Archive for September 2012
The entire question of rebirth, sometimes called reincarnation, is shrouded in religious dogma, philosophical argument and rampant popular superstition. It is therefore extremely difficult to understand what in fact the situation is–is there some form of rebirth? If so, what is the functioning, mechanism and purpose of rebirth? How do we ascertain the facts relating to the operation of the process of rebirth? Is there any way to verify, one way or the other, the reality of rebirth?
Whether or not rebirth is a reality, there is the separate, although potentially related, question of karma. Here again, there is a mix of philosophy, religion and popular superstition associated with the concept of karma, essentially, “cause and effect”. There remain questions about why good people suffer, or why some are born into circumstances that are filled with luxury and ease, while others have to struggle and suffer under terrible burdens. Buddhism…
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There are numerous ideas, theories and concepts related to the question of whether or not we are reborn in some form or another after the death of the body. Some of these ideas hold that the life we live here is simply a single lifetime with nothing preceding it, and nothing following. Others hold that the life has no lives preceding it, and after death we are then transported to a paradise of heaven, or a punishment of hell, or some kind of limbo of purgatory. For some, the after death state is “permanent”; while for others it is an interregnum preparatory to a re-entry into the world.
Among the theories that believe in a recurrent series of births, there are also many viewpoints and a diverse terminology. Sri Aurobindo discusses some of these terms and the concepts behind them: “In former times the doctrine used to pass in Europe…
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Sri Aurobindo discusses the question of rebirth, starting from the question of whether it can be proven or not; and by what methodology we need to evaluate it. “Rebirth is for the modern mind no more than a speculation and a theory; it has never been proved by the methods of modern science or to the satisfaction of the new critical mind formed by a scientific culture. Neither has it been disproved; for modern science knows nothing about a before-life or an after-life for the human soul, knows nothing indeed about a soul at all, nor can know; its province stops with the flesh and brain and nerve the embryo and its formation and development. Neither has modern criticism any apparatus by which the truth or untruth of rebirth can be established.”
Sri Aurobindo points out that even questions such as the historicity of Christ remain an open-ended debate for…
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Posted September 26, 2012on:
Sri Aurobindo points out that even if we were able to elicit various proofs of the memory of past lives, it remains difficult for the scientific mind to accept these proofs, since they would not be subject to the type of physical factual scrutiny which that mind finds as its sole basis for acceptance. On the contrary, even cases that would be considered extremely positive can be explained away by those who choose to do so through any number of doubts or issues that can cloud the results.
We have of course heard of the cases where an individual is born in one country, and as a very young child is able to describe a village halfway across the world in another country to a “T” without prior exposure to that village; and that further, the child was able to describe circumstances of a past life with specific individuals who…
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Before reviewing the theory of rebirth through the lens of our reasoning faculty, Sri Aurobindo first takes up the very question of the limitations of the reasoning faculty itself to establish the proof of anything. “After all, most of the things that we accept as truths are really no more than moral certitudes.”
He goes on to illustrate that over time, we have propounded various explanations for the astronomical events we see, each one of which was accepted as the “truth” (to the point where it became punishable by torture and death to contradict that truth during the time of the Holy Inquisition), only to later give way to a new explanation that became the new “truth” for some period of time. The Newtonian universe has subsequently been superseded by the premises of quantum physics and today the concept of the truth of the universe is far different than it…
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In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo describes the process of “involution and evolution” whereby the supreme powers of existence have become involved in Matter, and then undertake an evolution, a series of steps of self-finding and expansion to integrate Matter with Spirit.
This implies that the development to the next level of consciousness is essentially inevitable in the earth evolution. It becomes then a matter of time and process. Sri Aurobindo describes this at the end of the book The Mother as follows:
“The supramental change is a thing decreed and inevitable in the evolution of the earth-consciousness; for its upward ascent is not ended and mind is not its last summit.”
We can participate and cooperate in this change through a psychological process of aspiration and receptivity from our side and a corresponding response from the consciousness operating on the higher planes. “But that the change may arrive…
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It is tempting to the human mind to believe that the Divine Shakti’s action must be extraordinary and miraculous and outside the normal methodology and mechanisms of the world’s functioning. We expect to see divinity in terms of miraculous cures, walking on water, or instantaneous psychological transformations that simply do away with our difficulties.
Sri Aurobindo rebuts this presumption: “Avoid also the error of the ignorant mind’s demand on the Divine Power to act always according to our crude surface notions of omniscience and omnipotence. For our mind clamours to be impressed at every turn by miraculous power and easy success and dazzling splendour; otherwise it cannot believe that here is the Divine. The Mother is dealing with the Ignorance in the fields of the Ignorance; she has descended there and is not all above. Partly she veils and partly she unveils her knowledge and her power, often holds them…
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