I just heard your interview on AncientFaith Radio. I come from a Christian background, but see myself as more of a Hindu these days, though I’m looking into the Catholic and Orthodox Church. I was curious as to how whether you believed in reincarnation/rebirth in your Tibetan Buddhist days, and, if you did, how your belief was changed as a result of becoming Orthodox? Maybe you talk in depth about this in the book: if so, could you give me just the basics of how you dealt with this issue of rebirth/reincarnation? (Also: do you believe that rebirth/reincarnation is necessarily incompatible with Christianity?) Thanks.
I did believe in reincarnation/rebirth not only in my Tibetan Buddhist days, but in my early 20s when I started meditating and had a guru. I do not believe in reincarnation now, but for a good 20 years I really was heavily into channeling, metaphysics, and facilitating past life regressions. I talk about this in my book. It was quite a process for me to move from being steeped in the new age and Eastern religions to what I think is the most profound eastern religion, Eastern Orthodox Christianity. My belief in reincarnation took time and much prayer and soul-searching to resolve.
Acceptance of reincarnation in my early 20s was related to starting to have a relationship with a guru. I was looking for something spiritual, but not Christian. At the time I was seeking relief from severe depression and health issues. I found the concept of reincarnation refreshing at the time–because of the guilt I carried about sin. I was haunted unconsciously by the Western concept of sin–related to being bad–going to hell for my sins–and many other misunderstandings about Christianity from my early Catholic years. The thought of having more than one life felt freeing at the time. Eastern Orthodox Christianity approaches sin a very different perspective–actually a lot of things from a more heartfelt less logic related or legalistic approach taken by Western Catholicism.
I explore so many of my reactions to Christianity and Western Catholicism in my book. From where I am now as a convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity–I can say that rebirth comes through baptism/reincarnation is not compatible with Christian doctrines and beliefs. This is because we believe that Christ resurrected body and soul and that we will also.
I would like to give you this quote from St. Cyril of Alexandria which might be helpful in understanding the complexity of the relationship between our bodies/souls and the resurrection of Christ:
The prophet Isaiah therefore has said to us, ‘ your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall rise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead’. (Isa 26:19) And by dew I imagine he means the life–giving power of the Holy Spirit, and that influence which abolishes death, as being that of God and of life and the blessed David also … says of all those upon earth,’ You take away their spirit, and they die and return to their dust; You send Your Spirit, and they are created, and You renew the face of the earth (ps103:29) … For ‘ it is sown,’ it says, ‘ in corruption, it is raised in in corruption; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.” (1 Cor. 15:42) For the prophet Isaiah again assures us that death which is entered in because of sin does not retain its power over the dwellers on earth for ever, but is abolished by the resurrection from the dead of Christ, Who renews the universe, and refashion set into that which it was at the beginning–for God created all things for incorruption, as it is written (wisdom 1:4): for he says, ‘He has swallowed up death having waxed mightily: and God shall again take away all weeping from every countenance: He shall remove the reproach of the people from the whole earth’(Isa 25:8) …But those who have maintained an honorable and elect life, full of all excellence, and have, therefore, been accounted worthy of attaining to a glorious and marvelous resurrection, will be necessarily raised far above the life which men lead in this world; for they will live as become saints, who already have been brought near to God. Since, therefore, all fleshly lust is taken away, and no place whatsoever is left in them for bodily pleasure, they resemble the holy angels, fulfilling a spiritual and not a material service, such as becomes holy spirits; and are at the same time counted worthy of a glory such as that which the Angels enjoy. Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, homily 136 B# 42, PP. 541–542.
Food for thought and prayer,