In my perception, resurrection or reincarnation is not the transmission of the constructed ego-self, personality, unique individuality, etc., into a new life or a new form, but rather the continuation of the God-Self into new forms, the movement of the Spirit into new forms, the reconstitution of the life-energy of the Divine into new creations.
It is not the continuation of the false self, but rather of the true Self, the Christ Self, the Buddha-nature. We are saved from that false self, not in that false self, in my view. As Thomas Merton noted, that ego is “doomed to disappear as completely as smoke from a chimney.”
That personality or unique individuality is not who we really are. It is not our eternal identity. It is not the unique person that we think we are that transfers between lives, but rather it is the divine Self deep in us that resurrects eternally in new forms. The spiritual journey seems to be the complete surrendering of the false self identity to realize the true divine Self as our real eternal identity.
I like to use the analogy of a wave in the ocean, as many others have used. The ego or individual is like the wave. The true Self is like the ocean. A wave arises in the ocean. It is unique in form, in shape, in size, in speed, in arrangement of its atoms, in its duration, etc. It has a host of qualities which are particular to its specific manifestation, and these endure as a kind of pattern through time.
But eventually the wave subsides back into the ocean, or crashes on the beach. It comes to an end, a total, complete, thorough, absolute end. That particular wave will never rise again. Ever. In all eternity. It was unique in itself, a unique manifestation of the ocean, with all its particular qualities. It will never be repeated. Ever. That is not what repeats.
The ocean will wave again. Another wave will arise in the ocean, with a different set of qualities, a different but similar form, shape, size, speed, arrangement of atoms, duration, which are all particular to its specific manifestation, and these will endure through time until it comes to its end.
What these waves do not know is that they were not merely unique waves, they were the ocean. If they had minds, they might be quite fearful of their dissolution on the beach, fearing that they may never rise again. But they have forgotten that they are really the ocean. Did the ocean cease to be when the wave subsided or crashed on the shore? Not at all. And it will rise again in new waves, each one unique and particular in itself, but never a repeat of a previous one. Each and every one will be a new unique manifestation of the ocean. It is the ocean that endures through innumerable lifetimes of waves.
When we realize we are not merely the wave, but the ocean, we have in essence been “resurrected,” realizing we are the “reincarnation” of the Divine, because we now know our true eternal identity, that which has arisen as all prior forms/beings, and that which will arise again in all future forms/beings, eternally.
Visions of past lives may be states of egoless consciousness, in which the boundaries of the unique ego-self fall away, and consciousness sees itself in people who were in the past, even specific people. I think they may be having a vision of the ocean. I have had such visions myself. I feel it is not because my unique ego actually lived their life in the past, and has now been reconstituted again in my unique body-mind, but rather that the deeper Divine Life that lived their life is also now also living my own. We share that eternal oceanic Self. We are not sharing unique waves, in my view.
God is not a God of the dead, but of the living. God resurrects its Self in each and every new form of living being, in the absolute Present. That is where God lives. God lived in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and is now living in you and me. God embodies its Self in our own body-minds, and lives through our consciousness. We are the embodiment of God, as is every other form, incarnation, body, manifestation in the totality of the cosmos, including all animals, plantlife, mineral, and grain of sand on the most distant planet. God manifests its Self in all these forms of the Present.
The bodies of God are all bodies that now are, all forms, all expressions, all manifestations, all waves, all physical forms, all incarnations, all emanations, all shapes of being. This is the “Son” of Christianity, or as Richard Rohr calls it, the “Universal Christ.” I perceive that it is the God-Self that is evolving, not particular personalities or ego-selves. The ocean continues to wave in ever-new and creative forms. But unique waves which have come to an end never go on to become better, more evolved, or “higher” waves. God’s work continues, not ours.
I perceive that the tradition of people like Jesus, John, and others remaining or returning in embodied form on the Earth is pointing to the ocean being embodied on Earth again and again and again. It is God’s Self that is being continually embodied, not any particular persons. These saints, sages, etc., became egoless. They realized the God-Self in them, they have transcended the fallen state of their ego-mind and false self identity, and their true identity as the God-Self continues to live forevermore on the Earth, even when their particular body-mind passes away. The God-Self will be resurrected/re-incarnated in all new terrestrial human bodies. What comes back is God, again, and again, and again, that light, that energy, that consciousness, that Spirit, that Soul, that life. All except God perishes.
I see the wave as like a single human lifetime, just as every wave has a single wave lifetime. The awakening of that wave, becoming fully self-conscious, is its realization that it is the ocean, not that its unique waviness will come back in a series of life/death/rebirth events. It is the ocean that awakens in the wave, realizing that it is waving repeatedly, and uniquely, in each and every wave, and yet each and every wave is still the same ocean.
The wave doesn’t immediately disappear when it realizes that it is the ocean, but it will eventually come to an end, as all waves do. But that is no longer really a concern for the wave, that “death” has lost its sting, since it knows it is not merely that particular unique wave, but rather it is the ocean. And even though every unique wave comes to an absolute end, the ocean continues. I perceive that the personality, form, and manifest reality of the unique individual comes to an end at death, just as it does when the wave subsides back into the ocean or crashes on the shore.
Jesus’ unique personality ended when he was crucified, as did all mystics when they died. They maintained nothing of their individuality and particularity after their biological death, it seems to me, because they were dead. That all disintegrated and dissolved away. The only thing that is “saved” is the true Self, the God-Self, the energy that has passed through that form, pure consciousness, the Spirit of the cosmos, it seems to me.
Every wave only has one lifetime, between when it arises in the ocean, until it subsides or crashes on the shore. It does not return in the same form or uniqueness ever again. The elements that consisted of that wave may be recycled, the water molecules may be a part of many waves, but the unique constitution of that wave will never be again, its fingerprint was only once, which is the very thing that makes it unique. If it returned over and over again, it would not be unique. The One is not unique, it is the universal, the Whole. It is only unique in the sense that there is no other One besides it (Isa. 45:5, 46:9). There is only one One, manifesting its Self as the many.
Every human is “redeemed” at death in the sense that it is a wave that subsides back into the ocean. It “returns” to God from which it never left, from which it arose, in which is subsisted, and to which it returns, for in that ocean it lived and moved and had its being (Acts 17:28). Unfortunately, many waves do not know they are the ocean while they live, and this causes much unnecessary suffering. They are imprisoned in their small identity as only a wave, a temporal mortal unique wave that “will surely die.” The ocean has not awakened in them.
That awakening is their redemption. They are redeemed from their small temporal mortal identity as merely the wave, realizing they are the ocean that is eternal, which has eternal life in all waves’ lives forever and ever. The more waves awaken to their deeper identity as the ocean, the more of the ocean is redeemed while it lives its life as waves. And since the ocean only manifests itself as waves of one kind or another, the more of the ocean that can awaken in waveform, the more of the ocean is awake. It knows its Self. It is conscious of who and what it is.
A wave keeps waving as long as it is waving. When it subsides back into the ocean or crashes on the shore, its waving has concluded. That unique pattern of the wave has come to an end. That wave must pass on. All except God perishes.
It is only when we realize ourself in God, as one in God’s own Self, that we never die, that we never vanish, because we are That which is eternal, not any particular manifestation, not the unique personality or individuality, but all manifestations everywhere at all times.
You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.-Rumi