Reincarnation as hint of purgatory?

I wonder if any of the Catholics here have wondered whether the Hindu and Buddhist idea of reincarnation/rebirth might be a (less-than-perfect) version of the idea of purgatory? In reincarnation/rebirth, the idea is that you continue to be reincarnated/rebirthed until you are sufficiently purified/enlightened/graced – then, you are free of cycle of birth and death and are able to fully experience God.

This reminds me (not in all details, of course) with the idea of purgatory, where one is purified until one is ready for the Beatific Vision.

:hmmm: You know you might be on to something.We have the fulness of faith,but if someone in a true search without access to the Truth could very well have misinterperated a gift of knowledge.Very interesting comment.God Bless

[quote=Ahimsa]I wonder if any of the Catholics here have wondered whether the Hindu and Buddhist idea of reincarnation/rebirth might be a (less-than-perfect) version of the idea of purgatory? In reincarnation/rebirth, the idea is that you continue to be reincarnated/rebirthed until you are sufficiently purified/enlightened/graced – then, you are free of cycle of birth and death and are able to fully experience God.

This reminds me (not in all details, of course) with the idea of purgatory, where one is purified until one is ready for the Beatific Vision.
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In a word, NO. There is no similarity in Purgatory and reincarnation. In reincarnation, there is no judge and no judgment; no punishment, no repentance or amends, no remission of sins. Reincarnation is quite impersonal. The law of karma gives little comfort. It is looked upon as “the wheel,” an endless process which Hindus and Buddhists are powerless to stop. True freedom lies in nothingness – nirvana. Purgatory, by comparison, is a doctrine of joy – the purgation of any remaining temporal punishment due to one’s sins, followed by living in the eternal presence of our Creator – God – in the bliss of the Beatific Vision.

JMJ Jay

[quote=Katholikos]In a word, NO. There is no similarity in Purgatory and reincarnation. In reincarnation, there is no judge and no judgment; no punishment, no repentance or amends, no remission of sins.
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Since there are many theories of reincarnation, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, etc., I’ll just use one particular reincarnation theology: that of the Vaishnavas, those Hindus who worship Krishna as the Supreme Godhead. Vaishnavas are very devotionally oriented. In their theology, there is human shortcoming, repentance, amends, and release from ones sins. Human shortcomings (greed, lust, anger, sloth, unlove, etc.) lead to being reborn; one overcomes one’s shortcomings by devotional love of Krishna, who graces the devotee with liberation from reincarnation: this liberation is life in Vaikuntha (the Vaishnava Heaven) forever. But to reach Vaikuntha may take many, many lifetimes, because it make take a long time for a person to purify their desires so that they only desire Krishna, not worldly possessions, nor knowledge, nor power.

For Vaishnavas, the law of karma gives both comfort and discomfort. It’s comfortable because it explains why people are not born the same. It’s uncomfortable because it proves that there is nothing a human can do to end the cycle of reincarnation: only the love and grace of Krishna can end the cycle. And for Vaishnavas, as well as other devotionally oriented Hindus, “nirvana” is just a stage. The ultimate liberation is Vaikuntha, living in the eternal presence of Krishna.

But my point was not to say that Hindu and Catholic theology are the same (which they are not), but to point to the similarity between Catholic purgatory, as a purifying experience, and Vaishnava reincarnation, which similarly serves to disillusion (or purify) a person of ungodly desires.

Ahimsa, do you find the same similarity between Judaism and religions that profess reincarnation? Purgatory is defined in Catholicism; undefined and unnamed in Judaism, but Judaism is its source. Read 2 Maccabees as a historical document, since you (I presume) reject it as Scripture. You’ll see that the Jews of that age believed (and still believe) that the living can assist the dead in their purification. “Therefore he [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (12:42-45).

[You can also understand why Luther was so motivated to remove Maccabees (and James :D) from the Scriptures:p. Purgatory doesn’t fit with Sola Fide, and James is an absolute denial of it.]

Reincarnation in Hinduism developed out of a need to explain and justify the caste system, in my opinion.

JMJ Jay

[quote=Katholikos]Ahimsa, do you find the same similarity between Judaism and religions that profess reincarnation? Purgatory is defined in Catholicism; undefined and unnamed in Judaism, but Judaism is its source. Read 2 Maccabees as a historical document, since you (I presume) reject it as Scripture. You’ll see that the Jews of that age believed (and still believe) that the living can assist the dead in their purification. “Therefore he [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (12:42-45).

[You can also understand why Luther was so motivated to remove Maccabees (and James :D) from the Scriptures:p. Purgatory doesn’t fit with Sola Fide, and James is an absolute denial of it.]

Reincarnation in Hinduism developed out of a need to explain and justify the caste system, in my opinion.

JMJ Jay
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Yep, I see similarities between Judaism and the faiths that allow for reincarnation. The fact that prayer to the dead is possible doesn’t negate the possibility of reincarnation. (Maybe some people are reincarnated, and others are not.) In fact, Hasidic Jews believe in a from of reincarnation, in part because of their focus on Kabbalah. (And, to my knowledge, Hasids don’t accept the caste system. :))

But I can understand the concern that a misunderstood belief in reincarnation could lead people to say, “Well, if that person suffers, then they must have done something bad in a previous life; therefore, his suffering is justified and there’s nothing I should do about it”. But this perspective (which, unfortunately, has become all too common) ignores the other idea often talked about in spiritual circles: that we are all connected. Someone else’s suffering – since we are all connected – is indeed your own suffering, and to not help them is in fact to not help yourself. Also, the Buddhist bodhisattva has promised to help enlighten all beings, and he can’t do that if he ignores the suffering of others.

I understood your connection to be a skewed if you will interperatation of the truth of purgatory.Since the Hindis do not have the luxury of Holy Mother Church for a discernment in interpertation.I certainly do not believe in re-incarnation, I refuse to will be a cow after I die.God Bless

[quote=Lisa4Catholics]I understood your connection to be a skewed if you will interperatation of the truth of purgatory.Since the Hindis do not have the luxury of Holy Mother Church for a discernment in interpertation.I certainly do not believe in re-incarnation, I refuse to will be a cow after I die.God Bless
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Hi Lisa,

Reincarnation doesn’t say that you will be a cow, or giraffe, or Siberian, or Norwegian, in your next life. If going to heaven is your desire, then that desire can be fulfilled. Reincarnation simply says that – for those not going to heaven – returning to earth, or even going to hell, is a possibility. After being reincarnated on earth over and over, then someone might say, “Hmmm, I’m tired of all this worldly stuff. Only God is Real. Let me live with Him forever.”

Ahmisha,hello. I still don’t believe in re-incarnation.Purgatory is entrusted as a truth with the protection of the Holy Spirit in the Church Jesus started.Our Church as the fulness of truth and God has left Holy Mother Church to guide us to that truth.I pray for people to find it. I for one think that living over and over again is quite depressing:nope: And it seems that those who believe that would really not have much comfort on their death bed.God Bless

Did some member of the early church believe in reincarnation?

[quote=twagler]Did some member of the early church believe in reincarnation?
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No, they believed we lived one life. We would be judged on that one life at the end of the world.

What about Origen?

Twagler, thanks for the link. JJ has some very good points.

[quote=twagler]Did some member of the early church believe in reincarnation?
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Some early Church members, like Origen, did believe in the pre-existence of the soul before birth; so you could say that Origen believed in a kind of re-incarnation. Even though Origen’s ideas were condemned by a later Church council, Origen was simply basing his ideas on the idea that God is, was, and forever will be, Good; thus, all creation comes from God, and all will eventually return to God.

**Given his belief in the benevolent providence of God, Origen was unable to accept the notion that God had created beings of differing quality in character—some evil, some good, and some ‘in between.’ Such would imply an injustice in the nature of the Creator, who gives good things to some and bad things to others; and would in turn deny His universality as ‘good.’ Rather, Origen states, God created all creatures on exactly equal footing, none below or above another. It is only by the misuse of free will (and here we find Daniélou’s second ‘axis’) that these creatures descended to the various ‘ranks’ which they now hold: angels, humans, demons, etc.

** The so-called doctrine of apokatastasis is the ultimate fruit of Origen’s belief in a truly benevolent God. Within its scope, all the affairs of the world—whether positive or negative in their direct, outward appearance—are wrought by God for the correction and restoration of erring rational creatures, meant to bring them back to God’s loving embrace. Punishment is, ultimately, a corrective measure by which God intends to bring His straying sheep back into the fold. Origen wrote: ‘If it were not possible to convert sinners by afflicting them with pains, never would God, merciful and good, punish sins by chastisements. But as a good father, He corrects His son in order to educate him; as an insightful teacher, He corrects His capable disciple with a severe hand.’

  **Origen seemed to believe that God would      ultimately prevail in this correction; that at some point in the future, all      creation would return to God and be restored to the original state in which      He had created them.  All ranks      and dominions of order would cease, and the Father’s Creation would      once again be one.[          ]("http://www.monachos.net/patristics/origen_apokatastasis.shtml#_ftn19")  This restoration was not to exclude the      demons,[          ]("http://www.monachos.net/patristics/origen_apokatastasis.shtml#_ftn20") and could possibly even include Satan himself[          ]("http://www.monachos.net/patristics/origen_apokatastasis.shtml#_ftn21")—for even these were rational creations of the Father,      and had once been a part of the same divine contemplation as the holiest of      angels.**

[quote=Katholikos]In a word, NO. There is no similarity in Purgatory and reincarnation. In reincarnation, there is no judge and no judgment; no punishment, no repentance or amends, no remission of sins. Reincarnation is quite impersonal. The law of karma gives little comfort. It is looked upon as “the wheel,” an endless process which Hindus and Buddhists are powerless to stop. True freedom lies in nothingness – nirvana. Purgatory, by comparison, is a doctrine of joy – the purgation of any remaining temporal punishment due to one’s sins, followed by living in the eternal presence of our Creator – God – in the bliss of the Beatific Vision.

JMJ Jay
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Very little of what was said here is accurate. In the Buddhist view of reincarnation (cycle of birth and death which is samsara), there is judgement and punishment. There is just no Judge or Punisher. Each person individually is his own judge and punisher. If you are a murderer in this life, you will be reborn into a lower hell in the next until your negative karma is extinguished. You then have a chance (always a chance) to be reborn into a higher realm, whether it is the animal, human or god realm. If you are kind and benevolent in this present life, you will probably be reborn into a god realm.

In this view, a person reaps what they sow and are completely responsible for the way they live their lives. Buddhists are in no way NOT responsible for their rebirth. Quite the opposite, the Buddhist is the master of his own fate - totally responsible for his actions in this life and the one to come.

Nirvana is a joy to Buddhists because it stops the cycle of suffering - of birth and rebirth over and over again. Purgatory involves suffering still beyond the grave. Nirvana is a much better position than purgatory and then heaven. True freedom lies in the realization that all things are impermanent, suffering and without an individual identity.

This is the Buddhist view. I cannot speak for the Hindu view.

Peace…

[quote=Katholikos]Ahimsa, do you find the same similarity between Judaism and religions that profess reincarnation? Purgatory is defined in Catholicism; undefined and unnamed in Judaism, but Judaism is its source. Read 2 Maccabees as a historical document, since you (I presume) reject it as Scripture. You’ll see that the Jews of that age believed (and still believe) that the living can assist the dead in their purification. “Therefore he [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (12:42-45).

[You can also understand why Luther was so motivated to remove Maccabees (and James :D) from the Scriptures:p. Purgatory doesn’t fit with Sola Fide, and James is an absolute denial of it.]

Reincarnation in Hinduism developed out of a need to explain and justify the caste system, in my opinion.

JMJ Jay
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2 Maccabees is a later Jewish book that is not part of the Tanakh (Orthodox Jewish canon). Although Catholic Christians have accepted the book, it is not original Jewish doctrine or Scripture. It is outside the Torah, Writings and Prophets (Torah, Ketuvim and Neviim)

Peace…

2 Maccabees is a later Jewish book that is not part of the Tanakh (Orthodox Jewish canon). Although Catholic Christians have accepted the book, it is not original Jewish doctrine or Scripture. It is outside the Torah, Writings and Prophets (Torah, Ketuvim and Neviim)

Be careful about what you claim to be “original Jewish Scripture”. At the time of Christ, the issue of Jewish Scripture had not been settled. If you read the New Testament, you will see the Sadducees, who were faithful, practicing Jews who did not accept the Writings and Prophets as Scripture at all. The Jews today are generally “descended” from the Pharisees, who accepted only the Tanakh, but the Pharisees’ ideas were not the only acceptable ones even in their heyday. The Christians simply accepted the Septuagint, another popular and orthodox collection of Jewish writings.

As time went on, the Sadducees dropped out of the picture as they were Temple-centered (no Temple, no Sadducees) and the Pharisees came to dominate non-Christian Jewish dialogue. The Christians continued using the Septuagint as they always had, and the rift grew deeper. Incidently, the Septuagint translation predates the Massoretic standardization (the current Hebrew text of the OT) by nearly a thousand years. When it comes to the Jewish Scriptures, it’s the Christians who hold and preserve the most ancient versions, and they are used by scholars to better understand the current Hebrew text.

[quote=Ghosty]Be careful about what you claim to be “original Jewish Scripture”. At the time of Christ, the issue of Jewish Scripture had not been settled. If you read the New Testament, you will see the Sadducees, who were faithful, practicing Jews who did not accept the Writings and Prophets as Scripture at all. The Jews today are generally “descended” from the Pharisees, who accepted only the Tanakh, but the Pharisees’ ideas were not the only acceptable ones even in their heyday. The Christians simply accepted the Septuagint, another popular and orthodox collection of Jewish writings.

As time went on, the Sadducees dropped out of the picture as they were Temple-centered (no Temple, no Sadducees) and the Pharisees came to dominate non-Christian Jewish dialogue. The Christians continued using the Septuagint as they always had, and the rift grew deeper. Incidently, the Septuagint translation predates the Massoretic standardization (the current Hebrew text of the OT) by nearly a thousand years. When it comes to the Jewish Scriptures, it’s the Christians who hold and preserve the most ancient versions, and they are used by scholars to better understand the current Hebrew text.
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Thank you for your analysis. It still does not detract from my statements. Present-day Jews use the JPS translation Tanakh which is the Masoretic text which is free from Christian bias. I will use the Masoretic, thanks. Considering it is the Hebrew text, I would say that it is more reliable than the Greek Septuagint.

It is funny how Christians claim to have a better understanding on Jewish (Hebrew) Scriptures than the Hebrews themselves. It’s similar to a protestant claiming to know Catholicism better than the local parish priest. Wouldn’t you consider that strange? Visit a few moments at the www.jewsforjudaism.org site and you’ll see what I mean. Be careful, though, they don’t play around and aren’t nearly as “nice” as I am.

Peace…

You do realize that the Hebrew scholars use the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls to help shape their understanding of the Masoretic texts, right? The Masoretic texts are indeed in Hebrew, but they are recent compared to the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls. In order for the connotations of the text to be translated for a “modern” Hebrew reader, the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls are and were consulted in the composition of the Masoretic text.

The Septuagint is hardly a “Christian bias”, it was written by Jews, for Jews, and used by Jews as a canon prior to Christians arriving on the scene. In fact, it is still used by the Ethiopian Jews rather than the Masoretic texts. The Septuagint is 110% Jewish.

[quote=Ghosty]You do realize that the Hebrew scholars use the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls to help shape their understanding of the Masoretic texts, right? The Masoretic texts are indeed in Hebrew, but they are recent compared to the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls. In order for the connotations of the text to be translated for a “modern” Hebrew reader, the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls are and were consulted in the composition of the Masoretic text.

The Septuagint is hardly a “Christian bias”, it was written by Jews, for Jews, and used by Jews as a canon prior to Christians arriving on the scene. In fact, it is still used by the Ethiopian Jews rather than the Masoretic texts. The Septuagint is 110% Jewish.
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(speaking of the LXX)…“Such a greek text, especially when it circulated independently among people who had little or no knowledge of Hebrew, could well become a substitute for the original (Hebrew), as the Letter of Aristeas envisions. That is not necessarily the case, however. In fact, numerous revisers of this earliest version of the Greek, of whom Aquila (2nd century CE), Theodotion (2nd century CE), and Symmachus (2nd-3rd century CE) are the best known, regularly displayed their acceptance of the subservience of the Greek to the Hebrew when they “corrected” older Greek texts to accord with the Hebrew wording in use within their community. In this way they reflected the view, described above, of the foreign language text as at most the next-best thing to the Hebrew…The Jewish philosopher Philo, himself a native of Alexandria, equated the Septuagint translators with the biblical prophets, thus according their words…the status of inspired revelation. Philo knew no Hebrew. While Philo was undoubtedly not the sole Jew to feel this way, his point of view is more characteristic of early Christians.”

This was an excerpt from an essay by Leonard J. Greenspoon pg 2006-2007 of the JPS Tanakh, as he explains Jewish translations of the Bible which explains the difference between the original Hebrew and later Septuagint version of Scriptures. What was the Septuagint translated from? The original Hebrew.

In another essay written by Jordan S. Penkower, pg 2078 of the JPS Tanakh, it is thus said, “Notwithstanding the multiplicity of texts (found in Qumran), it seems that within the Jerusalem Temple circles there was a clear preference for the one textual tradition that we call the proto-Masoretic text-type (because of its close affinities to the later Masoretic Bibles).”

I suggest you read other material like I have quoted here. There are extensive articles and essays and Rabbinical sources that are not in line with your sources. History is unclear in many cases as we should be quick to understand. History has also played into the hands of those in power and has been twisted to meet demands. To not believe so is to stick one’s head in the sand.

What is definitely clear is that the standard Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) recognized by modern Jewish scholars (using the latest information available) consists of the Masoretic Text, not the LXX. How hard is that to understand? Their text is Hebrew, not Greek. The Jews use the Masoretic. Therefore, I use the Masoretic. I use the Tanakh. Salvation is of the Jews.

Peace…

What was the Septuagint translated from? The original Hebrew.

Yes, but we don’t have any of that original Hebrew. The Masoretic standardization began hundreds of years after the start of Christianity. It represents the first recorded attempt to absolutely standardize the recording of Hebrew Scripture. The Septuagint, on the other hand, is much older than the Masoretic standardization, almost by 1000 years. That’s 1000 years of comparitively non-standardized recording of the Hebrew. When “revisors” prior to the Masoretic movement were checking the Septuagint against the Hebrew, they were checking it against non-standardized Hebrew versions. Of course they honored Hebrew above the Greek, because they were coming from the tradition of the Pharisees (notice that their dates are well after the rise of Christianity and the Council of Jamnia), which was more interested in cultural homogeny than strict standardization of Scripture copying. The standards developed over time, culminating in the Masoretic movement of guidelines and practices for copying Scripture.

Now none of this is to say that the Masoretic texts are way off; quite the contrary. The Masoretic texts and the Septuagint agree in almost every way. The point is that the Septuagint was the most standardized, authoritative edition of Old Testament Scripture prior to the Masoretic movement, and that’s not even saying much considering the Jews couldn’t, and still can’t, agree on what’s canon and what isn’t.

In another essay written by Jordan S. Penkower, pg 2078 of the JPS Tanakh, it is thus said, “Notwithstanding the multiplicity of texts (found in Qumran), it seems that within the Jerusalem Temple circles there was a clear preference for the one textual tradition that we call the proto-Masoretic text-type (because of its close affinities to the later Masoretic Bibles).”

I suggest you read other material like I have quoted here. There are extensive articles and essays and Rabbinical sources that are not in line with your sources.

This isn’t at all out of line with what I’ve said. The Pharisees, who were the majority of the Jerusalem crowd, had a preference for Hebrew copies over Greek ones. That doesn’t mean that they had a standardized, complete work of the Hebrew Scriptures. Their preference led to the Masoretic movement 700 years later, as I’ve stated.

What is definitely clear is that the standard Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) recognized by modern Jewish scholars (using the latest information available) consists of the Masoretic Text, not the LXX. How hard is that to understand? Their text is Hebrew, not Greek. The Jews use the Masoretic. Therefore, I use the Masoretic. I use the Tanakh. Salvation is of the Jews.

Yes, the modern Masoretic Jewish scholars prefer the Masoretic text and not the Septuagint. What’s your point? Your statement that “the Jews use the Masoretic” is both incorrect and misleading. As I’ve stated, the Ethiopian Jews use the LXX, and if you want to tell them that they aren’t Jews, be my guest. It’s misleading because it implies that the Septuagint is somehow “not Jewish”, despite the fact that when it was written it was well within Jewish orthodoxy, and was in fact used by the majority of Jews up until well after the Pharisees came to dominate Jewish dialogue. The fact that one ideological line of Jews, who later came to dominate Judaism, prefers the Hebrew is irrelevant to the Jewish nature of the Septuagint. That’s like arguing that the Greek texts of the New Testament are irrelevant since the Catholic Church officially uses the Latin. The fact is that the oldest, most consistant compilation of the Jewish Scriptures is the LXX.

The “Jews” you refer to are not the Jews of the time of Christ, but rather the ideologicaly descendants of a single faction of Palestinian Jews, the smallest of the Jewish populations, and they don’t even represent all faithful Jews today (again I point you in the direction of the Ethiopian Jews, who were removed from the Pharisiac tradition.) They prefer the Hebrew, as do I when it’s available, but their version is not indicative of the general Jewish attitude towards scripture at the time of Christ, or even for a few centuries after. For the best understanding of what the majority of Jews were using as Scripture at that time, we must turn to the LXX.

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