As each book in The Broken Soul Chronicles, (of which The Infidel’s Garden is the first book) begins with our soul mates reincarnating in new bodies, I investigated how different religions approach the concept of reincarnation.
What I discovered is that reincarnation means different things to different faiths all far too complex to go into in any detail here. So Instead I’ve gone for summaries and links.
Click on the religious icons for links with more detail.
Although not explicitly mentioned in the Torah, the Jewish faith believes we are all ultimately responsible for the journey of our soul towards divine perfection. Freedom of choice lies at the heart of the Jewish interpretation of reincarnation. Reincarnation is also viewed as a punishment for previous sins, for example, a rich man may return in a following life as a poor man.
Hindus believe a soul reincarnates again and again on earth until it becomes perfect and is then reunited with its source. Driven by Karma, the soul changes bodies rather like we mortals change clothes. Reincarnations can take animal, vegetable, insect, demonic or divine forms.
Buddhism has a more abstract take on reincarnation (really not even calling it reincarnation but ‘coming again’). The self is an idea or mental construct and dissolution of the self brings the individual closer to a purer state of being. Focusing more on the mind than the body, ‘coming again’ is seen an evolving state of consciousness that can happen during life as well as following death.
Christianity saved its followers a lot of brain-strain by simply claiming there was no such thing as reincarnation, but only one life and one chance to make to heaven. Any whiffle of belief in reincarnation is blamed on demonic influences. Here’s a link here to some ‘logical’ refutations to reincarnation:
Islam’s take on reincarnation is complex and sometimes contradictory. Centering around understanding the true meaning of ‘life and ‘death’ is where arguments seem to go round in circles. Dead may simply refer as being dead to God as opposed to physically dead, just as alive many refer to being alive to God’s divine presence as opposed to being biologically alive.
Although Islam believes in the progressive revelations of the religious messengers, implying the ‘reality’ of some kind of divine spirit, the notion of some eternal manifestation for the rest of humankind and being only given one lifetime in which to improve oneself appears to be a source of debate.
The notion of some cycle of improvement is addressed through the following verse by the Sufi mystic Rumi:
I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on…
Despite the waving of the preachy finger at the end, this is an interesting explanation of reincarnation in Islam:
As articulated in Rumi’s verses, the Bahái faith regards the material world as a reflection of the spiritual world and reincarnation is a kind of Darwinian evolutionary process. Just as human life starts off in the womb, metamorphosing from embryo to foetus, to baby, toddler, infant, child, adult, the soul follows the same course through endless other worlds. Just as the caterpillar can’t imagine being the butterfly, we can’t conceive of these other states of being until we arrive. What returns to life is not the essence, but the qualities. Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’i Faith says this:
“Moreover, this material world has not such value or such excellence that man, after having escaped from this cage, will desire a second time to fall into this snare.”
More on His perspective here: