All students on the spiritual path eventually are confronted with the question of the reality and/or relevance of reincarnation. If your spiritual path has any roots in antiquity or has an influence from the Far East, you are likely to know about the theory of reincarnation. This theory basically states that one of the key laws in the Universe is that of “karma,” or that all cause has an effect (all actions have an equal reaction). If a person passes away from this life without fulfilling the effects of his/her actions/causes, then it stands to reason they will have to return to this realm until they fulfill the cause by experiencing the effects. This is how and why the law of karma progresses into the law of reincarnation.
The Akashic Record
The “Akashic Record,” or the “Book of Life,” holds the answer to exactly what “karma” you have not yet fulfilled in this lifetime. This record or “life-file” is stored in a particular part of your mind or soul and is constantly being added to and subtracted from. When the file is void of any “negative” karma and/or unhealed wounds, then you are clear of any further need to reincarnate. On the other hand, if there is even one single issue that remains unhealed, you will return to clear the slate. There is only one exception to this rule: It happens on rare occasion that a soul is indeed clear of bad karma or unhealed wounds and yet they choose, nevertheless, to incarnate again into the earth plane for the purpose of being a teacher, healer, or an example to others, assisting them to become free of their own karma and wounds. In Buddhism such a person is referred to as a Bodhisattva. A Course in Miracles, refers to such individuals as the “Saints of God.”
Karma, Reincarnation, and A Course in Miracles
Even though most spirituality-minded groups believe in the theory of karma and reincarnation, there are a few groups that do not. One of the most outspoken groups includes some of the students of A Course in Miracles. Students of the Course would argue that the Course never mentions reincarnation, just as a fundamental Christian would claim that reincarnation is not mentioned in the Bible. Such folks, in both cases, are sorely mistaken. The truth is that ideas of reincarnation have been mostly edited out of both aforementioned books. Jesus himself told Helen (the author of A Course in Miracles) that she had known him in a previous life on Earth and this is where they forged their unique bond that would become her mission to write the Course. The Bible, of course, also mentions reincarnation such as when Jesus states that John the Baptist once lived as the prophet Elijah. Numerous other sacred books of Buddhism, Hinduism, and mystic Christianity also support the idea of reincarnation.
Reincarnation is a Reminder
Adding to the support of spiritual books that validate reincarnation, both Jesus and Buddha seem to validate the theory in their teachings. Jesus and Buddha both made it a point to teach that although reincarnation is indeed a universal law, one is not supposed to see it as a law of fate but rather as a reminder of what one needs to be doing in their present life. In other words, our past lives are being lived again—here and now—in our present life. This means that the odds are great that the people you now know, you have known before. The more impactful they are in this life tells you how impactful they might have been before. If the people in your current life seem to have a positive (or negative) effect in your life, it stands to reason that they have been positive (or negative) in the past. If you feel an intense love (or hate) for someone in the present, you’ve probably loved (or hated) them intensely in the past. Although people sometimes change their role and behavior from one lifetime to the next (usually due to having learned a major lesson that shifted their patterns), most people tend to repeat their roles.
Healing Karmic Debt
Again, the people you love, you have probably loved before. The people you struggle with, you have probably struggled with before. The goal in the present life is to release them all from their former roles—releasing the insistence to possess those you once loved and releasing the resistance to forgiving those with whom you once struggled. To do otherwise is to keep the past, as well as all relationships from the past, in a prison of karma (or hell) until the debt is paid off. To accomplish this release, however, means gaining a newfound freedom by healing the old relationships that were seemingly negative, as well as integrating (through learning and gratitude) the relationships that were seemingly positive where you shared love.
Throughout many lifetimes, you wander through a three-dimensional maze of relationships—loving, losing, hurting, learning, healing, and then loving again. The cycle is repeated time and again until you no longer have anything to learn or heal. Believing you owe a debt or that a debt is owed you, is another cause for having to reincarnate. As long as you believe that something is owed to you or by you, you will return to earth until you feel the debt is paid. Ironically, this means you are stuck in the cycle of reincarnation forever, because the very belief in debt (i.e. that there anything you lack and is owed to you) causes the debt. Conversely, when you realize that you are a perfect spiritual being and that debt has no place in your Divinity, then you will be free.
A Short Story About the “Law of Karma”
Once upon a time, there was a princess. This princess was born to love and be loved and to share all that was her inheritance. While still very young, the princess dreamt that she would someday fall in love with a very special man, a man with whom she would share a large portion of her life. However, before her dream could manifest, the princess was kidnapped and taken far away from her father’s kingdom and mistreated in ways that were not worthy of a princess. She was gone for so long and missed her family so much that she eventually lost nearly all memory of how her life once was.
She began to lose hope and even began to become confused between what did and didn’t feel right. Then one day, after many years in captivity, the princess escaped from the wicked people who took her away. But she found herself feeling alone and with no place to go and no way of knowing how to get home. Overwhelmed with fear and loneliness, the princess decided to stay with the first man that came along and seemed to offer her any sense of safety or love. She stayed with this man until she realized she was being deceived and that the man only wanted to use and control her.
She then ran away and found herself repeating the same mistake—again and again. Eventually, the princess ran away one last time and vowed never again to settle or to allow her fears to dictate her decisions—even if it meant being alone. While she was wandering in the woods, she came to realize how ashamed she felt for her previous decisions. She also felt ashamed for all she had done and all that was done to her. She realized that she had made her decisions to settle for unloving men not only out of fear but also due to the shame she felt that made her certain that she was unworthy to return home—to a place that was so different from the life she had been living. The princess became overwhelmed with grief and she cried for hours until she eventually fell into a deep sleep.
Her cries, however, were heard by a man, a very special man. This man came to her, lifted her up and carried her to his home. When she awoke, the princess found herself truly safe and cared for. In fact, the princess was at home, in the kingdom of her family. The man who found her was the young man she was always meant to love and share her life with. Her heart once again swelled with joy, as it had many years before. However, for one moment, she did pull away from him, filled with dread that he might know where she had been and what she had experienced. The man, who was now a king from the same region of her original home, gently took hold of her chin and turned her eyes toward his. He then said, “My dear sweet soul, I have loved you always. Even when you forgot me and lost hope, I never forgot you. I have been looking for you for many years and would have continued to do so for many lifetimes if need be. Your father left it to me to find you and now, I have done so. Whatever you experienced has no affect on who you are nor on the life that now awaits you.”
The heart and soul of the princess opened wide, as did her eyes, because she knew these words were true. Her years of suffering and settling were now to become merely a bad dream. She was now a princess again and prepared to become a queen.
The princess in this story is a great representation of us all and our personal journey on earth. The story reminds us of how we sometimes lose sight of our True Self and find ourselves making poor decisions or behaving in ways that reflect the fear, guilt, and/or shame of losing that sight. Then, feeling even worse about ourselves, we begin a spiral downward that sometimes feels endless and without hope of recovery.
Nevertheless, Spirit knows who we are and what we truly deserve–peace, love, joy, and abundance. As long as some part of us maintains hope and faith that we will eventually remember who we truly are, the day is certain to arrive–sooner rather than later. The man in the dream can of course be translated to represent any man or woman who loves, supports, and empowers us, and encourages us on our journey back to Spirit. Even more importantly, the man in the story represents a true friend or healer, or perhaps Christ or even God Itself. The man can also represent the divine part of us that is always patiently waiting for us to stop living in fear and guilt and instead choosing to accept all the good things that await us when we surrender to the truth of who we are.
Karma and reincarnation both reflect to us that we have forgotten who we are. Love and forgiveness, both reflect that we are remembering. And, as we practice our remembrance, by practicing love and forgiveness, we also begin to recognize that the “Law of Karma” is not a law of reality but is merely a law within our dream of separation. As our mind expands into this awareness, we then realize that since we are the “dreamers of the dream,” and that our dream of being outside of Heaven and thus experiencing numerous lifetimes is a collective dream, we can release the karma of others by releasing it in ourselves. Or, as A Course in Miracles puts it, “When we are healed, we are not healed alone.”