Monday, June 09, 2008

Reincarnation | Islamic Perspective | part.2

1. Beyond our historical mind
One of the challenges of human mind is that its often caught in historical mind. That also explains, whenever an enlightened person, a new prophet arrived, a new concept was put forward, masses are caught in their historical mind frame and fail to see the truth, fail to think outside the box and the ignorance sometime turn into arrogance. "Alas for My servants, there comes not a Messenger to them but they mock at him". - The Quran 36 :31

When it comes to bridging the universal truth found in different religions in all of humanity, its again the historical mind that blocks us to even be ready to listen, let alone realize. For thousands of years, all religion has trained systematically to reject spiritual truths, just because its found or pre-exist in another faith tradition, ignoring the universality of the truth.

When it comes to the idea of Reincarnation, if we are talking about spirit entering and re-entering the flesh, then the very concept is always there in all religions either subtle or more pronounced. i will mostly focus on Islamic perspective in this post for the case of reincarnation.

2. Before earthly existence
When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): "Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?"- They said: "Yea! We do testify!" (This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: "Of this we were never mindful". - The Quran 7:172

The above verse tell in a metaphysical language, about the primordal existence of all children of Adam, all the souls as they were in flesh (carnate) already as a resting place in Primordal Adam. Thus our this birth itself is reincarnation already in exact Quranic context, since from Primordial Adam the soul again entering to another body in this lifetime.

3. Signposts in The Quran
There are certainly powerful verses of the Quran which hints to the very idea of soul's journey from stage to stage. Off-course the deep metaphysical nature of these verses are multi-dimensional in terms of the ability of the readers to absorb. Instead of exoteric, outer (zahir), literal meaning, if one probes more into the esoteric, internal (batin) meaning, there are more message there than just the apparent. Following are few of such signposts verses that focus on soul's journey:

It is God that takes the souls at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect. -
The Quran 39:42

Thou O God makest the night to pass into the day and Thou makest the day to pass into the night, and Thou bringest forth the living from the dead and Thou bringest forth the dead from the living, and Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou pleasest without measure. - 3:27

Has there not been over Man a long period of Time, when he was nothing - not even mentioned? Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled fluid, in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), of Hearing and Sight. - 76:1-2

See they not how many of those before them We did destroy?- generations We had established on the earth, ... yet for their sins We destroyed them, and raised in their wake fresh generations. - 6:6

It is God who creates you and takes your souls at death; and of you there are some who are sent back to a later feeble age, so that they know nothing after having known: for God is All-Knowing, All-Powerful. - 16:70

Now if God were to take people [immediately] to task for all the evil / mistakes that they do, He would not leave a single living creature upon its face. However, He grants them respite until a term set... - 16:61

And say not of those who are slain in the way of God. "They are dead." Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not. - 2:154

And God has produced you from the earth, Growing (gradually), And in the End He will return you Into the (earth), And raise you forth again. - 71:17-18

The Rose Sufi Crescent site offers: Quran Surah 18:45 is another passage that hints at reincarnation: "Set forth to them the similitude of the life of this world: It is like the rain which we send down from the skies: the earth's vegetation absorbs it, but soon it becomes dry stuble, which the winds do scatter: It is God Who prevails over all things."

Explanation from the site, 'The image here is powerful. The "rain" symbolizes the descent of our higher self (Ruh - sparks of light, spirit) to the earth. We are absorb here in the world of matter. Like the vegetation, where some are roses, others lillies, others trees, we all reach up towards the heavens, the sun, the moon and the stars. We blossom. We give off fragrances (manifesting good/ill deeds and accumulating Karma). Each has his/her place in the eco-system (the divine plan and cosmic structure).

Then we die. The wind (the Spirit) scatters our souls (referring to both the scattering of our karma into the world and the reincarnation of our lower souls - nafs - into other bodies). And the process begins again, with the rain (Ruh) descending to the earth. Eventually the Source (God) "prevails" over the cycle of reincarnation by drawing all things back to Itself. '

4. Mutu qabla anta mutu / Die before Die
Is the Prophetic statement, "Mutu qabla anta mutu" or "Die before Die", a very central theme of islam's esoteric spirituality, is the key to accelerate our moksha (liberation) or nirvana or freedom from cycle of birth and death? Is the dying before physical death in a conscious and realized state, is equivalent to many more unrealized life and death - and thus a key to be free from the Matrix?

i don't have a definite answer, but the clues are all out there. Truth has many ways to approach.

5. Why the reincarnation or rebirth is not explicit? Wisdom behind why the knowledge of reincarnation / rebirth is not made common knowledge.
As we know, all esoteric truths were not revealed to mankind at the same age, but over many thousands of years and more, over many cosmic ages. Just like in the development of a individual human being, different life experience and truth are revealed to him or her gradually, so it is for mankind as a whole. Human collective consciousness with time has progressed and through different enlightened beings, avatars, prophets and messengers different spiritual and esoteric truths were revealed.

Different age has its essential nature, so is the message and progress of humanity associated with it. i have a feeling that reincarnation was suitable for the ancient mind, thus we find it much more prevalent in earlier religious and faith traditions such as hinduism, buddhism, other past and indigenous religious tradition etc., whereas modern, monotheistic religions hardly makes it explicit. There is a profound reason why the newer stages of human religious wisdoms (such as Judio-Christian or Islam) don't have reincarnation explicitly mentioned and it has to do with the age and its evolution of consciousness.

Perhaps sufi Master Inayat Khan's criticism gives a clue why. According to him, the idea of reincarnation as unhelpful to the spiritual seeker's quest for unity with God, as it focuses the aspirant's attention on the past and the future, rather than achieving spiritual transcendence in the present moment.

Not all knowledge is beneficial. Not every truth made apparent is helpful for our journey. Thats why although many children, people have remarkable past life memories, rest of the people, majority of human race have no conscious, traceable memory of past lives.

... so that they know nothing after having known: - 16:70

Sometime knowledge which is veiled or made forgotten is helpful. For example, the knowledge of our death is kept hidden from us. We know we all will die, yet most of the time the consciousness of death, the thought of death is veiled. Knowledge of certain things sometime can be a heavy burden.

On no soul does God place a burden greater than it can bear. - The Quran 2:286

If everyone always knew exactly when we will die, that very knowledge could be a distraction and burden and would prevent us from many things which essentially makes life interesting.

6. The secret is here, the secret is now, why look elsewhere?
Just yesterday, as i walked into the Border Book Store at 29th Street, Boulder, Colorado, as i casually picked up a book on life quotations by Paulo Coelho, the first page i opened randomly from the middle, the first few lines eyes got struck were these:

The Secret lies in the Present.
If you pay attention to the present,
you will be able to improve it.
And if you improve the present,
whatever happens afterwards will be better too.
Each day brings us Eternity.

Although we may have lived many lives before, its only this current and present life is where everything is. May be we were born before, may be we inherited our tendencies from past lives, may be we haven't - but all it really matters is this life, the present moment, the Now. Thus its a spiritual paradox that from present life perspective "we" always have one life, one death, no matter how many past lives we may have.

Nor will they there taste death, except the first death; - The Quran, 44:56

The reason is hidden in the secret of "what is i", "personality", "sense of self", because even though it may be the same soul in many body, when it took another body, it had different personality. Previous "me", previous "i" may not necessarily what we can call "me" or "i" in present life, even though its the same spirit or soul journeying. Thus for us, for you, when you die, its always your first death for this 'self'. Afterall, all selfs are illusory sense, maya, immersed in false identity most of the time or unless its truly liberated, unless its truly enlightened and realize its oneness.

7. There are more things in heaven and earth that we ever will know
May be the idea reincarnation as we understand it, as generations of past have tried to describe it, is totally off target, very far removed from what reality truly is, as is the case for most sacred esoteric realities. We are like people in cave of Plato's Republic facing the wall, who perceive only a dim reflection of reality. No one knows the true mystery of soul except the Creator of Soul. That could be another reason why its not at all discussed in relatively modern spiritual traditions. The inner realities always remain beyond language and description of limited mind.
He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they cannot comprehend anything out of His knowledge except what He wills. - The Quran 2:255
We are no longer living in an age of static belief system or organized religious power structure. Those ages are over. Humanity is moving towards integral understanding of reality. In our age, what is really important is not belief system, but beyond. Belief is too limiting, too imposing as compared to what our heart and soul can contain. Integration and being open to new possibilities for realization is what will be the next evolution of collective humanity. Enlightenment for a single person is over, humanity shall be enlightened collectively.

As Naomi puts in one of her comment in past post, "Rather than thinking of reincarnation as a belief that develops in a linear succession of "other lives", isn't it also possible to feel the experiences of another through the gift of Oneness of divine love from the Creator of all life? ... For me, the answers to the mysteries will never be proven through evidence, but are shared and felt in the heart through the unending miracle of the graces of Love."

And God knows the Best. Allahu Al-Alim, God is the All-Knowing.

"And I do not make myself free of blame, for the human soul is inclined to ignorance, except what my Lord has mercy on. Surely my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful." - Quran, 12:53


# Related posts:
. Reincarnation | Islamic Perspective | part.1
. Reincarnation / Rebirth | Signs
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