Death, Reincarnation, and Guilt
“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?’” (M-24.1)
The belief in reincarnation is one that bafflingly persists in the A Course in Miracles community. It’s baffling because ACIM states that it cannot be real. And it’s baffling because in the experience of the Holy Instant, the experience central to understanding ACIM, you know that it cannot be real. Yes, ACIM also says it may be a helpful concept if looked at the right way. It goes on to say that if it’s comforting to the believer its helpfulness is obvious. And that you can emphasize the aspect of the concept that leads one to understand that there is more to existence than this passing life. But those are very slim aspects of the concept to find helpful. They could only be temporarily helpful at best.
I have yet to run across a student who looks at the concept of reincarnation in a way that is comforting or helpful. Always they speak of it with guilt and fear. Either they are unhappy and fear having to repeat life in a body. Or they feel that they will never see the end of guilt. How many lifetimes of guilt do they have to undo? How many lifetimes will it take to undo the guilt? How can they stop from making more guilt in this lifetime? Guilt is built into the concept of reincarnation.
One of the most difficult questions for students of ACIM to answer is “What happens to me when I die?” It is difficult to answer because that which asks does not exist! “Eternity”, as ACIM uses the word, is not “endless time” but “timelessness”. Eternity is outside of time. It has no beginning and no ending. It simply is. That Which is eternal within you is not touched by the story that you have for yourself in time. Peace is attained by becoming aware of the Eternal within you and focusing on It as you let go of the story that you have for yourself in time. When you do that you stop having questions about death. That which would be concerned with death has already fallen away from you when you are aware of the Eternal within you.
“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.” (M-24.2)
The trap is the belief that there is something out there in the future to be attained. The Eternal is within you now. You are only unaware of It. Your obstacles to peace are beliefs in your mind now. If you are unhappy now the source of your unhappiness are thoughts and beliefs in your mind now even if they seem to be about the past, of this life or of another life. This is why you can undo them now. If the source of the thoughts truly was in the past then you would not be able to undo them. The source of anything you feel now is a belief in your mind now.
“The ego teaches thus: Death is the end as far as hope of Heaven goes. Yet because you and the ego cannot be separated, and because it cannot conceive of its own death, it will pursue you still, because guilt is eternal. Such is the ego's version of immortality.” (T-15.I.4)
Reincarnation is a very comfortable belief for the ego (personal thought system) because it is the belief that guilt is real. Though students may say that they understand that guilt is not real and that the problem is that believe in it, there is no way to avoid feeling punished as they contemplate an indefinite number of future lifetimes to undo an indefinite number of past lifetimes of the belief in guilt. This is just guilt and punishment in disguise. In fact, all you have to do is deal with the feelings of guilt that come up now. Feelings always reveal your true beliefs. So look at them with the Holy Spirit and undo them. In time you will realize that you always come back to a single core belief – that there is a power over you (a god) that judges you and that you have to live up to. As you correct this illusion again and again in its many forms you will eventually undo it. The ego will always tell you that you are guilty. But you will no longer believe it so the idea will have no power over you. This is something that you can accomplish in this lifetime.
Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at www.acimmentor.com.