The subject of reincarnation is a topic that requires a voluminous book. Even then, no one can write enough on the subject to convince anyone without personal experience. In view of this, whether reincarnation is true or false is one question we mustn’t allow anyone to answer for us.
To allow someone to say to us that reincarnation is real or is false is being slothful. At best, we can only believe but there is a big gulf between belief and knowledge. This is for the fact that man doesn’t truly know by believing or being told. For a man to truly know, he must be part of what he expounds. True knowledge is in oneness. Before this level is attained there will always exist duality, being the object of comprehension and the comprehender.
One of the ironies man has wrought on himself is the issue of “just believe” or “just have faith”. Faith and belief are twin sisters and they almost imply the same thing. The truth is that no religion anywhere has a monopoly of beliefs. Whether one is a Christian, Muslim, Traditionalist, or Atheist, we all cling to a belief or faith.
But if we can ponder over it, it would dawn on us that faith or belief is an overrated virtue. At best,we should deem faith as a promissory note for the truth – an IOU to be dependent upon, only until the hard coin of certainty is handed over to us or obtained.
I stand to be corrected, at its worst, faith or belief gives its holder the illusion of possessing something substantial. In effect, a mirage is taken for reality. Because different people often have faith in completely contradictory beliefs or faith, it stands to reason that clearly, some beliefs might be well-founded, while some could be groundless. The only proof-positive of this and perhaps all things, is personal experience.
Faith or belief could be compared to a signpost that can be made to point or swing either way.That is why we have to be careful. Even when we have developed faith in a system, we must continue to take it as a working hypothesis that we are to use to gain experience or reality, at which stage, we will graduate to the level of knowledge from faith, belief or information.
Superficial beliefs have wrecked unimaginable havoc in the world, but only experience has stood us out. It is for this reason readers are charged to explore this issue of reincarnation with open mind. Albeit; if we are comfortable with what is in any scripture and which information is not ours, we should as well not bother to read further.
It goes without saying that whatever we are told or read anywhere, even in this discourse or in any scripture for that matter, is not our individual experience. At best, they are accounts of someone else, which may not have been captured vividly yet, we are trying hard to believe them in the absence of personal experience.
In this regard, i am not out to lure us into any superficial belief, but will merely be supplying facts that can assist our inquisition, as to whether reincarnation is real or a fable. I have never allowed anyone to reason for me and it is considered as out of place to attempt to reason, for any one.
The issue of reincarnation is one that appears to have palpable and abundance of empirical evidence, but out of timidity, we would still prefer what is written or unwritten in various scriptures. Save for the scriptures from the West and Mid-East, in which one was silent and the other seems unequivocal, all scriptures from the Oriental world, were very clear about the existence of reincarnation.
For emphasis,Jesus in Mathew 17 vs 10-13 hinted on reincarnation when he was told that it was prophesied that Elijah must first return before the Messiah. If we read this chapter with understanding and unbiased mind, we may catch the drift about reincarnation therein.
Similarly, all the traditional religions that our people worshipped before being hoodwinked by the imported religions acknowledged reincarnation beyond any scintilla of doubt. The Yoruba race conceded to reincarnation through children that died at infancy.
The parents of such children were known to burn the feet or put marks on the bodies of these children that they referred to as Abiku, before committing them into the mother earth. Hardly do we have any family that didn’t have experience of such babies or toddlers, returning to the same parents with the same marks inflicted on them during their earlier lives.
Abiku is known as Ogbanje in Ibo language, the Hausa call it Danwabi. In Efik it is known as Eka-Abasi, Igbakhun in Edo, Menji it is called by the Kalabari clan. Different tribes across Nigeria and Africa have ascribed their own names to those transiting toddlers.
It wasn’t recorded that these tribes from the Black Nations met or entered into any debate to conclude on this reality. It is thus assumed they arrived at the conclusion through observation or experience. No one can change their impression on this matter because it was what they had gone through. The takeaway from this is that, before we were brainwashed by the imported religions, our people acknowledged reincarnation.
Those who have not lost their originality still retain this belief, unlike those that have been whitewashed into not accepting anything that is not contained in the scriptures.
Whereas, science has substantially gotten round the causes of death of those babies and their death could be attributed to simple ailments such as fever, food poisoning, diarrhea, measles, chickenpox, meningitis, malnutrition etc, science, philosophers, worldly reformers et al, are all nonplussed on the reasons for those babies that died at infancy, but returned to the same parents, with same marks administered on them in previous lives, prior to their interment.
To look the other way to this puzzle doesn’t help our cause to unravel this mystery or reincarnation. Ironically, it presents us as timid in exploring life’s strange occurrences. Whatever advancement made in life has been brought about by inquisitive minds and essentially by observations. It is therefore unimaginable that He-Who has granted us the boon of rational mind would frown at our using the gift to expand our frontiers or consciousness.
The story of the Talents in the Bible was about stimulating our inheres human gift to sprout and not remain dormant. It also supports our exploration to no end, rather than just believe which never serves as a substitute for experience.
All said, our belief or not in reincarnation is an individual thing, one is not out to cajole anyone to accepting the doctrine of reincarnation. My assignment is limited to spreading out the facts sheet and thereafter, we are free to research further before drawing our conclusions.
In the oriental world that retained their cultural background, traditions and modes of worship, it is advanced that the only thing that gives meaning to the perceived imbalance that pervades in the earthly field could be situated at the altar of karma and reincarnation.
We are to ponder over this id est; if we are all arriving unto the world for very first time, it is easy to fall into the temptation of joining people who are given to thinking and feeling, we have an unfair God or that life is unfair. They may have their reasons for this standpoint, but such unwholesome conclusion falls like park of cards if we can explore the matter further, as I will try to do infra;
Firstly, I hasten to submit that Life is fair. Indeed very fair. We all get what we richly deserve. Thus; what Jesus said in Galatians 6 vs 7 that; Be not be deceived, God is not mocked, we will reap whatever we sow is truth eternal.
To some people to say Life is fair could sound as an outrageous statement. How could life be fair they will argue in the face of so many obvious injustices and imbalances that seem the order of the day and which we all witness the world over.
To support their standpoints, they would cite cases of babies being born blind and some with other deprivations and deformities. Murderers escaping punishment, while nefarious swindlers are prospering at the expense of innocent victims of theirs.
When asked to unravel these ugly situations, we may find it difficult to sustain the position that Life is fair. But if can pause and consider some of what had happened in our eyes and not only what we read particularly, what happened to Sergeant Doe, which might have appeared to the casual onlookers that life is unfair, we will have a true picture that life seems unfair because we are not seeing the completeness of life.
I have brought in the case of Sergeant Doe the former Liberian President, who was disgraced from office in the course of which, he was dragged on the road and broken bottles were used to shave his head. It was such a horrible scene.
The people that perpetrated the seemingly sordid act were cursed and called by all kinds of unprintable names. But the impression of the onlookers changed instanter, when it was made known that the same Sergeant Doe had the habit of feeding the human flesh of the people he murdered to his lions.
So with most of the impressions we formed based only on what we can immediately conceive and completely isolated from the past. Simply, we as human beings cannot see the whole play at a glance. The question this tosses up is that, could a limited view of existence be the reason why we fail to see how, and why, every living being gets precisely what it deserves. No more, no less?
If we could rise above our ego and accept our limited perceptions and experiences, then every aspect of our lives would take on new significance. We would no longer blame fickle fate or happenstance when bad things happen around us or even to us.
We would also be taking a fresh look at everything that we do and think, with the knowledge that whatever we send out into the world, both the good and the bad, will one day return to us in like measure.
We must give kudos to science for trying to provide at least intriguing and partial answers to the important questions as to why some people are happy than others. Studies of sets of identical twins (some of whom were raised together and some apart) have found out that one-half or more of the tendency to be happy or sad is fixed at birth.
Science situates this on parental or genetic patterning. Is it then not saddening to realise that factors beyond our control produce so much of our happiness or sadness. We are born. Zap! Fifty per cent of our future joy or sorrow is determined before we even take our first breath.
For emphasis, this may happen to babies born blind, deformed, people that are prone to diabetes, cancer and all that. Can we say life is fair in this kind of situation? We can only adduce reason for this phenomenon if our life is a part of continuum of existence that began before we were born and we continue after the present life- if not for eternity.
This scenario moves us immediately to a broader view of life than our daily experience is able to provide. We certainly need a perspective that encompasses far more than the minute slice of existence with which most of us are currently familiar. For a start, we need to think deeply. The ability to think is what actually differentiates us from the animals and the beings we refer to as lower species
If we refuse to use our thinking faculty optimally, we can hardly be adjudged as truly living.We are merely existing and being blown hither and thither unmindful of wherefrom we arrived unto the world, our purpose on earth, and wither we go after this present life. Simply, we are deemed as simpleton and victims of circumstances instead of Masters of Fate that we are meant to be. Does this unfavourable situation of man not deserving of our inquisition?
Rene Descartes the French Philosopher answered this poser for us with his famous statement: “COGITO ERGO SUM,. In other words, I think therefore I am. This statement encourages us to use our thinking faculty to examine matters from all points, before assuming or believing anything.
I can go on and on, but have to draw the curtain more for the reason that we appear lazy to read epistles. We wouldn’t mind devoting quality time to watching movies, football and other pastimes, but for the most important matter of our life- our First Cause, we don’t have the time. I will therefore be rounding up by further prodding us, to do our individual study on this matter of reincarnation.
Some of us have had firsthand experience and can categorically declare reincarnation as real or unreal, but it serves no purpose handing down someone else’s experience. This is more for the fact that our relationship with our Creator is an individual thing. We have to conduct our individual research and embrace whatever ensures our comfort zone.
The truth nonetheless is that our belief or non-belief in a reality doesn’t alter anything. It doesn’t change its existence and neither create it. What is not in contest is that we generally need to expand our consciousness. In fact, it is only by allowing our innate faculties to blossom that we are truly living, as Spiritual Beings now in the world undergoing human experience, not human beings seeking spiritual experience.
By elevating our consciousness, it will dawn on us that we are not just like the other creatures of the earth, that are limited to the physical, and in the world only to eat, drink, procreate and then die. Human beings are born into a heritage far above their greatest fancy. It was therefore for man to know the value and worth of human life that the earliest Greek Philosophers insisted on: “Gnothi Seauton.” This means: “Know Thy Self.”
When we are able to come to the awareness of our True Self, we will have the understanding that the earthly field is not our true home, and irrespective of our position in this world, we are no more than a feeder in the pigsty among strangers, and our world here is only a dark outhouse, in the magnificent palace grounds of our Father-Lord Kingdom.
In summation, whether REINCARNATION is real or a fable is subjective and essentially open to our individual research and experience.
Whether we believe in reincarnation or not, and whether we accept the inviolable karmic law as handed down by Jesus, Prophets,Saints and Avatars that we shall reap whatever we sow, we could still help our cause in this world by accepting retribution as a necessary way of life. This will enable us to choose wisely for a better harvest in the morrow.
One of the chastisements given to spiritual neophytes is that they should start living their lives fully conscious of hell fire. If at the end of life no hell exists, they wouldn’t have lost anything. On the contrary, they would have gained much from the goodness that comes with love, geniality, fellow-feeling and contributed greatly in making the world better habitable. They would be told this as beginners, when they have worked their way into their inner-Self, they wouldn’t need such advice any longer.
If much is not revealed, it is because it is better that man learns directly. We have been created whole in the image of God and nothing is held back, but to know the Truth we must access God directly. This is through meditation because no one can see God alive.
The meaning of this is that with our physical body made of mind and matter we cannot access the inner regions and discover the Truth Absolute. Furthermore, Truth cannot be taught, it has to be caught. We inquire about this and that because we have continued to imagine God as a separate Entity.
But the Ocean of Mercy- Father God has planted in us an inseparable part and parcel of His Divinity which is our Soul. Only the Soul can see God. This is what Jesus meant by entering our inner closet to commune with God. The process is done and achieved in a state perfect quietude, when we are able to stop the thought secreting mind- leading to the Soul experiencing what is known as spiritual in-flight- transversing from the physical, astral, causal planes into the spirit regions.
It is the state of true rapture, when the Soul in ecstasy exclaims That I am, our True Self loses its I’ness and merges into the OverSoul and becomes One with the Creator. Upon this exalted achievement, who is there to ask any question again? Indeed only the Truth can set us free. Nothing else!
I wish to commend all those who have the patience to read through. This itself is an achievement. It shows the Lord Himself is drawing us to Himself, for it is written in John 3 vs 27 that: No man receiveth anything unless it is given to him from above. May we have the grace to be among the chosen few, for many are called but few are chosen.
. Aare Oyefeso, a philosopher, is a Lagos-based businessman.