Reincarnation and Religion
The notion of reincarnation offers the most appealing explanation of the human origin and fate. On the one hand, it appears to be a source of liberation and comfort while, on the other hand, ensures people that they have a possibility to obtain a new chance in the further life. Additionally, reincarnation rejects the monotheistic doctrine of the God’s judgment with the possible outcome of eternal suffering in hell. Furthermore, reincarnation justifies the social differences that occur among people since some are affluent while other humans are at the edge of poverty. It explains the sound health of particular amount of individuals and physical and mental disorders of others. However, different religions have various approaches to reincarnation and own representation of the life after death. Therefore, this paper discusses what Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism believe in after a person passes away, and what happens to a person after reincarnation.
Reincarnation in Islam
Since Islam is a monotheistic religion, an issue of reincarnation is controversial. There are verses in the Koran, the holy scriptures of Islam, that both support and deny the concept of reincarnation. On the one hand, a few passages of the scriptures maintain that Allah produces human beings, and sends them back once again until their return. Furthermore, new individuals obtain new names and shapes in the future life. Such words testify about the renewed form of the person, which is the central idea of the reincarnation. The book also states that the God condemns a person to what he/she has earned; consequently, an individuality takes all responsibility for one’s deeds (Semkiw, n.d.).
In contrast to such view, Islam does not accept reincarnation due to the fundamental teachings of the finite human life. The Koran mentions two deaths of the person, and one observes here the multiple returns to life. However, the thing is that a person first dies in God’s kingdom and then on the Earth, which implies that people have only one life that occurs on the Earth. Furthermore, simplifying the notion of karma, the God provides a person with the life he is willing without any limits. Therefore, the taken actions of an individual have no influence on the future life. According to the Islam religion, the life on the Earth is the single chance to redeem oneself (Shahzad, n.d.).
Although Islam does not recognize reincarnation, it still believes in life after death, which is one of six significant concepts of the religion. After the human death, the God judges a person taking into account all evil and kind deeds and decides where the person has to go. It may be either Paradise or Hell, which turn out to be eternal and real. Consequently, after death, a person has either God’s bliss or undergoes severe punishments.
Reincarnation in Judaism
As well as Islam, Judaism is a monotheistic religion and believes in the immortality of the soul subjected to the eternal life in Heaven or suffering in Hell. However, the Hebrew philosophers accept the idea of the afterlife and maintain that the soul transmigrates to another body becoming a free agent. Nevertheless, people cannot reincarnate into animals, in other words, into the inferior organisms. The fundamental reason for believing in reincarnation is children’s suffering. Being sinless, they atone for the committed sins in the previous life (Jacobs, n.d.).
The Kabbalists, the Hebrew mystics, accept the concept of reincarnation as an explanation for many biblical verses. They even distinguish three types of reincarnation such as transmigration, impregnation, and dybbuk. Transmigration occurs when one soul after death inhabits another body while impregnation denotes the descent of the soul into the body to aid. Dybbuk represents an entrance of the guilty soul into the human body that requires being exorcised (Jacob, n.d.).
Therefore, some Jews accept the idea of reincarnation while others reject this concept interpreting Judaism as a monotheistic doctrine. Nonetheless, both thinkers and the Kabbalists believe in the afterlife.
Reincarnation in Hinduism
Reincarnation in Hinduism deals with the concept of immortality that dates back to the 10th century BC, which indicates a strong belief in the life after death (Valea, n.d.). The development of the notion occurs in the Hindi writings, including the Vedas and the Brahmanas. Until the British colonization, the departed were buried with their clothes and food required for the afterlife. Additionally, in some regions, as a ritual, people incinerated the dead husband with his living wife to preserve the personal identity. Furthermore, the believers stated that the human nature comprised three fundamental components, including the physical body, manas, and ashu. Mind, will, and feeling represented manas while ashu denoted the vital principle. During the burial ritual, the relatives of the deceased were in an attempt to save the unity of the departed individual by saying that nothing of these components could be lost (Valea, n.d.).
In Hinduism, an impersonal self, called Atman, is a reincarnated entity that does not possess any personal nature and rejects whatever personal features. Atman does not accumulate the spiritual progress, which karma records. Due to the karmic debt, a new individual encounters one’s deeds from the previous lives. As a helpful tool of reincarnation, the Hinduism apply the concept of a “subtle body” that is an actual carrier of the karma debt. It determines future personal traits of character and life in general. Additionally, it does not transmit the conscious memories forming a new shape of an individual involving the flow and the length of life although effected by the karma (Valea, n.d.).
Consequently, Hinduism believes in life after death, particularly in reincarnation giving a chance to fix the faults formerly happened. A person’s life develops accordingly to his/her previous actions and behavior.
Reincarnation in Buddhism
Buddhism does not back the idea of a permanent self. As a result, the religion vehemently denies the existence of reincarnation from one life to the other afterward. However, Buddhism distinguishes five essential components of cause-and-effect relations that form the self-illusion. The first constituent is the body, in other words, the material shape. The second item is sensations while the third component indicates the process of differentiating experiences, known as cognition. The last parts of the existing self are mental constructions, which arrange actions, and the stream of consciousness. Each of the elements is temporary and alters under certain circumstances (Valea, n.d.).
However, despite five aggregates, Buddhism maintains that something is supposed to reincarnate since the social differences must have a reasonable explanation. As the proof, Buddha taught that people were the inheritors of their actions that identified the low or high status of an individual. Therefore, the sole thing that determines the future life is a transitional karma. The best illustration for this is the candle light derived from another candle that does not have its substance anymore. The same happens to a person during the rebirth where the self does not pass to another body. Since no personal features transmit from one life to another, a newly shaped individual is not reminiscent of the previous experience (Valea, n.d.).
Therefore, reincarnation plays a significant role in Buddhism having own interpretation of the concept. They firmly believe that after death people reincarnate into another human being without any memories from the previous life.
Reincarnation in Confucianism
Confucianism is a set of ethical and philosophical convictions ingrained in the Chinese culture. Although such eastern religions as Buddhism and Taoism influenced Confucianism and introduced reincarnation, there is no vivid evidence of strong belief in it. Furthermore, the proponents of the religion do not care about the afterlife because what person does during the life is a more significant factor than what expects his/her after death. However, they support the veneration of the ancestors. Therefore, they attempt to concentrate on their way of living since it has to be worthwhile for the descendants to honor them (Kempen, n.d.).
Confucius, the founder of the religion, claimed that the afterlife was far beyond the human understanding. People should promote perfect social relations but not consider the possibility of living after the death expecting on the bliss or punishments. Concerning the interpretation of Confucianism, evil is an essential part of human life, and people are susceptible to make mistakes, which, in its turn, may contribute to the personal growth and improvement. Empathy with suffering people can also encourage others to be motivated and grow morally (Kempen, n.d.).
Therefore, Confucianism is a religion that helps people find peace and liberation in their real life. Since the proponents of Confucianism do not support the idea of reincarnation, they constantly attempt to improve their life without waiting for the possible bliss.
To conclude, the concept of reincarnation serves as an eternal source of liberation giving people chances to live a new life and fix their mistakes done in the former lives. The new shape of the person depends on the karma, in other words, the previous deeds explain the state of the reincarnated person. However, different religions have own interpretation of the reincarnation and the afterlife. For instance, Hinduism and Buddhism accept reincarnation and believe in the life after death. Both of the religions state that after death people reincarnate into new individuals but having no connection to the previous lives. Unlike Hinduism and Buddhism, Islam is a monotheist religion that rejects reincarnation and believes that the deceased would receive either bliss or punishment dependent on what one deserved. The Jews support either reincarnation or eternal existence in the Heaven or Hell. Finally, Confucianism is a neutral religion that cares about the real life and takes notice of the human behavior. The followers try to self-improve and achieve personal growth.