This week we bring you a selection from our Key Concepts section, on Reincarnation.
In Theosophy, reincarnation is interwoven with and inseparable from the Law of Karma. It can also be thought of as one particular example of the Law of Periodicity (or cycles) that pervades the universe. In short: reincarnation is the cyclic return of the Ego, the immortal individuality, to life in a physical body. When the time comes to incarnate, initiated by Karma and due to the Ego’s desire for Earth-life, the individuality once again builds for itself a new body. The Ego also attracts traits, capabilities, limitations and circumstances in accordance with its karma, which will help to compose the personality of the new life. This personality, which is distinct from the Individuality, is thus a combination of both past karma and the accumulated experiences in the current environment. As a child develops, it begins to experience a sense of “me”, and thus identifies with the personality being developed in that lifetime. It lives in this way during its life, but when death comes, the Ego leaves behind that particular personality and returns, for a time, to its native state as a pure individuality liberated from any encumberances.
Thus the cycle continues, one life after another, for the individuality, but never for its personalities. The individuality builds up karma through it’s successive lives, essentially developing a sort of moral and psychical ‘account’ that must be reconciled. We thus live our lives always with the opportunity to grow and learn and with the potential to once more self-realize our true nature as an immortal individuality, while always reaping the results of the seeds we have sown in past lives.
To aid students, we’ve put together a section on Reincarnation with a featured quotation and several key articles on the subject. We welcome you to explore this central idea in conjunction with its “companion-doctrine” Karma.