Reincarnation and personal freedom

Those whose religious belief do not include reincarnation as a process, indeed an unavoidable process, may need to accept that, in the history of mankind, there has been a belief that human life does not end at death; that there is (or may be) another place to which one’s soul or spirit goes.

Studies of many societies seem to show evidence of preparation for the journey after Earthly death, even if this journey was available only to the rulers, or the powerful in society, or the wealthy. The despatch of the spirit (or soul) included the placement of goods seen to be necessary for the Afterlife.

More importantly, it appears that reincarnation was accepted as normal in most parts of the world ever studied – until the newly-arrived leaders in the new religion, Christianity, apparently decided that it is better for their flock, their followers, to be guided by them during their Earthly lives. Reincarnation, especially as presented by the older religions of the East, gives too much freedom to the people, these leaders must have felt.

Reincarnation, as an automatic process, permits freedom to make decisions (where possible) affecting their life-choices. Denying reincarnation would be an effective method of enforcing control of the minds and actions of the population of religious adherents.

Is it not significant that it is only those religions based on ‘authority’ – and backed by an authoritative Good Book – which deny their followers the possibility of moral enhancement through their own individual efforts? Do the ‘forest’ religions of Asia have a hierarchy of controlling priests? Or, are these priests only facilitators in enabling their religious to reach out to God? This facilitation would reflect their knowledge of appropriate rituals. The downside to that can be the establishment of a caste of priests; that they live simply, without any display of power, is commendable.

When one lays aside the after-effects of colonial European cultural supremacy, as demonstrated by many Australians taking up philosophical Buddhism, practical yoga, or the spirituality offered by Eastern religions, there is available some psychic benefits, accompanied by personal freedom. A guided path to one’s Heaven does not also seem to be more efficacious than the tracks followed by uncontrolled individuals, whose fervour in faith may be stronger as a consequence.

The issue here is whether the freedom to seek the Divine is facilitated more by an autonomously operating reincarnation process. This is not to deny that priests are needed by many – for diverse reasons, including the comforting rituals and the grandeur of pageants. However, increasingly, perhaps associated with a full belly, the escalating renunciation of church attendance may suggest a disenchantment with priestly control, backed by a claimed authority.

The common man, acclimatising rapidly to the material freedom available in developed societies, seeks comparable freedom in faith-related beliefs. Ideally, religions should not be seen as competitive. No matter how one defines ‘truth,’ there are indubitably many paths to God. Would any of these paths offer a faster journey? Isn’t the pleasure of the journey what matters?