Everyone is a traveler from eternity to eternity, learning the way of wisdom as they come and go; learning at last that all life is the expression of life, evolving from lower forms to higher; that birth and death are phases of the ceaseless law of change widely known as reincarnation. The concept of past lives goes back to the times of ancient Egypt, India, Rome, and Greece. The Greek philosophers Pythagoras, Plato, Virgil, Ovid, Socrates, Aristotle, and Aquinas have embraced it in their philosophies and some have gone as far as to teach it (Tichenor 6). With a stall in the scientific interest, reincarnation was almost forgotten but in the last couple of decades the spark of belief in reincarnation has drawn attention and continues to gain recognition among researchers, medical professionals, and the general public. A 2001 Gallup poll revealed that approximately 25% of the population of the United States alone believes in reincarnation (Tichenor 4). With many people believing in reincarnation comes with a common misconception of what the philosophical term means.
In the process of reincarnation, a person ‘dies’ and his or her physical body perishes, but his or her mind, or in a more attractive term, soul, will persist and later become associated with another physical body (Slavoutski 83). Another word is used in context of reincarnation called transmigration. Transmigration explains the transition of the soul through different lives until the soul has reached ultimate maturity. According to Dr. Ian Stevenson, “When a human being dies, he continues to exist not on the earth but in a region we know not where as a pure disembodied mind of else as an astral or some kind of a non-physical body,” (Almeder 517). The term “reincarnation”, however, did not start by philosophers or scientists but with religions and has grown into others since. A not-so-common religion explains the complexity of the body and mind which allows reincarnation to be accepted. The Yoga Philosophy teaches that man is composed of seven principles: The Physical Body, the Astral Body, Prana, the Instinctive Mind, the Intellect Mind, the Spiritual Mind, and the Spirit (Tichenor 18). According to the Yoga Philosophy the Spirit, ironically the seventh principle, is “the first to be, and yet it will be the last to appear in full consciousness,” (Tichenor 20). It is hard to think that the Physical Body is the lowest and crudest manifestation of life yet is the first of the seven principles. The body is merely a vessel to reach the ultimate goal of salvation. The astral body is the counterpart of the physical body, but a finer grade of matter. It is the body in which the soul leaves the physical body at the time of death. The astral body is also believed in numerous religions to be the existence between lives. Then the instinctive mind is the first and lowest manifestation of the mind. It is recognized by the western psychologists as the “subjective” or “subconscious” mind (Tichenor 19).
Prana or the Vital Force, is found in all life, from plant life to man. It is the life-force that is extracted from the air people breathe, the water people drink, and the food everyone eats. It is the life force of the body. It allows for past lives to be live once again, whether the life is manifested as a human, animal, or plant. The Intellect, or conscious mind, is described as the self-consciousness, in which people form the conception of “I.” It is the mind that analyzes, classifies, and draws conclusions (Tichenor 19). The principle is allowed to travel with the astral body in hopes of finding life through Prana. The sixth principle is the Spiritual Mind. The Spiritual Mind is that principle of mind that exhibits kindness, love of humanity, love for justice, and longing for a humane society (Tichenor 20). The principle is needed to be promised life as a human. If one does not have the full Spiritual Mind,...