What is Reincarnation?
Reality is a consciousness experiment set in linear time to experience emotions. Within the matrix of its design all things occur at the same time, hence there is no past, present or future, but multidimensional experiences souls have simultaneously.
To see a past life through regression, is to observe an experience your soul is having in another reality that probably impacts the results of what it is doing here. As a hypnotherapist, people have past life regressions to make sense of their current life and to heal their wounds. The purpose of any past life regression, as unique to the individual person involved rather than something that is part of their collective memory, is to physically verify the information given.
In a series of books, medium Jane Roberts channeled an entity named Seth on the topic of reincarnation. Seth trusts that time and space are basically illusions. Consistent with this opinion, Seth argues that only parts of each person's soul incarnate in any particular reality as man is a multidimensional entity simultaneously experiencing in many contexts. Many books, documentaries, and films have been created dealing with reincarnation, allowing the average person to believe we have more than one life, one experience, and there is more out there than just this physical reality.
This is the reality that must be addressed and healed, that reincarnation, or the journey of the soul in linear time, plays a part in the return to awareness. Some call this a rebirth of consciousness. We are beings of light who experience in the physical and are about to return to light. At that moment, all will be understood. Children who report memories of violent deaths in past lives might suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to psychologist Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson, professor emeritus at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. From the ages of 2 to 6, children are more likely to talk about being someone else, often someone who survived trauma - a soldier who died in the line of fire, a pilot who crashed, a murder victim. After the age of 6, they often lose interest or even forget what they'd said before. The memories, whether really from a past life or imagined, can have a negative psychological effect on the child. Some become emphatic and distressed about having left their other family or home and wanting to return. Some have debilitating phobias seemingly related to the traumatic death they remember. Some are haunted by the traumas of their purported past lives in flashbacks or nightmares.
Some people remember foreign languages and things they could not have possibly known without studying. Polyglossy or Xenoglossy is the putative phenomenon in which a person can speak a language that he or she could not have acquired by natural means. This often goes along with reincarnation theories. It is interesting to see children recount information from other places and timelines even at the youngest ages. One client told me he could play blackjack like a pro since childhood without ever learning anything about the game or watching it being played, he just said he remember playing it in a place he could not initially name, because his memories were vague. He also spoke of WWII and being a pilot when he played cards in a far away country whose language was also familiar to him at times. He complained of chest pains from a very young age, though not ill, and later, through a past life regression as an adult, found his former name and that he had been shot and killed in the war, which takes us here ...
Research demonstrates that a person's previous incarnations can apparently shape particular aspects of their emotional dispositions as well as their physical body. For instance, Burmese children who now remember previous lifetimes as British or American air force pilots shot down over Burma during World War II. All of them have fairer hair and complexions than their darker colored siblings. Some people still have marks or scares from other lifetimes. Some people have fears and phobias as outcomes of past life experiences. It is as if the template of the modern body remembered the experiences of the former body and reformed a new body with the old issues and physical markings.
Thomas Huxley, the famous English biologist, thought that reincarnation was a possible idea and explained it in his book Evolution and Ethics and other Essays. The most detailed collections of personal reports in favor of reincarnation have been published by Professor Ian Stevenson, from the University of Virginia, in books such as Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. Stevenson spent over 40 years devoted to the study of children who have apparently spoken about a past life. In each example, Professor Stevenson methodically documented the child's statements. Then he identified the deceased person the child allegedly identified with, and verified the facts of the deceased person's life that matched the child's memory. He also matched birthmarks and birth defects to wounds and scars on the deceased, verified by medical records such as autopsy photographs.
In a pretty ordinary case, a boy in Beirut spoke of being a 25-year-old mechanic, thrown to his death from a speeding car on a beach road. According to multiple witnesses, the boy provided the name of the driver, the exact location of the crash, the names of the mechanic's sisters and parents and cousins, and the people he went hunting with -- all of which turned out to match the life of a man who had died several years before the boy was born, and who had no apparent connection to the boy's family. Stevenson believed that his strict methods ruled out all possible "normal" explanations for the child's memories. Nevertheless, it should be noted that most of Professor Stevenson's reported cases of reincarnation originate in Eastern societies, where dominant religions often permit the concept of reincarnation.
There are many people who have investigated reincarnation and come to the conclusion that it is a legitimate phenomenon, such as Peter Ramster, Dr. Brian Weiss, Dr. Walter Semkiw, and others, but their work is typically neglected by the scientific community. Professor Stevenson, in contrast, published dozens of papers in peer-reviewed journals. The most obvious objection to reincarnation is that there is no evidence of a physical process by which a personality could survive death and travel to another body, and researchers such as Professor Stevenson recognize this limitation.
One more fundamental objection is that most people just do not remember previous lives, although it could be argued that only some, but not all, people reincarnate. Certainly the vast majority of cases investigated at the University of Virginia involved people who had met some kind of violent or untimely death. Some skeptics say that claims of evidence for reincarnation originate from selective thinking and the psychological phenomena of false memories that often result from one's own belief system and basic fears, and thus cannot be accepted as empirical evidence. More research on the subject is needed.
Seeing Yourself as a Famous Person
Some people see themselves transforming into other characters in recorded history, or as extreme as entities from other worlds and non-recorded history. The possibilities are endless. Sometimes people do not see themselves as they were/are in another experience, but tap into the collective unconsciousness, and see life through the eyes of someone else. This is not hard as reality is nothing more than conscious experience. When you see yourself as someone famous in a past life, it is probable you are playing that role in a parallel reality, but it is more likely you have matched your grid matrix with that of the other person and believe you are one and the same.
Famous World War II General George Patton was a staunch believer in reincarnation and, along with many other members of his family, often claimed to have seen vivid, lifelike visions of his ancestors. In particular, Patton believed he was a reincarnation of Carthaginian General Hannibal as well as the reincarnation of Julius Caesar. Henry Ford was sure he had lived before, most recently as a soldier killed at the battle of Gettysburg. A quote from the San Francisco Examiner from August 26, 1928 described Ford's beliefs:
I adopted the theory of Reincarnation when I was 26. Religion offered nothing to the point. Even work could not give me complete satisfaction. Work is futile if we cannot utilize the experience we collect in one life in the next. When I discovered Reincarnation it was as if I had found a universal plan I realized that there was a chance to work out my ideas. Time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock. Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. Some are older souls than others, and so they know more. The discovery of Reincarnation put my mind at ease. If you preserve a record of this conversation, write it so that it puts men's minds at ease. I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us.
Sadam Hussein thought he was the reincarnation of the ancient Babylonian King Nebakanether. Some of the musical greats of the last few centuries leave us contemplating about reincarnation. Mozart was composing entire symphonies by the time he was six years old. Beethoven and Bach were similar. Genius in almost every art form has emerged at almost unbelievable ages showing a proclivity for talent far beyond mortal logic. Thinking you are someone famous goes to the theory of channeling information from another soul, or aspect of your soul, having another experience somewhere out there.
Ancient Belief Systems Reincarnation, literally "to be made flesh again", is the belief that the soul, after death of the body, returns to earth in another body. According to some beliefs, a new personality is developed during each life in the physical world, but the soul stays constant throughout the successive lives. Belief in reincarnation has ancient roots. This doctrine is a central tenet within the majority of Indian religious traditions, such as Hinduism and Jainism. The idea was also entertained by some ancient Greek philosophers. Many modern Neopagans also believe in reincarnation as do some New Age movements, along with followers of Spiritism, practitioners of particular African traditions, and students of esoteric philosophies such as Kabbalah, and Gnostic and Esoteric Christianity.
The Buddhist concept of Rebirth although often known as reincarnation differs a lot from the Hindu-based traditions and New Age movements in that there is no unchanging "soul" (or eternal self) to reincarnate.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead describes the journey of the soul into the next world without returning to Earth. Ancient Egyptians embalmed the dead so the body may be preserved to accompany the soul into that world. This suggests their belief in resurrection than in reincarnation.
Eastern Religions and Traditions
Eastern philosophical and religious beliefs about the existence or non-existence of an enduring 'self' have a direct bearing on how reincarnation is viewed within a given tradition. There are huge differences in philosophical beliefs regarding the nature of the soul (also known as the jiva or atma) amongst the Dharmic Religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Some schools deny the existence of a 'self', while others teach the existence of an eternal, personal self, and still others say there is neither self or no-self, as both are false. Each of these beliefs has a direct bearing on the possible nature of reincarnation, including such concepts as samsara, moksha, nirvana, and bhakti. Jainism In Jainism, particular reference is given to how devas (gods) also reincarnate after they die. A Jainist who earns enough good karma may become a deva, but this is usually seen as undesirable since devas eventually die and one might then come back as a lesser being. This belief is also commonplace in a number of other schools of Hinduism. Hinduism In India the concept of reincarnation is first recorded in the Upanishads (c. 800 BCE), which are philosophical and religious texts composed in Sanskrit. The doctrine of reincarnation is absent in the Vedas, which are typically seen as the oldest of the Hindu scriptures. According to Hinduism, the soul (atman) is immortal, while the body is subject to birth and death. The Bhagavad Gita states that:
- Worn-out garments are shed by the body;
- Worn-out bodies are shed by the dweller within the body.
- New bodies are donned by the dweller, like garments.
The idea that the soul (of any living being - including animals, humans and plants) reincarnates is intricately connected to karma, another concept first introduced in the Upanishads. Karma (literally: action) is the sum of one's actions, and the force that determines one's next reincarnation. The cycle of death and rebirth, governed by karma, is referred to as 'samsara.' According to Hinduism, the soul goes on repeatedly being born and dying. One is reborn on account of desire: a person wishes to be born because he or she wants to enjoy worldly pleasures, which can be enjoyed only through a body. Hinduism does not say that all worldly pleasures are sinful, but it teaches that they can never bring deep, lasting happiness or peace (ananda).
According to the Hindu sage Adi Shankaracharya - the world as we usually understand it - is like a dream: fleeting and illusory. To be trapped in Samsara is a result of ignorance of the true nature of being. After many births, every person eventually becomes dissatisfied with the limited happiness that worldly pleasures can bring. At this point, a person starts to look for higher forms of happiness, which can be attained only through spiritual experience. When, after much spiritual practice (sadhana), a person finally realizes his or her own divine nature - i.e., realizes that the true "self" is the immortal soul rather than the body or the ego - all desires for the pleasures of the world will vanish, since they will seem insipid compared to spiritual ananda. When all desire has disappeared, the person will not be reborn anymore. When the cycle of rebirth thus comes to an end, a person is said to have attained moksha, or salvation. While all schools of thought agree that moksha implies the cessation of worldly desires and freedom from the cycle of birth and death, the exact definition of salvation depends on individual beliefs.
For instance, followers of the Advaita Vedanta school (often associated with jnana yoga) believe that they will spend eternity absorbed in the perfect peace and happiness that comes with the realization that all existence is One (Brahman), and that the immortal soul is part of that existence. The followers of full or partial Dvaita schools ("dualistic" schools, such as bhakti yoga), on the other hand, perform their worship with the goal of spending eternity in a loka, (spiritual world or heaven), in the blessed company of the Supreme being (i.e Krishna or Vishnu for the Vaishnavas, Shiva for the Shaivites).
In the beliefs of Eastern teachings like Hinduism and Buddhism, the Goddess Kali, the Mistress of life, death and rebirth, governs this wheel of becoming. This is the 'Wheel of Reincarnation'. Kali is considered the Great Mother that all must pass through to enter the afterworld. In the west we have come to fear her for she is often portrayed with skulls hanging from her wrists. Thus started to associate her with death and slaughter. The origin of samsara has to be searched for in Hinduism and its classic writings. It cannot have appeared earlier than the 9th century BC because the Vedic hymns, the most ancient writings of Hinduism, do not mention it, proving that reincarnation wasn1t stated yet at the time of their recording (13th to 10th century BC). We will therefore analyze the development of the concept of immortality in the major Hindu writings, starting with the Vedas and Brahmanas.
Immortality in the Vedic hymns and the Brahmanas
At the time the Vedic hymns were written, the belief was that man continues to exist after death as a whole person. Between man and gods was stated an absolute distinction, as in all other polytheistic religions of the world. The concept of an impersonal fusion with the source of all existence, as later stated in the Upanishads, was far away. Here are some arguments for this thesis that result from the exegesis of the funeral ritual:
1. As was the case in other ancient religions (for example those of Egypt and Mesopotamia), the deceased was buried with food and clothing necessary in the afterlife. More than that, the belief of ancient Aryans in the preservation of personal identity after death led them to incinerate the dead husband together with his (living) wife and bow so that they could accompany him in the afterlife. In some parts of India this ritual was performed until the British colonization.
2. Similar to the tradition of ancient Chinese religion, the departed relatives constituted a holy hierarchy. The last one deceased was commemorated individually for a year after his departure and then included in the mortuary offerings of the monthly shraddha ritual (Rig Veda 10,15,1-11). This ritual was needed because the dead could affect negatively or positively the life of the living (Rig Veda 10,15,6).
3. According to Vedic anthropology, the parts of human nature are the physical body, ashu and manas. Ashu represents the vital principle (different from personal attributes), and manas the sum of psycho-mental faculties (mind, feeling and will). The belief in the preservation of the three components after death is proved by the fact that the family addressed the departed relative in the burial ritual as a unitary person: "May nothing of your manas, nothing of the ashu, nothing of the limbs, nothing of your vital fluid, nothing of your body here by any means be lost" (Atharva Veda 18,2,24). Yama, the god of death (mentioned in old Buddhist and Taoist scriptures too) was sovereign over the souls of the dead and also the one who received the offerings of the family for the benefit of the departed. In the Rig Veda it is said about him: "Yama was the first to find us our abode, a place that can never be taken away, where our ancient Fathers have departed; all who are born go there by that path, treading their own" (Rig Veda 10,14,2).
Divine justice was given by the gods Yama, Soma and Indra, not by an impersonal law such as karma. One of their attributes was to cast the wicked into an eternal dark prison out of which they can never escape (Rig Veda 7,104,3-17). The premise for reaping the reward of one's life in a new earthly existence (instead of the heavenly afterlife) appeared in the Brahmana writings (9th century BC). They began a limited heavenly immortality, depending on the deeds and the quality of the sacrifices performed during life. After reaping the reward for them, man has to face a second death in the heavenly realm (punarmrityu) and therefore come back to an earthly existence. The proper antidote against this situation came to be considered esoteric knowledge, attainable only during one's earthly existence.
Reincarnation in the Upanishads
The Upanishads were the first writings to move the place of one's "second death" from the heavenly realm to this earthly world, considering its proper solution the knowledge of the atman-Brahman identity. Ignorance of one's true self (atman or purusha) launches karma into action, the law of cause and effect in Eastern spirituality. Its first clear formulation can be found in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (4,4,5): "According as one acts, according as one behaves, so does he become. The doer of good becomes good. The doer of evil becomes evil. One becomes virtuous by virtuous action, bad by bad action."
Reincarnation (samsara) is the practical way in which one reaps the fruits of his deeds. So, the self is forced to enter a new material existence until all karmic debt is paid: "By means of thought, touch, sight and passions and by the abundance of food and drink there are birth and development of the (embodied) self. According to his deeds, the embodied self assumes successively various forms in various conditions" (Shvetashvatara Upanishad 5,11). There can be seen a fundamental mutation in the meaning of afterlife in comparison with the Vedic perspective. Abandoning the wish to have communion with the gods (Agni, Indra, etc.), attained as an outcome of bringing good sacrifices, the Upanishads came to consider man's final destiny to be the impersonal fusion atman-Brahman, attained exclusively by esoteric knowledge. In this new context, karma and reincarnation are key elements that will mark from now on all particular developments in Hinduism.
Reincarnation in the Epics and Puranas
In the Bhagavad Gita, which is a part of the Mahabharata, reincarnation is clearly stated as a natural process of life that has to be followed by any mortal. Krishna says: "Just as the self advances through childhood, youth and old age in its physical body, so it advances to another body after death. The wise person is not confused by this change called death (2,13). Just as the body casts off worn out clothes and puts on new ones, so the infinite, immortal self casts off worn out bodies and enters into new ones (2,22)." In the Puranas the speculation on this subject is more substantial and therefore particular destinies are figured for each kind of sin one performs: "The murderer of a Brahmin becomes consumptive, the killer of a cow becomes hump-backed and imbecile, the murderer of a virgin becomes leprous, all three born as outcastes. The slayer of a woman and the destroyer of embryos becomes a savage full of diseases; who commits illicit intercourse, a eunuch; who goes with his teacher's wife, disease-skinned. The eater of flesh becomes very red; the drinker of intoxicants, one with discolored teeth.... Who steals food becomes a rat; who steals grain becomes a locust... perfumes, a muskrat; honey, a gadfly; flesh, a vulture; and salt, an ant.... Who commits unnatural vice becomes a village pig; who consorts with a Sudra woman becomes a bull; who is passionate becomes a lustful horse.... These and other signs and births are seen to be the karma of the embodied, made by themselves in this world. Thus the makers of bad karma, having experienced the tortures of hell, are reborn with the residues of their sins, in these stated forms (Garuda Purana 5)."
Similar specific punishments are figured by The Laws of Manu (12, 54-69). According to the Upanishads and Vedanta philosophy, the entity that reincarnates is the impersonal self (atman). Atman lacks any personal element, reason for which the use of the reflexive pronoun "self" is not completely right. Atman can be defined only through negating any personal attributes. Although it constitutes the existential substrata of man's existence, atman cannot be the carrier of one's "spiritual progress", because it cannot record any data produced in the illusory domain of psycho-mental existence. The spiritual progress one accumulates toward realizing theatman-Brahman identity is recorded by karma, or rather by a minimal quantity of karmic debt. According to one's karma, at (re)birth the whole physical and mental complex man consists of is reconstructed, all that pertains to the world of illusions. At this level, the newly shaped person experiences the fruits of "his" actions from previous lives and has to do his best to stop the vicious cycle avidya-karma-samsara. As a needed help in explaining the reincarnation mechanism, Vedanta adopted the concept of a subtle bodies (sukshma-sharira), attached to atman as long as its bondage lasts, which actually records the karmic debts and transmits them from one life to another. Nevertheless, this "subtle body" cannot be a form of preserving one's personal attributes, as it does not offer any actual data belonging to previous lives to the present conscious psycho-mental life. All this kind of data is erased, so that the facts recorded by the subtle body are a sum of hidden tendencies or impressions (samskara) imprinted by karma. They will materialize unconsciously in the life of the individual, without giving him any hint for comprehending his actual condition.
There is no possible form of transmitting conscious memory from one life to another, because its domain belongs to the world of illusions and dissolves at death. In the Samkhya and Yoga darshanas, the entity that reincarnates is purusha, an equivalent of atman. Given the absolute duality stated between purusha and prakriti (substance), nothing that belongs to the psycho-mental life can pass from one life to the other because it belongs to prakriti, which has a mere illusory relation with purusha. Nevertheless, in the Yoga Sutra (2,12) is defined a similar mechanism of transmitting the effects of karma from one life to another, as was the case in Vedanta. The reservoir of karmas is called karmashaya. It accompanies purusha from one life to another, representing the sum of impressions (samskara) that could not manifest themselves during the limits of a particular life. In no way can it be a type of conscious memory, a sum of information that the person could consciously use or a nucleus of personhood, because karmashaya has nothing in common with psycho-mental abilities. This deposit of karma merely serves as a mechanism for adjusting the effects of karma in one's life. It dictates in an impersonal and mechanical manner the new birth (jati), the length of life (ayu) and the experiences that must accompany it (bhoga).
Buddhism Wheel of Life
The Buddha taught a concept of rebirth that was separate from that of any Indian teacher contemporary with him. This concept was consistent with the common notion of a sequence of related lives stretching over a very long time, but was constrained by two core Buddhist concepts: anatta, that there is no irreducible atman or "self" tying these lives together; and anicca, that all compounded things are subject to dissolution, including all the components of the human person and personality. At the death of one personality, a new one comes into being, much as the flame of a dying candle can serve to light the flame of another. Since according to Buddhism there is no permanent and unchanging self (identify) there can be no transmigration in the strict sense. But the Buddha himself referred to his past-lives. Buddhism teaches that what is reborn is not the person but that one moment gives rise to another and that that momentum goes on, even after death. It is a more subtle concept than the usual notion of reincarnation, reflecting the sophisticated Buddhist concept of personality existing (even within one's lifetime) without a "soul". Buddhism never rejected samsara, the process of rebirth, but suggests that it occurs across six realms of beings. It is actually said to be very rare for a person to be reborn in the immediate next life as a human.
However, Tibetan Buddhists do think that a new-born child might be the rebirth of some significant departed lama. The Buddha has this to say on rebirth. Kutadanta continued: "Thou believest, O Master, that beings are reborn; that they migrate in the evolution of life; and that subject to the law of karma we must reap what we sow. Yet thou teachest the non-existence of the soul! Thy disciples praise utter self-extinction as the highest bliss of Nirvana. If I am merely a combination of the sankharas, my existence will cease when I die. If I am merely a compound of sensations and ideas and desires, whither can I go at the dissolution of the body?" Said the Blessed One: "O Brahman, thou art religious and earnest. Thou art seriously concerned about thy soul. Yet is thy work in vain because thou art lacking in the one thing that is needful." "There is rebirth of character, but no transmigration of a self. Thy thought-forms reappear, but there is no egoentity transferred. The stanza uttered by a teacher is reborn in the scholar who repeats the word."
Buddhism denies the reality of a permanent self, together with all things pertaining to the phenomenal world. The appearance of human existence is created by a mere heap of five aggregates (skandha), which suffer from constant becoming and have a functional cause-effect relation:
1. the body (material form and senses),
2. sensation (product of the senses),
3. perception (built on sensation),
4. mental activity
All five elements, as well as the whole combination they make, are impermanent (anitya), undergo constant transformation and have no abiding principle or self. Man usually believes that he has a self because of consciousness. But being itself in a constant process of becoming and change, consciousness cannot be identified with a self that is supposed to be permanent. Beyond the five aggregates nothing else can be found in man. However, something has to reincarnate, following the dictates of karma. When asked about the differences between people in the matters of life span, illnesses, wealth, etc., the Buddha taught:
Men have, O young man, deeds as their very own, they are inheritors of deeds, deeds are their matrix, deeds are their kith and kin, and deeds are their support. It is deeds that classify men into high or low status.
Majjhima Nikaya 3,202
If there is no real self, who inherits the deeds and reincarnates? Buddha answered that only karma is passing from one life to another, using the illustration of the light of a candle, which is derived from other candle without having a substance of its own. In the same manner there is rebirth without the transfer of a self from one body to another. The only link from one life to the next is of a causal nature. This is without doubt the strangest definition of reincarnation ever stated. In the Garland Sutra (10) we read: According to what deeds are done Do their resulting consequences come to be; Yet the doer has no existence: This is the Buddha's teaching. The Yogachara and Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism) schools of Mahayana Buddhism consider that there actually is an entity that reincarnates, namely consciousness (one of the five aggregates), thus having the same function as the atman of Vedanta. The Tibetan Book of the Dead describes in detail the alleged experiences one has in the intermediary state between two incarnations, suggesting that the deceased keeps some personal attributes. Although it is not clear what actually survives after death in this case, there is mentioned a mental body that cannot be injured by the visions experienced by the deceased: When it happens that such a vision arises, do not be afraid! Do not feel terror! You have a mental body made of instincts; even if it is killed or dismembered, it cannot die! Since in fact you are a natural form of voidness, anger at being injured is unnecessary! The Yama Lords of Death are but arisen from the natural energy of your own awareness and really lack all substantiality. Voidness cannot injure voidness! (Tibetan Book of the Dead, 12)
Whatever the condition of the deceased after death might be, any hypothetical personal nucleus vanishes right before birth, so there can be no psycho-mental element transmitted from one life to another. The newborn person doesn't remember anything from previous lives or trips into the realm of intermediary state (bardo). Years ago a boy came forward who said he was the incarnation of the Dali Lama who is the head of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He has incarnated many times throughout the centuries reassuming his position from lifetime to lifetime. This tradition first started when this young boy first presented as the reincarnation of the first Dali Lama. He was accepted by the priests by way of many signs. He proceeded to miracles of knowing, telepathy, mind reading and ceremony to prove that claim. This process has allowed subsequent Monks to develop a system to rediscovery successive incarnations of the Dali Lama and others of high spiritual development in each age.
Taoist records from as early as the Han Dynasty said that Lao Tzu appeared on earth as different persons in different times starting in the legendary era of Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. The (ca. 3rd century BCE) Chuang Tzu says: "Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting-point. Existence without limitation is Space. Continuity without a starting point is Time. There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in."
Reincarnation, simply stated, is the law of cause and effect: reincarnation does not create any caste or differences among people: past and present life's actions simply have a bearing upon a specific individual. Reincarnation in no way makes one superior to another.
Sikhs believe that every creature has a Soul; on death, the Soul is passed from one body to another until Liberation. The journey of the Soul is governed by the deeds and actions that we perform during our lives. If we perform good deeds and actions and remember the Creator, we attain a better life. On the contrary, if we carry out evil actions and sinful deeds, we will be incarnated in 'lower' life forms - snakes, lions, zebra, monkeys, hippopotamus etc. The person who has evolved to spiritual perfection attains salvation - union with God.
The Karma of a person will definitely have their effect, both good and bad. No worldly power can change the course of their movement. But according to the Sikh thought, the Almighty God, with his Grace, may pardon the wrongs of a person and thus release him/her from the pangs of suffering.