What Happens When We Die?
The living of multiple lifetimes by a unit of consciousness commonly referred to as a soul is known as reincarnation. The word reincarnation derives from Latin, literally meaning, “entering the flesh again.” Alternative terms are rebirth and transmigration, implying migration from one life (body) to another. Reincarnation was documented in written works from Ancient Greece and India over 2,500 years ago and for the ancient Celts, as illustrated by the following quotations:
“I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence.”
—Socrates (BCE 470–BCE 399)
Reincarnation was also a percept of the early Christians, as expressed by Origen, an early Christian scholar, ascetic, and theologian. Origen has been described as the greatest genius the early church ever produced. He is widely regarded as one of the most important Christian theologians of all time. Origen clearly understood the essential nature of reincarnation:
“Every soul comes into the world strengthened by the victories and weakened by the defeats of its previous life. It can be shown that an incorporeal and reasonable being has life in itself independently of the body…then it is beyond a doubt bodies are only of secondary importance and arise from time to time to meet the varying conditions of reasonable creatures. Those who require bodies are clothed with them, and contrariwise, when fallen souls have lifted themselves up to better things their bodies are once more annihilated. They are ever vanishing and ever reappearing.” —Origen (CE 184–CE 253)
In CE 543, the Roman Emperor Justinian I manipulated the 5th Ecumenical Council, and the pope refused to attend as a gesture of protest. The emperor condemned Origen as a heretic and ordered that all his writings be burned. This condemnation caused teachings on reincarnation to be banned by the Church.
Religious organizations typically do not provide their members with much information on the afterlife. However, reincarnation is becoming increasingly accepted among American Christians. Currently, according to 2018 data released by the Pew Research Center, 29% of Christians in the U.S. believe in reincarnation. This is up from 24% in their 2009 survey. For those who haven’t done their own research on the afterlife, an exploration into reincarnation can offer a fascinating look at reality beyond the physical plane of existence.
Note that this section on reincarnation comes with a caveat. On one level of reality, reincarnation viewed as a sequence of past and future lives does not exist, for all lives and experiences are simultaneous. But in the three-dimensional world, reincarnation is as real as the mountains and the seas, and in this section, reincarnation is based on three-dimensional reality.
The books and videos referenced in this section are from a variety of sources. They include past life regression, children’s past life memories, mediumship, and historical documentation of reincarnation,
Organization on Reincarnation
Books and Videos on Reincarnation
Fiore, Edith, Ph.D.
Life Beyond Death: What Should We Expect? by David Fontana, 214 pages (2009)
The late David Fontana was Professor of Transpersonal Psychology. He was a fellow of the British Psychological Society, and President of the British Society for Psychical Research. His many books have appeared in 26 languages.
Head, Joseph and Cranston, Sylvia
Reincarnation: The Phoenix Fire Mystery—An East-West Dialogue on Death and Rebirth from the Worlds of Religion, Science, Psychology, Philosophy, Art and Literature, and from the Great Thinkers of the Past and Present compiled and edited by Joseph Head and Sylvia Cranston, 620 pages (1977)
Leininger, Bruce and Leininger, Andrea
Newton, Michael Ph.D.
Stevenson, Ian M.D.
Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect by Ian Stevenson, M.D., (1997)
This book summarizes Stevenson’s findings, which are presented in full in the multi-volume work titled Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects. Ian Stevenson, M.D., who was one of the most venerated individuals in the field of reincarnation research.
Tucker, Jim M.D.
Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children’s Memories of Past Lives by Jim B. Tucker, M.D., 234 pages (2005)
Dr. Tucker took over the work of the esteemed pioneer Ian Stevenson upon his retirement in 2002.
Van Praagh, James
Weiss, Brian M.D.
Same Soul, Many Bodies: Discover the Healing Power of Future Lives Through Progression Therapy by Brian L. Weiss, M.D., 226 pages (2004)
Dr. Weiss is a psychiatrist and best-selling New York Times author.
Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives by Brian L. Weiss, M.D., 213 pages (1988)
This book was a New York Times bestseller.