NHT's Writing Desk

this article was first published in 2007 on Beliefnet where NHT was an active moderator for many years
one of her forums being the Reincarnation and Past Life discussion boards [now read-only] - 
to scope these boards for yourself 
click here to visit discussion board and/orclick here to visit debate board 

Transmigration 101
(another term for 'reincarnation')
part 2 of 3
“All pure and holy spirits live on in heavenly places,
and in course of time they are again sent down to inhabit righteous bodies.”

Josephus  (Jewish historian from the time of Jesus)

First let's look at what reincarnation isn't ...

Personally i wince when reincarnation is referred to as a belief because it's not ...
moreover r
eincarnation is of a global phenomenon,
unrooted and unfettered by either geography or culture.

It is as varied as human experience 
because the phenomenon of reincarnation is in the remembering itself. 
The only commonality from person to person is
the soul's recognition that life happens in more than one lifetime. 

That's why words like dogma and discipline do not apply to reincarnation.
Because it's not a belief, or a practice or religion. 
It is a phenomenon that touches the individual where he/she lives, 
or not at all - It's that simple. 


Certain terms are thrown around casually in this forum. 

Among them...

These 3 words are interchangeable:
reincarnation - (L. incarnate, to make flesh) is defined as “invested [again]
with a bodily nature and form; personification.” 

transmigration - defined as “the passing of the soul into another body after

metempsychosis - (Gr. metempsukhosis, from metempsukhousthai, [of the soul] to
migrate + puski, soul), simply means, “transmigration of the soul.”


ego – “1. the conscious subject, as designated by the first person singular;
the self. Psychoanalysis: the personality component that is conscious, most
immediately controls behaviour, and is most in touch with external reality.”

In terms of reincarnation, the ego is what changes from lifetime to lifetime,
and it can become quite the spoiled child in each lifetime –
stubborn, greedy, whiney, sulking, violent, etc. 

With regards to past life work, ego’s purpose is two-fold: 
first, to survive, 
and second, to act as a stop-gate mechanism 
against past life memories flooding into the present life. 

It is the present life ego which separates past life memories 
from present, conscious recognition. 
Because ego recognizes no past vs. present in survival mode, 
death is death to ego, 
and it is this ego-fear of death that prohibits most folk 
from remembering past lives. 

By practicing meditation, 
and by appropriately applying discernment and detachment (see below), 
ego can learn to open the stop-gate of past life memories 
without triggering its survival mode alarm. 


spirit - ”That which is traditionally believed to be the vital principal or
animating force within living beings.”

soul - “The animating and vital principle in man credited 
with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion, 
and conceived as forming an immaterial entity 
distinguished from but temporally coexistent with his body.” 


Atman (capital A) – Hinduism - “The supreme and universal soul, from
which all individual souls arise.”

atman (lower case a) –Hinduism - “the individual soul; 
the principle of life.”

karma – Hinduism and Buddhism – “the sum and the consequences of a person’s
actions during the successive phases of his existence, 
regarded as determining his destiny.

dharma - Hinduism and Buddhism – “1. The ultimate law of all things 
2. Individual right conduct in conformity to this law."

(please note: definitions in quotes are from The AmericanHeritage Dictionary of the English Language)

related on-site readings 
Reincarnation - part 1 of 3
Reincarnation FAQs - part 3 of 3

still have questions?  perhaps NHT can help ... check out her service listing