No amount of logical arguments
can convince some Christians of the fact of reincarnation. Nor would the
accounts of the personal experiences of other people persuade such Christians.
Even though it is quite obvious that, without reincarnation, one cannot argue
convincingly of the perfect Justice of God, many Christians would still want to
know what the Scriptures say about reincarnation. They would ask: Does the Bible
support it? What did the earliest followers of Christ think of it? We shall
show, in this Chapter, that in Biblical times, belief in reincarnation was so
widespread, was so much a part of the culture, that it was taken for granted.
Some Truths Are
Not in the Scriptures: Before we discuss specific
passages in the Bible that indicate acceptance of reincarnation, let us remark
that it is wrong to assume that all truths are to be found in the Scriptures. It
is simply not so. Truths are revealed to mankind according to men's state of
spiritual maturity. Some truths may not have been given to men at some
particular point in time because they were not yet ready for such truths. Even
the way a particular truth is presented also depends on how mature the audience
is perceived to be. We find that this makes sense in our educational system; why
should it not make sense in the school of spiritual life?
When a child has finished
drinking his bottle of Coke, we may tell him that the bottle is empty. He will
agree, and this is true for his age. But we may tell an older child that the
bottle is not really empty, that nature does not permit a vacuum. The bottle is
full of air. And again, this is true. And yet we can go on to tell a yet more
mature person, that the empty bottle contains more than one item; that it
contains a mixture of many gases including nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide.
It is in a similar manner that spiritual truths have been revealed to mankind
Is it distressing to experience consciousness slipping away or something people can accept with equanimity? Are there any surprises in store as our existence draws to a close? These are questions that have plagued philosophers and scientists for centuries, and chances are you've pondered them too occasionally.None of us can know the answers for sure until our own time comes, but the few individuals who have their brush with death interrupted by a last-minute reprieve can offer some intriguing insights. Advances in medical science, too, have led to a better understanding of what goes on as the body gives up the ghost.Death comes in many guises, but one way or another it isusually a lack of oxygen to the brain that delivers the coup de grâce.
Whether as a result of a heart attack, drowning or suffocation, for example, people ultimately die because their neurons are deprived of oxygen, leading to cessation of electrical activity in the brain - the modern definition of biological death.
If the flow
of freshly oxygenated blood to the brain is stopped, through whatever
mechanism, people tend to have about 10 seconds before losing
consciousness. They may take many more minutes to die, though, with the
exact mode of death affecting the subtleties of the final experience.
If you can take the grisly details, read on for a brief guide to the
many and varied ways death can suddenly strike.
The "surfacestruggle" for breath
Death by drowning has a
certain dark romance to it: countless literary heroines have met their
end slipping beneath the waves with billowy layers of petticoats
floating around their heads. In reality, suffocating to death in water
is neither pretty nor painless, though it can be surprisingly swift.
Just how fast people drown
depends on several factors, including swimming ability and water
temperature. In the UK, where the water is generally cold, 55 per cent
of open-water drownings occur within 3 metres of safety. Two-thirds of
victims are good swimmers, suggesting that people can get into
difficulties within seconds, says Mike Tipton, a physiologist and
expert in marine survival at the University of Portsmouth in the UK.
Typically, when a victim
realises that they cannot keep their head above water they tendto
A recent Beliefnet survey reveals that there are people of many religious traditions who believe they 'see dead people.'Jamie Foxx talks to his late grandmother. The most poignant (and reportedly the most TIVO'd) moment of this year's Academy Awards ceremony was when the Oscar winner expressed gratitude for his grandmother’s formative teachings and explained that even though she’s passed on, "she still talks to me now—only now she talks to me in my dreams."Before walking off the stage he told the audience of 42.1 million viewers that he couldn't wait to get to sleep that night because "we got a lot to talk about."
Many Beliefnet readers also seem to have a
lot to say to their deceased loved ones.
In a recent online Beliefnet
survey, 10,000 people answered detailed questions about how they
communicate, or do not communicate, with the dead. A striking 69% of
respondents indicated that they have attempted to talk to the dead, and
many believe they've succeeded in making contact.
Our survey asked our readers if they had
ever consulted a medium or psychic (21% said yes), used a Ouija board
(28%), or participated in a séance (14%). But the vast majority said
they attempted to communicate with loved ones directly without
resorting to outside help—through prayer and meditation (63%) and
speaking to them aloud or in their minds (69%). A final question, "Have
you ever felt as if a dead person was trying to communicate with you?"
elicited more than 3,800 essayresponses. The testimonials
detail everything from the spirit of a dead cat appearing in a woman's
lap to a deceased son giving his mother one last hug in a dream. Others
used the essay space to submit a simple, emphatic "No"—often in all
capital letters, with multiple exclamation points.
But the skeptics were greatly outnumbered.
Clearly, most people in this survey audience indicated that they reach
across a divide to dead loved ones as a matter of course. Their stories
and experiences, whether you credit them or not, reveal a vast and
varied landscape of beliefs that warrants a closer look.
What It Feels Like
What's it like to contact the dead? Here's how some of our users describe their experiences:
"It's like chills going up your spine. It's
My first day of medical school was a series of inspirational talks. The tone, set by the anesthesiologist who led off, was lighthearted. His subject was "Everything you will ever need to know about medicine." This turned out to be just three things, which he had us all recite: Air goes in and out. Blood goes round and round. Oxygen is good. Just keep these in mind, he said, and you'll be okay.By the end of the day, we were as blank as the huge whiteboards at the front of the room. Within the next 24 hours, these would start filling up with diagrams of cell-transport mechanisms, cartoons of developing embryos, maps of the brachial plexus. But on that first day, thelectures were so inconsequential that only one speaker bothered to write anything down.
This was a pathologist who also wanted to reduce medicine to its essentials. He scrawled a single word on the board: DEATH.Just avoid this one thing, he said, and we'd be okay.
stayed up there on the whiteboard the rest of the day. I waited for
someone to notice and wipe it away, but no one did. It was gone the
next morning, replaced by the Krebs cycle, that happy intracellular
Rube Goldberg mechanism that keeps us all alive, whether you can
diagram it from memory or not, thank God.
Whoever scribbled the Krebs
cycle in place of that single stark word gave us our real orientation
to medicine. Despite death's modest appearance that first day, what we
were really learning wasn't "Don't Fear the Reaper" so much as"Don't
See the Reaper."
We don't like to find that
word staring down at us from the wall. If we do, we'll hang it on
somebody else, shrouding it behind a screen of medical abbreviations,
and then we'll be gone. The word's still there — it follows us, of
course, as the moon follows a moving car — but as long as we don't have
to keep looking at it, we're okay.
The problem is, death keeps
looking at us. When I'm forced to think about this, what I see most
clearly are the faces of patients at the moment they recognized the
incredible fact that they were going to die soon. This is what I can't
forget: the look they had as they read the writing on the wall like
Belshazzar did at his feast in the Bible story, faced at the height of
his power with the message that he was about to die. Just what people
see as they read that message is, I......