Metempsychosis, or the transmigration of the soul, is the process by which a metaphysical soul passes from one physical body to another, through a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. In this way, everyone has a mortal body and an immortal soul. For tens of thousands of years, people have understood this to be the way the world works.
The animists and deists of old knew that ancestors occasionally reincarnate as their descendants. This is still acknowledged by Australian aborigines, among others. Along with this, several Amazonian tribes avoid eating certain animals, because they believe ancestral souls have entered their bodies. Similarly, certain Indonesians hold that ancestral souls reside in sacred animals, often in preparation for a new incarnation.
Similarly, the transmigration of the soul is a fundamental doctrine of several religions originating in India, including Sikhism and Jainism. In Hinduism, it is said that the sum total of past moral conduct, known as karma, determines the condition of the soul and the quality of its rebirth. The cycle of life, death, and rebirth is eternal unless the soul is released through arduous effort and the attainment of knowledge by way of yoga. This leads to moksha, which is a form of salvation for the devout.
Moreover, numerous ancient Greek philosophers also believed in metempsychosis. Pythagoras taught that souls were reincarnated in various bodily forms. Empedocles and Plato held similar views derived from the same sources. Plotinus also believed that destiny depended upon the life of the soul in previous incarnations.
Ancient Jewish treatment of metempsychosis was limited to Kabbalistic theories, which were derived mainly from Gnostic, Manichaean, and Neoplatonic sources. They taught that imperfect souls try to prevent the fulfillment of the divine plan. It is said that pure souls descend from heaven to be incarnated and that punishment and atonement for sins are achieved through rebirth. Thus, it is believed that if the pious suffer, it must be for sins they committed in a previous existence.
The point is that the idea that a person starts a new life in a different body after death can be found all over the world. Buddhists in Tibet, Theosophists in Germany, Scientologists in America, Hindus in India, and Sikhs in Canada all agree that rebirth is a fact of life. Academic demographic studies even warrant further pursuit of the subject.
As far as I can tell, the essentialists and the existentialists are both kind of right for different reasons. That is to say, there is, in fact, an immortal soul which exists before the birth of the body, but it gives rise to a new identity in each lifetime. So, in some ways, we exist before we exist, and in other ways, we don’t. These are very significant distinctions.
Research into this could help to better explain certain idiomatic phobias or chronic obsessions to aid in the treatment of mental illnesses. It could also offer new insights into child prodigies. The concept of rebirth might be useful to patients coping with identity crises. Reincarnation can also shed some light on the mystery of deja vu. Soul mates even factor into this. There are countless reasons to explore the concept of metempsychosis.
This is very important because as soon as children can speak, some of them begin to report past life memories. This can start as early as a year old, however, they often forget everything by age seven at the latest. Very few people retain past life memories into adulthood, and some only experience spontaneous flashbacks.
Regardless, the children who retain past life memories always speak in a matter of fact tone of voice when recounting previous events, being very serious and direct. Their stories also remain consistent over time. They even have knowledge beyond experience, in that they know things they seemingly shouldn’t. Reborn children also tend to exhibit corresponding behaviors and traits regarding their most recent past life.
Many people even have birthmarks and defects that correspond to illnesses and injuries that were sustained in previous incarnations. For instance, a man who was killed by a shotgun wound to the head was reborn in Turkey as a boy with unilateral microtia, so his right ear was malformed and that half of his face was underdeveloped. There are dozens and dozens of these kinds of cases that are known about and countless others that have gone unreported.
One of the more bizarre incidents occurred in the late 20th century when a man named Suresh Verma was gunned down. After dying, he came back as a boy named Titu Singh bearing marks on his head where Suresh had been shot. Titu eventually went to the authorities in Agra where Suresh had lived and named the man who pulled the trigger. So, the police were able to solve a cold case that was years old when they got him to confess to the crime.
It’s strange how it all works. Prior to incarnating, souls actually choose their birth parents. Sometimes parents are even able to pick up on the former name of their child. For instance, James Houston reincarnated as James Leininger and Mandy Clarke became Mandy Seabrook. It’s also pretty cool when a famous person returns, like when Anne Frank came back as Barbro Karlen. Although, personally, my favorite account is probably that of Mary Sutton being reborn as Jenny Cockel.
Mary Sutton lived in the early part of the 20th century and gave birth to a few children before she died. Mary was then reborn as Jenny Cockell in 1953. Years later, Jenny reunited with her former offspring, some of whom accepted her as the reincarnation of their mother and all of whom accepted her memories as being those of Mary Sutton. Along with this, Jenny also claims to have precognitive knowledge of her next life which will be that of a girl named Nadia who will be born in Nepal near the middle of the 21st century.
Ultimately, what this means is that not all of your identity necessarily originates from this lifetime. This is why things like past-life regression need to be a standard part of psychiatric medicine. By relegating this to the status of alternative science, people are missing out on a vital aspect of existence. Reincarnation is real and the whole of humanity needs to treat it as such, otherwise, we won’t all be able to see the bigger picture together.
The truth is that when we die our souls temporarily experience an afterlife based on cumulative virtues and vices which result in merits and demerits, respectively. With enough merits, a soul can be liberated from the process altogether and allowed to return to the Oversoul. If a person is good, but not great, then they are reborn as another person. If, however, they are incredibly bad, then they might come back as a slug or even a virus. Simply put, your afterlife will be in proportion to your life, and when this runs out you will either be reborn on Earth or with God. Such is the story of the transmigration of the soul.