Yoga and Reincarnation: To Believe or Not to Believe?

Via Ramesh Bjonnes
on Nov 10, 2010
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Like Krishna, I’m a born-again-and-again kind of guy!

The belief in reincarnation—that souls migrate from life to life, body to body—is not, as many believe, just yogic, Buddhist and Eastern. It’s also been part of the Greek neo-platonic tradition and is also an integral aspect of Judaism, even the Viking tradition.

“According to his deeds, the embodied self assumes successively various forms in various conditions.”

Shvetashvatara Upanishad

The idea of reincarnation—that our mind and its unexhausted karmic (or samskaric) reactions keeps assuming new bodies in order to fulfill its destiny until final enlightenment—was hardly on my mind at the beginning of my yogic journey.

Only when I arrived in India and Nepal, where this wild idea is as common as basmati rice, did reincarnation become part of my vocabulary. And, one fine day, it became part of my deeper identity.

It happened one sunny afternoon, when I received initiation into tantric dhyan meditation at the banks of the Bhagmati river in Nepal. I was sitting there relaxed and thinking of nothing-in-particular. My meditation teacher, Sumitrananda, was meditating in front of me, and I looked past the men bathing their elephants in the river, across to the other side where steep Himalayan mountains towered into a cobalt blue horizon.

Suddenly, it struck me like a lightening bolt: I have been here before. I have lived here before. I have even sat here on this bank before, learning meditation, just like I am doing right now.

It was not the dizzy and vague feeling of déjà vu. It was a feeling of palpable certainty: I knew this place. I was familiar with these people, these languages, these practices. I had returned back home.

A few seconds after these thoughts crossed my mind; my teacher opened his eyes and said: “Yes, I think you are right, you have been here before.”

The origins of the notion of reincarnation appear in the philosophical traditions of India and Greece from about the 6th century BCE. During the Iron Age, the Greek Pre-Socratics discussed reincarnation, and the Celtic Druids also taught a doctrine of reincarnation.

The origin of the Indian reincarnation idea lies in the non-Vedic and oral sramana (Buddha, Mahavir) and tantric (Shiva) traditions. This, many scholars believe, would explain why the concept enters historical, written records rather late, with the adaptation of ideas such as karma, samsara and moksha in the Upanishads and other scriptures.

Some scholars suggest that the idea is original to the Buddha. But a more likely possibility is its origin in the much more ancient, native tribal Shiva-religions of the pre-Indo-Aryan Ganges valley, and in the prehistoric Dravidian traditions of South India.

Some scientists, such as the late psychiatrist Ian Stevenson, former head of the Department of psychiatry at the University of Virginia, have studied reincarnation and concluded it is a real possibility, not just a belief.

Stevenson, the author of Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect, studied over 3000 cases of “possible reincarnations” in Africa, Alaska, Europe, India and both North and South America.

He reported that the children he studied generally started to speak of their past lives between the ages of two and four. They then ceased to do so by age seven or eight. The children had often died a violent death, and they had clear memories of how they had died.

My guru used the term “extra-cerebral memory” to describe this kind of non-brain dependent memory of a past time when the soul lived in another human, or even non-human, body.

After interviewing the children, their families, and others, Stevenson would identify if there had been a living person who satisfied the various claims and descriptions collected, and who had died prior to the child’s birth.

Stevenson collected over 40 cases with physical evidence relating to birthmarks and birth defects of children, which he claimed matched wounds recorded in the medical or post-mortem records for the individual identified as the past-life personality. Hence, the title of his compelling book.

One of the most dramatic examples of reincarnation stories I have heard was told to me recently on my trip to Copenhagen by my Danish friend Carl Henrik. Since he was young, he had recurring dreams and memory flash-backs from a life as a member of the Nazi party during World War II.

He has extra-cerebral memories of helping French Jews escape their ultimate fate of being sent to the gas chambers. He also “remembers” that he was finally executed by hanging for these and other renegade actions.

These dark and disturbing memories were fatefully re-awakened by a mysterious meeting Carl Henrik had with a beautiful Greek woman named Helena. She was working in a restaurant in Iceland, where he lived with his family for about 15 years. Helena was the daughter of a Greek shipping magnate who had recently gone bankrupt. Destitute, she ended up as a waitress in Iceland.

One day, while Carl Henrik was leaving the restaurant where he usually dined with business clients, Helena asked him: “Do you remember me?” Puzzled by the question, he simply responded: “Of course. I come here all the time.”

But that was not what Helena meant. She took him aside and told him that they had known each other in a previous life. He had helped her during World War II, she claimed. She was a Jew, living in Paris, and he was a Nazi.

Carl Henrik was stunned. But, strangely, these startling claims made complete sense to him.

For months, before this fateful meeting with Helena, he’d actually started to believe he’d been Carl Heinrich von Stulpnagel in a previous life. Stulpnagel was a German general and a member of the July 20 Plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and although responsible for atrocities against Jews, he also apparently did help some Jews escape during the war.

And when he found out that Stulpnagel was hanged for treason on August 30, 1944, his chronic neck and back pain indeed took on a new, historical and fateful significance.

Over time, Carl Henrik and Helena became very close friends. Today, Carl Henrik is a kriya yogi, writer and filmmaker working on a documentary about meditation. Helena has become a well known photographer and lives in an ashram in India. Even though they live on two different continents, they still keep in touch.

“Just as the body casts off worn out clothes and puts on new ones, so the infinite, immortal self casts off worn out bodies and enters into new ones.”

–Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita

But is it possible that a former Nazi, even though he wanted to destroy Hitler’s regime, can become a yogi in his next incarnation? Difficult question, indeed. Yogic believers in reincarnation will counter by saying that it is not only our karma from one life that determines our destiny in the next. In other words, Stulpnagel could have been a real good guy, even a yogi in a long ago, previous life.

Because of all these philosophical conundrums, I understand why many contemporary yogis do not care about the doctrine of reincarnation, and why many even think it is superstitious and totally bunk. Moreover, even though reincarnation is a part of yoga philosophy, a belief in reincarnation is not a prerequisite for doing a proper headstand or to sit in lotus position repeating a mantra.

What does Patanjali, the great philosophical authority on yoga say about reincarnation? Actually not much. But without “Reincarnation Patanjali’s Aphorisms are worthless,” writes William Q. Judge in his 1889 translation of the Yoga Sutras.

“Take No. 18, Book III, which declares that the ascetic can know what were his previous incarnations with all their circumstances; or No. 13, Book II, that while there is a root of works there is fructification in rank and years and experience. Both of these infer reincarnation. In Aphorism 8, Book IV, reincarnation is a necessity.”

But whether you believe you’ve been born again and again, it really does not matter much to your practice, either way.

However, as both a Viking and a yogi who strongly feel I have lived in India before, I guess I am fated to be a believer in this born-again-and-again doctrine.

For reincarnation also appears in Norse mythology, you see.

Indeed, the belief in reincarnation was probably commonplace among the Vikings since the annotator of the Poetic Edda wrote that people formerly used to believe in it:

Sigrun was early dead of sorrow and grief. It was believed in olden times that people were born again, but that is now called old wives’ folly. Of Helgi and Sigrun it is said that they were born again; he became Helgi Haddingjaskati, and she Kara the daughter of Halfdan, as is told in the Lay of Kara, and she was a Valkyrie.

But these days, I am more yogi than Viking, more Indian in my ways than Norwegian. So I cannot but help becoming inspired, uplifted and awed by cosmic and timeless words like these from Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita:

“The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless and is never terminated when the body is terminated.”

In other words, we never really die. Only the body dies. Then the body is recycled and becomes part of the earth. Then the mind is also recycled and becomes part of the cosmic sky-cycle of birth after birth.

I don’t know about you, but this cosmic recycling program, in which our karmic repositories sail on and on, makes total yogic sense to me. Totally!


About Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh Bjonnes is the co-founder of the Prama Institute, a holistic retreat center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and the Director of the Prama Wellness Center, a retreat center specializing in detox by incorporating juice fasting, ayurveda, meditation and yoga to cleanse, relax and rejuvenate. Bjonnes is also a writer, yogi and workshop leader. He lived in India and Nepal in the 1980s learning directly from the traditional teachers of yoga and Tantra. He has taught workshops in many countries and is the author of Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (InnerWorld) and Tantra: The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India). He lives and practices in an eco-village in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.


52 Responses to “Yoga and Reincarnation: To Believe or Not to Believe?”

  1. Roger Wolsey says:

    From a Christian perspective, St. Augustine and John Wesley each said, "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, love." Seems to me that belief in reincarnation is a non-essential of a healthy and meaningful yoga practice.

    To the extent that it is somehow an "essential," this would only serve to give credibility to the Southern Baptist leader who recently told Christians not to partake in yoga.

  2. Ramesh says:

    Yes, Bob, moksha, liberation, is the ultimate goal of yoga…
    I hear you and that's why I also mentioned that it really does not matter for the practice of yoga if you believe in it or not..
    However, Stevenson's book is very convincing, so was my own experience, as well as many others… but that's not for you, Bob, and I totally understand that!

  3. Ramesh says:

    Gurudasji Sunyatananda: Thanks so much for your wonderful comments. Yes, it is very important to share difficult topics in a spirit of mutual respect. However, because we use different conceptual terms, misunderstandings can easily crop up.
    For me there is not paradox here. I also believe in the nondual, or emptiness, or cosmic consciousness, the sphere beyond form, but also in the fact that I exist and am made of form. So form and formless coexist, and when the form of the body dissolves, then the formless mind continues on until it reaches final enlightenment and moksa and dissolves in emptiness and become part of emptiness as potential form…
    Philosophically that makes sense to me…. But this idea, this understanding is not important for my sadhana, for my spiritual wellbeing, so I pay little attention to it, nor do I feel attached to it…

  4. Blake says:

    Why pick "reincarnation" out of the infinite options answering the question "why does it feel like I've been here before"?

  5. Ramesh says:

    Beautifully said Roger, those words in the first paragraph. I agree. This is a nonessential. So pure love to you!

    Pure love also to the Southern baptist who may not like my idea of reincarnation and that I think it is part of yoga.
    The only essential is love. And if the Southern Baptist feels that love, he nor any other will have any problem with me thinking reincarnation is valid and cool.

  6. I love this reply and your thinking, Gurudas. My spiritual orientation is very similar to what you describe in your last paragraph. The rest makes sense, too, although I relate better to the concept of infinite wonder and everythingness over the concept of "emptiness", as discussed in Bob vs. Buddhism. They really are two sides of the same coin, I think.

    Bob W.

  7. hmmm… Before reincarnation, chop wood, carry water…
    After reincarnation, chop wood, carry water. 😉

  8. More great wisdom, Gurudas, especially since I just finished reading Issacson's wonderful biography of Einstein, in which there's even a chapter called "Einstein's God". Einstein, in my book, is nothing but an ancient Yoga sage in disguise ( a very good disguise, I'll admit.) See Albert Einstein as Yoga Sage.

    Thanks for your insightful comments here.

    Bob W.

  9. You're most welcome, Gurudas. There is a whole chapter of these quotes in Einstein: His Life and Universe. Also, you will love this: Einstein's God on NPR, if you haven't heard it already.

  10. roots to wings says:

    The thing i don't get about reincarnation is what determines the length of stay in the next realm before reincarnation. For example, Paramahansa Yogananda describes that we may wait 500 to 1000 years to be reborn, so how could it happen in less than 100 years as many describe?

  11. Mannyy says:

    I have not read any of the replies so pardon me for possibly repeating what has already been said.
    Wether we can prove reincarnation or not does, for me, not matter one way or the other. What matters is our actions and the awareness of our actions, in the "now", when we act. If the knowing or belief of a reaction to our actions can make us better, more positive people, leaving less "carbon footprints", then all the more blessing to us.

  12. Ramesh says:

    Gurudasji Sunyatananada,
    I very much resonate with your sunyata/quantum field idea. It also resonates with the Shiva/Shakti/Consciousness/Energy concept of tantra which is my chosen path; that Cosmic Consciousness or Brahma has two aspects–consciousness/emptyness/nondualism and energy/creativity/form/dualism.

    Reincarnation works beautifully into that idea as well, but I will not address that here. Just wanted to acknowledge a cosmic kinship with what you wrote above.

  13. Ramesh says:

    Why not? The wonderful part of being a writer is that one can play God and pick any infinite number of topics under the sun, and I happened to pick reincarnation because that made sense to me!

  14. Ramesh says:

    Roots to wings,
    the next reincarnation can take place in a matter of hours or years, it all depends on many different issues…it depends on ones karam or samskaras.
    there are three types of samskaras: inborn (from past lives), imposed in this life, and those created through free will in this life. When we die, our samskaras, thos reactions from our past lives that still need to be expressed become the inborn smaskaras of our next life. These samaskaras will need to be expressed in a congenial karmic environment, and so the soul will wait until that congenial environment presents itself, and that is a very complex affair depending on so many factors beyond the souls "control. "

  15. Ramesh says:

    Question to Bob and Gurudasji and all those who do not believe in reincarnation: one of the most compelling reasons for the logic of reincarnation I think is seen in those births of genius children who display incredible scientific or artistic abilities from an early age. Some of these children also remember their previous lives. How do you explain such extraordinary abilities if they are not acquired from gifts from a previous life in which a child pianist prodigy also was a gifted pianist, for example?

  16. Ramesh says:

    even though reincarnation is logical to me, I totally agree with you….how we experience our spirituality in the moment is what matters….spirituality is practice, not philosophy or cosmology, even though the latter can be helpful….

  17. I am grateful, and to the chagrin of many of my fellow-Buddhist sisters and brothers, I find the transition between the Buddhadharma and Sanatana Dharma (particularly from a Shaivite tradition, personally) to be fluid and without conflict. So I clearly see your perspective, and appreciate it warmly.


  18. I think perhaps one reason I am reluctant to give into the "conventional wisdom" stems from a few loving, respected, and somewhat prominent teachers, who have insisted (in front of my students) that I am a reincarnated so-and-so. It deeply concerns me that students might lose sight of what matters and get caught up (as I see with so many Westerners) in the whole, "my guru's a tulku" routine.

    So I intentionally keep it "raw" and raucous, to prove that I couldn't possibly be a reincarnate holy being… but am a simple punk monk. 🙂

  19. Ramesh says:

    Gurudasji, thanks for explaining your point of view in some more detail and for being patient with me for perhaps not picking up the subtleties in your views the first time around. Given the context you describe of being a potential reincarnated so-and-so I respect your position.
    I studied hypnotherapy and left the practice in part as so many of the people seeking treatment were preoccupied with possible past life issues. How many past lives do you want to retrieve and heal, I would ask? So, yes, I agree with your basic attitude as it is similar to mine. Keep that punk attitude alive and raw!
    However, the scientist and philsopher in me is intrigued by these issues and hence my article. I found Ian Stevenson's work very compelling as I think he has with his exhaustive research scientifically proven that reincarnation is indeed real.

  20. Ramesh says:

    Wonderful and beautifully said! Dharma is indeed one!

  21. You may have missed the point. I have not disparaged other teachers as they do not teach the disciplines referenced. They teach something else so there is no disgrace that accrues.

    It is too bad that you were not around when the Buddha taught, you could have saved him a lot of time and trouble teaching other lessons. The point made, which stands, is that you cannot understand the Four Noble Truths and you cannot understand the Noble Eightfold Path if you do not know reincarnation. You will lack the context necessary for understanding. Such teachings have no meaning absent an understanding of your essential nature.

  22. Ramesh, it is never a question of a value that accrues with regard to knowing who you were in a past life. That is not the issue. That has little relevance.

    The question that has meaning is what does awareness of reincarnation say about your essential nature. And that is not only essential but it is vital to the sacred practice. Not knowing fully and completely who one is places one in the grip of ignorance. And that is a wall that limits conscious awareness.

    When one seek to be aware, moment to moment, that awareness, if truly encompassing in nature, includes awareness of the karmic imprints of past lives and it includes awareness of the causes and conditions that sum up to this present.

    Liberation in the moment, to truly be liberation, must include awareness of the totality of that moment.

    Check out the last verse of the Dhammapada. It spells it out.

  23. That's the silliness that passes as Buddhism in some quarters today. It has nothing to do with the teachings.

  24. Ben_Ralston says:

    It is wonderful how subtle energies can be felt even through the black and white text on an inanimate screen!

    Greg, you said: "Not knowing fully and completely who one is places one in the grip of ignorance"
    Can you ever know fully and completely who you are?! Are you not always changing?
    And is not that change occurring in the present moment of much greater interest and import than the change that happened before (past lives)? If so, what use is it to know those past lives?

  25. Ginny says:

    Having experienced first hand, my son 2 year old telling me about his previous memories, reaffirmed what I already believed. His story always started the same way. He told me he lived in Kansas, what his name was. He said that he had another mother and I came and got him when he died. The first time he saw a wooden puzzle map of the US, he pointed at the state and said, "There's Kansas!" There were other details that were too remarkable to explain.
    I've always believed in past lives and telepathy, as was taught to me by my (now 93 yr old) mother, handed down from her Irish mother.
    I see it as energy, life force, connectedness, source of compassion. Like so many things, we can't explain it, it just happens.

  26. Indeed, Ben! I would go further and suggest that those who imagine that they can "know fully and completely who they are" are delusional, arrogant and self-cherishing. There is no self to know. They would be much better served by focusing on the chopping of wood, carrying of water, and learn to be respectful and compassionate toward others, including their teachers.

  27. elephantjournal says:

    I've always felt that the greatest misconception about reincarnation (and karma) is the one-to-one idea, that an even exchange occurs. David Frawley writes about this in several of his books. Here is one passage: "It is worth noting that one of the implications of the law of cause and effect is that Karma must have already been put in place by us at the seed moment of our birth for it to be relevant to us. This is the basis of the theory of Reincarnation. It is not the same personality that reincarnates, but one naturally related to it (as a continuum) via the law of Karma. As such the same personality (or anything) cannot even survive from one moment to the next, but is always changed by the law of Karma. As a moment has no finite existence in time, again we see the pseudo-real or illusory (Maya) nature of manifestation." I hope this helps in the understanding of Reincarnation theory.

  28. Ramesh says:

    Here is an interesting interview with Ian Stevenson, the reincarnation researcher, from Omni magazine:

  29. Thanks, Waylon. It is Frawley's explanation that I have been racking my monkey mind to try and find all day! I was mistakenly looking for that passage in the writings of Arya Khema (which explains why I could not find it!!)

    The way I understand and relate to what is meant by reincarnation (and in fact karma itself) is most closely (and more eloquently) captured in David's treatment of the subject.It is purely the mental continuum that reincarnates, not personality. For this reason, I have difficulty with the cult of "who was I in the past".

    I know this aggregate composite I imagine to be a self is an illusion… like every other "personality" that imagined its "self" in the "past".

    Thanks for saving me from insanity… And now the zen practice of putting all these books back on the shelves before darshan! Namaste, Bro!

  30. Ramesh says:

    Christina Brooks
    really nice article on this.. Nice to see the Steveson material sited here. My husband studied with Ian Steveson… really excellent work he did. A lot of people are unaware that it is a fundamental belief to Judaism and also to Christian…ity as well. The cathars were persecuted because the continued to hold those beliefs after the church moved away from them.

    Thanks for the post.

  31. Sandra says:

    Thanks for your article! Could you please be more concrete on the idea that reincarnation has been a part of the Greek neo-platonic tradition? Any concrete author or book?

  32. BenRiggs says:

    Ramesh- Enjoyed this article…

    Yeah reincarnation is something I struggled with for along time… Then I said, "Ah, who gives a shit!" I know that my present state of mind is the result of the previous state of mind, and that this state of mind will give rise to the next state of mind, so on and so on… If this continues into future lives, then I will deal with that when i get there, just as I have with the other 9,007,843,493 lives.

  33. Ramesh says:

    Gurudasji, here is an endorsement by David Frawley of the book The Reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln which indicates to me that Frawley agrees there's also a personality reincarnating, which also, as I have said above, is congruent with yoga philosophy and with Feuerstein's work. However, there appears to be a western school of interpreters that differ from the Indian on the issue of reincarnation. This will be the theme of a follow-up article of mine.

    “A fascinating account that weaves known history and higher consciousness to show us how the law of karma unfolds the story of life on mystic layers of transformation. The book has much wisdom and insight, encouraging us to take a deeper look at not only the world but our own individual lives and destinies.”
    —Dr. David Frawley, author of Yoga and the Sacred Fire

  34. This is a very good explanation, Ramesh.

  35. See my later comments.

    i appreciate the topic you have started and handled so well.

    I believe you will find there is a point at which the emphasis will shift and chopping wood will have an entirely new perspective, quite beyond the zen cliche.

    If we do not know the causes and conditions that make up this moment in a very complete way, we miss much of what the Buddha and the yogis taught. There is an effort (which is part of clinging) to hold on to a narrow perspective when it comes to the properties of a Buddha Self or an Enlightened Yogi.

    The old rubric of chopping wood is one of those kickers tossed in to limit the degree to which we are able to view all conditions and causes. Perhaps we were never chopping wood.

  36. "No self to know." That is not Buddhism. That is nihilism.

  37. Ramesh, kudos to you for the attempt to bring a fundamental concept from Buddhism and yoga into the light. Very difficult.

    If there is one thing we do not want to see the light, it is our past. We tend to want to throw every imaginable barricade between us and the past, including the blackness of unconsciousness. God forbid we should have to face the harm we have done or the harm we have suffered. Bury that mess. Bring in the cosmic dump truck and bury those deeds under a light year's worth of black asphalt. Make that tomb impregnable. >:)

    And you are trying to pry open that door… be ready to duck.

  38. Very good explanations…

    There would be a departure, in Buddhism, from the manner in which you have described atman. You have described it as all One, as something separate from the individual Buddha.

    The Buddha rejected this yogic view based on his observation. The "all One" atman, he discovered, is a fabrication. It is a co-created white light universe that nonetheless is a dependently-arisen fabrication.

    In Buddhism one goes beyond that fabrication (which anchors this particular universe). That gets a bit difficult to describe as it is beyond the "separate or all one" dichotomy of the fabricated world.

    But it was on this fine point that the Buddha spoke of anatta of no atman. He was simply pointing out that state or condition was also a fabrication that was not self. Does that make sense?

  39. Ben_Ralston says:

    Completely agree with you Ginny. And I bet your Irish GM was handed down her knowledge from waaaay back too 🙂

  40. Anlish, I appreciate your views on that… and you have a good point. My experience, which need not be universal, is that it has immense practical consequences. But not for everyone at every time.

  41. Ramesh says:

    Here is Kabir, the 14th century ecstatic Bhakti poet of India as translated by Robert Bly on reincarnation, karma and samaskara:

    If you don't break your ropes while you're alive,
    do you think
    ghosts will do it after?
    The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic
    just because the body is rotten–
    that is all fantasy.
    What is found now is found then.
    If you find nothing now,
    you will simply end up with an apartment in the City
    of Death.
    If you make love with the Divine now, in the next life
    you will have the face of satisfied desire.

  42. Ramesh says:

    Greg, much wisdom here…
    yes, I think spiritual folks can often bypass our karmic baggage and not deal with it, not face it and thus be driven by subconscious, uncomposted samskaras.. so yes, I agree with you that we need to know that and embrace that as part of the practice…
    however, there are also samskaras from past lives that are being released without our full knowing, without us ever knowing what they were about, we cannot know everything and should not attempt to try…. that has been my experience and this is congruent with the yogic teachings

  43. Ben_Ralston says:

    I'm with Kabir 🙂

  44. Ramesh says:

    Yeah, Ben, Kabir is awesome. My kind of poet and mystic and freshly alive in Robert Bly's contemporary language translations!

  45. Brianna says:

    This was very, very interesting article. To be frank- I have never paid that much attention to reincarnation. I guess it, like ideas of any sort of after life, was of very little interest to me. I remember the first time I had ever heard about reincarnation was from a woman who claimed to be Cleopatra in her last life. I suppose that just really turned me off to the whole idea (and why is everyone so convinced they were Cleopatra?)

    Lately I have been having to rethink my stance on this. Strange and curious dreams have been clouding my mind and I am starting to wonder if this whole idea is truth.

    Anyway, this was a lovely article 🙂 Thanks for writing it!

  46. integralhack says:

    Wow, Greg, that was great. I certainly like your "mental body of karmic imprints" better than my "psychic detritus." 🙂

    I think it also reflects my understanding of reincarnation from a Buddhist perspective (as well as Waylon's, if I'm understanding him correctly).

    When you say "without this knowledge at firsthand level, one is only sorting through old records" are you referring to personal experience of reincarnation or to personal understanding of Buddhadharma? Do the "records" refer to past lives or are you referring to Buddhist texts? That sentence makes sense from two different perspectives but with a very different meaning.

    I'm also curious to know what Ramesh might think of this Buddhist account from his Tantric perspective, if he would be so kind.

  47. integralhack says:

    Greg, Ramesh,

    Thanks for continuing that dialogue. I think Greg will agree that in some Mahayana schools (Tibetan Vajrayana, some Zen sects and Shingon, in particular–some of which have strong Tantric influence), it can be argued that the paramatman (or Atman/Brahman) reappears because of the emphasis on Mind, Dharmadhatu, etc.

    Other Buddhists may simply be Wittgensteinian in that "what they cannot speak about they must pass over in silence." Not talking about Mind, after all, does not deny it.

  48. Ramesh says:

    Thanks so much for your feedback, Brianna!!