Biological death is defined and accepted. Winstead- Fry points out
that within sensory science, death is the termination of certain biophysical
functions. “We can empirically confirm the existence and ending of life.”
( 163) The criteria for brain death are accepted as proof of biological
death. Of course if one considers the human being and the human body as
one, then death must be a definite ending. But what about those who
believes the soul never dies? There is the belief that the body is like a set
of clothes the soul changes when the body gets worn out. Can the human
body be considered such a worthless object? Many say no and yet others
The debate about death is in the question of existence after death. It
is not possible at present to recreate or validate existence after death using
our senses. This is why there is so much of an interest in near-death
experiences. Dr. Morse and his team have proven that a person actually
needs to be near death to have a near death experience. The team
compared seriously ill people with those near the brink of death and
people who had near-death experiences were clinically dead at the time of
their experience and ‘were brought back from the dead.’(183) This is the
closest one can get to death ; therefore, it is reasonable to use these
Near- death phenomena are as old as recorded history. Such an
experience is reported in Plato’s Republic, written in the fourth century
before Christ.(Blackmore 79) The phenomenon is wide spread. Over eight
million adults in the United States have claimed to have a near- death
experience. Dr. Stevenson believes that by him writing books it will
encourage more people to share their experience. He believes many people
may not share their story for fear of ridicule.( Santos F1) Mr. Underwood
reveals that one in three people who recover from coming close to death or
becoming clinically dead reports having a near-death experience. (245)
Some critics argue that the near- death experience results from the
brain’s response to distress. They claim that the brain reacts to the threat
to the body so that fantasies and memories of the ‘childhood flood the
consciousness’.(264) However, if the skeptics were right the experience
would be unique to the individual. We know what the brain is capable of,
but to say that the content of every brain is the same is farfetched.
There are common components in experiences described
irrespective of differences of the people who experienced it. The sense of
being dead, being in a tunnel, meeting people of light, life review and the
presence of light. These people were different in age, nationality and
It is recognized that every human being is unique. Then, why
should everyone’s brain produce the same images? Children and adults
differ in the memories they gather and the way they comprehend the
world, yet their core experiences were the same. Therefore, the argument
of the brain flooding one with past memories does not seem logical. Some
argue that the experiences contain cultural and personal marks of those
who have them. Then the near- death experiences of Hindu’s would differ
from those of Christians and Americans different from Japanese. But here
too the core experiences were the same.
There is obviously two sides of the story. One must look at both
sides with careful eye and determine for themselves what they believe is
true. This is where the idea of reincarnation comes in. Because it is
incorporated in so many religions, you find an answer to a question which
you truly want to know the answer to and do not abandon your faith in
Reincarnation is detected in many religions. Reincarnation is
normally thought of as a Hindu philosophy and it is traced back to
Hinduism, yet it can be found in Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and in
In Judaism, reincarnation is known as Gilgul. Though it has a
different name it has almost the exact same meaning. Gilgul was a
dominant teaching in Judaism for over three hundred years. Cabala, a
book of Judaism which is often studied by Rabbi’s, one of the holy books
of the Jews which talks of reincarnation. Rabbi Steinsaltz (Cranston 181)
is an authority on the Cabala. He states:
According to Cabalistic doctrine, the Torah contains not
only manifest but also hidden truths: the same transcendent God
whom the Bible celebatres as supreme king and law giver is, from
the mystical also an infinity of divine knight that exists as the
foundation of every human beings soul. For me, every soul is an
emanation or spark of the divine, and its ultimate purpose is to
rejoin the God it came from….I hope to demonstrate the secrets of
the Cabbala- which rationalistic Rabbi’s of the nineteenth century
dismissed as dangerous magic- are fully consonant with traditional
This view is also held by a large group of Orthodox Jews known as
the Hasidim. Reincarnation is universally taught among them. On the
other hand, the soul, it’s life and immortality are rarely mentioned in the
Old Testament. There is also no direct denial of it either. In the Book of
Job(14:14), Job plainly asks “ If a man dies will he live again?” but
receives no answer. So in the Old Testament, reincarnation is not ruled out
it is just not brought up as a major point in the book.
On the other hand, if one were to look into the Bible, the question
of like after death is brought up and answered. Professor Macgregor
Reincarnation is one of the most fascinating ideas in the
history of religion, as it is also one of the most recurrent themes in
the literature of the world. It is widely assumed to be foreign to the
Christian heritage, and especially alien to the Hebrew roots of
biblical thought. That assumption is questionable…. It has
persistently cropped up in various crannies along the Christian
Way, from the earliest times down to the present. It has also
It is understandable that Christians today frequently object to
reincarnation because for some it provides an excuse to postpone salvation
for the next life. To make it more confusing for Christians, Protestant’s
and Catholics have different views as to what happens after death.
Protestants believe that after death they are asleep until Judgment
Day. Those asleep in the grave include people before and after Christ.
They believe that when Jesus returns that they bodies of the saved are
transformed and glorified. On the contrary, bodies of sinners are burned
eternally. Some also think that between death and Judgment Day there is
Catholics have an entirely different view point. They believe that
damned souls go immediately to hell. Those who gain salvation still
require purification and then go to heaven. And finally the saintly go strait
to paradise. Because of this conflict and confusion Christians often look to
Reincarnation to explain the mysteries of death. In the Bible, Jesus states,
“ Truly, Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” ( John 8:56-58)
Another example from the Bible says, “[ As Jesus] passed by, he saw a
man blind form his birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘ Rabbi, who
sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ” ( John 9:1 -2)
Christianity has obvious connections with reincarnation as it does
with Hinduism. In Christianity, Jesus is the incarnation of Godhead, the
Christian trinity. In Hinduism, Krishna is the incarnation of Vishnu, the
Hindu trinity. Both Jesus and Krishna were of royal descent and were born
of virgins. Also Krishna was brought up by shepards and called the
Shepard of God while Jesus was worshipped by shepards and called the
Good Shepard. Because of all these similarities, Christian missionaries in
India thought that the Hindu’s were coping their religion. Only later did
they find out that Hinduism began hundreds of years before Christianity.
The theory of reincarnation is so common in India it is hardly
The acceptance of rebirth is so widespread in India that its
philosophers and religious teachers felt no need to prove the
doctrine, anymore than an instructor in our society would spend
time demonstrating that day follows night, and night day. (227)
Just as reincarnation pervades Indian thought, it also pervades the
Bagavad- Gita. The main story of the Bagavad- Gita is of Arjuna and
Krishna and the manner Krishna teaches Arjuna all of lives philosophy
while Arjuna awaits a war among all of his relatives. Krishna tries to teach
Arjuna that fighting them will not really harm them for their soul will
always live on. Krishna states to Arjuna, “ It is said the soul is invisible,
inconceivable, immutable, and unchangeable. Knowing this, you should
not grieve for the body .” ( Text 25) Krishna was trying to convince
Arjuna that he should not fear for them for their soul would not die and
once the body died the soul would continue to live. “ As a person puts on
new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material
bodies, giving up old ones and useless ones.” ( Text 22) It is obvious
reincarnation is a large part of Hinduism. But as in any great philosophy
or theory there is still an argument as to who first came up with the idea.
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