Human beings go through an interesting process when reincarnating, a process that unless explained would probably go unnoticed. This article will explain the steps.

All major religions recognize reincarnation. This especially true with Eastern religions. However Christianity, Islam, and Judaism incorporate Reincarnation into their belief systems as well.

Many contemporary, Gnostic, and Esoteric Christians believe in reincarnation, and the transmigration of souls was a common belief until a few hundred years after Christ when the church fathers decided that the church would no longer believe in reincarnation. We could speculate that the church wanted people to believe that they had only one shot to salvation (this lifetime) and therefore all of their attention and donations should be zealously directed toward the church!

The Kabbalah followers of Judaism support reincarnation, although most Jews for the last 500 years or so do not openly discuss it, probably for similar reasons as above.

In Islam, the concept of Dawriyyah (cycles) has many points in common with reincarnation, claiming that the concept is mentioned in the Quran, and Sufism, the deeper aspect of Islam which points to Sufi mystics:

"I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?"
(Rumi )

But what puts reincarnation into motion?

The first step to reincarnation is a strong attachment to life, particularly "our" life. We believe that we (our personality) will live eternally, in one form or another, in one realm or another. This is an illusion based on a fabricated ego that is constructed by mind. It is this "illusion," which is called confusion regarding the truth of matters, that begins the process of reincarnation.

While we are still alive and confused in this manner regarding the truth of what we really are - believing in a sense of ego or the "I" thought - we base our actions upon this misconception, and these actions form certain confused habit patterns as well. This is called karma, or our actions and volition.

When we die, the spiritual power of this confused action or volition - karma - this strong belief in a self or ego, seeks another form in which to again play out this illusion. A "rebirth consciousness" is therefore conditioned and immediately follows the death consciousness.

This rebirth consciousness seeks refuge in a womb (if it's a human reincarnation - and there are many different types in many different realms), and conditions a new mind and body.

The mind and body necessarily leads to the six senses, which require stimulation, and this leads to contact with the world.

When the senses contact the world, a feeling comes up regarding what we contact. Either we like what we see, hear, taste, smell, feel, or think, and attach to it, or we dislike it and try to get rid of it. Or maybe we are neutral to it. One of three feelings. This feeling then leads to grasping or desire to either love the object or hate it.

This grasping then leads to the architect of reincarnation - the "I" thought or omnipotent watcher, which is constructed by a combination of your body, feelings, memory, thoughts and consciousness. This illusionary "I" thought then seems to be the one who is doing the grasping, thinking about how to own or disown the object of contact creating the attachments or the aversions to what is sensed and contacted.

This illusory ego then conditions the idea of "becoming;" seeing oneself moving in time as a person and becoming this or that, projecting one's "I" thought into the future based on the "I" thought‘s past.

This skewed perception of reality with a fictitious "I" thought then conditions volition or action - karma - which again conditions reincarnation as birth. Birth then inevitably leads to old age and death, and ther cycle continues forever until broken.

The cycle can be broken at any step, but great wisdom and insight must be involved because the past karma of so many lifetimes in the past is very strong. And also, the perception that reincarnation is a good thing lacks the wisdom of seeing life as it is, fraught with uncertainties and physical and mental pain, especially the pain of old age and separation from life again and again.

The Buddhist concept of reincarnation is called "rebirth," primarily because Buddhists, in their meditation, see no unchanging entity moving through time - no soul, self or spirit. Only cause and effect that conditions the next rebirth, based on the volition or actions of mind in past existences. Buddhists also see rebirth happening not only in the human realm, but many other worlds where their karma or actions of beings take on various forms consisting of material, fine material, and non-material existences. The ending of being reborn is called Nirvana in Buddhism, freedom from existence.

The first step to rebirth is death! We have to die to change clothes, so to speak. Therefore death is not to be feared, just a new body, identity, and mind. And underlying that new mind is all of our accumulated tendencies from countless lifetimes before. This is called our karma.

The transference of this karma, in part our unsatisfied desires, involves rebirth in a vehicle that can satisfy our desires. Lets say for example we love to fornicate, that's the extent of our understanding, then we might be reborn an animal where there would be no restrictions!

Or, let's say that you have reached deep stages of concentration and absorption in meditation, then your destiny would be in line with the experiences of that unbelievable peace, and probably in a non-material body.

Or perhaps you are a very gentle, loving person; unselfish and concerned with others welfare, then you will very likely end up in a sensory heaven realm. But none of the realms or existences are permanent, just like this lifetime is not permanent. And you can look forward to many more lifetimes in many different kinds of realms, depending upon your level of achievement in understanding the way things are is whatever realm you find yourself in.

So make the most of this lifetime. Rather than be complacent and relax into some weak finality of comfortable beliefs, dig deeper. Ask questions. The deeper you go, the more interesting will be the next lifetime. And although the next lifetime will not be lived by "you," it will sure seem familiar!

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock (anagarika addie) is a meditation teacher at: and author of “A Year to Enlightenment:

His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.