Preserving the Unity of Soul and Body
THE WESTERN WORLD in general looks upon re-embodiment, or reincarnation, as a heathen doctrine. Many persons close the door of their mind upon it, without waiting to find out what message it brings when interpreted in the light of Truth. It is the object of this article to set forth the Unity teaching concerning reincarnation, to show why we consider it reasonable, and to explain its relation to and its place in the Christ doctrine.
The teaching of Jesus is that all men shall, through Him, be made free from sin and be saved to the uttermost — spirit, soul, body. But until this salvation is attained, there is death. To give men opportunity to get the full benefit of salvation, life is necessary, and a body through which to express life is also necessary. So, when man loses his body by death, the law of expression works within him for re-embodiment, and he takes advantage of the Adam method of generation to regain a body. Divine mercy permits this process in order that man may have further opportunity to demonstrate the Christ life. But generation and death must give place to regeneration and eternal life. The necessity of rebirth must, therefore, pass away with all other makeshifts of the mortal man. It will have no place when men take advantage of the redeeming, regenerating life of Christ and quit dying.
Re-embodiment should not be given undue importance, because it is merely a temporary remedy to be followed by the real, which is resurrection. The whole man — spirit, soul, and body — must be lifted up into the Christ consciousness of life and perfection.
Through "the light [the indwelling Christ] which lighteth every man, coming into the world," the so-called heathen
have discerned many truths to which the more material-minded people of the newer countries have been blind. Whenever there has been a nation of thinkers who were not bound in materialism, those thinkers have accepted re-embodiment as a fact. It is rejected only where the craze for wealth and for fame and for the things of the world has darkened the mind with materiality.
The heathen who have not received Truth as revealed by Jesus do not know where and how re-embodiment fits into the race redemption; to them, it is a fixed, unalterable law. They believe in karma, the accumulated effects of the sins of past lives. The burden of karma they have carried for ages, and they expect to carry it for ages more, until they have worked out of it. This makes them victims of a blind fatalism, weary treadmill travelers from birth to death and from death to birth. There is no such hopeless note in the doctrine of Jesus. He came to bring a full consciousness of abundant life, complete forgiveness and redemption from all sin, victory over death and the grave, so delivering man from any occasion for re-embodiment and from all ideas of karma.
The heathen hold that reincarnation is one of the natural evolutionary steps of man's development. We teach, and our doctrine is sustained by the teaching of Jesus, that rebirth is the unifying force of nature at work in its effort to restore man to his original deathless estate. Man, through his disregard of the law of life, brought death upon the body, as taught in the 3d chapter of Genesis. A single span of life, from the birth of an infant to the death of an old man, does not constitute all man's opportunity for life. Life is continuous and in harmony with the wholeness of Being only when it is expressed in a perfect body; hence, man must have a body in order to gain an abiding consciousness
of life. Through repeated trials at living, man is finding out that he must learn to control the issues of life. The divine law, as taught by Jesus, must be understood and applied to all life's details, and when this is done, the Eden state will be restored.
Knowing that spirit, soul, and body are all necessary to man and that he cannot truly be said to live except in their conscious union and expression, the error of believing that death is the open door to a higher life, the gateway to heaven, is easily seen. There is no progress in death. Death is negation. The demonstration of eternal life can be made only in life — soul and body together working out the problem and together being lifted up.
The idea of progress in death has its origin in the mortal mind, which reasons from its own limitations instead of from absolute Truth. The mortal mind desires to preserve eternally the personal consciousness and all personal relations. Man, therefore, attempts to make and to people a heaven, or spirit world, where all the old family relations are as he knows them in his present life. He clings to this idea with a tenacity worthy of a better object, and it is usually only after hard experience that he is willing to drop the personal and to say, "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Matt. 12:50). Eternal life cannot be demonstrated in personal consciousness. The great family of Christ, the redeemed Adam race, are all one, and the little selfish relationships of the Adam man have no place in the new order.
Another illogical belief about the destiny of man is that the patriarchs and the prophets, and all others who have lived, have been lying in their graves, some of them for thousands of years, having no place in the onward movement of the race. Another teaching, unfounded in Scripture
or in reason, holds that they who formerly lived are now either in a realm of eternal bliss or in a state of unending torment. It is far more logical to believe that the race is a unit and that all its members grow and develop together as well as individually. Thus, we find it only reasonable to think of every man and every woman as coming onto the stage repeatedly, keeping up connection with the race and its experiences. A definite instance of this is written in the Scriptures concerning Elijah's appearance and work as John the Baptist. "And the disciples asked him, saying, 'Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must first come?' He answering, said, 'Elijah indeed comes, and will restore all things. But I say to you, that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him whatever they wished.' ... Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them concerning John" (Matt. 17:10-14; Emphatic Diaglott).
That you do not remember your past lives proves nothing. Neither do you remember the day on which you were born, but you do not on that account question the fact of your birth. Comparatively little of your present life is remembered. But that does not alter the fact that you have lived. Memory, to the natural man, is a matter of physical brain records, photographic or phonographic in character. The memories of experiences in past lives are not clearly recorded in the new brain structure of the infant. Such memories are usually in the nature of vague impressions; the sense of identity is blurred. But in the book of life, the great Mind of the universe, all identity is sharply marked, and as the individual becomes quickened and raised out of personal consciousness into the universal, he will be able to bridge over the breaks in personal experience. He will come to himself. Realizing his spiritual identity as the son of God, he will not entangle himself with either present or past
personality but will claim and demonstrate his divine sonship. He will no longer limit himself to a brief span of life, beginning with birth and ending with death, but will live in the consciousness of eternal life, which has neither end nor beginning.
Preceding Entry: The Household of Faith 277-284: Attaining Eternal Life
Following Entry: The Household of Faith 290-292: The Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand