Reincarnation Speculations Commercial, Unauthorized Actress Shirley MacLaine turned past-l
Reincarnation Speculations Commercial, Unauthorized
Actress Shirley MacLaine turned past-life searcher gave a boost to various
Eastern concepts about spiritual life with her book and TV movie/biography,
"Out on a Limb". The idea about going "out on a limb" means that most
Westerners feel a certain loyalty toward Judeo/Christian beliefs but,
although more people are making the research into reincarnation, most do not
want to openly admit this inquiry into what has been considered taboo
amongst Western intellectuals and the Western church.
Interest in reincarnation is reportedly growing in the US. According to
Paul Galloway (Chicago Tribune, 5/17/87, "The Search for Past Life"), there
may be as many as 1 out of every 4 Americans who believe in reincarnation
and that that percentage may be going up, not down.
However, the versions of reincarnation as propounded by many so-called
reincarnation experts is being done in a hodgepodge, speculative and
Galloway reports on an affair called, "Remembering Your Past Lives"
seminar sponsored by the Chicago chapter of the nonprofit Association for
Research and Enlightenment (ARE) which took place at the O'Hare Expo Center
on April 25 and which attracted 217 past-life searchers. In that meeting,
they were closing their eyes, trying to get in touch with what they were
doing a few centuries ago in their previous lives.
That people accept the notion of getting in touch with previous lives
important is another cheating and exploiting business among physic
entrepreneurs. Although according to the science of Krishna consciousness
we have passed many lifetimes in different incarnations, there is no benefit
to make the research into past-life activity.
The message of Krishna consciousness is that one is living his life in the
same manner as a person is living in a house that is on fire. When the
house catches fire, we don't have to make the research about how the fire
started but we immediately act to get out of the burning house. Similarly,
we should take to the understanding that this present life is meant to get
out of ignorance about God and surrender unto him immediately rather than
spend useless effort in trying to research past-life activity. However less
intelligent persons become enamored by these godless self-interested
activities and become the exploiter and exploitee in this recent New Age
Apart from just over-emphasising the importance of past-life research, ARE
is promoting speculations contrary to the authorized principles of Bhagavad-
gita. Spokesperson Lynn Sparrow, 33, preaches that there is no downward
transmigration of the soul into lower species of animal life. She
speculates that, "Except early in time, we have not been involved in the
bodies of animals. As spiritual beings, we became so fascinated with life
in this planet, and we began experimenting with animal forms. But we kind
of made a mess of it. At that point, the Creator began releasing us from
our mistakes; he created the human race through evolution."
It is a fact that the Western mind is spiritually naive and falls for
anything if it is packaged, marketed and advertised attractively. But the
standard approach toward knowledge is to accept the authorized version of
the authorized sources of transcendental knowledge such as the bona fide
guru and the authorized books of knowledge and not trust anyones and
everyones subjective speculations.
Shrila Prabhupada often noted that bogus religious teachers of all
descriptions satisfy their foolish followers by unauthorized talks and
falsely selling the kingdom of God without following the principles of God
consciousness. This philosophy, that the transmigrating soul has no
opportunity to become trapped within an animal body, is false.
The human form of life, according to Krishna consciousness, is an
opportunity to use the facility of advanced intelligence. Prabhupada would
say that the human is known as a rational animal, but if you take away his
rationality, he is simply an animal. An animal is expert at satisfying his
desires to eat, sleep, have sex and defend, and if the human being
concentrates on the same, he is actually no better than the animal. Only
when one gets a body of a human can he make the extra attempt to understand
who is God and what is the relationship between himself and God. However,
in modern society, mostly people are so misguided that they neglect this
rare opportunity to use their God given intelligence and labor hard day
after day for the facility of eating, sleeping, sex and defense.
Consequently, they declare that God is dead, there is no God, you are God, I
am God, or they speak some nonsense and pass it off as religion. Therefore,
they pave their way toward animal life where they can continue to have the
same opportunity for animal propensities having missed the chance to use
their good intelligence in the human form of life.
Some may uselessly argue that the soul presently occupying a human body
does not transmigrate downward into animal bodies. It is a fact, although
it is not natural, and it indicates that the human frivolously wasted his
life on animalistic activities. The natural sequence is for human beings to
advance in knowledge about God and reach the goal of life by gaining some
tangible realization about the presence of God through the process of
devotional service. Nobody thinks it appealing to become degraded enough to
occupy the body of an animal. Neither is it very safe simply because
animals are given no protection nowadays. They are slaughtered mercilessly
for food, tortured for often unnecessary laboratory research or otherwise
exploited for fur, etc. It is the strict law of nature that those humans
who cause harm to innocent creatures also reincarnate to experience the same
suffering; thus divine justice is served. Krishna exclaims in the Bhagavad-
gita that, aham bija-pradah pita (Bg 14.4): "I am the father of all the
living beings." In that way, all the living entities are given protection
by God and have the right to live according to God's plan.
In the material world one living being is food for another living being,
and we see this law carried out violently in the animal kingdom. In the
human form of life, man is meant to minimize the violence of this law by
eating only vegetarian foods and milk and then offer this foodstuff to the
Lord. That is the religious way of living at the cost of even the lives of
In the Vedic culture, animals were never used for food or exploited in any
way because the science of karma, or the laws of nature where taught and
followed even by the heads of state. It is the attempt of the Hare Krishna
movement to try and educate especially the leaders of people to take to
understanding these laws of God so that people may be saved from the
degradation of reincarnation into the animal species of life.
Shirley MacLaine's "guru", J. Z. Knight, is a spiritual channeler who
allows a spirit known as Mr. Ramtha talk through herself while she is in
trance. Ramtha, born in Atlantis 35,000 years ago, proclaims that everyone
is God and is capable of creating any reality one desires; if not now then
in a later incarnation.
This philosophy, according to the Krishna consciousness philosophy, is
recognized as impersonalism and is the most dangerous philosophy one can
indulge in. This philosophy declares that everyone of us is as good as the
Supreme Lord but in reality it is actually another feature of the atheistic
When the living entity foolishly thinks himself as one in the same as the
Supreme Lord, he creates an offense to the Lord and cannot make any progress
in understanding the relationship between God and himself. For anyone who
is engages in this philosophy, it is as good as spiritual suicide. Such
doctrine kills the dormant devotion toward God that lies deep within the
heart of the conditioned living being.
Prabhupada describes the mentality of the mayavadi impersonalist like this
in a letter dated 17 October 1967 to his disciple Pradyumna. "The last
attack of maya [illusion] upon the conditioned souls is impersonalism.
There are 4 stages of attack of maya; viz.: 1[st] stage is that a man wants
to be a protagonist of religion, 2) is that man neglects religiosity and
tries to improve his economic development, 3) is to be protagonist of sense
enjoyment & when a man is frustrated in all the above mentioned stages he
comes to 4, which is impersonalism, and thinks himself one with the Supreme.
This last attack is very serious and fatal."
This malady is commented upon by Robert Burrows, editor of publications
for the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, a watchdog group supported by some
evangelical and fundamentalist Christians that keeps tabs on New Age groups
and practitioners. He says, "When we look to ourselves for answers instead
of to God, there's a bit of a paradox here. I believe this trend represents
another drop in the downward spiral of the culture. G. K. Chesterton said
that when a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn't believe in nothing; he
believes in anything. On the surface, the New Age message seems to exalt
humanity. Ultimately, I think it debases humanity."
The fate of the impersonalists is that they ultimately try to become one
with God and thus they may even become one with God by merging into the
brahmajyoti, or the spiritual light emanating from the transcendental body
of the Supreme Lord.
Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, created all the minute
spiritual souls so that they may enjoy a personal relationship with Him and
enjoy together eternally. When the spiritual beings, out of their own free
will, decide to enjoy separately from God, they come to the dark material
universe where their pure God consciousness is covered by the illusory
energy called maya. In this diseased condition of life, the living entity
may see the defects of the material situation and falsely declare himself as
one with God. The Supreme Lord even allows such a soul to merge into His
bodily rays, but such merging is temporary and is not considered true
liberation or salvation.
In the merging condition of life, there is no activity for the
impersonalist has already falsely assumed that God Himself is impersonal,
without form and without activity. The condition is similar, says
Prabhupada in one lecture, to a child who, after becoming frustrated with
the world, foolishly decides to crawl back into the womb of the mother(?)
Naturally, the parents want to enjoy the company and association of the
child, but the child wants to again become one with the mother out of
So God allows such merging, but after some time, the soul again desires to
become active and thus he again takes birth in the material world only to
engage in mundane welfare activities like opening hospitals and schools,
etc. Such mayavadi impersonalists have no idea of the real spiritual life
which is to be a servant of the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna, and enjoy
eternal bliss in His association. Their difficulty is that they are
materially motivated and do not wish to surrender and acknowledge their
subordinate status. Why should they become servant to God? they consider.
They shall become one with God(?).
Such New Age speculators are simply making a mockery of the laws of God by
exploiting others' interest in reincarnation. And the people who are coming
to take this word jugglery also want to be cheated.
Reincarnation is one of the facets of the laws of nature which are
controlled by God. To know about God is not the business of a foolish
person but only the very sincere and intelligent can know something about
the laws and nature of the Supreme Lord. The fact that Western culture is
firmly entrenched in scientific research does not easily allow the natural
devotion for God to take place. On the contrary, the dependence on
empirical knowledge is very much conducive toward atheistic philosophy
because God and the existence of the soul cannot be proven by laboratory
experiments. In this way God always proves that He is more intelligent than
our cleverest scientists by remaining outside of their intellectual grasp.
The cheating philosophy being spread by these New Age groups is another
feature of the Kali-yuga or age of irreligion. In this age, mostly people
are wanting to be misled by false religious and philosophical ideas. Again,
the Vedic literatures like the Bhagavad-gita and the Shrimad Bhagavatam
provides the basis for understanding nonsectarian bona fide religion. In
this connection Prahlada Maharaja states (SB 7.5.31): "Persons who are
strongly entrapped by the consciousness of enjoying material life, and who
have therefore accepted as their leader or guru a similar blind man attached
to external sense objects, cannot understand that the goal of life is to
return home, back to Godhead, and engage in the service of Lord Vishnu. As
blind men guided by another blind man miss the right path and fall into a
ditch, materially attached men led by another materially attached man are
bound by the ropes of fruitive labor, which are made of very strong cords,
and they continue again and again in materialistic life, suffering the
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank