What happens after death is a question people have grappled with since the beginning of time. At the time of death, do we enter a state of eternal oblivion, do we meet God in a space of heavenly bliss, or do we come back to this life?
In this article, I will focus on the possibility of coming back to earth after death. This is known as reincarnation. Reincarnation is the cycle of death and rebirths to which the soul is tied. Some people might argue that the eternal nature of the soul is something people believe in because they are afraid of death, but the eternal nature of the soul is based on science. The soul is pure energy. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be destroyed nor created.
There are many scientists and philosophers who believe in reincarnation. Socrates once said, “I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence.” Jim Tucker, a professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia, investigates cases of children who have memories of past lives. In one of these cases, a boy named Ryan Hammons had memories of his previous life as a director in Hollywood. He told his mom “I think I used to be someone else,” at the age of four.
Tucker’s work includes over 2500 cases of children who remember previous lives. Past life memories, hypnotic regression and near death experiences are among the things that provide evidence for reincarnation. The video below tells the story of Vicki Noratuk, a blind woman involved in a near fatal car accident. Her out of body experience suggests that the soul is indeed distinct from the body.
I spoke to Shyamananda Das, who joined the Hare Krishna movement in 1987. He is not some religious fanatic. On the contrary, he has a background in applied physics and electronic engineering. Shyamananda remembers being in the womb. One day, he entered the lounge while his roommate was watching a program on television about the development of babies. They were filming the baby in the womb, and Shyamananda says “[I] got this overwhelming feeling of being in that position. I actually collapsed.” His revelation was revealed to him in his heart, and he says he knows “unequivocally” that it is true; and not just mere imagination or a dream.
Shyamananda was 25 when he had an out of body experience. He was meditating, and his internal prayer was to have proof that he is not the body. “Suddenly, I was out of my body, looking at myself meditating,” he says. The experience didn’t last very long, but it is proof that because we are separate from the body, we are eternal. The basis of reincarnation stems from the fact that we are eternal.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not only Indian religions that believe in the concept of reincarnation. Ancient books such as the Bible and the Koran support the idea of reincarnation as well. In John 3:3 Jesus told Nicodemus, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again”. In the Koran, Surah 2:28, it is said, “How can you deny Allah? Did he not give you life when you were lifeless; and will he not cause you to die and again bring you to life; and will you not ultimately return to Him?” To any theist these verses are crucial.
It is liberating to know that after death there is more than eternal darkness. Once you accept the concept of reincarnation as truth, the soul can start working towards the goal of escaping the cycle of death and rebirth and then finally rest in peace when he is united with God.