The idea of reincarnation originated in the observation of hereditary and trait resemblance of offspring to ancestors.
The old custom of naming children after grandparents and other ancestors was due to the belief in reincarnation. Some races originally believed that a person died anywhere from three to seven times.
This belief was is some measure a residual distortion of the teachings of Adam about the seven mansion worlds, the worlds that immediately follow this life, and that we as individuals move from one world to the next by having our forms— our bodies— progressively modified to reflect our spiritual progress.
Even in the times of Christ, there was a lingering belief in reincarnation; Jesus found it difficult to convince mortal men to believe that their souls did not have a previous existence. The older Jewish teachers, including Plato, Philo, and some of the Essenes, also tolerated the theory that humans could reap in one incarnation what they have sown in a previous existence; so in one life they were believed to be atoning for the sins committed in their preceding lives.
But it was the Brahman priesthood in India, who have maintained their religious hegemony even to the present time, that are largely responsible for the perpetuation of this devitalizing notion.
It isn’t new or novel for religious priesthoods to exalt themselves over the very teachings they extol. And the early Brahman caste sought to exalt themselves above all else. They taught that the sacrifice to deity in itself was all-efficacious and all-compelling in its potency.
They went so far as to proclaimed that, of the two essential divine principles of the universe, one was Brahman the deity, and the other was themselves— the Brahman priesthood. The priests presumed to exalt themselves above even their gods.
But they went so absurdly far with these presumptuous claims that the whole precarious system collapsed before the debasing cults which poured in from the surrounding, less advanced civilizations.
“The vast Vedic priesthood itself floundered and sank beneath the black flood of inertia and pessimism which their own selfish and unwise presumption had brought upon all India.” —The Urantia Book
This abusive indulgence by the priests led to a fear of the non-evolutionary perpetuation of self, in an endless round of successive incarnations as man, perhaps some kind of beast; even as a weed.
But none of these beliefs was so stultifying as the belief in the doctrine of the reincarnation of souls. This belief in an apparently endless, monotonous round of repeated transmigrations robbed many people of their hope of finding not only deliverance in death, but spiritual advancement to something higher and progressively more profound— in eternity.
In their efforts to save themselves, the Brahmans had not only rejected the one true God, but now they found themselves with a “hypothesis of an indefinite and illusive philosophic self, an impersonal and impotent it— which left the spiritual life of India helpless and prostrate”— from that unfortunate time, to the present day twenty-first century.
This has resulted in the relative destruction of mortal desire and human ambition. For more than two thousand years, many of the better minds of India have sought to escape from all desire, and this has virtually shackled their souls in the chains of spiritual hopelessness.
The modern day fascination with reincarnation is destined to be no less spiritually debilitating.