Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mormonism and Reincarnation


Reincarnation is one of the most compelling aspects of Buddhism to me, and I see Mormonism's stages of existence as the closest thing to reincarnation that exists in all of Christianity. I kind of see Mormonism as an institutionalized, Christian version of Buddhism - or, more precisely, I see Buddhism's reincarnation as derivative of a more fundamental concept of eternal progression. I certainly think we are exponentially closer in theory and construct to Buddhism in regards to our eternal existence than to orthodox Christian theology.  

I'm not saying I believe in the classic Buddhist concept of reincarnation (especially the idea of coming back as animals), but I certainly am open to the idea that our current mortal lives aren't our only opportunity to learn and grow.  

I absolutely loved "What Dreams May Come" - a movie from years ago starring Robin Williams as a man who journeys to Hell to "save" his wife who committed suicide and who learns to see his life in a completely different way. It ends with a reincarnative scene, and I was moved deeply by many of the concepts explored in the film (most of which do NOT deal with reincarnation).

6 comments:

marv thompson said...

Some people have memories of previous lives under hypnosis ,can this be explained in the mormon faith. Yes i can explain,Brigham Young said we have guardian angels assignded to watch over us.When we served as these guardians before our turn to come to earth,we might retain some of the memories of the life of the person we watched over,this also explains deja vu .

Doe said...

I also found this film inspirational. Even the concept of hell, which seems objectionable at first glance, is really a place where people have forgotten who they are.

I have also heard the idea that past life memories can be attributed to time spent as a guardian angel. Mary, can you provide the source for the Brigham Young quote? I'd like to quote that in the book I'm writing.

Anonymous said...

I understood angels to be resurrected souls,having already served a mortal probation.In which case,according to the theology I know of,they will not need to return to a mortal state of probation.But I'm open to new thoughts on this.

Papa D said...

"Angel" is a word that has been interpreted in various ways over time. It's like "spirit" and "salvation" in that regard.

Honestly, I don't try to pin down one definition or usage. I'd rather keep it relatively undefined and open to multiple, generic usages. In other words, I really don't know. lol

marv thompson said...

sometimes we need to stop and think about who we are and where we are,we are children of a loving god and we are attacked by one third of our brothers and sisters who chose another path,It seems right that we would be helped considering the opposition.

marv thompson said...

Whether or not each individual has a “guardian angel” is a topic addressed some years ago by Elder John A. Widtsoe:

“Undoubtedly angels often guard us from accidents and harm, from temptation and sin. They may properly be spoken of as guardian angels. Many people have borne and may bear testimony to the guidance and protection that they have received from sources beyond their natural vision. Without the help that we receive from the constant presence of the Holy Spirit, and from possible holy angels, the difficulties of life would be greatly multiplied.

“The common belief, however, that every person born into the world has a guardian angel assigned to be with that person constantly, is not supported by available evidence. … An angel may be a guardian angel though he come only as assigned to give us special help. In fact, the constant presence of the Holy Spirit would seem to make such a constant, angelic companionship unnecessary.

“So, until further knowledge is obtained, we may say that angels may be sent to guard us according to our need; but we cannot say with certainty that there is a special guardian angel, to be with every person constantly.” (The Improvement Era, April 1944, page 225.)

In our own day, President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Bruce R. McConkie both acknowledged that help may come from ministering angels at critical times in our lives, but that the true “guardian angel” for each individual on the earth is the power and direction available through the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. (See Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, compiled by Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954, 1:54; and Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Second edition, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, pages 341–42.