To 'reincarnate' means to be born or brought into existence ('incarnate') again ('re-'). Reincarnation describes the process of the soul moving through a series of embodiments (lives), until all of her reasons for being have been accomplished and the soul can graduate to a higher plane of existence in the heaven-world. This is known as the ascension, or entering nirvana.
The soul is the permanent aspect of yourself - the 'real you'- that travels through all lifetimes. The body that you wear in each life provides your soul with a vehicle so that you can function in the world, and it's a body that is suited to the mission you intend to accomplish and the lessons that you need to learn in that particular life, so it ends up being quite different every time.
You might be a tall, dark-skinned and broad-shouldered man one life and a short, red-haired, slender lady the next. Your soul, however, is the same, modified by any talents, wisdom, and negative or positive momentums you've picked up along the way.
"I had the feeling that I was a historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing....I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer; that I had to be born again because I had not yet fulfilled the task that was given to me." ~ Carl Jung
A simple explanation for reincarnation is that there is just too much to do and too much to learn to fit it all into one life. It's also the original form of 'equal opportunities'. By returning to earth for another round of life, a soul who died as a 10 day old baby is given as much opportunity to progress and fulfill his mission as a soul who passed on at the age of 92 with her great-grandchildren around her.
Another reason for reincarnation is karma. The law of karma (cause and effect) states that every word, thought, and action you send out into the world returns to you in some form. If these thoughts and actions are negative, the law of karma requires that they be balanced by the originator (by experiencing the same thing or by transmuting them through the violet flame).
When there isn't an opportunity for the negative karma to be balanced during the life that it is made in, the person has to re-embody so that they can face their karma and make spiritual progress. This is actually a grace and a mercy, when compared to the Christian ideas of being confined to eternal purgatory and/or hell.
The result is that we are actually many, many years older than we think we are.
Remembering Previous Lives
Have you ever met someone for the first time and quickly felt like you'd known them forever?
It's likely that you actually have known them for a long time - in previous lives. Maybe you've experienced this with visiting a place that feels familiar or having an unexplained longing to travel to a certain part of the world. Some people believe that the 'deja vu' (seen it before) effect is explained by reincarnation.
I do not recommend hypnotic past-life regression, as it leaves you vulnerable to the dark forces of the astral plane and also opens up past-life records that you may not be ready to deal with. Nevertheless, there have been some very interesting findings from published cases. Dr. Helen Wambach and Dr. Brian Weiss have uncovered a lot of anecodotal evidence for past lives in their practices as clinical psychologists.
In 1999, Captain Robert L. Snow, commander of the homicide branch of the Indianapolis Police Department, published the story of his search for a past life in Looking for Carroll Beckwith. As a staunch disbeliever of reincarnation, he accepted a challenge from a co-worker to test his belief.
Under past-life regression hypnosis, he recalled a past life as an artist. He was convinced that his imagination must have pieced it together from pictures he had seen in books, but could not find any such pictures. Then, in a small art gallery in New Orleans he stumbled upon the exact portrait he had seen himself painting. He traced diaries, scrapbooks and biographies of the portrait's artist, J. Carroll Beckwith, and managed to verify twenty-eight details that he had remembered in regression.
My favorite accounts of past-life memories come from children. Apparently, children do have past-life memories until about the age of three. Dr. Ian Stevenson, a psychiatrist, interviews children who have had spontaneous past-life memories and then tries to independently verify the details of their previous existence. He has documented 2,500 of these cases, mostly from India, Sri Lanka and Burma.
"When my daughter was two years and ten months old, she had an interesting past-life memory while attending a family reunion with many relatives whom she had never seen before. She remembered being the person of her own great-great-grandmother, whose name was Gertrude.
"First my daughter saw a picture of Gertrude at age twenty on the wall and with a puzzled look she said, 'Is that me?' The next day while playing peekaboo with her great-great-uncle (Gertrude's son), she suddenly stopped her playing and out of the blue she said, 'Am I your mother?' That evening while watching slides, there was projected on the screen a picture of myself at age five standing next to my great-grandmother, Gertrude, who was seated beside me. My daughter began to shout, 'Mama, that's me! that's me!" I replied, 'No dear, that's a picture of me when I was a little girl.' My daughter responded emphatically, 'No, the one sitting down!'
"The next day my daughter saw my cousin who is believed to be a reimbodiment of Gertrude's husband and she asked him, 'Are you my daddy?' (At that time, she used the term daddy to mean husband.) After returning home some days after the family reunion, my daughter looked up from her coloring and said, 'Mama, my name is Gertie, call me Gertie,' then resumed her coloring. (Gertrude was indeed called Gertie in that life.)"
Beyond the Novelty
It can be very exciting thinking about past lives, catching glimpses of bygone eras, and discovering proof of the continuity of our souls. Dreams, flashbacks and instant recognitions can be very enlightening. I think there are a few important things to bear in mind though.
One is that it isn't advisable to 'force' past life memories. They may well be perfectly true, but you may not be ready for the revelations contained in them. Information is revealed to us as and when we need to know it for our soul's progression, and if we don't need it, we may become distracted by what we learn. We need to focus on the life we are currently living.
Another thing to remember is that we have all done some pretty awful things in previous incarnations and we've all had horrible things done to us that we're still healing from. If we hadn't, we wouldn't still be on earth. If you happen to learn something painful about your history, please don't beat yourself up or get depressed about it - find therapy from understanding psychologists, use the violet flame, EFT, and other spiritual or psychological tools to make peace with yourself and move on.
The important thing to remember is: There is an end in sight to the cycle of rebirth.
Focusing as best you can on raising your consciousness through devotion to your spiritual path will pay enormous dividends in bringing you closer to your ascension - your graduation from earth's schoolroom. Reading this website and following the various links given to help you is a brilliant start.
The ascended master El Morya once remarked that "the trek upward is worth the inconvenience". The trek may take a little longer than you used to think it did, but reaching the summit (the ascension) is still the most worthwhile thing you could ever do.
Recommended Reading (Opens a new window in Amazon)
The Masters and Their Retreats by Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare Prophet
The lives of the ascended masters, their incredible etheric retreats — temples and cities of light in the heaven world — plus instruction for safe soul travel during sleep, and how to get the most out of your etheric retreat experience.
The most comprehensive guide ever written — 500+ pages of authentic source material with pictures. A "must-have" resource for serious students, and a delight for those just discovering the ascended masters and their teachings.