Keep a True Lent, by Charles Fillmore, , at sacred-texts.com
THE WHOLE MAN--spirit, soul, and body--must be lifted up into the Christ consciousness of life and perfection, which is the goal of man's existence.
The Western world in general looks on re-embodiment, or reincarnation, as a heathen doctrine. Many people close the door of their minds to it, without waiting to find out what message it may bring when interpreted in the light of Truth. It is the object of this article to set forth the Unity teaching concerning reincarnation; to show why we consider it reasonable and to explain its relation to, and its place in, the Christ doctrine.
The teaching of Jesus is that all men shall, through Him, be made free from sin and be saved to the uttermost--spirit, soul, body. But until this salvation is attained, there is death. To give men opportunity to get the full benefit of salvation, life is necessary, and a body through which to express life is also necessary. So, when man loses his body by death, the law of expression works within him for re-embodiment, and he takes advantage of the Adam method of generation to regain a body. Divine mercy permits this process in order that man may have further opportunity to demonstrate Christ life. But generation and death must give place to regeneration
and eternal life. The necessity of rebirth must, therefore, pass away with all other makeshifts of the mortal man. It will have no place when men take advantage of the redeeming, regenerating life of Christ and quit dying.
Re-embodiment should not be given undue importance, because it is merely a temporary remedy to be followed by the real, which is resurrection. The whole man--spirit, soul, and body--must be lifted up into the Christ consciousness of life and perfection.
Jesus teaches that rebirth or reincarnation is the unifying force of nature at work in its effort to restore man to his original deathless estate. Man, through his disregard of the law of life, brought death upon himself, as taught in the 3d chapter of Genesis. But a single span of life, from the birth of an infant to the death of an old man, does not constitute all of man's opportunity for living. Life is continuous and in harmony with the wholeness of Being only when it is expressed in a perfect body; hence man must have a body in order to gain an abiding consciousness of life. Through repeated trials at living, man is finding out that he must learn to control the issues of life in his body.
The objections that the natural man raises to re-embodiment arise largely from the fact that he lives in the personal consciousness and cannot see things in the spiritual and universal. He thinks that by re-embodiment he loses his identity. But identity
endures. Personal consciousness does not endure. The personal man is not immortal, and he dies. This is clear to anyone who is willing to give up his belief in the reality and importance of the personal consciousness.
The personal man with all his limitations, all his relations, must give way to the universal, the Christ man. The privilege is ours to give up or forsake everything--father, mother, husband, wife, children, houses, lands--for Christ's sake and so enter into the consciousness of eternal life. By doing this we come into the realization of eternal life and receive a hundredfold more of the very things that we have forsaken. If we refuse or neglect to make this "sacrifice" and prefer to live in the narrow, personal way, and cling to the old personal relationships, there is nothing for it but to meet the result of our choice, and to sever all those relations by death. It is just a question of giving up a little for the all and gaining eternal life. So if re-embodiment frees one from the old, personal relationships, it is not such a dreadful thing after all, for it gives us new personal relationships. Rising out of these into the universal is a work that everyone must do willingly for himself. Death and re-embodiment do not give redemption. Reincarnation serves only as a further opportunity to lay hold of redemption.
The pure, incorruptible substance of Spirit, built into the organism through true, pure, spiritual thought and word, makes the body incorruptible and
eternal. As the mind changes from error to Truth, corresponding changes take place in the body, and the ultimate of these changes is perfection and wholeness in every part. Therefore those who are trying to lay hold of eternal life have ground for their faith in the promise that they will be saved from the grave.
Knowing that spirit, soul, and body are all necessary to man and that he cannot truly be said to live except in their conscious union and expression, the error of believing that death is the open door to a higher life, the gateway to heaven, is easily seen. There is no progress in death. Death is negation. The demonstration of eternal life can be made only in life--soul and body together working out the problem and together being lifted up.
Sense consciousness has no power to lift itself out of ignorance and sin, so the mere matter of repeated births has not taken the race forward. It is the descent of Spirit from time to time, as the people have been able to receive it, that has made all progress. As men's growth has made it possible, new truths have been discerned and new dispensations have come. When the time was ripe, Jesus came and brought the good news of salvation from death. But His words had to work in the race consciousness for nearly two thousand years before anyone was sufficiently awakened and quickened to believe in a complete redemption and to strive to lay hold of it. The promise is that the leaven of the Word will finally leaven the whole of the human family and that all
people will come into the light of spiritual life.
From the standpoint of creative Mind it is plain that re-embodiment serves a purpose in affording opportunities for spiritual development. All that is gained in spiritual growth in one's life experience becomes part of the individual's real identity; and if he is faithful, he will finally gather such a store of spiritual power and wisdom that he can demonstrate salvation of his body through Christ, who is "able to save to the uttermost." But, we would repeat, reincarnation is only an opportunity.
"The hour . . . now is." Right now the resurrection work is going on, and men and women are awakening to a new consciousness of life, understanding, and bodily perfection. This resurrection work must extend to every member of the Adam race, whether he is what we call alive or whether he, as Jesus said of the dead, sleeps. All must be awakened and be unified in soul and body.
Many of the present-day ideas of resurrection have come down from past centuries of ignorance and have been accepted without question because they seem to be supported by a literal interpretation of certain Bible texts. But in these, as in all Scripture, we should go back of the letter and see the spiritual meaning of the parables and the symbols used to teach the truth about the raising of the dead. Thus we shall find unfolding day by day in ourselves the awakening and resurrection of thought that we once supposed would come in a single day to the bodies
of those in the grave. When this raising of our dying and dead thoughts has gone far enough in us, we shall find ourselves gradually slipping into continuous health; that is, we shall realize that our bodies are self-renewing and therefore naturally immortal. Such a mighty and far-reaching work would be included in the promise "Greater work than these shall he [man] do."
Mention is also made in John's Gospel (King James Version) of "the resurrection of damnation." Damnation is condemnation. Paul makes it very clear that, by Adam's transgression, condemnation came on all his race. As death has no power to help anyone, the condition of the Adam man is not bettered by dying. Therefore, when people are re-embodied they "come forth . . . unto the resurrection of damnation," in other words, condemnation or correction. Everyone begins where he left off. But though one may have died in condemnation and been re-embodied in that state, he has opportunity, when re-embodied, to come up into Christ (in whom is no condemnation), identify himself with the Christ race, and demonstrate through Him the deathless life. So is proved the divine justice of including all in sin in Adam, that all may be delivered in one, even Jesus Christ.
Everyone who would demonstrate that he is risen with Christ must first lay hold of life by faith and affirm without wavering that he is raised out of sin and condemnation and death into eternal life. Then
the word of life carries on day by day the resurrecting, redeeming work in the mind and in the body. "I die daily," I am raised daily. Every day some old limitation or error loses its hold and passes away and the imperishable, incorruptible substance of Truth becomes a little more firmly established in consciousness. In this way the body is transformed and raised up in honor, incorruptible, immortal. This is the raising of the dead, as commanded by Jesus.
However, some of the details of this great work must of necessity be, at this time, mere speculation. It is not profitable to allow our minds to dwell on mortal questionings about how the work of Spirit is to be done in and through us. It is our place to hold ourselves in a positive life thought, realizing always the omnipresence and perfection of life in God, thus bringing perfect life more and more into manifestation in ourselves and in others. When we realize how much our faithfulness means to the race, we shall rejoice in being true to the great principles of Truth that will bring to pass the time when death and the grave will be no more. "And death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away."
That you do not remember your past lives proves nothing. Neither do you remember the day on which you were born, but you do not on that account question the fact of your birth. Comparatively little of your present life is remembered, but this does not
alter the fact that you have lived. Memory, to the natural man, is a matter of physical brain records, photographic or phonographic in character. The memory of experiences in past lives is not clearly recorded in the new brain structure of the infant. Such memories are usually in the nature of vague impressions; the sense of identity is blurred. But in the book of life, the great mind of the universe, all identity is sharply marked, and as the individual becomes quickened and raised out of personal consciousness into the universal, he will be able to bridge over the breaks in personal experience. He will come to himself. Realizing his spiritual identity as a son of God, he will not entangle himself with either present or past personality, but will claim and demonstrate his divine sonship. He will no longer limit himself to a brief span of life, beginning with birth and ending with death, but will live in the consciousness of eternal life, which has neither end nor beginning.