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The Kabala

Contact with the Babylonians, during the Captivity, brought about a

rapid development in the Hebrews, who were at that time far more

advanced souls than those that animated the bodies of their

fathers,[156] and taught them many important details of religious

instruction. It was then that they learned the doctrine of rebirth and

that the Kabala came into being.[157]

In it the cycle of rebirths is called Gi
'gool'em[158] or the

"revolving of the Incorporeal" in search of the "promised land." This

promised land, the Christian Paradise, or Buddhist Nirvana, was

symbolised by Palestine; the soul in its pilgrimage was brought to

this abode of bliss,[159] and, according to the allegory, "the bodies

of Hebrews buried in a foreign land contained an animistic principle

which only found rest when, by the 'revolving of the Incorporeal,' the

immortal fragment had returned to the promised land."[160]

There are other aspects from which this "revolution of souls" may be

regarded. Certain Kabalists speak of it as a kind of purgatory in

which, by means of this "revolving," the purging of the soul is

brought about before it enters paradise.

In this connection, H. P. Blavatsky states that in the language of the

Initiates the words "soul" (ame) and "atom" were synonyms, and were

frequently used for each other. She says that the "revolution of

souls" was in reality only the revolving of the atoms of the bodies

which are continually transmigrating from one body to another

throughout the various kingdoms of nature. From this point of view, it

would seem that "Gil'gool'em" is more especially the cycle of atomic

transmigration: Resurrection.

The doctrine of the reincarnation of the human soul, however, is

clearly set forth in the Zohar:

"All souls are subjected to the tests of transmigration; men know not

the designs of the Most High with regard to them; they know not how

they are being at all times judged, both before coming into this world

and when they leave it; they have no knowledge of the mysterious

transformations and sufferings they must undergo, or how numerous are

the spirits who coming; into this world never return to the palace of

their divine King; they are ignorant of the revolutions to which they

are subjected, revolutions similar to those of a stone when it is

being hurled from a sling. And now the time has come when the veil

shall be removed from all these mysteries.... Souls must in the end be

plunged back into the substance from which they came. But before this

happens, they must have developed all the perfections the germs of

which are implanted within them; if these conditions are not realised

in one existence, they must be born again until they reach the stage

that makes possible their absorption in God."[161]

According to the Kabala, incarnations take place at long intervals;

souls completely forget their past, and, far from being a punishment,

rebirth is a blessing which enables men to develop and to attain to

their final goal.

The Essenes taught reincarnation and the immortality of the soul.

Ernst von Bunsen,[162] speaking of this sect, says:

"Another marked peculiarity of the doctrine of the Essenes was the

doctrine concerning the pre-existence of souls. They exist originally

in the purest ether, which is their celestial home. By a natural

attraction they are drawn towards the earth and are enclosed in human

bodies, as in a prison. The death of the body causes the return of the

soul to its heavenly abode. The Essenes can, therefore, not have

believed in the resurrection of the body, but of the soul only, or, as

Paul says, of the 'spiritual body.' This is positively asserted by