Each person — each one of us — is now living in several bodies besides our familiar physical body. These bodies exist on what may be called inner planes, known as spiritual, mental, emotional. Each person acquires a physical body by the natural process of birth. We are born into this world and live our lifetimes, aware of our responses to joy and pain, and then our physical body dies because it can no longer sustain physical life. The occupant of the body is still living on the other planes, while the matter of the physical body returns to its primordial chemical evolution. After a period of inner rest and growth, the occupant again acquires a body on the physical plane for further necessary experience. There is no other way available to us. In normal health and growth in this world, a person’s consciousness is more or less centered in the physical body. However, during sleep, the consciousness may leave the physical body. Actually, our consciousness is aware of things happening on inner planes while we are awake on the physical plane.
For instance, when we are awake in our physical bodies, we respond to ideas — feelings of joy and pain — which come from causes that are not on the physical plane but in mental and emotional realms.
Sleeping and waking are profound mysteries; through these doorways we reincarnate each day. Birth and death are equally mysterious; through these doorways we reincarnate in life cycles. We know these phenomena are necessary to our growth and well-being. We are controlled by their limitations, but someday we will learn to control them as have countless others who have learned such secrets and earned such powers through lifetimes of study and training. The Law of Reincarnation explains the obvious inequities between people in any one lifetime; our skill or lack of it; our wealth or poverty; our suffering or well-being. Meanwhile, the knowledge of reincarnation may endow us all with the hope of attainment to such transcendent powers. Each thought, word and deed, guided by the Golden Rule, helps to expand consciousness on all planes of existence.
The Temple teaches that not only individuals but groups, such as families, nations, races, planets and stars, as well as every atom in manifestation in the organic and inorganic kingdoms, all are subject to this Law of Reincarnation to gain the needed experience, to learn the lesson of unity with all that lives.
The Temple teaches that each life is better or worse according to whether or not it has been guided by the Golden Rule, and that the purpose of successive lives is to help us realize the fact of the inviolable power of the law of universal unity of humanity. We cannot exist outside this law; we live with it or against it, either way with its corresponding effect.
The Temple teaches that the very knowledge of our own existence compels us to acknowledge a power greater than ourselves; that this power may be called God; and that it is forever impelling us toward the recognition of that God, as witnessed by every thing and person around us, on every plane on which we live. The Temple teaches that such a realization is as necessary to our well-being as is air to our physical bodies.
The Temple teaches that to the extent we abide by the Golden Rule we are living in harmony with all of creation, and that this har mony, which dominates the universe, is clearly demonstrated by the solar systems in all space as well as in the meticulous laws that govern all the kingdoms of nature — atomic, molecular, cellular.
The Temple teaches that the universe is governed by twelve principles. The names of these principles are Love, Will, Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Hope, Truth, Justice, Loyalty, Honesty, Service and Obedience. These contain all the possible goals for us to achieve — the very meaning of God in manifestation. The Temple teaches that the opposites of these principles exist, but may be generated only in our hearts and minds; and that even these opposites may produce effects only as they are combined with some one or more aspects of the constructive principles. For instance, even disloyalty requires some knowledge in order to result in treachery.
The positive use of these principles supports life; their negative use destroys life. Most incarnations are a battleground of these forces as willed by each of us. Their abuse produces hatred, greed, prejudice, anger and egotism. It results in destruction by earthquake, volcano, fire, flood, drought, cyclone, pollution, pestilence and disease, as well as all war, rebellion, confrontation, hunger, poverty — all misery. All kingdoms of nature suffer from this abuse.
The primary reason for the study of all science, art, philosophy and economics is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Golden Rule. Mere technological skill without moral light is at best wasteful and usually intensely destructive. The purpose of reincarnation is to give us the opportunity to change the negative principles and effects back to their original positive and sacred purpose — our identity with God. Therefore, from this point of view, ideas, ideals, morals, and ethics, as represented by one person or by groups of people, are equally subject to the law of Reincarnation — the law of continuing life.
These forces unite us and compel us to reincarnate in physical bodies, because these forces which exist in our mental and emotional bodies do not die. Until they are transmuted, they simply impair the physical body. The personality which has generated such forces in one lifetime may well be the victim of like forces in another. The purpose of reincarnation is served when such experience brings eventual recognition of its worth and ultimate transmutation through the inevitable suffering which is the obvious result of past actions.
In a like way, according to the Temple Teachings, the good in us is never lost but continues to grow in successive lifetimes of ex perience. The individual becomes more and more a part of the unity of humanity and the Father/Motherhood of God. And so those who have been working with this kind of motive will find themselves compelled by these ideals to reincarnate again and again toward their realization on the physical plane, with the corresponding reality that has always existed as the Plan of God, the twelve principles. In this greater and greater fulfillment of divine purpose, the lesser lives of the mineral, vegetable and animals kingdoms and their immeasurable energies are themselves helped along in their own series of lives toward the Godhead, as they serve in humanity’s creative use. As an example, the cells of our bodies reincarnate in a seven year cycle.
The power which draws us into incarnation again and again rests on the bonds of love and hate, sympathy and intolerance, understanding and defiance. This attraction involves men, women, children, families, societies, professions, cities, countries, nations, religions, friends and enemies, and our use of all the kingdoms of nature.
If we fail or refuse to understand one another in one incarnation, during another incarnation we will find ourselves in a reversed relationship. Then we learn what it is to be misunderstood. If we will not feed a hungry person, we will find ourselves one day facing hunger and may learn what it is to receive help or be denied. Therefore, any incarnation would be the result of previous incarnations and set up the causes for future ones. What we do in this life, today, determines what and how we shall do in future incarnations. Herein lies justice and obedience to the laws of life. There is no such thing as `blind fate’ or predestination.
The study of known history from the point of view of the reincarnation of people imbued with similar ideas reveals a cyclic pattern of action and reaction. Barbarism, sophistication, cultural ebb and flow, siege, conquest, stability and rebellion are all reflected as cause and effect in the total pattern of reincarnation. Back of these patterns may be discerned the laws which guide and control successive lives, teaching the inviolability of the Golden Rule.
Belief in reincarnation automatically brings many truths to light. When we read about past races and civilizations, we are reading about ourselves. We have lived in all races. We have lived as men; we have lived as women. We have lived in poverty; we have lived in wealth. We have lived in primitive societies and in highly technological eras.
The Temple teaches that every atom of the universe is progressing along the path of evolution by reincarnation, directed by God. All degrees of God’s consciousness are traveling the same path. We as individuals did not reincarnate from animals nor do we in the future, though we may have traits that are called animalistic. As an analogy, a cabbage cannot grow on a rose bush.
Actually, no one owns anything — even his or her own body or mind. Everything that can possibly exist — principles, laws, powers, ideals, ideas, chemicals, on all planes or worlds — are simply the realm of God, the Mind of God, and known to God always. Humanity, through successive incarnations, grows gradually into an awareness of these Truths. The right to share these divine powers, to become a custodian of them, is earned.
Since we are each different, it follows that we have each had different kinds of experiences in different incarnations. In reincarnation we unerringly retain that which we have earned; such is not forgotten. But the memory of specific personalities identified with specific incarnations would serve no good purpose for most of humanity at this time, intriguing as such speculation might be. Such limitation of memory is no doubt a merciful protection from the past.
Obviously, some individuals have had more or fewer incarnations that others, thus accounting for differences between people. Therefore, if a man or woman is a great scientist or artist, he or she has earned the right and responsibility to use these certain powers of Deity through many incarnations of work in that direction. No Deity arbitrarily determines that an individual shall be, without effort, a great performer while another shall remain hopeless. The genius of a Mozart is full-blown, the labor of lifetimes. Any evolving entity may, through reincarnation, one day reach any height or aspiration.
The Temple teaches that each person is reincarnated in the only place and in the only conditions on earth which provide the next and only step to be taken in life’s journey.
Obviously there is no possibility of getting something for nothing. Reincarnation is a profound argument of patience. Since no power, however great, can endow us with capabilities we have not earned, it follows that none can take away from us that which we have rightly gained. What we are today is the total of what we have earned in this and past lives. We alone can add to this total or take away from it as we use our capabilities according to the Golden Rule or in violation of it.
The interdependence of all people is made apparent by the fact that no one can incarnate or live alone anywhere on earth. We are born among certain people and things, drawn to them by our former treatment of them and theirs of us. These relationships vary and provide us with the experience of learning about the interde pendence of all life as well as an opportunity to repay what we owe and to be paid for what we have earned.
Necessarily, we incarnate each time in that place which each of us alone can and may fill. Each one of us must do a work which we alone can do, with our own individual strengths and weaknesses, sick or well, strong or weak. If any one person were missing, the whole of manifestation would be incomplete. In this way, all people are equally important; each person counts. No measure of success or failure, as defined by worldly societies, affects this right of every human being.
We learn only by experience. Reincarnation provides the necessary experience. Since the Mind of God is infinite, we need countless incarnations to literally integrate ourselves with the Godhead consciously. Each moment of each lifetime is characterized by acknowledgment or neglect of this Wisdom in all its magnitude.
This daily opportunity is the Plan of God for all creatures. Each form in each kingdom of nature is on its way to eventual self-conscious unity with God. We are impelled by the existence of the Divine Spark of God within the center of our being — our heart. Placed there by God, it starts the least and greatest of Divine creations on the evolutionary path in a vast scheme of incarnations. All kingdoms of nature, atoms, stars, people and planets, travel the same Path to consciousness of God.
The evidence of power, intelligence and harmony in the universe is a far greater order than what we can yet possibly demonstrate. It follows that these mystic capabilities are in the safekeeping of Great Souls who have lived infinitely more lifetimes than we have.
In the Temple Teachings, the highest of these Great Entities is called the Central Spiritual Sun, or the Christos. The Christos is the first incarnated Child. The Hierarchy of Beings who have followed the Christos are as Rays of Divine Light, guiding and making possible the manifestation of the universe. They are incarnations of His Will and Mind; as The Christos is the expression of the Infinite God head.
As with all else in the universe, these Great Entities have created our earth planet. They guide and control its evolution and every thing and creature on it. They are known as Avatars, Christs, Archangels, Masters and Their Disciples. They serve continuously as leaders of humanity in all its constructive activities. Among them, recognized and unrecognized, are incarnations as the world’s leaders in science, art, statecraft, religion, the naturalists, industrialists, teachers in all fields.
The Avatar — the Christ — incarnates for this humanity once every two thousand years and gives a new impulse to human endeavor. Lesser, more frequent incarnations embody and express different facets of the same Great Soul. They are seldom recognized by us and, as yet, one way or another, always crucified by us. Nevertheless, they represent a continuous line of incarnating beings between the Christs of all times and people of all times, today as in all of the past. They are also the embodiment of the future, representing as they do the far distant perfection which draws us ever back into incarnation, toward the attainment of Mastery.
The Karmic association of motives also causes the incarnation of those who oppose the expression of the Christ. They are drawn into incarnation to attempt to disrupt and destroy any effort of the Masters to promote the unity of all life.
These are some of the truths regarding reincarnation. They give to each and every one of us the right to choose and eventually attain to our own birthright, the Father/Motherhood of God, the unity of all people, the dignity of self-responsibility to our fellow human beings and all of nature.