There seems to be a growing interest in understanding reincarnation
according to recent surveys. These polls indicate that as many as 1 out of
every four Americans believe in reincarnation and that this number is going
up, not down.
However in the past, Westerners have seen reincarnation as being linked to
superstitions, the occult, and so-called primitive religions. In the past,
it was often felt among scholars and religious men that Hinduism, the source
of the reincarnation doctrine, was the religion of a primitive people who
actually could benefit by being converted to Christianity.
It seems more curious as time goes by, how people in the future will
fashion their religious lives. While it seems that in India, Indians are
adopting and imitating the modern lifestyle of the Westerners, in America,
more and more people are opening up to Eastern philosophical ideas, such as
If you were to ask that one-out-of-four person who is investigating
reincarnation, however, they'll probably not readily admit their interest.
Reincarnation, at the moment, is more or less taboo for many Americans and
is not quite something that one feels comfortable about.
Not until, at least Shirley MacLaine came along with her biography, "Out
on a Limb" and broke the ice a little bit for the closet past life
MacLaine gave a boost to the New Age groups who think that reincarnation
is OK and that to search into ones past lives is the in thing to do.
MacLaine herself is very fond of hosting seminars and declaring that in her
past lives she was a prostitute, a pirate with a wooden leg, a Buddhist
For the uninformed, reincarnation is the idea that life has nothing to do
with the gross body which is made up of material elements. Life comes from
the soul. The soul is part and parcel of God and as such, he is eternal.
At the present moment, modern science sometimes claims or presents
theories to the effect that it can manufacture life within the laboratory.
However, they cannot back up this grand claim practically by even producing
a germ because it is impossible for them to manufacture this tiny
antimaterial particle called the soul. Actually, they are at a complete
loss to explain the origin of life within the body of any living being
although they are expert in presenting countless theories.
So the Vedic philosophy of Krishna consciousness informs us that within
our body, there is the soul. Because that soul is eternal, we remain the
same person, birth after birth after birth. The only difference is that the
body changes from one body to another. This fact, that the body is changing
at every moment and that most of the cells within the body are replaced
after every seven years is also taught by scientists. But they do not know
that the infinitessimal spirit soul which is situated in the heart, is the
source of energy for the living beings.
These New Age groups are missing the point by simply trying to find out
about their previous lives. Although they're fond of recalling past
histories through hypnosis and other methods, they should realize that all
their past lives are simply previous chapters of suffering conditions. In
any life either as a movie star, Buddhist monk, or prostitute, one must
suffer from the strict laws of nature such as birth, death, old age and
The whole idea, from the Hare Krishna movement, is to get out of this
endless repetition of birth and death in this material world. This interest
in reincarnation is good, however, generally these groups miss the whole
point and fill in the gaps by concocting theories and juggling words. The
real idea is to stop this endless reincarnation process and surrender to
People today are so misguided about religion but they can take advantage
of understanding reincarnation. Some people say that I can do anything I
want and because God is so kind, He'll take me to heaven when I die. This
is not true. God wants everyone to go and sin no more, not that you can
force God, take advantage of His kindness and be to merciful to you although
you don't deserve. God is unlimitedly merciful but you cannot force Him to
be merciful to you.
So if you want to go back home back to Godhead and be with God and live
with God, then that will depend on your desire. First, avoid sinful life
like meat-eating, gambling, illicit sex-life and intoxication and then chant
the holy name of God. If you don't have any name of God, then take the name
of Krishna and Rama. Then try to understand the science of God. The
Krishna consciousness movement has published about 70 volumes of books by
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on the science of
So invest some time in spiritual education by obtaining some Krishna
consciousness literature and find out all about reincarnation. You don't
have to spend hundreds of dollars for a few hours' seminar simply to find
out how miserable you were in past lives but by becoming educated in the
process of how to surrender to God, how to surrender to Krishna, you can
save yourself from reincarnating again and again in the miserable material
world. If you were born once what is so amazing or unbelievable that you
can be born again? If you are actually disgusted with material suffering,
then you can make rapid advancement in this Krishna consciousness.