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Conceptual definitions[ edit ] The word "reincarnation" derives from Latinliterally meaning, "entering the flesh again". Another Greek term sometimes used synonymously is palingenesis"being born again". Gilgul means "cycle" and neshamot is "souls". Kabbalistic reincarnation says that humans reincarnate only to humans and to the same sex only: The Greek Pre-Socratics discussed reincarnation, and the Celtic Druids are also reported to have taught a doctrine of reincarnation.
Proponents of cultural transmission have looked for links between Iron Age Celtic, Greek and Vedic philosophy and religion,  some[ who?
This asserts that the nature of existence is a "suffering-laden cycle of life, death, and rebirth, without beginning or end". Liberation from this cycle of existence, Nirvana, is the foundation and the most important purpose of Buddhism.
While Nirvana is taught as the ultimate goal in the Theravadin Buddhism, and is essential to Mahayana Buddhism, the vast majority of contemporary lay Buddhists focus on accumulating good karma and acquiring merit to achieve a better reincarnation in the next life. Between generally virtuous lives, some are more virtuous; while evil too has degrees, and the texts assert that it would be unfair for people, with varying degrees of virtue or vices, to end up in heaven or hell, in "either or" and disproportionate manner irrespective of how virtuous or vicious their lives were.
Thus Buddhism and Hinduism have a very different view on whether a self or soul exists, which impacts the details of their respective rebirth theories.
Orpheus plays his lyre to the left. Early Greek discussion of the concept likewise dates to the 6th century BCE. An early Greek thinker known to have considered rebirth is Pherecydes of Syros fl.
Authorities have not agreed on how the notion arose in Greece: In PhaedoPlato makes his teacher Socratesprior to his death, state: The wheel of birth revolves, the soul alternates between freedom and captivity round the wide circle of necessity.
Orpheus proclaimed the need of the grace of the gods, Dionysus in particular, and of self-purification until the soul has completed the spiral ascent of destiny to live for ever. An association between Pythagorean philosophy and reincarnation was routinely accepted throughout antiquity.
In the Republic Plato makes Socrates tell how Er, the son of Armenius, miraculously returned to life on the twelfth day after death and recounted the secrets of the other world. There are myths and theories to the same effect in other dialogues, in the Chariot allegory of the Phaedrusin the MenoTimaeus and Laws.
The soul, once separated from the body, spends an indeterminate amount of time in "formland" see The Allegory of the Cave in The Republic and then assumes another body.
In later Greek literature the doctrine is mentioned in a fragment of Menander  and satirized by Lucian. Persius in his satires vi. In Greco-Roman thoughtthe concept of metempsychosis disappeared with the rise of Early Christianityreincarnation being incompatible with the Christian core doctrine of salvation of the faithful after death.
It has been suggested that some of the early Church Fathers, especially Origenstill entertained a belief in the possibility of reincarnation, but evidence is tenuous, and the writings of Origen as they have come down to us speak explicitly against it. The Sethians and followers of Valentinus believed in it.
Another such teacher was Basilides —? In the third Christian century Manichaeism spread both east and west from Babyloniathen within the Sassanid Empirewhere its founder Mani lived about — Manichaean monasteries existed in Rome in AD.
However the inter-relation of Manicheanism, Orphism, Gnosticism and neo-Platonism is far from clear.
Julius Caesar recorded that the druids of Gaul, Britain and Ireland had metempsychosis as one of their core doctrines: Judaism[ edit ] The belief in reincarnation had first existed amongst Jewish mystics in the Ancient World, among whom differing explanation given of the after-life, although with a universal belief in an immortal soul.
Kabbalah Jewish mysticismteaches a belief in gilgultransmigration of souls, and hence the belief in reincarnation is universal in Hasidic Judaismwhich regards the Kabbalah as sacred and authoritative, and is also held as an esoteric belief within Modern Orthodox Judaism.
In Judaismthe Zoharfirst published in the 13th century, discusses reincarnation at length, especially in the Torah portion "Balak. The 18th century Lithuanian master scholar and kabbalist, Rabbi Elijah, known as the Vilna Gaon Elijah of Vilnaauthored a commentary on the biblical Book of Jonah as an allegory of reincarnation.
The practice of conversion to Judaism is sometimes understood within Orthodox Judaism in terms of reincarnation. According to this school of thought in Judaism, when non-Jews are drawn to Judaism, it is because they had been Jews in a former life.
Such souls may "wander among nations" through multiple lives, until they find their way back to Judaism, including through finding themselves born in a gentile family with a "lost" Jewish ancestor. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting-point.How to bridge the chasm between God and the world, how at the first creation of man it was possible for God who is the all-holy and all-perfect, to come into contact with imperfect man, is an oft-recurring subject of .
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