30 Quotes on Reincarnation

What Wise Men Say About Rebirth & Past Life

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Das, Subhamoy. "30 Quotes on Reincarnation." ThoughtCo, Apr. 17, 2017, thoughtco.com/quotes-on-reincarnation-1770558. Das, Subhamoy. (2017, April 17). 30 Quotes on Reincarnation. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-on-reincarnation-1770558 Das, Subhamoy. "30 Quotes on Reincarnation." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-on-reincarnation-1770558 (accessed September 22, 2017).
Reincarnation in Hinduism
The sons of a Hindu man, who died, pray for a good reincarnation for their father at Har-Ki-Pauri-Ghat in Haridwar. (Photo by Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The theory of reincarnation, which has its roots in ancient Hindu philosophy, influenced many a great Western mind.

Here are some eye-opening thoughts on reincarnation from renowned personalities.

Socrates

"I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew… it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal."

William Jones

"I am no Hindu, but I hold the doctrine of the Hindus concerning a future state (rebirth) to be incomparably more rational, more pious, and more likely to deter men from vice than the horrid opinions inculcated by Christians on punishments without end."

Henry David Thoreau

"As far back as I can remember I have unconsciously referred to the experiences of a previous state of existence."

Walt Whitman

"I know I am deathless…We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers, / There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them."

Voltaire

Doctrine of reincarnation is neither absurd nor useless. "It is not more surprising to be born twice than once."

Goethe

"I am certain that I have been here as I am now a thousand times before, and I hope to return a thousand times."

Jack London

"I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of millenniums… All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, promptings in me… Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born."

Isaac Bashevis Singer

"There is no death. How can there be death if everything is part of the Godhead? The soul never dies and the body is never really alive."

Herman Hesse, Nobel Laureate

"He saw all these forms and faces in a thousand relationships… become newly born. Each one was mortal, a passionate, painful example of all that is transitory.

Yet none of them died, they only changed, were always reborn, continually had a new face: only time stood between one face and another."

Count Leo Tolstoy

"As we live through thousands of dreams in out present life, so is our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life… and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real life of God."

Richard Bach

" 'Do you have any idea how many lives we must have gone through before we even got the first idea that there is more to life than eating, or fighting, or power in the Flock? A thousand lives, Jon, ten thousand!… We choose our next world though what we learn in this one… But you, Jon, learned so much at one time that you didn't have to go through a thousand lives to reach this one.'"

Benjamin Franklin

"Finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other, always exist."

Arthur Schopenhauer, 19th century German philosopher

"Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him: It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life."

Zohar, one of the principal Cabalistic texts

"The souls must reenter the absolute substance whence they have emerged. But to accomplish this, they must develop all the perfections, the germ of which is planted in them; and if they have not fulfilled this condition during one life, they must commence another, a third, and so forth, until they have acquired the condition which fits them for reunion with God."

Jalalu 'D-Din Rumi, Sufi poet

"I died as a mineral and became a plant, I died as a plant and rose to animal, I died as animal and I was man. Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

Giordano Bruno

"The soul is not the body and it may be in one body or in another, and pass from body to body."

Emerson

"It is a secret of the world that all things subsist and so not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again… Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some new and strange disguise."

"The soul is not born; it does not die; it was not produced from anyone… Unborn, eternal, it is not slain, though the body is slain." (quoting Katha Upanisad)

Honore Balzac

"All human beings go through a previous life… Who knows how many fleshly forms the heir of heaven occupies before he can be brought to understand the value of that silence and solitude whose starry plains are but the vestibule of spiritual worlds?"

Charles Dickens

"We all have some experience of a feeling, that comes over us occasionally, of what we are saying and doing having been said and done before, in a remote time - of our having been surrounded, dim ages ago, by the same faces, objects, and circumstances."

Henry Ford

"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."

James Joyce

"Some people believe that we go on living in another body after death, that we lived before. They call it reincarnation. That we all lived before on the earth thousands of years ago or on some other planet. They say we have forgotten it. Some say they remember their past lives."

Carl Jung

"I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries and there encountered questions in was not yet able to answer; that I had to be born again because I had not fulfilled the task that was given to me."

Thomas Huxley

"The doctrine of transmigration… was a means of constructing a plausible vindication of the ways of the cosmos to man; … none but very hasty thinkers will reject it on the grounds of inherent absurdity."

Erik Erikson

"Let us face it: 'deep down' nobody in his right mind can visualize his own existence without assuming that he has always lived and will live hereafter."

J D Salinger

"It's so silly. All you do is get the heck out of your body when you die. My gosh, everybody's done it thousands of times. Just because they don't remember, it doesn't mean they haven't done it."

John Masefield

"I hold that when a person dies / His soul returns again to earth; / Arrayed in some new flesh disguise / Another mother gives him birth / With sturdier limbs and brighter brain."

George Harrison

"Friends are all souls that we've known in other lives. We're drawn to each other. That's how I feel about friends. Even if I have only known them a day, it doesn't matter. I'm not going to wait till I have known them for two years, because anyway, we must have met somewhere before, you know."

W Somerset Maugham

"Has it occurred to you that transmigration is at once an explanation and a justification of the evil of the world? If the evils we suffer are the result of sins committed in our past lives, we can bear them with resignation and hope that if in this one we strive toward virtue out future lives will be less afflicted."