Reincarnation, a rebirth which involves a return to earth by the dead with the characteristics of his past, is still shrouded in mystery despite the empirical evidence often manifested in the near death experiences. How real is the belief? asks Olu Osunde.
When Ehimema 30 from Benin in Edo State came into the world like every other babies before her, the parents rejoiced to high heavens. But as the process of getting the new baby girl cleaned up continued, they expected that, at a stage, the shriek cry ought to subside or at least have a breaking point, but instead, the cry continued unabated till the next day stressing the baby beyond a tolerable level.
To save the situation, an elder in the family was called in, opening up a traditional process of calming the new born baby. On enquiry through divination, it was discovered that the non-recognition of the important position of the baby in the past world by members of the family some of whom she expected to call her name in the previous world, informed the unusual cry.
What the baby expected, it was discovered, was to be called Edede meaning old woman- a nickname she was called during her first coming and which, the divination revealed, she cherished so much.
Without hesitation or expression of disbelief, the father picked her up and sonorously called her the name repeatedly while intermittently cuddling her.
Within a few seconds and to the dismay of the people around, the baby stopped crying and the chant of praise God! rent the air.
As the situation became normal, the seer brought by the elder warned that the baby, at adult, must not be deprived of going to worship God in the church as according to him, it was part of her unfinished works in the past life.
To reincarnate is to cause to be born again in another body or form; to embody again in flesh.
In the African traditional setting, the belief is strong as contact is often made with the past in dealing with the problem of the present.
Within the traditional circle, the belief is enhanced by the seeming efficacy of the references they make to their ancestors in process of divination which often manifests in the response of the spirits of the dead to their request.
With such response of the spirits, the belief has been extended to include the potentiality of the dead to transform into another body and get born again into the same family he previously left to the world beyond. The indication of such reincarnation is often insinuated to reflect on the token of identity which the family of the reincarnate often claimed to recognise. With such recognition, the baby is thus given name that suggests or indicates that he or she reincarnated.
Example of such names are: Babatunde, Iyabo, Nore in Bini, Remilekun, Babajide etc. In the traditional setting, a lot of empirical facts derived from the experiment of having to inflict a bodily marks on a child branded Abiku has given credence to the belief in reincarnation.
In the rating of most of the traditionalists contacted, a child reborn several times could be identified with the return of the marks inflicted on him or her in the previous life. Such child usually with short span of life if not stopped spiritually according to them could continue to come and go tormenting the parents.
In the gospel of the Grail, although there are indications of their believe in such reborn, they however, made it emphatically clear that a reborn is only possible only when there is need for such person to return to earth to finish the job he or she left uncompleted.
Those who have completed their works on earth according to the Grail messengers have no business coming back to earth. To them, you come back only when your Sojourn on earth in the previous life was abruptly brought to an end. But in the word of Mr. Enoghownayeke Festus a traditionalist now a trainee pastor, “everything about being reborn or reincarnation is a ruse. Those they call by special names like Babajide are so called because their birth coincided with the death of their grandfathers or fathers as the case may be.”
Though it somewhat sounds odd to some Christians to discover that there are those amongst them who share similar belief with those they regarded as infidels believing that the bible says “it is appointed for man to die once and after death, judgement,” the conflicting issue of John being the reincarnate of Elijah poses another challenge.
For some Christians who believe in reincarnation, John that was beheaded in prison could not be saved by Christ because he was Elijah that reincarnated as John and got beheaded in fulfillment of God’s law that he who killed by the sword will die by the sword- a law some christians believe was contravened by John in his encounter with the prophets of Baal in his first coming as Elijah.
Lending voice to those who are aversed to the belief, a lecturer at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ibadan, Alhaji Ismail Oloye explained that reincarnation has no basis in Islamic religion.
He said, the spirits of those you see hovering around after death are those of Muslims who failed to adhere to the Islamic tenet that they bath with their underwear on while on earth.
According to him, a good Muslim must not bath completely naked because he or she would by so doing risk being possessed by the evil one who might get their spirits contaminated.
In Celestial Church of Christ, a white garment church, Asst superior Akolade explains that the recognition that the spirit of the dead could stray about instead of resting informs the extra-burial service the church holds after the burial of a member. “If the spirit of a dead member is seen anywhere whether in the dream, such weid appearances stopped immediately after such service he referred to as amissal.
Although the issue of reincarnation is still shrouded in mystery, what appears more real is near death experiences. There have been series of reports of some men for instance who died and were buried only to be seen far away from where they earlier lived and died living another life even with wives and children.
There was a case witnessed by this writer in Benin where an accountant, man of about 50 then, abandoned his flat for the church the night his dead father physically appeared to him in his bedroom wrapping around himself the white cloth with which he was buried about a year to the time of the incident. He ran to the church when he heard that the strange visitor had banged the outer door and disappeared into the thin air.
In similar circumstance, there have also been reported cases of a man’s spirit returning to his dead body after an accident.
Such repossession of one’s body by a departed spirit even when doctor had certified the person dead has continued to rekindle the belief in life after death.
In India, it is even believed that humanbeing can be a reincarnate of god or goddess as the case may be. For instance, a two-year old India girl born with four arms and four legs and who was recently operated upon is said to be a reincarnation of a goddess.
Relating how important it is to know one’s past life, some California Psychics say it can be valuable information for living a better life here on earth right now.”
The soul, according to them inevitably comes into this world with past life experience or memory adding that the ultimate benefit of knowing about our past life is to become self-aware.
Being aware of the past, according to Astrologer Rainbow is one way to look at the soul’s past behaviour in terms of fears, weaknesses and challenges as well as gifts and strengths. She said, “recognising soulmates, understanding how we were connected to a particular place or person can be helpful in understanding our relationships in this life time.”
According to her,” people contact me wanting to know why they cannot disentangle themselves from a bad relationship. As I look at the situation I can often see the Karmic link.”
“When you meet someone with whom you have a strong immediate connection or bond that is almost a guarantee of a past life connection,” explains Jesse a tarot reader for California Psychics. The connection can be for the positive or negative.” “Some people, she said are under the misguided idea that a soulmate is one who has agreed to be with them for the rest of their lives.” That is rarely the case.” She believes that a soulmate is actually a being who is here to help you embrace and transcend a part of your spiritual journey. Sometimes a soulmate can make you very angry and propel you into an area of life where you would never have gone adding that, in many cases, fears are leftovers from a past lifetime experience”.
To the Buddhists, their teachings “offers the most satisfactory explanation of where man came from and where he is going. According to their teachings, “when a man dies, the mind, with all the tendencies, preferences, abilities and characteristics that have been developed and conditioned in this life, re-establishes itself in a new being”. “Thus, the new individual grows and develops a personality conditioned both by the mental characteristics that have been carried over from the previous life and by the new environment”.
“The personality will change and be modified by conditional effort and conditioning factors, like education, parental influence and society but once again at death, it will re-establish itself as life in a new being”.
“This process of dying and being reborn will continue until the conditions that cause it, the mental factors of craving and ignorance cease”.
In the last 30 years, it is said that “some parapsychologists have been studying reports that some people have vivid memory of their former life. It was reported that Professor Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia’s Department of Psychology has described dozens of cases of this type in his books”, a situation which appears to be a further evidence of reincarnation.
The Yorubas like the Buddhists have strong belief in a bad person in the previous life reincarnating into animals or some inanimate materials. While the good come as human beings into ccomfortable life.
in Nigerian Sunday Tribune