Each comes to the front of the stage, plays out his allotted role, and moves away…All mankind become a company of actors, appearing in play after play, each story different, each part acted in a new body.
The journey of life is both an adventure and a pilgrimage. We pass from body to body to collect experience. The fruit of experience is Enlightenment: the knowledge of Overself, established awareness of its presence; and knowledge of the Unseen Power behind the universe, established connection with it.
Every man is offered a chance to live again, not once but as many times as will bring him to his diviner being and establish him in that…
It would be an error to believe that it is the Overself which reincarnates. It does not. But its offspring–the ego–does.
We ought to be glad that we do not live forever. It is a frightening thought. If there were no death we would go on and on and on, captives in the body, having tried all experiences which promised much but in the end yielded nothing. No, it is good that in the end we are released from the physical tomb, as Plato called it, and will be able to enjoy a period of dignified rest until we plunge back again into the next re-embodiment.
When he looks back upon the long series of earth lives which belongs to his past, he is struck afresh by the supreme wisdom of Nature and by the supreme necessity of this principle of recurring embodiment. If there had been only one single continuous earth life, his progress would have been brought to an end, he would have been cluttered up by his own past, and he could not have advanced in new directions… Without these breaks in his life-sequences, without the advantages of fresh surroundings, different circumstances, and new contacts, he could not have lifted himself to ever higher levels, but would only have stagnated or fallen to lower ones.
The feeling of familiarity with someone met for the first time, of vague indistinct recognition which we sometimes get, may have varying significances. But one of them is an echo of remembrance of previous contact in a past birth.
Until he finds his Overself, no man can escape this coming back to the earthly life. And this remains true whether he loves the world or is disgusted by it.
If a new birth is a new opportunity to gain spiritual experience, it is also a new opportunity to commit errors and acquire vices.
Since it is not from the animal but from the human state that the Essence of Being can be realized (because the animal does not possess the necessary faculties), the processes of rebirth must fill the gap between lowest animal to highest human.
All animals must reincarnate but men may take to the Quest and with time stop the process.
How short a time does an animal need for the rest period between its births by contrast with that needed between human births! In its case just months, in the human case, more years than it lived on earth.
It is easy to despise as stupid those of obvious inferior intelligence, but it would be well to remember that we were once at the same level. The notion of rebirth teaches tolerance.
Only when the desire for perpetuation of personal existence finally leaves him is a man really near the point where even a little effort produces large results on this quest. But getting tired of the wheel of rebirth’s turnings does not come easily.
This dream-like progress after death is not valueless. It acts as a reminder during each pre-birth of the true purpose of life.
The very nature of reincarnation prevents anyone from completely proving it. But there is no other theory that is so reasonable to help us understand our evolution, history, capacity, genius, character, and inequality; no other so useful to help us solve the great problem of why we are here on earth at all…
The ultimate secret of Grace has never been solved by those who do not know that previous reincarnations contribute to it…
… Is all the vast intelligence of this universe which gave birth to our own minute fragment to be forever separated from us? No! We shall live again, die again, and return again unless and until we have fulfilled the divine purpose which brought us here.
The periodic return to earth-life was a belief shared by poets like Goethe, Shelley, and Browning, by thinkers like Plato, Schopenhauer, and Swedenborg.
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