlying commonality.

The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
You prefer this life, although the life to come is better and more enduring (Qur'an 87:16–17)
Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor al these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be. As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change (Bhagavad-Gita 2:12-13).
You do not die when the body dies…. As a man abandons his worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out will a new one be acquired by the Self, who lives within (Bhagavad-Gita 2:20–22).
So it is with the resurrection from the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory…. It is sown in a physical body, it is raised in a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:42–44).
Zardusht asked Ohrmazd: “From where shall the body be reassembled which the wind has blown away, and the water carried off? And how shall the resurrection take place?' Ohrmazd answered: 'When I created the sky without pillars...; and when I created the earth which bears all physical life ...; and when I set in motion the sun and moon and stars...; and when I created corn, that it might be scattered in the earth and grow again, giving back increase...; and when I created and protected the child in the mother's womb...; and when I created the cloud, which bears water for the world and rains it down where it chooses; and when I created the wind...which blows as it pleases-then the creation of each one of these was more difficult for me than the raising of the dead. For... consider, if I made that which was not, why cannot I make again that which was?”

..............From the 'Greater Bundahishn', ch. 34, p. 52. “Concerning the resurrection”. Boyce, M. (1984) Textual Sources for the Study of Zoroastrianism, ed. and trans. M. Boyce, Manchester: Manchester University Press

Now we come to modern science, David Bohm proposed a cosmological order radically different from generally accepted conventions, which he expressed as a distinction between the implicate and explicate order, described in the book ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’:
"In the enfolded [or implicate] order, space and time are no longer the dominant factors determining the relationships of dependence or independence of different elements. Rather, an entirely different sort of basic connection of elements is possible, from which our ordinary notions of space and time, along with those of separately existent material particles, are abstracted as forms derived from the deeper order. These ordinary notions in fact appear in what is called the "explicate" or "unfolded" order, which is a special and distinguished form contained within the general totality of all the implicate orders (Bohm, 1980, p. xv)".

Love to you all


  1. It was such a pleasure reading this article. Excellent!


  2. Dear Bhaskar,

    Thank you for your appreciation.

  3. David bohm's explanation made me think of playing with a kaleidoscope. The combinations can be indeed be mind boggling and can be very interesting!!!!

  4. Dear Magi,
    For the common person your observation serves the purpose of explaining emenation as a phenomenon.
    But for you, Who is dear to me, I would like to give you a further explaination.
    There is a subtle difference between what we experience in a kaleidoscop and in nature.
    In the first we experience emenation which is subset of the existing reality and this is known as dependant arising in Buddhist philosophy but what David Bohm points out is an emenation from a fudamental reality where in truely only the source exists but due to our conditioning we percieve devious objects and a duality becomes the dominant experience.