Contrary to what is taught today, the principles of reincarnation and Karma were known in Judaism and Christianity.
Reincarnation and karma in Judaism
Excerpt from a text by Moses Gaster, who was Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Congregation in London and Vice-President of the Royal Asian Society.
“Belief in the migration (or reincarnation) of the soul presupposes the existence of the soul and an entire esoteric system relating to its creation, the conception of sin and redemption and contains the fundamental principles on which such a doctrine must be based.
God is the creator of all things, therefore souls are His creation. This one ended at the end of the sixth day.
In the beginning souls were created.
Thus, God’s power is limited to what He did on this occasion.
The souls created are therefore in limited number, creation being only a limited act and having to have an end at a defined time.
These souls are the creation and not an emanation of God.
It is conceivable that they have an individual existence; they live separately and perfectly conscious of their individuality; they dwell in heaven or in paradise in profound contemplation before the glory of God, and it is there that they are allowed to return to the end of their peregrination in the lower world.
The souls of those who have already been born, those who are not, those who have already been on earth and those who have not yet been on earth, dwell together in heaven or in God’s treasure.
Moses, in his ascension into heaven, saw the souls of the pious believers, of those who had lived on earth, and of those who would later live there, and among them, those of David and Aquiba.
New souls are not created for each of the children who are born, the number of souls being limited.
Man must, by his actions, approach the Divine, and his entire life must be a continuous hymn to the glory of God.
But man, made of the silt of the earth, cannot rise to such perfection unless the Divine Soul helps him to do so as the Divine Law guides him ever higher towards heaven.
His life is a constant struggle between the crude material tendencies inherent in his earthly nature and the high spiritual aspirations of his Divine Soul.
According to the path he will follow, his soul will be more or less contaminated by the contact of matter, it will lose more and more its brilliance and spiritual purity, because man’s will is completely free; he is the master of his own actions.
Souls have been created for a specific purpose; they must incarnate, but they do not have the ability to choose the body, nor the time of their entry into the body, nor the time or way of leaving it.
Although the soul forgets almost everything about its spiritual existence when it enters a body on earth, it still has a diminished, faded memory of it, a subconscious image that is the elementary principle in the elementary recognition of good and evil.
Thus, each human being has within him or her the means to know good and evil, a means that has been offered to the soul in his or her pre-earth life.
In Zohar, the incarnation of the soul is described as follows: all souls were created at the beginning of all creation: not yet incarnated, they remain in heavenly bliss and divine illumination.
When a body is prepared to receive a soul, a soul, to which an earthly experience is necessary, is directed or attracted to the body that can give it the required experience and knowledge.
The Divine Law is expressed in the following way towards the soul: “You will see how great is the mercy of the Lord towards you.
He has given you his most precious jewel: the Law, so that you may return to the state of purity. Thus, through the incarnation, it is possible for the soul to redeem its sins, to purify itself and consequently, to rise from a higher degree to the ultimate perfection.
And now the soul begins its career on Earth.
His constant concern must be to become the absolute master of the body and not its slave.
In the first incarnation, the soul is completely pure, without any defilement.
She has not yet encountered the obstacle of original sin.
The constantly observed principle is that “every man will die in the unjust works he has committed” (Ezekiel, 18-26), but the inherent weakness of matter is soon felt and temptations come along by the envy and malice of the evil spirits, who strive to bring it down to their own level.
Man, through trials and difficulties, must make his way and win eternal happiness. A deadline has been set for his redemption.
Thus, when all souls have been purified by successive reincarnations and have reached the highest peak of perfection, the kingdom of heaven will be established on Earth.
The “Evil One” on Earth tries, but in vain, to hinder the uninterrupted development of the evolution and purification of souls; he can delay it but cannot prevent it indefinitely.
The soul that has been contaminated by an earthly experience can recover its purity; the mistakes made can be redeemed by compensation and, here itself, the means are given to the soul to accomplish its own purification.
She keeps her own consciousness and realizes her failures as well as the bitterness of the punishments.
It is tragic for her not to have the opportunity to reach the heights and not to be able to present herself before God in her primitive purity. After death, she remains in an intermediate state of the spiritual realm, waiting for an opportunity to purify herself and redeem her mistakes.
This is allowed by reincarnation or rebirth, and so the soul passes from one body to another.
She may or may not remember or not remember, in each incarnation, her previous existence.
This migration is continuous until all stains are removed; it serves an even higher purpose and has a more direct purpose: the justice of God!
The great problem that has obsessed the seeker, in every form of religious belief, has always been this: how to reconcile the happiness enjoyed by the fisherman with the sufferings and trials of the pious and good man, with the justice of God?
Each religion has tried to establish a doctrine that answers this question.
Some of them have relegated the solution of this problem to a continuity of life after death, whereby the soul remains associated with a physical body, so that it can suffer the torments of hell.
This explanation was, after all, only a clever way of turning the difficulty into one that could be blamed for a certain selfish tendency.
It is not the same with regard to the belief in the reincarnation of the soul.
Right here on Earth, in plain sight, the sinner, whoever he is, must make up for his mistakes. It is here on earth that he must suffer for the evil committed and obtain, after some kind of examination, his admission to the heavenly regions.
Through this slow process of purification, in successive reincarnations, the whole world would benefit, progress in general would be accelerated and the well-being of humankind increased.
There are, so to speak, successive incarnations for each pre-existing soul and it is for them that the world was created.
Simon the Magician claimed to have lived before, his soul passing from body to body before living in the one who was known as Simon.
The Samaritan doctrine of the Taheb also teaches the pre-existence of the soul, a soul which, through successive incarnations, passed through Set, Noah, Abraham and finally Moses.
These doctrines teach that not only is the world perfected by the rebirth of souls, but that each individual gradually atones for his faults during each new existence in which his soul reappears.
This can be reincarnated in the body of a righteous and pious man, and he, by his good deeds, will erase the impurities that still tarnish it and facilitate his asceticism.
If a truly good and pious person suffers here on earth, it is only as a result of the mistakes made in a previous incarnation and his sufferings are not a punishment for mistakes made in this life, but represent a kind of purgatory for the bad actions of a previous life.
Similarly, everyone benefits from the good deeds they have been able to accomplish in a previous existence.
Thus, he can prosper for a time, but if he persists in his mistakes, he will neutralize all the benefits of his past life and attract suffering and punishment in that very life or in his future incarnation.
Opinions differ on the number of reincarnations through which the soul must pass before reaching perfection.
It is believed that the complete cycle of reincarnation is the one in which the soul has observed all 613 commandments of the Law by which perfection can only be achieved.
Through reincarnation, the soul fulfills the purpose of its creation, which is to pass through a certain number of existences on Earth to gradually elevate man and bring him closer to the Divine.
This doctrine is the justification of the divine laws with regard to man and at the same time it is a source of comfort for the just and terror for the fisherman.
It makes man accept his sufferings and trials and at the same time explains the hidden meaning of many laws and ceremonies, a meaning that otherwise seems obscure.
Reincarnation and karma in Christianity
- Jesus and his disciples
In the Gospel according to St. John, chapter 9, from the second to the fourth verse, we can discover a discussion about reincarnation and the principle of Karma, between Jesus and his disciples:
Jesus, passing on the way with his disciples, meets a blind man who was thought to have been born blind.
Jesus’ disciples thought that this was an opportunity to learn more about the law of Karma and the causes of human suffering.
So they drew Jesus’ attention to the blind man and asked:
“Master, is it this man’s sin or his father’s and mother’s sin that causes him to be born blind?”
Jesus answered them:
“It is not that he has sinned, nor those who gave birth to him, but that the works of God may appear in him.
In the question, it is clear that the disciples speak of reincarnation because they speak of a sin that could have been responsible for his blind birth.
And the question is asked quite naturally, without hesitation, which indicates that the disciples were perfectly aware of the laws of Karma and rebirth and also knew that these universal laws were known to Jesus.
It should also be noted that, in his answer, Jesus is not surprised by this question and that his answer is not a criticism of the disciples’ beliefs.
All this is logical in relation to the first text on reincarnation in Judaism, and if you have read my article on the Sumerian and Egyptian origin of the Bible, you know that the Old Testament is full of Egyptian text, sometimes rearranged, sometimes totally copied.
You also know that the Hebrew alphabet and Kabbalah come from Egypt and you should also know that the Egyptians practiced circumcision and knew the principle of reincarnation:
“The Egyptians are the first to have exposed the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and the fact that at the moment of the death of the material body, the soul incarnates in a new body that is ready to be born; they affirm that when the soul has completed the entire cycle of incarnations of the animals of the sea, land and air, it finally manages to enter a human body, born or prepared to receive it…” Herodotus…. (484-420 BC)
See also on this subject:
And you realize that all these texts are linked.
There is also the Indian influence, historians have discovered that many Hebrews made the trip to India and were therefore also in contact with the Vedic religion or Hinduism.
Moreover, I will soon write an article about the many similarities between the teaching of Jesus and the Upanishads (teachings in the form of a parable from Hinduism), which suggest that original Christianity is a mixture of the teaching from the book of Enoch (which is of Sumerian origin) and Indian wisdom…
Source: Excerpt from texts by Moïse Gaster compiled by Harvey Spencer Lewis in his book: Dwellings of the soul