Have You Lived Before? Reincarnation and the Afterlife by Irene McGarvie - Read Online
Have You Lived Before? Reincarnation and the Afterlife
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Have you ever had the feeling that you have lived before? Most religions throughout history have held a belief in reincarnation. Even the early Christians believed it. Is it possible?

This book discusses:
- the ancient beliefs and how they evolved throughout history
- the arguments for and against reincarnation
- what happens between incarnations
- the justice of reincarnation
- the law of Karma

Find out what many of the great thinkers throughout history believed and decide for yourself.

This book is an updated version of the New Thought classic “Reincarnation and the Law of Karma” written by William Walker Atkinson and originally published in 1908. This revised version has been edited by Spiritualist minister Irene McGarvie.

Published: Nixon-Carre on
ISBN: 9781926826189
List price: $4.99
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Have You Lived Before? Reincarnation and the Afterlife - Irene McGarvie

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Almost every religion throughout history has taught that there is something inside of man, his soul, that is eternal, and yet each person’s lifetime on earth is so short. Even if you make it to 100, that is nothing compared to eternity. So if we have always existed, and will continue to exist long after these bodies wear out, what do we do the rest of the time? Sitting on a cloud playing a harp, or hanging out at the feet of Jesus, sounds fine for a few weeks, but forever? I don’t think so! Forever is a long time, surely there has to be something more to occupy us?

I remember hearing an interview with the Dalai Lama where he described our time on earth as being like tourism, a vacation from our day-to-day lives on the other side. Some people choose a short 3 day cruise, while others choose the round the world cruise. Some people enjoy a grueling climb up Mount Everest, while others prefer lying around at a 5 star beach resort. But you never really know what you prefer until you try it out, and reincarnation gives you a chance to try out different experiences. Perhaps, but after looking around at the world I think I can say with total assurance that there are lots of life experiences that I never want to try out.

But there is something so appealing about reincarnation, particularly the idea of Karma. The idea that the experience you have in your next life depends upon how you behave this time just seems so intrinsically fair and equitable. We all like to see people get what they deserve, and yet we all know that it doesn’t always happen in life. So it is comforting to think that even if it doesn’t appear to even out this time, it will later.

I have a pretty good life this time around, a great family, enough money, reasonably good health and a safe place to live. Does this mean I did okay last time, but not quite good enough to make it to the millionaire level?

Would I even want to come back? Let’s face it, how many adults would ever want to be a teenager again? I know I would dread the idea of having to go back to high school.

Do I believe in reincarnation? Yes, I think so, I have had several experiences that make me think that I have had previous lives. But can I prove it? No. Can reincarnation ever be proven or disproven? I don’t see how. There are always other possible explanations. But for me it doesn’t really matter since whether or not I believe something does not affect the reality of it, and fortunately for me, I adhere to a religion, Spiritualism, which does not take an official position on the subject and allows me the freedom to study it and make up my own mind. I hope that the information in this book helps you to come to your own conclusions about this fascinating subject.

So, as I said, I cannot say with complete certainty that reincarnation is a reality, but, just in case, if I have to come back and, if the Dalai Lama is right, I am informing the universe right now that I would like to sign up for the all-inclusive 5 star beach resort next time, and if I can just skip adolescence that would be great too.

Irene McGarvie

Toronto, ON


Chapter 1: The Soul is Immortal

Have you lived before?

Have you ever had the feeling that you have lived before? You are not alone. The majority of people throughout history have held this belief.

For the last fifteen hundred years or so this doctrine has fallen out of favor in much of the Western world, but with the introduction of Eastern thought, particularly Buddhism, there is a resurgence of interest in the topic.

There are many varying beliefs regarding reincarnation, but there is one fundamental and basic principle underlying all of the various beliefs. This fundamental principle is the belief that there is within man an immaterial something (called the soul, spirit, inner self, or many other names) which does not perish at the death or disintegration of the body, but which persists as an entity, and after a period of rest is reborn into a new body -- that of an unborn infant. The individual then proceeds to live a new life in this new body, more or less unconscious of its past existences, but containing within itself the essence or results of its past lives, the experiences of which make up its new character, or personality.

Reincarnation vs. metempsychosis

Reincarnation simply means the repeated incarnation or embodiment in a physical body of the immortal, immaterial part of man’s nature, sometimes referred to as his soul.

The word reincarnation comes from the Latin words re meaning to repeat, and caro or carnis meaning flesh, in other words, to enter the flesh again, while the word metempsychosis is a Greek word which roughly corresponds to the phrase transmigration of the soul, which also means life after death, but in this case emphasizing the continuity of the soul, not of the body. In other words, metempsychosis refers to the belief that the soul lives on after death but not necessarily in a new body.

The law of attraction as it applies to reincarnation

In reincarnation most belief systems claim that we attract to ourselves a new life which corresponds to our actions and beliefs in the previous lives, that we carry forward the tendencies of the past life, and are drawn to individuals with whom we had previous ties.

This means that we bring to our new lives that which we attracted to ourselves through our previous actions, good or bad. Also, we are attracted to family members and friends in this new life that we were previously involved with, although not necessarily in the same relationships, for example your father in a past life might be your sister in this life while your sister in a past life might be your husband this time around.

Some belief systems teach that the soul can pass into the body of animals as a punishment for the sins committed during the human life, but obviously, this belief is based on the arrogant human assumption that animals are a lower form of life.

E. D. Walker, an English writer on the subject, explains the general teachings as follows:

"Reincarnation teaches that the soul enters this life, not as a fresh creation, but after a long course of previous existences on this earth and elsewhere, in which it acquired its present peculiarities, and that it is on the way to future transformations which the soul is now shaping. It claims that infancy brings to earth, not a blank scroll for the beginning of an earthly record, nor a mere cohesion of atomic forces into a brief personality, soon to dissolve again into the elements, but that it is inscribed with ancestral histories, some like the present scene, most of them unlike it and stretching back into the remotest past.

The current phase of life will also be stored away in the secret vaults of memory, for its unconscious effects upon the ensuing lives. All the qualities we now possess, in body, mind and soul, result from our use of ancient opportunities. We are indeed ‘the heir of all the ages,’ and are alone responsible for our inheritances, for these conditions accrue from distant causes brought about by our older selves, and the future flows by the divine law of cause and effect from the gathered momentum of our past actions.

There is no favoritism in the universe; all have the same everlasting facilities for growth. Those who are now elevated in worldly station may be sunk in humble surroundings in the future. Only the inner traits of the soul are permanent companions. The wealthy sluggard may be the beggar of the next life; and the industrious worker of the present is sowing the seeds of future greatness. Suffering bravely endured now will produce a treasure of patience and fortitude in another life; hardships will give rise to strength; self-denial must develop the will; tastes cultivated in this existence will somehow bear fruit in coming ones. Vice versa, the unconscious habits, the uncontrollable impulses, the peculiar tendencies, the favorite pursuits, and the soul-stirring friendships of the present descend from far-reaching previous activities."

Where did the concept originate?

If you trace the history of this doctrine among the ancient peoples back into the dim recesses of the past it is difficult to ascribe to any particular time, or any particular race, the credit of having originated reincarnation. Various writers on this subject give Egypt, or India, or the lost continent of Atlantis, as the birthplace of the doctrine, but I do not think that the doctrine of reincarnation ever originated anywhere, as a new and distinct doctrine. Rather, it sprang into existence whenever and wherever man arrived at a stage of intellectual development sufficient to enable him to form a mental conception of something that lived after death. No matter from what source this belief in ghosts originated, it must be admitted that it is found among all peoples, and is apparently a universal idea.

Running along with this idea we find that there is, and always has been, an idea, more or less vague and indistinct, that somehow, someway, sometime, the ghost of the person returns to earthly existence and takes upon itself a new body. Here, then, is where the idea of reincarnation begins -- everywhere, at a certain stage of human mental development. It runs parallel with the ghost idea, and seems bound up with that conception in nearly every case.

When man evolves a little further, he begins to reason that if the ghost is immortal, and survives the death of the body, and returns to take upon itself a new body, then it must have lived before the last birth, and therefore must have a long chain of lives behind it. This is the second step.

The third step is when man begins to reason that the next life is dependent upon something done or left undone in the present life. Upon these three fundamental ideas the doctrine of reincarnation has been built.

Some people also claim, in addition to this universal idea which is more or less intuitive, that mankind has received instruction from certain advanced souls which have passed on to higher planes of existence, and who are now called the Masters, Adepts, Teachers, Guides, etc. But whatever the explanation, it remains a truth that man seems to have worked out for himself, in all times and in all places, first, an idea of a ghost which persists after the body dies; and second, that this ghost has lived before in other bodies, and will return again to take on a new body. There are various ideas regarding heaven and hell, but underlying them all this idea of rebirth persists.

An archaeologist named Soldi published an interesting series of works, dealing with the beliefs of primitive peoples. He showed by the fragments of carving and sculpture which have survived that there was a universal idea among them of the ghost which lived after the body died; and a corresponding idea that some day this ghost would return to the scene of its former activities. This belief sometimes took the form of a return into the former body, which idea led to the preservation of the body by processes of mummifying, etc., but as a rule this