The Mesopotamians believed in the Eternal Return, a concept that
for them, while similar to the current Western view of
reincarnation, was not the same.
The Mesopotamian notion of "descent to the
Underworld" involved "descending and ascending" as cyclic
To quote Adapa from his
Treatise on Sumerian
"reincarnation is a concept suitable for the
Mesopotamians because it was so real and explicit that it
was not worth reporting the strikingly obvious.
The Mesopotamians took painstaking notes of
the coming of the sunrise and sunset every day, the return
of the seasons, the planets and the stars, always revolving
and returning to charted points in the skies.
Thus, they did believe that everything was
cyclic, and probably considered life and death as such as
This viewpoint is confirmed by the Assyriologist
Jean Bottero in his work "Mesopotamia: Writing,
Reasoning, and The Gods".
Hinduism is not a religion unto itself but rather a tessellation
There was no central founder or authority.
Although the transmigration of soul (from one body to another)
has an extraordinarily firm hold on the people of India, the
Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs, the theory of reincarnation
does not appear in the Vedas. The Vedic religion did not have
It teaches instead, the theory of re-death (punarmyrtyu)
or "new death".
The earliest mention of transmigration is found in the
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. According to the Upanishads rebirth or
reincarnation of the souls can take place in a series of
physical bodies (normally in human bodies but also in animals
and even plants) or in a series of astral and preternatural
bodies (sun, moon, planets, stars, angels or demons), depending
on one's karma.
The Kaushitaki Upanishad expresses it more
"He is reborn here either as a worm, or as a
butterfly, or as a fish, or as a bird, or as a lion, or as a
serpent, or as a tiger, or as a person, or as some other
being in this or in that condition, according to his works,
according to his knowledge".
Who is the "he" that the Upanishad refers to
here? Does "he" refer to the True Self or is this allegory used
to explain the cyclic nature of conscious evolution?
The Upanishad is a philosophical text, written by
Why do so many westerners accept eastern teachings to be
In his various works, philosopher René Guénon,
illustrated that the belief in reincarnation held by the Hindu
religion and by Buddhism, are misinterpretations of two
completely different processes; metempsychosis and
"This manifestation of a Being (True Self)
from state to state is called 'transmigration', although in
reality, the Being has nowhere to migrate to; it is always
home it never leaves home. It is more a case of innumerable
lives manifesting at once due to the Being's mere
[refer to: "A Case Against Reincarnation,"
p. 31, para. 8)
The problem with the theory of reincarnation that
holds sway over the minds of Hindus, Buddhist and many
westerners today, is that it assumes the primacy of incarnating
into a human body.
This is an absurd idea considering that the
universe teeming with life at all levels.
Although Druidic tradition forbade the inscribing of their
teachings, Caesar, Lucan and Pomponius Mela
recorded accounts of their contact with the ancient Druids and
their beliefs, especially regarding life and death.
For the Druids, the goal of human experience was
to reach the Otherworld. This Otherworld barely resembles
exoteric Christian descriptions of heaven.
The Romans had no
concept of the continuity of existence that compared to the
"The Druids believe that souls do not die but
pass after the death of the body into another".
(Ceasar VI, 14)
Disconcerted by the Druidic belief in the soul's
immortality, Caesar, a cunning strategist, deemed it a shrewd
move by the druids because it was,
"suitable for exciting
courage while suppressing the fear of death".
Pomponius Mela agreed,
"[for the druids] Souls are immortal and
there is another life among the dead, this makes them more
courageous in war".
Despite the Romans astonishment, the authors of
antiquity, without exception, testified to the druidic belief in
the immortality of the soul.
The important distinction here is that for the
Druids, the concept of "rebirth" implied "re-entry" into the
Otherworld) and/or "rebirth" to another life elsewhere. To the
Druid mind, none of this occurred in a linear fashion (as in
subsequent incarnations) nor forcibly on earth as a human being.
The spirit chose when and where to experience
life and is indeed, "incarnating" in both past and present, in
multiple worlds, at the same time.
To the druids, this Otherworld is the intemporal and nonspatial
place where the world imagined by the Divine Plan is realized.
The Otherworld was only transitory and as Lucan described in
Pharsalia, for Druids "death is the midpoint of a long
In the cycle of time, worlds can be indefinite
and individuals can pass from "one world to another".
The Otherworld was but one among infinite worlds.
Human beings were active components of the whole, of God
and its Becoming. Their beliefs were congruent with the
Pythagorean system that exalted the individual soul. Individuals
were entirely free to assume their destinies and choose their
The individual assisted the Divine Plan by
engaging, as a human being, with the world and acting upon it.
Zoroastrianism conveys a unique expression of reincarnation very
similar to the ancient Germanic tribes and wholly different from
the Eastern view.
In the sixth paragraph of this essay it is
"The accepted use and definition of
'incarnate' evokes images of something individual descending
from one place, down into matter. This is spatial and
temporal thinking unique to the human mind that most easily
grasps 3rd dimensional realities of time and space".
Zoroastrianistic thought did not account for or
include linear time.
For the Indo-Aryans, time was cyclic in nature.
They lived in the present moment, the Here and Now. While there
is no direct mention of reincarnation, Zoroastrianism infers a
state of "multiplicity of being".
The Zoroastrian understanding of incarnation is more like that
of the Germanic tribes than that of Eastern thought.
From the 19th Century Onwards
The notion of metempsychosis became popular in Europe in the
19th century, most notably among European Intellectuals. This
appears to have influenced Helena Blatvasky's Theosophy
in addition to her interpretation of Eastern concepts.
Rudolf Steiner, an esoterist and philosopher was first
influenced by Theosophy before breaking away from the
organization for various reasons, most notably because of
Theosophy's hostility towards the Christ.
(Christ Being and Christ Impulse
orthodox Christianity which
Steiner also objected to. This is an important point that we
will come to in the latter portion of this essay).
Rudolf Steiner saw the cycles of human reincarnation as an
evolutionary process, an evolution of the individual and of the
whole of humanity, the universe, and the divine. According to
Steiner, each human comes into the world with a fully unique
personality, which cannot be reduced to genetics or familial and
The reality of the individual spirit is central
to Steiner's philosophy.
Steiner spoke of four bodies:
the physical body
the etheric, or life, body
the astral, or soul, body
the "I," or spirit body
He further taught that, although the spirit of
the individual is real and eternal, the complete human born each
lifetime is unique, and work done in one particular incarnation
cannot be achieved in the same way in another.
While Steiner spoke of the theory of reincarnation in terms that
seemed to correspond to the Theosophical view there were
differences. Steiner stressed that reincarnations was a theory,
whereas Theosophy proclaimed reincarnation as an absolute truth.
When studying Steiner's work, it's important to remember that
Steiner was attempting to explain immortality and the
development of humanity in terms that most people could
The average person in the early 20th century
had no notion of quantum physics and concepts like "all lives,
past, present and future, are occurring at once", would have
been very difficult to understand. Nevertheless, Steiner alluded
to this more than once.
Reminding his students that thinking in terms of
"past and future lives" would be in error.
Steiner offered techniques for receiving impressions of past
lives but these were only impressions connected to a specific
experience or lesson in one's current life. There were no great
details of the previous life (name, place, date and so on). The
purpose of these exercises was to assist a person in better
understanding their current situation, their strengths and
René Guenon (who criticized Steiner but also admired him)
saw such anecdotal evidence of reincarnation differently.
"Guénon explains the occurrence of anecdotal
evidence of reincarnation (remembering past lives): He
suggests that these phenomena are caused by "psychic
residue," which are the energies or subtle parts of one's
These energies are then separated or
jettisoned from the body when a person dies, and while they
slowly disperse and decompose, they can seemingly take on a
life of their own."
This also accounts for ghostly phenomena and
instances in which mediums communicated with the recently
"These residues can take the form of the body
that they once inhabited, thus forming apparitions or
ghosts, and they can also be picked up by individuals,
sensed in dreams, manifesting as visions or even cause
individuals to be possessed."
Helena Blatvasky and Rudolf Steiner also stated
emphatically that it is impossible for a departed soul to
communicate with those on Earth through a medium.
What Guenon referred to as "psychic residue"
Blatvasky and Steiner called "astral shells" when a human dies
they leave behind what can be called an "astral shell".
This is the remnant of consciousness left
lingering after death. This is not the actual individual soul
but is simply a senseless subjective form which eventually
disintegrates, usually within a few decades at the most.
This "shell" contains a large portion of memories
and knowledge which the individual possessed during that
lifetime but has no individual consciousness or Being behind it.
Blatvasky said that,
"these astral shells or 'Kama Rupas' roam
senselessly around in the Kama Loka (the astral) and are
easily contacted by those with mediumistic tendencies or
Since they are able to senselessly repeat and
recite certain pieces of information and knowledge which the
individual possessed during its life on earth, they are
easily mistaken by many to actually be the real soul."
Guenon confirmed this as well.
He wrote that,
"Since these energies are not unified through
a physical body, they generally appear in a fragmentary
manner, like the broken shards of a personality that once
lived in another body in another time.
However, without the constant renewal
supplied by the physical body, these energies slowly
dissipate; but they can and do continue to exist for long
periods of time. Yet such a partial or fragmented entity,
even though it is sensed and perceived in dreams and visions
[or under hypnosis], and seems real and meaningful to the
observer, it does not originate from one's own self.
The apparition, however seemingly real, is
only the fragmentary residual energy of a completely
different person who happened to live in another time and
Ghostly phenomena are the effects of mindless
and soulless entities, since the True Self or Being that
acted as the core of such an entity was retracted back into
the Universal Being upon the death of the physical body."
Some may now ask,
"But what about the work of hypnotherapist
who regress people to past lives, isn't that valid? Those
people are in deep trance state so surely they aren't making
things up? Where is it coming from?"
Hypnosis is a form of spiritualism (referring to
spirits not spiritual); it is purely psychic in nature, not
spiritual in nature. This doesn't make it "wrong" but the
distinction must be made and all that is experienced in this
state should be considered subjective.
Anecdotal evidence can be interesting but it doesn't disprove or
prove reincarnation as the majority understand it today.
Regarding past life memories, here is the crux of the matter:
We interpret what we see, we interpret
everything that we experience and filter these impressions
through our current belief system.
Heightened human consciousness is capable of
great expansion; it's capable of peering into other
realities and getting glimpses of Parallel States of Being.
But as soon as we attach a narrative to these experiences,
we limit our perception of truth.
One may do well to contemplate the following:
"How do I know that the glimpse of what we
call a "past life" was or is actually me? Can I prove this?
Could it be that I am merely experiencing sensations and
images from someone else's life?"
To reiterate, hypnotism, channeling, spiritualism
and mediumship are all psychic in nature.
It's important to distinguish between the psychic
and the spiritual. They are different realms and different
impulses possibly guided by different beings. This is important
to note because evidence points to forces at work in our world
that seek to incite confusion and might have, dare I say, their
own agenda. .
We can't go any further in this endeavor without considering
these forces. Namely, Lucifer and Ahriman.
Steiner, as well as ancient authors (from Dionysius the
Areopagate, pupil of St. Paul) spoke of at least nine orders of
Beings - which are called the "hierarchies".
They in no way represent the totality of
Beings in the universe but are directly tied to humanity and
The proceeding seven paragraphs are not the writing of this
author, they are taken directly from an excellent essay
The Advent of Ahriman:
"These [aforementioned] spirits are not all
"angelic", in the sense of "good and holy".
Some, sometimes, oppose the regular, good
world-order. Ahriman ("the Unjust Prince of this World") is
a "retarded" Spirit of Form, working as an Arch, opposing
(in a sense) the good world order. (Yet, this opposition is
not purely "evil", as I will discuss below.)
Since Ahriman is a spirit of opposition, we
might begin to understand his nature by understanding what
he opposes: the Gods' plan of earthly and human development.
But the situation is not as simple as a
two-sided contest; basic to competent understanding of the
world-process is the recognition of at least three kinds of
spiritual influence upon the evolution of mankind and the
(We must be clear that this "evolution" is
something very different from the random, meaningless,
material process conceived by the Darwinists and suchlike
theorists. I mean by "evolution" a thoroughly purposeful,
thought-filled process of development initiated and guided
by spiritual beings.)
The normal gods (the regular hierarchies) create and nurture
the evolution of the world and mankind, so as to bring about
the possibility of Men attaining the status of divinity as
"Spirits of Freedom and Love" - the tenth hierarchy. (At the
present stage of evolution, the Man progresses through
alternating periods of earth-lives and purely spiritual
lives: birth, death, and reincarnation.)
As the name implies, essential to the
fulfillment of mankind's task is the realization of freedom,
meaning not so much political freedom as spiritual freedom -
that Men should become independent, unique individuals
acting consciously as the originators of their own deeds.
Occult wisdom, independently rediscovered and
made public by Steiner (and greatly simplified here, to put
it mildly), explains this evolution as being created and
guided through seven great cosmic ages. We are now in the
fourth great age, called the "Earth" Age.
Besides the normal Spirits, a host of abnormal spiritual
beings, called "Luciferic", also influences earthly
evolution. In a sense, these oppose the normal Gods' plans
for evolution. The Luciferic beings try to draw mankind away
from the normal earth-evolution to their own abnormal
psychic-spiritual cosmos of light.
In the human soul they inspire pride,
egotism, disinterest in one's fellow Men, fiery
emotionalism, subjectivity, fantasy, and hallucination. In
the human intellect they inspire generalization,
unification, hypothesizing, and the building of imaginative
pictures beyond reality.
A third spiritual influence working into human and earthly
evolution is the Ahrimanic (also known as "Satanic").
The intention of Ahriman, and his hosts, is
to freeze the earth into complete rigidity, so that it will
not pass over to the Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan ages, and to
make the Man into an entirely earthly being -
unindividualized, unfree, and divorced from the normal Gods'
The essential Ahrimanic tendency is to
materialize; to crystallize; to darken; to silence; to bring
living, mobile forces into fixed form - in other words, to
kill that which is living.
This tendency in itself, within proper
bounds, is not evil; the dead, material world is necessary
for the regular Gods' plan of human and cosmic development.
The Ahrimanic tendency is evil only when it
exceeds proper bounds, when it reaches into what should be
alive - and Ahriman does try to exceed proper bounds.
Again, the basic reality of the world is
spiritual beings together with their deeds, but Ahriman
promotes the illusion, the lie, that matter is the basic
reality, or the only reality. In fact, Ahrimanic spirits,
not "atoms" or "ultimate particles", are the reality behind
the apparently material world.
Ahriman lives upon lies; he is a spirit of
untruth, the "Father of Lies".
To sum up this description of the triad of spiritual
streams: The conflicts of human and spiritual life do not
derive from a simple, two-sided war between good and evil.
It was one of the great insights of Steiner to renew the
ancient teaching of the "Golden Mean", of good as the middle
way between opposing extremes.
Lucifer is too warm, too flighty, too
unstable; he inspires human fanaticism, false mysticism,
hot-bloodedness, and the tendency to flee earthly reality
for hallucinatory pleasures.
Ahriman is too cold, too hard, too rigid; he
tries to make people dry, prosaic, philistine, materialistic
in thought and in deed - and hardens what would be healthily
mobile, supple thoughts, feelings, and even bodies.
Christ, as the Exemplar of the regular Gods, represents
the middle way between the too-much and the too-little,
holding the opposites in balance - and leading mankind to
find the healthy middle way.
Seen this way, Lucifer and Ahriman are not purely evil; they
both bring to human and earthly evolution forces that are
needed for good, healthy development and the fulfillment of
the Gods' plans.
Evil results only when events get out of
balance and run to extremes. However, neither do Lucifer and
Ahriman simply oppose each other.
In a sense, they work together in opposition
to the Gods' intent for evolution of mankind.
Lucifer draws human spirits away from
earthly embodiment toward his own psychic-spiritual
"planet" (read "plane") of light
Ahriman pushes the individual human
spirit out of the human organism and away from the
earth, so that only a hardened, mechanized, ghostly
human organism, devoid of free individuality and
living an instinctive-but-clever animalistic
species-life remains on the hardened "cosmic slag"
of the earth."
Considering the above, the Ahrimanic influence is obvious in our
The Luciferian influence is more subtle, trickier
to identify but rampant as an impulse in modern spirituality.