Question: What are your views about the implications of the belief in reincarnation?
Two things are implied in this question: continuation, and cause and effect. With regard to continuation, we must consider the idea that there is in each one of us a spiritual essence which continues. Now let us examine that idea. First, it is said in books and you also feel that there is a spiritual structure which continues after death. Please do not be on the defensive; I want to find out the truth about it. To accept an authority is to stop all thinking process. So, we are not going to accept what the sacred books say nor what you feel because after all what you feel is based on your desire for security. Now, is there a spiritual essence in man? Please consider the implications. All that is spiritual is in essence timeless, it is eternal. Surely, if that is so, the timeless, the eternal is beyond birth and death it is beyond time and space. So, you need not worry about things that are beyond time. It is not your concern. If it is timeless, if it is eternal, it is birthless and deathless, it has no time. If it has no time, it means there is no continuity; then why do you hold on to it? If it is timeless, it would not be continuous. But to you it is of time, because you cling to it. Therefore, it is not timeless. Therefore it is not spiritual in essence; because you have created it, therefore you cling to it. If it were real, it would be beyond your control. If it is true, you do not know it and, as I said before, if you know it, it is not true, and yet you cling to it. You say that there is a spiritual essence, which is the I, and that it continues, and at the same time you say it is timeless. So you have to understand the problem of continuity, which implies death, in order to know whether there is a spiritual entity or not. You have to understand death, which means you have to understand the whole problem of continuity. What continues in our everyday life? Memory through your own continuity, through your family, your belief; and as we seek continuity, psychological and physiological, we are afraid of death. Therefore, we want continuity. If continuity of this physical existence is denied us, we seek continuity in what we call `God.' Therefore, when we talk of reincarnation, we actually seek continuity.
Public Talk 30th November, 1947