Do You Believe in Reincarnation?

Chris: Do you then believe in reincarnation?

Tony: I don’t necessarily believe in it in the sense of one’s personality being transported into another lifetime. But taking into account what was said about life being a balance between the changing and the constant, about the essence that lies behind the forms, and that the essence absorbs experience; taking that into account I believe the essence dips into different forms again and again.

However, I realise that sounds somewhat impersonal and I find my experience of it is not impersonal at all. I don’t think, for instance, that Tony as a distinct personality will be reincarnated at some time. What I do see is that Tony is a small part of the spirit that has existed throughout all-time. That spirit, of which I as Tony only reflect a small part, when I die will absorb the lessons of this life. At some other period that spirit will dip into human life again.

The reason I believe that is because I appear to have memories of past individuals whose lives link with mine in the present. There are aspects of those lives that influence this life.

But there is a way of thinking about this that I believe makes it reasonably straightforward. It doesn’t seem to be a mysterious thing, and I don’t know why people make of it such a mystery. If you look at a tree, you can see it incorporates many, many past trees. It didn’t suddenly emerge out of a vacuum, out of nothing. It has its present existence out of what existed in the past. Of course, because in our culture we still are labouring under the world view that the atom is the fundamental particle or material in the universe, we still see ourselves and a tree as simply a physical process. All our calculations about this leave out the factor of consciousness. Even trees have a form of sentience. They respond to light, to weather conditions, to their environment. Did Tony suddenly gain the type of awareness, perceptions, concepts suddenly in the here and now? Of course I didn’t. Thousands of people pre-existed me who gave words, concepts skills that have together formed who I am. There are ideas, longings, weaknesses and blindness of which I am a very particular mixture. As I have gained insight into my being it really does seem that I am part of a stream of influence flowing through history.

This same rose will never bloom again, but a similar rose will arise from the same roots..

In my life, the stream has bubbled up from under the surface again. It carries particular influences, minerals, qualities, from the past. Therefore I don’t believe Tony is a reincarnation of a particular being. But he is a working out of things from the past.If we look at a painting, we see certain colours on it.

That particular painting exists because of the texture, the minerals, the earth and chemicals that go into the paint or ink used. It is also a result of the movements, the skill the artist has put into it. It is an incorporation of all those things and many other things we have not mentioned. It is also an expression of the light that falls on it.

Without the light it is not apparent. In different lighting conditions it will change its character in some way.So the painting is partly an expression of a human being and their qualities and skills; it is partly an expression of the chemicals and minerals and surfaces involved. It is an extraordinary thing. When we look at it we are witnessing all of that. Maybe we don’t realise it; perhaps we don’t see all that goes into it. And of course, the painting is unique. There will never be a painting exactly like that. It might appear on the surface as the same, but there will never be quite the same mixture of minerals, chemicals, movements, human qualities, that entered into the painting.Our body is just such a work of art. It is an extraordinary blending of an enormous number of people. Not just our parents, but our forebears going back into prehistory. There is also the powerful influence of the time and period in history in which we are born. The culture we live in weaves itself into who and what we become. A child born in today’s world will be influenced by the extraordinary number of chemicals and additives, medicines and drugs, alcohol and nicotine, that are part and parcel of life today. They are all factors that go into the make up of who the person is and becomes. They are the chemicals in the ‘paint’ of personality.Then there are the unique events and circumstances of that individuals life. The people met, the relationships encountered, the opportunities and traumas that events bring. All of those factors are like the paint, the surface, the artistry and skill that go into producing a painting. The uniqueness of those factors reflects very particular colours in the light that is our life.Of course this is an analogy but I think it is a useful one. Light has in it every conceivable colour. It is the surface that the light falls on that brings out qualities. So it is the uniqueness of our body and consciousness that bring qualities out of the infinite possibilities of life. Innate in the forms of life are all the lessons and experiences it has gathered through unimaginable number of lives and creatures. The surface our body provides draws out of that infinite potential very particular qualities. We are the person we become because of the blending of all those unique factors.

How can anything in the present rule out factors from the past?

Chris: Well, people think that way because they see reincarnation as a certain thing. People think they have a former life as some particular person, and that person will be born again in a new situation.

Tony: I suppose what I feel about that is people often leave certain factors out of their thinking process. Everything in the present, whether it relates to agriculture, politics, religion or art, has arisen out of past influences and things learned. People see that and of course recognise their present life and feelings are connected with their immediate family and culture. What they often fail to see is that there are influences existing in them from the far past. So we can say that the present is an incarnation of the past in a new form. How is it we can’t say that I am an incarnation of the past in a new form? We are not an incarnation of a tiny bit of the past, but a whole spectrum of it.

So the wonder of this is not that Tony is a reincarnation of a particular past personality, but that Tony is an expression of something that has always existed, and carries past wisdom and experience.

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