Thursday 26 May 2016

A Stone and a Lump of Gold

There is a saying in India that to the enlightened person a stone is the same as a lump of gold. Such a person sees God everywhere and to him everything is God and equally so. There is nothing but God. Now on the face of it this might seem quite profound but it is not actually true. That doesn't stop it being a commonly held opinion among those who turn to certain mystical forms of spirituality after reacting against the materialism or 'Churchianity' of their upbringing. This may well be because while the saying, as it stands, is incorrect, there is an element of truth in it. However it is one that needs to be understood in a very different way to that implied if the statement that a stone and a lump of gold are the same to the wise is taken literally.  

For although both may contain the presence of God, they are by no means the same. The truth in the statement is that everything, all of nature, all of existence, shines with the glory of the Lord for those who have eyes to see. But this is not to be understood in a pantheistic sense. God may be in nature but he is not nature. He stands above his creation in his true being even if his presence informs it and holds it together. Perhaps the clue is in the word creation. God and his creation are not the same but God is present in his creation as he must be in anything for it to have existence. If his presence were withdrawn from something then that thing would simply cease to be.

So God is present in everything as its being but, in himself, he remains transcendent. Moreover he is present in things to a different degree depending on their nearness, in the sense of correspondence to his true nature, to beauty, to goodness, to him. Let me quote from the Masters here. They said that beauty is everywhere. It varies in degree according to its closeness to God but there is God in everything and that means beauty. Now this statement can be understood as saying that God is in everything but each thing only reflects God according to the degree of its closeness to him. In other words, the degree to which it expresses his qualities or has unfolded them from within itself. So a stone is not the same as a lump of gold because it does not reflect God as much as the gold does even though his presence informs them both.

In like manner God is in the sinner just as he is in the saint but the saint reveals more of God because he has developed more of his divine nature.  However in this case there is the additional factor that the sinner, unlike the stone, is gifted with free will, and he has not only failed to develop his divine nature, he has also corrupted that with negative qualities that do not come from God, and these are a kind of minus that result in a loss of God. God is still present in the sinner but if the sinner denies or rejects God that presence is diminished. He is then deliberately seeking God's absence and this means that he is moving further and further away from God and will eventually, if he does not turn around through contrition or repentance, reach the point where God is not.  This is the definition of Hell.

Of course, there can be nowhere where God truly is not but the sinner at this point has so isolated himself by rejection of God that he has reached a condition of total remoteness from God’s presence in which the only remaining indication of God is existence itself. So he still exists but he has turned his consciousness to stone.

The idea of this post is to show how the twin principles of unity and hierarchy are built into the created world and us. I have chosen two extreme types of human being to make a point here but the basic patterns of God's presence and God's unfoldment exist within all of us.

Friday 20 May 2016

Darkness Masquerading as Light

It seems to me that one of the principal responsibilities of any spiritually concerned person nowadays is to proclaim and bear witness to the destruction of truth and promotion of falsehood in the modern world. Of course, I don't mean that our main duty is not to attend to our own soul. Naturally it is and always will be. We can't be like those Pharisees who condemn others rather than purify themselves of pride and anger. But in terms of outer activity or teaching what is required is to point out like the prophets of old the desecration of truth and corruption of real values, often in the name of so called good which always turns out on closer examination to be a worldly good aimed at the advancement of happiness and curtailment of suffering of terrestrial man and woman, and which takes no account of, indeed actively denies, our true destiny in eternity. The world today chases and promotes the good of the lower self or earthly personality and this is often in direct opposition to the true good of the soul.

There is little doubt that this process is incited and abetted by that power known in Christianity as Satan, aided, unconsciously usually, by the selfish, rebellious, proud, foolish, indifferent and well meaning but naive among us. The world is being remade according to the concept of man as a being entirely of this world, formed exclusively of physical matter and with no deeper quality to his being. And this is not just a question of a natural development due to the superstitious nature of religious belief and the discoveries of science and rational philosophy. It is a deliberate perversion of truth which is being orchestrated by forces antipathetic to God and the good, the beautiful and the true. This statement, which might have seemed almost hysterical in the not too distant past, must surely make more and more sense to more and more people now as we see ideas which weren't even considered realistic on the fringes of society not too long ago become part of mainstream public opinion, with their rejection almost a matter for shame and disgrace.

All this was prophesied long ago so we need not be too surprised, even if the extent of the takeover and its relative speed are rather extraordinary. What can we do about it though? I'm inclined to say that we can do nothing other than, as I say above, try to point out the truth of the reality of God and not let that truth be hijacked (as it assuredly will be, as, in fact, it often is) by political considerations. If you ever see the name of God or the idea of spiritual truth being used to support contemporary fashionable opinion you can be pretty sure it is being used in the same way that the devil cites scripture; to advance his own ends.

We can do nothing because the process is too far advanced. But this is not a counsel of despair. God's kingdom is not of this world, and though that doesn't mean that this world is not important, it does mean that our true focus should be elsewhere. We can warn and try to stand as examples of truth but we should not allow ourselves to become attached to results or get despondent when these don't arrive and things carry on as they are or, indeed, get worse.

There is one thing to watch out for though. It is possible that as absurdity is piled on absurdity and distortion follows distortion as reality is remade according to the dictates of those with an anti-spiritual agenda there will be a reaction. After being pushed to one extreme humanity might suddenly react and rush to the other. That is when religious people need to be careful. They might be given what they want. How will they respond? With humility and restraint or with triumphalism born of relief or maybe something less forgivable? I am speculating but it is not unreasonable to suppose that the figure known as Antichrist might arise as a religious leader who appears to be saving us from the follies of the past, and will seem to offer us release into a golden age of heaven on earth. This will be the temptation for religious people. Heaven is not on this earth and it will not come about through charismatic leaders. Those on the religious right who feel that the liberal left is the focus of most of what I am saying here must look to themselves too. The devil plays for and against both sides and he can distort anything which he does by appealing to our desires and playing on our fears. As I was told 'the greater progress you make the more you will be assailed by evil in all its forms' and this also means the subtler will be your temptations. The only safeguards are humility, love of the true God (i.e. not attachment to an image of our own making) and spiritual discernment. So, if you feel that the world has lost its way, condemn yourself before you condemn anyone else. Focus on principles rather than individuals. And don't look for satisfaction in this world for it may be that those who receive that satisfaction 'have their reward'.

Thursday 12 May 2016

Christianity and Immanence

One of the reasons that religion is at a low ebb in the modern Western world is that Christianity at some point lost a sense of the immanence of God. It lost the sense of spirit, leaving the divine as a remote, transcendent being far removed from this Earth. As a result Christianity came to be seen by many as a religion of dry theory and restrictive morality. Indeed, in many respects that's exactly what it became. At the same time, for people in the West nature lost the sacred quality it had had in pagan religions and was emptied of meaning because Christians, always sensitive to the problems of pantheism, did not sufficiently appreciate that, while nature is not sacred in itself, it can be regarded as such insofar as it is God's creation and imbued with his being. Then, of course, came the scientific revolution which finished what that process had begun and stripped the natural world of any remaining mystique.

So Christians lost sight of the universal spirit in nature and in themselves, and saw God as only out there. They created a radical duality between man and God with little possibility of bridging that gap, certainly not in this world. This left the field open for pretenders to the spiritual throne from Romanticism in the 19th century (also a reaction against the darkening of the imagination by science and the destruction of nature by the industrial revolution) to the various New Age religions in the 20th. But these lacked the moral centre that Christianity provided and, worse, tended to see the spiritual path as the deification of fallen or natural man rather than the sanctification of the risen soul in God. They sought the spiritual by bringing the divine down to Man instead of going the correct way of raising Man up to the divine.

This leaves people in the West with a problem. They can remain Christians, but with a religion that has lost much of its spiritual fire. They can take to Eastern religions, but I have never seen any real evidence that these work for modern Westerners. Or they can just adopt the materialistic sophistries of the day, which is what the majority of people do since most people follow the crowd in these matters. None of these options are very satisfactory though some are worse than others, of course. So what to do?

Human consciousness in the main has evolved to the point at which individuals have to make their own decisions. I said above that most people follow the crowd in terms of a world view and so they do just as they did in the past when most were Christians, ostensibly so at least, but those who are serious about finding a spiritual path now have to work out for themselves how to go about it. To be sure, one can just join a religion and go along with its practices and beliefs, fitting them neatly into worldly life just as it is lived by everybody else and not letting them make any real difference to who or what you are other than in a vague and generalised way. But if you are truly serious about trying to discover the reality of the spiritual world and coordinate yourself to that then you must find a way that corresponds to the deepest yearnings you have inside you, though always making sure that you are following universal spiritual truths rather than wishful thinking. That's not necessarily easy but I believe that if you use the image of Christ as a yardstick and submit any spiritual approach to that then you will not go far wrong.

For Christ is the spiritual template. He is the true image of the divine, not necessarily the only one but, I would suggest, the truest one. So for the contemporary Western person the spiritual path does still require taking Christ as the ideal and exemplar. Now I don't think that means you have to become a Christian in the conventional sense. I feel that all forms of Christianity today are diminished and lacking in inspirational and transformative power. Christianity simply doesn't have the spiritual force it once did. If you don't feel that, that's fine, but if, like me, you do then don't make the mistake of forgoing Christ simply because Christianity might often have become too enmeshed in the snares of this world and concerned with ideas, both religious and social, that did not seem so important to Christ when he walked the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Go back to his teachings as recorded in the Gospels and, most importantly, try to awaken the light of Christ within yourself. Christ must be born in you before you can even begin to think of yourself as anything other than spiritually asleep, and that truth is the same yesterday, today and forever.

You might wonder what I actually mean when I say that Christ must be born in you. Am I speaking purely symbolically and referring to something you could just as easily call Brahman or the Buddha nature or do I literally mean a connection to the real Christ? A bit of both really. I see Christ as the true personification, the real face, of an inner spiritual reality that has been intuited by great spiritual figures of the past but was not fully revealed until 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. Once the revelation has been made, that is what we should focus on and incline ourselves to though this does not mean that those who, for whatever reason, don't do this but are still faithful to the inner truth of which Jesus Christ is the embodiment will be penalised. I would never say that only Christians can come to God for that would be to mistake the letter for the spirit. However I do think that Christ is the inner truth behind the highest and best of all religions and the spiritual gateway through which all must eventually past if they wish to gain eternal life. He is the divine prototype.

And so we come back to the theme of this post which is the truth that was lost by Christianity, or maybe just never properly acknowledged, that we are all sons and daughters of the Most High put on this Earth to become more godlike. To be sure, we are all sinners but we are also gods in the making. Yes, we all err in following our own self-centred wills instead of God's but within us there is a spark of the divine fire, and once we become aware of this and fan that spark into a flame through proper spiritual practice then we will do greater things than Jesus ever did. He himself has told us so.

Saturday 7 May 2016

Non-Duality and the Person

One of the consequences of the seemingly unstoppable spread of the contemporary cult of atheism is that when people react against it and decide to follow a spiritual path they often take a lot of their atheism with them. I mean by this that their atheistic assumptions have sunk so deeply into their minds that they don't see them for what they are. This can manifest itself in various ways but one of the most common seems to be that such people look for a spirituality without God. For some this might be seen as a purely intellectual choice, but for others it is a matter of wanting to drink the wine without thanking the host who provides it. Who, in fact, made it.

Many Westerners who take to Eastern forms of religion are attracted to the non-dualistic varieties, either Buddhism in which God plays no part at all or advaita Vedanta, the philosophy of Sankara about which I have written on various occasions on this blog, in which a God of sorts exists but plays no real part. The common point of both these is that the individual self is regarded as having no real existence. What you are is pure consciousness. In reality there is only the Absolute and your aim is to know yourself as that. This view has a certain logic going for it but is it actually true?  It's a powerful idea but I believe it to be a mistaken one. It is certainly an incomplete one because the fact is that, while there may be a state of pure consciousness that a human being can enter into, you, as an individual, are also real and this is the more profound truth. For God created you as an individual with whom he might have a relationship and who might progress to ever higher states of divine being, and, though you may renounce that, if you do you are failing life's challenges and giving up its highest rewards. 

Before I looked at advaita seriously I assumed it was a pure description of truth, just a more radical form of the basic spiritual philosophy that man and God are ultimately one. Closer investigation, however, revealed unqualified non-dualism to be based on Sankara’s highly selective picking and choosing of the Upanishads, interpreted in the light of Buddhism which he wished to contest but was obviously very influenced by. I now see advaita as tending to the reductive and simplistic for it fails to see that the One and the Many are both essential in a universe in which the highest truth is in growth and relationship rather than pure being. That is why it has no explanation for this whole world of creation; why anything came about in the first place and why there is this ignorance it believes to be the veil on reality.

Let me expand on that a little. Advaita is reductive because it denies the reality in creation, reducing life to the absolute alone when the whole point of it is that it is the absolute and the relative together, both being and becoming, change and changelessness, moving and working together, and the union of the two brings about something completely new. Sankara was a great philosopher, no doubt, but he was also a logician who couldn’t deal with the paradoxical statements in the Upanishads so left out what didn’t suit his thesis. For him the One and the Many must be opposites and only one of them could be true.  This is why he has no explanation for creation which he says is a mystery not to be understood. He can’t see that it is God expressing himself in order to become more than he already is by creating other beings with whom he can then have a relationship.

This is why I now regard advaita as a one-sided view of reality that breaks down under proper analysis because it ignores the fact that what God creates is real and has a purpose. Of course, in an ultimate sense, everything is one but the individual is also real and if that were not the case then love would be unreal. To give it reality only in the relative world of multiplicity, as advaita is forced to do, is no different to dismissing it altogether. But anyway the point is that it is not only valid in the relative world for love exists at the deepest level of being. This could not be the case if the deepest level were pure unqualified oneness. Only the Trinity can account for love as a fundamental truth.

This is where the Christian revelation goes further than any other religious teaching. Ultimate reality, God, is not the oneness of complete unity. It is the three in oneness of the Trinity. So more like a ceaseless dance of self-communion than unqualified abstract being.This is such a remarkable truth that it makes the heart dance with joy to know it. For it means that love is real, beauty is real and life is not static but able to grow and expand, in all probability limitlessly. It also explains the personhood of God and thus reveals that the highest truth is not impersonal as in Buddhism and advaita but personal. This has long been known in the West and is fundamental to Christianity, but the legacy of atheism means that many modern spiritual seekers reject it and take to the more 'scientific' philosophies of the East. Of course, there are branches of Hinduism which believe in a personal God but these are generally regarded as second tier as, in the context in which they arose, a kind of modified polytheism, they usually are.

So the huge mistake many people interested in spirituality today make is to place the impersonal at a higher or deeper level than the personal.  Being transcends personhood, they think. This seems to make a kind of sense to the rational intellect so is popular with the spiritual intelligentsia. However the truth is exactly the opposite. Personhood is the fullness of being. It is the end to which all abstract being is directed. God is a person and, even though he does have the aspect of pure being too, this is a limited part of the totality of what he truly is not the completeness or wholeness of it. In like manner it is a limited part of what you truly are, and if you restrict your spiritual approach to pure being or pure consciousness alone you are falling short of your divine destiny and the purpose God had in creating you as an individual soul.

It should also be said that most of those who think they can overcome their individuality this way will end up deceiving themselves, and fall into a fantasy world in which the self has renounced the self. Either that or else they will have to come back to the idea of God as a person and themselves as his creation.

Non-duality is a flawed philosophy, understandable in terms of man struggling to grasp the truth about himself and release himself from identification with the material self or ego but superseded by the revelation of the Trinity which shows how oneness and multiplicity can coexist without the latter being in any way unreal. Those who think that the spiritual goal is to attain to pure consciousness are making a mistake. Consciousness always has a quality of some sort just as light always has degrees of brightness, and this should be a matter for rejoicing because it means that our expansion into God can have no end.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Reincarnation addendum

I was talking in the previous post about the need to experience life in a physical body, and thinking about what could be learned in the physical world that might not be available elsewhere in the spiritual universe. Walking down the street earlier today it occurred to me that one thing that is available here that might not be elsewhere in a purer or truer plane of existence is the ability to deceive.

Let me explain. It is a truism of this world that appearance is not reality. All that glitters is not gold. Here fair can disguise foul. A beautiful person can be morally corrupt and a noble soul might be housed in a broken body. Moreover any one of us can hide behind our outer form. Our intentions, emotions and inner state of being can all be disguised from those around us. I don't think this is the case in the higher worlds or when we do not have a physical body. There and then a pure soul has a beautiful appearance and a degraded one looks the part too. We cannot hide our true being, whether it is revealed by means of the aura, the lights that we show, or just in how we look. If we lie that cannot be hidden. When we love that is shown in our face and vice versa. There is no concealing.

But here, of course, that is not the case. So perhaps one of the reasons life in a physical world is necessary is so that we learn discrimination and discernment. We learn not to be deceived by appearance and so develop the ability to see more deeply, something not necessary elsewhere and so not developed. We can become more attuned to reality by having reality hidden from us. This obliges us to search and to look beyond and, in doing that, we sharpen our spiritual eyesight.

In the heavenly worlds the outside reflects the inside as a true representation of that. In this world the outside is one thing and the inside can be quite another. We have to learn proper judgment and the ability to see with our minds what is not obvious to our eyes.

Sunday 1 May 2016


This is a subject that divides many serious and sincere spiritual thinkers. Some, probably influenced by Eastern religions in which it is fundamental, regard it as an integral part of the process that turns a man into a god.  A number of the ancient Greeks, Pythagoras for example, also believed in it. Others, however, see it as a mistaken doctrine. This would particularly be the case for most Christians and, as far as I know, all Muslims, both of whom took many of their founding beliefs from Judaism. Some of the early Christian Fathers, Origen for one, were believers in reincarnation but it was eventually decisively rejected by the church in favour of the idea that we have one life and one life only in which to earn our salvation. Here I would like to set out why I do believe in reincarnation, but also to add some caveats and provisos.

Let me start with a couple of relevant questions. What is man and what is his intended end? I see the human being, rather like its Maker, as triune. In other words we are constituted of spirit, soul and body. Spirit is the uncreated part of us that is the spark of the divine fire within us. It is our life, our being, the point at which we and God are one. The soul is our individual self. God is the spirit. God created the soul. But I don't think of the soul as the self we are aware of on an everyday basis. That is the soul as manifested in a body, our outer material form, the thing through which we experience the external world. By no means all the soul is consciously available to us 'down here'. It is a spiritual being and heavily restricted by operating through an earthbound mind and body. This gives rise to the ego, the sense of a separate self which is not so much an illusion (as some say) as an inevitable result of the constraints of being in a material world. Of course, we have to overcome that, or full identification with it, but the point is that it is a real thing; at least it is so in terms of this world.

So, spirit, soul and body. That is what we are, simplified certainly but fundamentally this is how we are made up. And our intended end is to become consciously one with God. This requires the union of the soul, the individual self, with spirit, the universal self or God. Consciously one. Spirit on its own level is one with God but not consciously so, not in an individual sense. You might well ask why God wants to create individuals. He is God, surely all-sufficient in himself? No doubt that is so but that is leaving out two very important things. One, God is creative. His nature is self-expression and abundance, becoming more. He becomes more through other beings, some of which are us. And two, God is love. What does love want to do? To give of itself and to have a relationship with the loved one. Again, that is us. That is why God creates us as individuals with free will. What kind of relationship can you have with slaves and automata?

Thus far I have said nothing with which a non-believer in reincarnation would necessarily disagree. The question now is what is the process by which a newly created soul becomes a god? I think it requires experience in the material world which is the place where separation is possible. Through the sense of being separate we can develop our individual self which we must do before we can consciously transcend it in union with God. This all has to be done as a free and conscious act. I don't doubt for a moment that learning can take place in non-material spheres of existence but this world is the best environment for an undeveloped soul to grow into self-awareness, and eventually grow out of self-awareness, because it is the place in which the soul is alone. It's where the soul can suffer and where it can learn from that and move on to a new and higher level of understanding and self-mastery. And it takes a lot more than one life for a soul to progress from a more or less unconscious oneness with nature (its environment), which is the condition of primitive man, to a fully conscious union with God which means all of life. In the process the same soul develops the faculties of will, intelligence and love, all dependent on self-consciousness and none really known to primitive man, to a high degree.

That's the theory. From a personal perspective I believe in reincarnation for several reasons. Intellectually it makes sense for the reasons given above. But it also rings true to me as I feel a strong connection with certain times and places though I recognise that is far from conclusive evidence of anything. Then the idea that human beings, so individual and so different with widely varying talents and destinies, came into being with physical birth never seemed right but I realise that a doctrine of pre-mortal existence could account for that. However the Masters who spoke to me, and in whom I have complete confidence, made certain comments that strongly implied reincarnation. Some of them I can't remember now because unfortunately I lost the habit of taking notes. But I do remember being told (and I still have the notes for this) that I had asked to come back to this world. I was also informed that Michael (their medium) and I had been together in the past, and, further, that I had a previous connection with India. The Masters also referred on one occasion to my 'karmic weakness' (karma being the consequences of one life manifesting in another) and a tendency to mental sluggishness being 'partly due to karma'. There were other references that I can't recall now and, although things were never spelled out in plain black and white, the idea that Michael and I had been here before, and more than once, was referred to on several occasions. Now this might mean that I have had previous lives here but not everyone has. It might, but I don't think it does for the reason given above; that this world is the best arena for learning particular lessons and that it takes a very long time to turn a primitive man into a saint.

I know reincarnation is rejected by Christianity but it could have been one of the many more things that Jesus wanted to say to his disciples which they could not currently bear (John 16:12). It's also possible that, as a belief in only one life might give one a much greater impetus to seek salvation in that life, it was not taught in the religion destined for the West. After all, belief in reincarnation has no particular relevance in the context of treading the spiritual path so its omission is not important in that respect. So I don't think the fact of Christianity's rejection of reincarnation is that significant. There are hints of it in the Bible and, though these are often explained away, I would say that as long as scripture (by which I chiefly mean the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels) doesn't deny it outright I think a Christian can have an open mind. I don't say that he has to but he can do if he so wishes.

This is the basis of my belief in reincarnation. At the same time I would add that, while reincarnation may have explanatory power for the inequality of men, why some suffer and some are rich and others not and so on, it is not something to pay too much attention to in this world. Undue interest in searching out details of past lives will only distract you from the here and now, the lessons you have to learn today. All you need to know about your past is in you now in the present time, in your character, your tendencies, your weaknesses and your strengths. It doesn't matter if you were a notable person in the 16th century. Now you are who you are today and that is all you should focus on if you are to learn what you are supposed to.

Why don't we remember previous lives? If reincarnation is true how is it that no one (to all intents and purposes) can remember their past incarnations in this world? I don't see this as a problem. The doctrine is not saying that I, William Wildblood, existed in a previous life in such and such a place at such and such a time. It is saying that the soul that took birth as WW in this life took birth on a former occasion but then it manifested through a different mind as well as a different body. The brain on each occasion was entirely a new thing though the form the mind that used that brain took would have been decided by causes originating in the past and determined by karma (see above) and the needs of that particular lifetime. So WW is a new person in this life though he is not just made from his parents' genetic material. His karma, his purpose and the quality of his soul all play a part in making him what he is. The Masters told me, and I believe because it is what I have always felt, that the greater part of you remains with us. That is the soul of which only a fraction manifests itself through the earthbound personality. May I reassure those who think this means that when a loved one dies you will never meet them again in the form you knew that this is not the case. They will be more truly themselves just as you will be. The real individual will stand forth, almost as though a limited being acquires an extra dimension.

If and when reincarnation becomes more established as a concept in the West it should not be viewed in quite the same way it was and is in the East. For a start, the idea that human beings can be reborn in animal form should not be a part of it. It is possible, I suppose, that extreme karma might cause a man to be born as an animal. However at this stage of human evolution (as in unfolding of the spiritual seed within) that would be extremely rare. The point of reincarnation is education not punishment and, though painful conditions might sometimes be necessary, they only come about in order to teach a soul what it needs to learn. Then there is the idea of the soul or higher self as the reincarnating agent which is not properly present in Hinduism or Buddhism. There is no real individual in Buddhism, of course, and the jiva in Hinduism appears mostly to be just an individual unit of consciousness with none of the sense of a higher self or greater part of you that I would give it. So I would hope that Western ideas of reincarnation would view souls as real spiritual beings with a real life on their own spiritual plane who come to this Earth to learn needed lessons before returning to what is their real home. Of course, that home is not their final destination but it is still their current real home, the place they originated in as souls and where they belong for now. The experience of reincarnating in this world is designed to take them deeper into the heart of God, and to transcend their limited individuality in divine oneness, but that is for the future. Now they have a home and it is in the spiritual realm not the physical plane of this Earth. So what I am saying is that reincarnation is better viewed from the standpoint of the higher self or soul than that of the man as he is on this Earth. It is the soul that takes incarnation rather than the man who has been incarnated that is the important element in all this.

For any spiritual believer there are three possibilities of our whereabouts before we were born into this world. Firstly, we were nowhere and it's an entirely new person. This is what materialists would say and it's also what most orthodox Western religions teach. For me it's the least plausible of the options. It really doesn't take into account the vast differences between human beings and their lives in this world, never mind the intuition that some people have that they are not beginners at the game of life. Then there is the idea of pre-mortal existence. We may not have been in this world before but we have not come from nowhere. Our creation was in a spiritual realm and we have lived and learnt in higher worlds before coming to this one. This makes much more sense than a fresh creation but, for me, it doesn't provide as satisfying an answer as reincarnation. I certainly agree that there is a pre-mortal or pre-physical existence which is that of the soul on its own level or other non-material levels but I think earthly experience is required on many occasions before one has extracted all the possibilities this world has to offer and learnt all it has to teach. But that's just my belief. No doubt we shall only find out for certain when all mysteries are revealed in the fullness of time. Until then the important thing is to love and serve and seek to know our Creator to the best of our ability.