The Vedantists' theory
of Reincarnation is that "Nothing is destroyed in the universe."
Destruction in the sense of the
annihilation of a thing is unknown to the Vedantic philosophers,
just as it is unknown to the modern scientists. They say
"non-existence can never become existence and existence can never
become non-existence;" or, in other words, that which did not exist
can never exist, and conversely that which exists in any form can
never become non-existent. This is the law of nature. As such, the
impressions or ideas which we now have, together with the powers
which we possess, will not be destroyed but will remain with us in
some form or other. Our bodies may change, but the powers, Karma,
Samskaras or impressions and the materials which manufactured our
bodies must remain in us in an unmanifested form. They will never be
destroyed. Again science tells us that that which remains in an
unmanifested or potential state must at some time or other be
manifested in a kinetic or actual form. Therefore we shall get other
bodies, sooner or later. It is for this reason said in the "Bhagavad
G?t?": "Birth must be followed
by death and death must be followed by birth."
Such a continuously recurring series of
births and deaths each germ of life must go through. Another
consideration is that the beginning, ending and continuing are
conceptions of the human mind; their significance depends entirely
upon our conception of time. But we all know that time has no
absolute existence. It is merely a form of our knowledge of our own
existence in relation to that of nature. The conception of time
vanishes at the sleep of death, just as it does every night when we
are in sound sleep. Death resembles the state of our sound sleep.
The soul wakes up from the sleep of death just in the same manner as
the insects awake in spring after sleeping the long and rigid
winter-sleep, as a chrysalis in the bed of a cocoon spun by itself
in autumn. Nature teaches us the great lesson of rebirth and the
similarity between sleep and death by the rejuvenation of the
chrysalis in the spring. After death the soul wakes up and puts on
or manufactures the garment of a new body, just in the same manner
as we put on new clothes after throwing away the old and worn-out
ones. Thus the soul continues to manifest itself over and over again
either on the human or any other plane of existence, being bound by
the Law of Karma or of Cause and Sequence.
Here it may be asked, if
we existed before our birth why do we not
remember? This is one of the strongest objections
often raised against the belief in pre-existence. Some people deny
the existence of the soul in the past simply because they cannot
remember the events of their past. Others, again, who hold memory as
the standard of existence, say, if our memory of the present ceases
to exist at the time of death, with it we shall also cease to be; we
cannot be immortal; because they hold that memory is the standard of
life, and if we do not remember then we are not the same
answers these questions and more by saying that it is possible for
us to remember our previous existences.
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