REINCARNATION IN JUDAISM AND THE BIBLE Our Ideas On God
Jul 16, 2006 07:26 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
7/16/2006 7:23 AM
GS From DTB "If you have any statements or evidence that HPB's
THEOSOPHY does NOT make those statements (as condensed as I have expressed
them) may we have examples? "
GS She does NOT say that reincarnation is an "accepted fact." Accepted
by whom? Not Christians. Not Muslims. Not Jews. Not science. There is no
proof that reincarnation exists and no proof that it doesn't. So, it falls
into the same category as God, because there is no proof that God exists
just as there is no proof that He doesn't. Such things must be a matter of
faith either way. Personally, I believe in karma and reincarnation. But I
view these as beliefs and not facts.
DTB Let me offer the following for your attention:
REINCARNATION IN JUDAISM AND THE BIBLE
THE lost chord of Christianity is the doctrine of Reincarnation. It was
beyond doubt taught in the early days of the cult, for it was well known to
the Jews who produced the men who founded Christianity.
The greatest of all the Fathers of the Church--Origen--no doubt believed in
the doctrine. He taught pre-existence and the wandering of the soul. This
could hardly have been believed without also giving currency to
reincarnation, as the soul could scarcely wander in any place save the
earth. She was in exile from Paradise, and for sins committed had to revolve
and wander. Wander where? would be the next question. Certainly away from
Paradise, and the short span of human life would not meet the requirements
of the case.
But a series of reincarnations will meet all the problems of life as well as
the necessities of the doctrines of exile, of wanderings for purification,
of being known to God and being judged by him before birth, and of other
dogmas given out among the Jews and of course well known to Jesus and
whoever of the seventy-odd disciples were not in the deepest ignorance. Some
of the disciples were presumably ignorant men, such as the fishermen, who
had depended on their elders for instruction, but not all were of that sort,
as the wonderful works of the period were sufficiently exciting to come to
the ears of even Herod.
Paul cannot be accused of ignorance, but was with Peter and James one of
several who not only knew the new ideas but were well versed in the old
ones. And those old ones are to be found in the Old Testament and in the
Commentaries, in the Zohar, the Talmud, and the other works and sayings of
the Jews, all of which built up a body of dogmas accepted by the people and
Hence sayings of Jesus, of Paul, and others have to be viewed with the
well-known and never-disputed doctrines of the day held down to the present
time, borne well in mind so as to make passages clear and show what was
tacitly accepted. Jesus himself said that he intended to uphold and buttress
the law, and that law was not only the matter found in the book the
Christian theologians saw fit to accept, but also in the other authorities
of which all except the grossly unlearned were cognizant.
So when we find Herod listening to assertions that John or Jesus was this,
that, or the other prophet or great man of olden time, we know that he was
with the people speculating on the doctrine of reincarnation or "coming
back," and as to who a present famous person may have been in a former life.
Given as it is in the Gospels as a mere incident, it is very plain that the
matter was court gossip in which long philosophical arguments were not
indulged in, but the doctrine was accepted and then personal facts gone into
for amusement as well as for warning to the king.
To an Eastern potentate such a warning would be of moment, as he, unlike a
Western man, would think that a returning great personage would of necessity
have not only knowledge but also power, and that if the people had their
minds attracted to a new aspirant for the leadership they would be inflamed
beyond control with the idea that an old prophet or former king had come
back to dwell in another body with them.
The Christians have no right, then, to excise the doctrine of reincarnation
from their system if it was known to Jesus, if it was brought to his
attention and was not condemned at all but tacitly accepted, and further,
finally, if in any single case it was declared by Jesus as true in respect
to any person. And that all this was the case can, I think, be clearly
First for the Jews, from whom Jesus was born, and to whom he said
unequivocally he came as a missionary or reformer. The Zohar is a work of
great weight and authority among the Jews. In II, 199 b, it says that "all
souls are subject to revolutions." This is metempsychosis or a'leen
b'gilgoola; but it declares that "men do not know the way they have been
judged in all time."
That is, in their "revolutions" they lose a complete memory of the acts that
have led to judgment. This is precisely the Theosophical doctrine. The
Kether Malkuth says, "If she, the soul, be pure, then she shall obtain favor
.. . but if she hath been defiled, then she shall wander for a time in pain
and despair. . . until the days of her purification." If the soul be pure
and if she comes at once from God at birth, how could she be defiled? And
where is she to wander if not on this or some other world until the days of
her purification? The Rabbis always explained it as meaning she wandered
down from Paradise through many revolutions or births until purity was
Under the name of "Din Gilgol Neshomes" the doctrine of reincarnation is
constantly spoken of in the Talmud. The term means "the judgment of the
revolutions of the souls." And Rabbi Manassa, son of Israel, one of the most
revered, says in his book Nishmath Hayem: "The belief or the doctrine of the
transmigration of souls is a firm and infallible dogma accepted by the whole
assemblage of our church with one accord, so that there is none to be found
who would dare to deny it. . . . Indeed, there is a great number of sages in
Israel who hold firm to this doctrine so that they made it a dogma, a
fundamental point of our religion. We are therefore in duty bound to obey
and to accept this dogma with acclamation . . . as the truth of it has been
incontestably demonstrated by the Zohar, and all books of the Kabalists."
These demonstrations hold, as do the traditions of the old Jews, that the
soul of Adam reincarnated in David, and that on account of the sin of David
against Uriah it will have to come again in the expected Messiah. And out of
the three letters ADM, being the name of the first man, the Talmudists
always made the names Adam, David and Messiah. Hence this in the Old
Testament: "And they will serve Jhvh their God and David their king whom I
shall reawaken for them." That is, David reincarnates again for the people.
Taking the judgment of God on Adam "for dust thou art and unto dust thou
shalt return," the Hebrew interpreters said that since Adam had sinned it
was necessary for him to reincarnate on earth in order to make good the evil
committed in his first existence; so he comes as David, and later is to come
as Messiah. The same doctrine was always applied by the Jews to Moses, Seth,
and Abel, the latter spelt Habel. Habel was killed by Cain, and then to
supply the loss the Lord gave Seth to Adam; he died, and later on Moses is
his reincarnation as the guide of the people, and Seth was said by Adam to
be the reincarnation of Habel. Cain died and reincarnated as Yethrokorah,
who died, the soul waiting till the time when Habel came back as Moses and
then incarnated as the Egyptian who was killed by Moses; so in this case
Habel comes back as Moses, meets Cain in the person of the Egyptian, and
kills the latter. Similarly it was held that Bileam, Laban, and Nabal were
reincarnations of the one soul or individuality. And of Job it was said that
he was the same person once known as Thara, the father of Abraham; by which
they explained the verse of Job (ix, 21), "Though I were perfect, yet would
I not know my own soul," to mean that he would not recognize himself as
All this is to be had in mind in reading Jeremiah, "Before I formed thee in
the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest out of the womb I sanctified
thee"; or in Romans ix, v, 11, 13, after telling that Jacob and Esau being
not yet born, "Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated"; or the ideas of
the people that "Elias was yet to first come"; or that some of the prophets
were there in Jesus or John; or when Jesus asked the disciples "Whom do men
think that I am?" There cannot be the slightest doubt, then, that among the
Jews for ages and down to the time of Jesus the ideas above outlined
prevailed universally. Let us now come to the New Testament.
St. Matthew relates in the eleventh chapter the talk of Jesus on the subject
of John, who is declared by him to be the greatest of all, ending in the
14th verse, thus:
"And if ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come."
Here he took the doctrine for granted, and the "if" referred not to any
possible doubts on that, but simply as to whether they would accept his
designation of John as Elias. In the 17th chapter he once more takes up the
"10. And his disciples asked him saying, Why, then, say the scribes that
Elias must first come?"
And Jesus answered and said unto them; Elias truly shall first come and
restore all things. But I say unto you that Elias is come already, and they
knew him not but have done to him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall
also the Son of Man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he
spake unto them of John the Baptist.
The statement is repeated in Mark, chapter ix, v. 13, omitting the name of
John. It is nowhere denied. It is not among any of the cases in which the
different Gospels contradict each other; it is in no way doubtful. It is not
only a reference to the doctrine of reincarnation, but is also a clear
enunciation of it. It goes much further than the case of the man who was
born blind, when Jesus heard the doctrine referred to, but did not deny it
nor condemn it in any way, merely saying that the cause in that case was not
for sin formerly committed, but for some extraordinary purpose, such as the
case of the supposed dead man when he said that the man was not dead but was
to be used to show his power over disease. In the latter one he perceived
there was one so far gone to death that no ordinary person could cure him,
and in the blind man's case the incident was like it. If he thought the
doctrine pernicious, as it must be if untrue, he would have condemned it at
the first coming up, but not only did he fail to do so, he distinctly
himself brought it up in the case of John, and again when asking what were
the popular notions as to himself under the prevailing doctrines as above
shown. Matthew xvi, v. 13, will do as an example, as the different writers
do not disagree, thus:
"When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi he asked his
disciples, Whom do men say that I am? And they said, Some say that thou art
John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias or one of the prophets."
This was a deliberate bringing-up of the old doctrine, to which the
disciples replied, as all Jews would, without any dispute of the matter of
reincarnation; and the reply of Jesus was not a confutation of the notion,
but a distinguishing of himself from the common lot of sages and prophets by
showing himself to be an incarnation of God and not a reincarnation of any
saint or sage. He did not bring it up to dispute and condemn as he would and
did do in other matters; but to the very contrary he evidently referred to
it so as to use it for showing himself as an incarnate God. And following
his example the disciples never disputed on that; they were all aware of it;
St. Paul must have held it when speaking of Esau and Jacob; St. John could
have meant nothing but that in Revelations, chap. iii, v. 12.
"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God and he
shall go no more out."
Evidently he had gone out before or the words "no more" could have no place
or meaning. It was the old idea of the exile of the soul and the need for it
to be purified by long wandering before it could be admitted as a "pillar in
the temple of God."
And until the ignorant ambitious monks after the death of Origen had gotten
hold of Christianity, the doctrine must have ennobled the new movement.
Later the Council of Constantinople condemned all such notions directly in
the face of the very words of Jesus, so that at last it ceased to vibrate as
one of the chords, until finally the prophecy of Jesus that he came to bring
a sword and division and not peace was fulfilled by the warring nations of
Christian lands who profess him in words but by their acts constantly deny
him whom they call "the meek and lowly."
W.Q.J. PATH, February, 1894
I hope this answers your observations.
As to "GOD". Could these observations be considered ?
Our (Masters.) Ideas On God
"We deny God both as philosophers and as Buddhists. We know there are
planetary and other spiritual lives, and we know there is in our system no
such thing as God, either personal or impersonal.
Parabrahm is not a God, but absolute immutable law, and Iswar is the effect
of Avidya and Maya, ignorance based upon the great delusion.
The word "God" was invented to designate the unknown cause of those effects
which man has either admired or dreaded without understanding them, and
since we claim and that we are able to prove what we claim - i.e. the
knowledge of that cause and causes - we are in a position to maintain there
is no God or Gods behind them.
The idea of God is not an innate but an acquired notion, and we have but one
thing uncommon with theologies - we reveal the infinite. But while we
assign to all the phenomena that proceed from the infinite and limitless
space, duration and motion, material, natural, sensible and known (to us at
least) causes, the theists assign them spiritual, super-natural and
unintelligible and un-known causes.
The God of the Theologians is simply an imaginary power, un loup garou as
d'Holbach expressed it - a power which has never yet manifested itself.
Our chief aim is to deliver humanity of this nightmare, to teach man virtue
for its own sake, and to walk in life relying on himself instead of leaning
on a theological crutch, that for countless ages was the direct cause of
nearly all human misery.
Pantheistic we may be called - agnostic NEVER. If people are willing to
accept and to regard as God our ONE LIFE immutable and unconscious in its
eternity they may do so and thus keep to one more gigantic misnomer. .
The word infinite is but a negative which excludes the idea of bounds. It
is evident that a being independent and omnipresent cannot be limited by
anything which is outside of himself; that there can be nothing exterior to
himself - not even vacuum, then where is there room for matter? for that
manifested universe even though the latter [be] limited?
If we ask the theist is your God vacuum, space or matter, they will reply
no. And yet they hold that their God penetrates matter though he is not
himself matter. When we speak of our One Life we also say that it
penetrates, nay is the essence of every atom of matter; and that therefore
it not only has correspondence with matter but has all its properties
likewise, etc. - hence is material, is matter itself. .
(The Universal Mind) - A few reflections and arguments ought to support
every new idea - for instance we are sure to be taken to task for the
following apparent contradictions:
(1) We deny the existence of a thinking conscious God, on the grounds
that such a God must either be conditioned, limited and subject to change,
therefore not infinite, or
(2) if he is represented to us as an eternal unchangeable and
independent being, with not a particle of matter in him, then we answer that
it is no being but an immutable blind principle, a law.
And yet, they will say, we believe in Dhyans, or Planetaries ("spirits"
also), and endow them with a universal mind, and this must be explained.
Our reasons may be briefly summed up thus:
(1) We deny the absurd proposition that there can be, even in a
boundless and eternal universe - two infinite eternal and omnipresent
(2) Matter we know to be eternal, i.e., having had no beginning
(a) because matter is Nature herself
(b) because that which cannot annihilate itself and is indestructible
exists necessarily - and therefore it could not begin to be, nor can it
cease to be
(c) because the accumulated experience of countless ages, and that of
exact science show to us matter (or nature) acting by her own peculiar
energy, of which not an atom is ever in an absolute state of rest, and
therefore it must have always existed, i.e., its materials ever changing
form, combinations and properties, but its principles or elements being
(3) As to God - since no one has ever or at any time seen him or it -
unless he or it is the very essence and nature of this boundless eternal
matter, its energy and motion, we cannot regard him as either eternal or
infinite or yet self existing. We refuse to admit a being or an existence
of which we know absolutely nothing; because
(a) there is no room for him in the presence of that matter whose
undeniable properties and qualities we know thoroughly well
(b) because if he or it is but a part of that matter it is ridiculous to
maintain that he is the mover and ruler of that of which he is but a
dependent part and
(c) because if they tell us that God is a self existent pure spirit
independent of matter - an extra-cosmic deity, we answer that admitting even
the possibility of such an impossibility, i.e., his existence, we yet hold
that a purely immaterial spirit cannot be an intelligent conscious ruler nor
can he have any of the attributes bestowed upon him by theology, and thus
such a God becomes again but a blind force.
Intelligence as found in our Dhyan Chohans, is a faculty that can appertain
but to organized or animated being - however imponderable or rather
invisible the materials of their organizations.
Intelligence requires the necessity of thinking; to think one must have
ideas; ideas suppose senses which are physical material, and how can
anything material belong to pure spirit?
If it be objected that thought cannot be a property of matter, we will ask
the reason why? ."
(MAHATMA LETTERS 88, Chronological edition; Let. 10, Barker
Other quotes from M L
Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all
in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital H. (...)
Our doctrine knows no compromises. It either affirms or denies, for it never
teaches but that which it knows to be the truth.
Therefore, we deny God both as philosophers and as Buddhists.
We know there are planetary and other spiritual lives, and we know there is
system no such thing as God, either personal or impersonal.
Parabrahm is not a God, but ABSOLUTE IMMUTABLE LAW, and Iswar is the effect
Avidya and Maya, ignorance based upon the great delusion.
The word "God" was invented to designate the unknown cause of those
effects which man has either admired or dreaded without understanding
them, and since we claim and that we are able to prove what we claim -
- i.e. the knowledge of that cause and causes we are in a position to
maintain there is no God or Gods behind them."
(Culled from MAHATMA LETTERS -- see M L INDEX )
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