24. Is Reincarnation So?
1. In the ultimate sense, reincarnation is impossible. There is no past or future, and the idea of birth into a body has no meaning either once or many times. Reincarnation cannot, then, be true in any real sense. Our only question should be, “Is the concept helpful?” and that depends, of course, on what it is used for. If it is used to strengthen the recognition of the eternal nature of life, it is helpful indeed. Is any other question about it really useful in lighting up the way? Like many other beliefs, it can be bitterly misused. At least, such misuse offers preoccupation and perhaps pride in the past. At worst, it induces inertia in the present. In between, many kinds of folly are possible.
2. Reincarnation would not, under any circumstances, be the problem to be dealt with now. If it were responsible for some of the difficulties the individual faces now, his task would still be only to escape from them now. If he is laying the groundwork for a future life, he can still work out his salvation only now. To some, there may be comfort in the concept, and if it heartens them its value is self-evident. It is certain, however, that the way to salvation can be found by those who believe in reincarnation and by those who do not. The idea cannot, therefore, be regarded as essential to the curriculum. There is always some risk in seeing the present in terms of the past. There is always some good in any thought which strengthens the idea that life and the body are not the same.
3. For our purposes it would not be helpful to take any definite stand on reincarnation. A teacher of God should be as helpful to those who believe in it as to those who do not. If a definite stand were required of him, it would merely limit his usefulness, as well as his own decision making. Our course is not concerned with any concept that is not acceptable to anyone, regardless of his formal beliefs. His ego will be enough for him to cope with, and it is not the part of wisdom to add sectarian controversies to his burdens. Nor would there be an advantage in his premature acceptance of the course merely because it advocates a long- held belief of his own.
4. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that this course aims at a complete reversal of thought. When this is finally accomplished, issues such as the validity of reincarnation become meaningless. Until then, they are likely to be merely controversial. The teacher of God is, therefore, wise to step away from all such questions, for he has much to teach and learn apart from them. He should both learn and teach that theoretical issues but waste time, draining it away from its appointed purpose. If there are aspects to any concept or belief that will be helpful, he will be told about it. He will also be told how to use it. What more need he know?
5. Does this mean that the teacher of God should not believe in reincarnation himself, or discuss it with others who do? The answer is, certainly not! If he does believe in reincarnation, it would be a mistake for him to renounce the belief unless his internal teacher so advised. And this is most unlikely. He might be advised that he is misusing the belief in some way that is detrimental to his pupils’ advance or his own. Reinterpretation would then be recommended because it is necessary. All that must be recognized, however, is that birth was not the beginning, and death is not the end. Yet even this much is not required of the beginner. He need merely accept the idea that what he knows is not necessarily all there is to learn. His journey has begun.
6. The emphasis of this course always remains the same;- it is at this moment that complete salvation is offered you, and it is at this moment that you can accept it. This is still your one responsibility. Atonement might be equated with total escape from the past and total lack of interest in the future. Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time. No teaching that does not lead to this is of concern to God’s teachers. All beliefs will point to this if properly interpreted. In this sense, it can be said that their truth lies in their usefulness. All beliefs that lead to progress should be honored. This is the sole criterion this course requires. No more than this is necessary.
As teachers of God, we respect and embrace all beliefs that teach that the time of salvation is now – that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us; that Christ becomes us as we become Christ and remember our true identity in Him. If you have experienced memories of past lives or have encountered dead loved ones in new carnations, use these encounters only to strengthen your belief in the undying Self that is one with God in spirit and in truth. Do not use the concept of reincarnation as an excuse to put off the call of God in your life, for now is the time of salvation and to prolong time is to prolong suffering. If the idea of reincarnation seems wrong to you and does not fit in with your theology, at the very least maintain an open, tolerant mind remembering always that what you think you know is not all there is to know and that all of us have a lot to learn and teach one another.
Jesus tells us that all teaching points to Heaven when properly interpreted. Let this beautiful concept humble our egos and keep us from judgment and intolerance toward others who have a different approach to understanding the things of God than we do. Whether we have one shot at human life, or thousands of human carnations – we cannot take our flesh and bones to Heaven. We choose time or we choose eternity; we choose the temporal world, or we choose the everlasting one; we choose a realm of opposition and opposites, or we choose the Kingdom of love, and joy, and peace. We choose Heaven now and we teach choosing Heaven now. In this way the concept of reincarnation gives no rise to controversy to the teacher of God.
 A Course in Miracles. Manual for Teachers. 24. Is reincarnation so? Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
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