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- Bill Gaum
Reincarnation is the belief that each of us have lived many, many separate lifetimes in different physical bodies stretching back into the distant past of history. In fact, these numerous lifetimes occur not just in the physical realm, but also in many nonphysical realms. When Jesus told his disciples that John the Baptist had been “Elijah,” he was referring to this natural process of reincarnation. (Matthew 11:14, NIV; Matthew 17:11-13, NIV) Those that had “ears to hear” understood what Jesus was saying. (Matthew 11:14-15, KJV)
These many different "embodiments" are necessary simply because there is so much that we need to learn before we can awaken into our "Higher Self", that one lifetime simply does not provide enough time or variety of life experiences to learn it all. For instance, just think about the enormous amount of time, plus the sheer variety of living experiences and situations, that are necessary to gradually develop a deep, well rounded feeling and understanding of compassion, forgiveness, mercy, humbleness, patience, perseverance, endurance, gratitude, and so on.
Clearly the time required and the variety of learning environments is so extensive and varied, that one could never hope to adequately acquire these transcendent Divine Qualities in simply one lifetime. Instead, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of lifetimes are necessary to encounter the diversity of learning experiences required to develop these basic selfless human qualities. Thus, in some lifetimes we may be a woman and in others a man. In some lives we may be an artisan and in others a farmer. In some lifetimes we may be rich and in others poor; well educated or uneducated; healthy or sick; tall or short; successful or unsuccessful; white, black, Asian, First Peoples, or some blend of them; and so on and so on.
We also need to experience a wide range of various difficulties in order to grow spiritually. How could we ever learn patience, perseverance and endurance, if we haven't been through difficult times ourselves? Likewise, how could we develop the sweetness of compassion and mercy, if we haven't been on the receiving end of compassion and mercy at some time in our own past lives? And how can we develop the indispensable quality of forgiveness, unless someone wrongs us and we gradually learn to forgive them? And most importantly we need many lives just to awaken to the reality that happiness comes from living selflessly for others. It takes so long to learn this particular lesson, because at first glance, second glance, third glance, fourth glance, and so on, for lifetime after lifetime, it seems so "obvious" that happiness comes from getting everything we "want" and having everything "go our way". But of course through many, many lifetimes, we ever so gradually learn that true inner peace, bliss and contentment can never come from living selfishly - which brings only suffering and a sad, empty feeling in our hearts. It can only come from a life of harmlessness, kindness, generosity, compassion & helpfulness to others.
Are there any other reasons for needing so many lifetimes? Yup, there's a little thing called "karma".
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