How Do We Determine: What Is the Reincarnating Soul?

In reviewing the concept of rebirth, we need to be able to look at facts, assemble data, and understand things in a logical and consistent manner. Most of us tend to take things on faith, and devote little time to deep consideration of the issues. This is particularly true for those who accept or deny the theory of rebirth. The acceptance or the denial are generally based on little serious consideration, but rather, on a packaged concept that we either accept more or less blindly, or deny on the same basis. Sri Aurobindo points out that this is actually a tendency of the mind when we get to more complex or tougher subject areas, but it is one which we should consciously overcome to truly understand what rebirth is about.

Sri Aurobindo’s critique of the common views of rebirth is as follows: “The soul is reborn in a new body,–that vague and almost meaningless assertion is for them sufficient. But what is the soul and what can possibly be meant by the rebirth of a soul? Well, it means reincarnation; the soul, whatever that may be, had got out of one case of flesh and is now getting into another case of flesh.”

“But what is it that thus “leaves” one body and “enters” into another? Is it another, a psychic body and subtle form, that enters into the gross corporeal form,–the Purusha perhaps of the ancient image, no bigger than a man’s thumb, or is it something in itself formless and impalpable that incarnates in the sense of becoming or assuming to the senses a palpable shape of bone and flesh?”

If we go just this far we do not gain any clear sense of the nature of the soul or the nature of the rebirth process. It warrants substantial further review and consideration.

Sri Aurobindo,