Reincarnation and Groundhog Day?

A few weeks ago I had a very interesting conversation with a man who works with a visiting hospice agency in San Francisco. Although this was the first time we met, I found out that he’s been visiting with my Dad once a week for the past 6 months. During the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he was a “Chaplain.” When I asked where he had received his ordination, he replied that he had been ordained by “The Fellowship of Isis.” (Yes–there actually is a “Fellowship of Isis”–and no, Linda Carter, A.K.A. “Wonder Woman,” isn’t a member.) 🙂

While most people may not be familiar with this relatively small group of people, I most certainly was. It was during the 1993 “Parliament of World Religions” (the Centennial celebration of the 1893 Colombian Exposition/World’s Fair in Chicago) that I had the opportunity to meet the Co-founder and “Grand Matriarch” of “The Fellowship,” affectionately known as “Lady Olivia.”

We spent a few hours together discussing the origin of “The Fellowship,” as well as their beliefs and practices. Along with Lady Olivia and myself, there was a select group within the Fellowship who contributed to the conversation, which became an informal interview that was recorded for a local call-in Talk-Radio show. Having shared this information with the aforementioned chaplain, he was pleasantly surprised that I was familiar with his particular affiliation; then he asked me where I live. I told him I live in the town of Woodstock, Illinois, and asked if he had seen the movie “Groundhog Day.” He immediately responded by quoting lines from the movie, which he said was one of his favorites. (For those who have never seen the movie, or for those of you who have, the movie was filmed in Woodstock, Illinois; not in Punxsutawney, PA, as the movie would have you believe.) Anyway, all this led into a very lively conversation about various religions, world-views and beliefs. The majority of our discussion was focused on the topic of Reincarnation, which I had recently addressed in a somewhat lengthy response to a comment I received from an old friend on Facebook. I re-read what I had written, and started thinking about the differences between the theme of the movie “Groundhog Day” and the Hindu doctrine of “Reincarnation.”

The following is a slightly modified version of what I had previously written. Perhaps some of you have never considered the questions I address here. If anyone would like to comment on my observations, please feel free to do so.

Simply stated, if someone professes to be an Atheist/Evolutionist, it would be disingenuous to simultaneously claim to believe in the Biblical account of Creation. You can believe in one or the other, but not both. To do so would be intellectual suicide. A few examples are worth considering.

World religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism have at least two or more “schools” of teaching which are often in opposition to each other. The most common schools are “dualistic and non-dualistic.” Without going into too much detail on both positions, suffice to say that they can’t both be equally correct in what they teach, since they both contradict each other. The earth is either inhabited by millions of “gods” and “goddesses” (dualistic Hinduism), or the Earth itself is “god” (non-dualistic Hinduism). This is commonly referred to as pantheism and/or monism, which makes no distinction between the Creator and the creation. You should also consider the contradictory nature of different religious views of the afterlife. If the Resurrection of the physical body is true, which Yeshua (Jesus) clearly stated would occur three days after He was put death, in order to rescue those of us who would trust in Him to forgive and cleanse us from our inherent sinful condition– then transmigration/reincarnation of the soul is rendered meaningless. There would be no point; we would already be in a conscious relationship with our Personal Creator– rather than trying to attain “enlightenment” (called “moksha,” meaning “union” with the impersonal “Brahman”) through endless cycles of birth, death, and rebirth.

This begs an important question: How could a non-personal “Energy,” “Force,” “Divine Mind,” “Cosmic Consciousness,” “Ki/Chi,” an ambiguous “Higher Power” or whatever name you choose to insert “create” anything– let alone initiate and enforce a “moral” and “personal” so-called “law” of karma? According to classical Hinduism, there are no “absolutes”– moral or otherwise. (Curiously, this is always stated as “absolutely” true, rather than as “relatively” true.) Either way, how is it possible (or even plausible?) to impose a “personal moral law” without having a Personal and Moral “Law-Giver”? That would be like having a “Justice System” with no Judge. (One presupposes the other!) Again, according to the predominant teaching of non-dualistic Hinduism known as “Advaita Vendanta,” everyone was perfect in their first “human” incarnation. If that were true, why do we keep blowing it in each successive incarnation, only to accumulate more and more “bad” karma? And without a “moral standard,” how could anything even be considered either “Good” or “Bad,” or “Right or Wrong”? These are moral and ethical distinctions. You may not agree with them, but if you want to be consistent with your worldview, you have no foundation on which to argue against them. If you did, you’d be guilty of being “judgmental” and “intolerant.” And at the risk of upsetting my environmentally conscious friends, this would include, but is certainly not limited to, dumping toxic waste into the rivers and oceans, spewing toxic chemicals into the air, and being flagrantly irresponsible when it comes to recycling– which, by the way, is quite similar to the doctrine of “Samsara”–the “cosmic curse” of cyclic birth, death, and rebirth…”Cosmic Recycling!” And how do you account for the fact that there even is toxic waste and pollution? Where does it originate? Those who believe in karma are often so preoccupied with the outer environment that they neglect or ignore the far more insidious toxic waste that permeates our inner environment. The former is the SYMPTOM; the latter is the CAUSE.

Please consider the following illustration, spoken by the Greatest *MASTER* our planet has ever encountered: “When Yeshua had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them:

“Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a person from outside which can defile them; but the things which come from within, these are the things that defile a person. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, “Are you also without understanding? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a person from outside cannot defile them, because it does not enter their heart but their stomach, and is then eliminated. Then He said, “It is what comes from inside of you that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” (Mark 7:14-23)

If we refuse to acknowledge and take personal responsibility for our own inner environment (so clearly stated above), we will continue to manifest the negative effects it produces. This will only perpetuate “bad” karma– it will never diminish or vanquish it. Another question I would pose is why can’t we remember any of our previous incarnations so we don’t have to keep repeating the same cosmic blunders over and over again? How are we ever supposed to learn from the past, so we can benefit in the present, and “eventually” return to our “pre-karmic” state of being in the future? Unlike reincarnation, the main character in the movie “Groundhog Day” remembered and learned from his past mistakes (or “karma”), benefited in the present, and made a conscious choice to apply the wisdom of his experience to insure a blissful future.

In a nutshell, here’s the Hindu teaching on the Afterlife:

“Atman,” the “self,” is “absorbed” back into “Brahman,” the “ALL.”

The proverbial “drop” merging back into the “Ocean” of “impersonal nothingness.”

(Which is greater: “Personality,” or “impersonal/non-personality?” )

The irony is that on one hand, those who believe in transmigration/reincarnation claim to be “morally accountable” to an impersonal “Law of Karma;” while on the other hand, they vehemently deny or oppose the possibility that we are all morally accountable to the Personal God who created us. (If we were honest, this sort of reasoning would more accurately be called “The Law of NO Accountability,” rather than “The Law of Karma”.) Not surprisingly, that’s the reason so many people are attracted to it.

These are important questions. The answers– and our response to them– will ultimately determine our eternal destination. Please consider them wisely.

By the way,

The seventh day Sabbath was set apart at Creation (Genesis 2:2-3). Obviously, this was long before the Torah was given through Moses on Mount Sinai. If you could cite reputable historical sources for your position, it would be appreciated. You are partially correct when you stated “what we need is faith in spirit,” but it would be helpful if you would define or clarify what you mean by “spirit.” Again, it begs the question: Personal, or non-personal? Also, the word “Faith” is more accurately and appropriately defined as “trust.” This is only as good as the One in whom it is placed. The real question is: WHO are you trusting? You can’t have an intimate relationship with an “it” or a “force,” and neither can infuse your life with genuine purpose and meaning (not to mention Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Kindness, Faithfulness and Self-control). These are personal attributes that can only come from a Personal Being. The good news is that God desires this kind of relationship with us and created us for it. Anything “less” is way too nebulous. The Bible calls this Idolatry– erecting an image in our mind of what we erroneously imagine God to be– rather than how He clearly reveals Himself in the Bible, and ultimately in the person of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, to whom the totality of Scripture testifies. Also, why do you think most of us are opposed to what we consider to be “restrictive” laws, but when those same laws benefit us, we’re grateful they were enforced?

The fact that we NEED “Law Enforcement” to protect or restrain us is enough evidence to reveal the “fatal flaw” within each of us!
As for myself, I’m a Messianic Jew–not a “Christian.” This is more than a matter of semantics. If you’re interested in learning the difference, clink on the following link. I address the distinction I make at length in Root, Fruit, And Speaking The Truth.

P.S. Food for thought…

While it is certainly true that everyone is entitled to their own opinion– it doesn’t mean that everyone’s opinion is certainly true. Truth isn’t determined by our subjective feelings or by our experiences; nor by our philosophical speculations. Truth isn’t determined by historical precedent or by majority vote. It isn’t determined by whether we believe it or disbelieve it, or whether we accept it or reject it. Truth is universal and unequivocal– just like the law of gravity and 2+2=4. You can argue against it all you want, but inevitably, you’ll end up crushed and short-changed.

(But I would hate for that to happen!)

Here’s a suggestion:

To answer the age old question,”What is Truth” (and how can anyone know for sure?)…why not take a few minutes to consider the words of someone who claimed to be the SOURCE of Truth– and had the credentials to validate His claim. Check out the following passages and let me know what you think. Isaiah 40:1-31; Matthew 11:25-30; John 14:1-6; Hebrews 9:27-28, and Ephesians 1:16-21.

Blessings on your journey,

Steven


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