Re: Reincarnation

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Posted by Jonah Winters ( on February 27, 2002 at 18:31:56:

In Reply to: Reincarnation posted by Morgan on February 27, 2002 at 04:29:55:

Hi. I have two observations, both personal and neither necessarily reflecting official Baha'i explanations.

1) Baha'u'llah says that the true reality of the soul is utterly beyond human comprehension:

LXXXII. Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. (Gleanings, LXXXII).
If the nature of the soul is truly that ineffable, then all descriptions of it must be only partial. We thus can't say that a soul "inheres" in a body during a single life, and thus neither can we say that it doesn't. How then can we flatly hold to such a model of the soul and say that it is an accurate description of reality? If we can't, then we've lost our means to refute reincarnation. Reincarnation thus becomes one of many equally partial postulations about the nature of the soul and its relation to the individual body.

Moojan Momen discusses similar issues in his Relativism: A Basis for Baha'i Metaphysics.

2) Then, Abdu'l-Baha explains in Some Answered Questions,, that all living beings are intimately interconnected. A consequence of this interconnection, combined with recent discoveries of genetic memory, could be that memories and other "psychic" phenomena can indeed be shared among people, both diachronically (from ancestors) as well as synchronically (among other living beings). Anyway, that's my extrapolation from the following quote from SAQ:

For those who deny spiritual influence upon material things we mention this brief example: wonderful sounds and tones, melodies and charming voices, are accidents which affect the air--for sound is the term for vibrations of the air--and by these vibrations the nerves of the tympanum of the ear are affected, and hearing results. Now reflect that the vibration of the air, which is an accident of no importance, attracts and exhilarates the spirit of man and has great effect upon him: it makes him weep or laugh; perhaps it will influence him to such a degree that he will throw himself into danger. Therefore, see the connection which exists between the spirit of man and the atmospheric vibration, so that the movement of the air becomes the cause of transporting him from one state to another, and of entirely overpowering him; it will deprive him of patience and tranquillity. Consider how strange this is, for nothing comes forth from the singer which enters into the listener; nevertheless, a great spiritual effect is produced. Therefore, surely so great a connection between beings must have spiritual effect and influence.

It has been mentioned that the members and parts of man affect and influence one another. For example, the eye sees; the heart is affected. The ear hears; and the spirit is influenced. The heart is at rest; the thoughts become serene, and for all the members of man's body a pleasant condition is realized. What a connection and what an agreement is this! Since this connection, this spiritual effect and this influence, exists between the members of the body of man, who is only one of many finite beings, certainly between these universal and infinite beings there will also be a spiritual and material connection. Although by existing rules and actual science these connections cannot be discovered, nevertheless, their existence between all beings is certain and absolute.

To conclude: the beings, whether great or small, are connected with one another by the perfect wisdom of God, and affect and influence one another. If it were not so, in the universal system and the general arrangement of existence, there would be disorder and imperfection. But as beings are connected one with another with the greatest strength, they are in order in their places and perfect.

This subject is worthy of examination.

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