By Rudra Shivananda
I was meeting with a student and her family last night and she was very concerned that her peers at the local university were undermining her belief in rebirth and therefore she was doubting the whole necessity for spiritual practice. In her mind, the two seemed to be linked.
First off, these pseudo-intellectuals were using spurious assumptions and flawed logic to spread doubt in an earnest seeker. They asserted that there were ancestral memories in the human genome and stories about people remembering their past lives is because somehow they triggered these memories which were not really their
own past memories.
It is important to note that spiritual seekers should be encouraged to use research and critical logical faculties to examine their belief systems – to discard those that are proven false but also to support those that are reasonable or have a firm foundation.
In this particular instance, the flaws in the argument are immediate:
– Although in the early 20th century there was some support for the theory that certain racial traits or ancestral responses were carried in our genes, there is now little support for their importance in our mental and emotional make-up.
– There was no credible evidence for any kind of actual ancestral past life memory being inherited.
– Past life regression studies have shown no linkage between the remembered lives and the subject’s family tree.
However, let us not get carried away because past life memories of a few individuals cannot prove that rebirth or re-incarnation is a fact. It is not currently possible to either prove or disprove the hypothesis of rebirth. Only a small number of people have past life memories under normal circumstances and of these, only a handful have confounded traditional science to disprove.
The key to understanding rebirth is that it is a necessary consequence of the law of Karma which in essence is the necessary correlate to the laws of causation and of the conservation of energy, mass and momentum in the universe. The theory that is called “law of Karma” makes life understandable and purposeful.
If someone wants to believe that we are born as a result of random chance and that there is an abrupt end when we die, then there is no need for further discussion. If we choose to believe that each of us is a soul that is evolving to a higher consciousness being, then rebirth provides the means for the continuity of the soul in different body vehicles and the law of Karma, the evolutionary mechanism.
Just as physical evolution of humanity takes millions of years, so the spiritual evolution of the soul consciousness may take thousands of life-times. Multiple births make more sense then a single birth to explain the vast differences in physical, emotional and mental capabilities of human beings or their varied and seemingly unfair experiences.