Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Scientific challenges to the beliefs promoted by the Brahma Kumaris so called "World Spiritual University"
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Pink Panther

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Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post16 Feb 2016

Since the early 2000s, when the human genome was fully mapped for the first time, the study of genetics and epigenetics has become one of the fastest growing and important areas of knowledge, of ourselves and our fellow creatures.

Religious and other theories have proliferated down the millenia to account for the ”unaccountable”. Ideas of God have mutated to basically attibute to God what was unknown to mankind at the time, an idea some call "the god of the gaps” (in our understanding). Variations on the theory of karma and reincarnation by the Vedanta school and other Hindustani beliefs were attempts at explaining ”psychology”, behaviour and character.
Scientists have long assumed that memories and learned experiences built up during a lifetime must be passed on by teaching later generations or through personal experience.

However, new research has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA.

Researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, found that mice can pass on learned information about traumatic or stressful experiences – in this case a fear of the smell of cherry blossom – to subsequent generations.

More at Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors
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bkti-pit

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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post16 Feb 2016

Very interesting information!
Thanks for that Pink Panther!
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ex-l

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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post17 Feb 2016

It asks a difficult question for any spiritualists but one that any spiritualist with integrity would have to investigate further to remove from their equation.

It does not necessarily deny all 'magical and mystical' ... I suppose they could still argue, e.g. changes in some soul or spiritual body causes the DNA changes etc (it's easy to come up with answers when you don't have the burden of proof or evidence) ... but it certain does make that world slightly smaller.

Frightful experiment ... I mean, who would sit down and imagine pleasuring mice with the smell of cherry blossom, and then electrocuting them ... and (as I have not read the original), does it say whether the mothers were zapped during pregnancy?

Ah, I've just had a message from the spirit of the deceased Jagdish Chander and he tells me that all the frighten mice were reincarnated frightened mice from their last birth! And the increased number of frightened mice babies were all first birth frightened mice descending from the Param Mousehouse.

I've always take a tough line with "Karma Theory" pundits (... no, it ain't a law, folks). My question to BKs in that camp is, "OK, if Karma exists where ... or to be more specific ... through which medium does it act?" For example, how does it organise 20,000 people to all come together to die in a tsunami etc. I simply cannot, and do not believe it in at the fundamental level the BKs teach it.

At that level, it's just a subtle 'fear-based' tool of social control reinforcing conformity to the magical wisdom holders's wishes.

Fine, social control might actually be a good thing for society ... up until a certain point (it's certainly good for all elites within most societies) ... and fear of God, the Devil, Karma or whatever has worked for 1,000s of years. May be it's necessary at a certain level of personal and social evolution.

But I cannot see yet how "karma" works unless it is either a just social convention at a certain size of society where we all know each other, e.g. the 400 people in your village (steal from one and the rest will shun you etc), or it's something entirely internal to the individual, e.g. I do something hurtful to someone else, it makes me feel guilty or ashamed and so my conduct is changed.

But what then of the world's psychopath, both great and small who don't feel that ... do they just 'not have have karma' (aka conscience)?

Out of compassion, I think BKs should volunteer to be experimented to save the mice ... every time they hear Traffic Control, every time they say "Om Shanti" ... I'll electrocute them ... and then when they leave the BK and have children, we'll see if they are automatically adverse to BKism!

Cure proven?
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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post18 Feb 2016

AFAIK, no "formal proof" proves reincarnation. Indian and non-Indian researchers have documented hundreds of cases world-wide in which an individual autonomously (i.e., not under hypnosis or regression) claimed the identity of another deceased individual and accurately recalled incidents from the deceased individual's life. Researchers also observed common character traits between the two, especially if the deceased experienced extreme emotions. Often the two individuals are from different families, precluding the possibility of transfer of memories genetically. Researchers conclude that this gives credence to reincarnation and transfer of at least some character traits (aka "sanskars") and emotions, although there are skeptics.

"Proof" for the "law" of Karma is even weaker, but the law is more widely accepted in the society, so much so that modern management and self-help gurus, and psychologists advocate its principles.

Reincarnation and the Law of Karma are the cornerstone of the Vedic culture. I believe in them.

Vedic literature recognizes that character traits transfer genetically to progeny. It also recognizes that our genetic structure evolves continually and is affected by our actions and thoughts, a notion modern science is coming around to. A mother's thoughts and actions also influence the child's genetics in the womb, an idea for which I have not yet seen support in modern science.
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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post18 Feb 2016

I would have to be honest and say I do not have extensive knowledge of Vedanta ... accepting that it would probably take a lifetime to study it all. My reflections would have to be limited to how it is been 'wrongly' portrayed in English to the West by the early Christian and Theosophical propopents of it, and most recently by Hippie/New Agers.

But it's not a Law unless it can be reliably and reproducibly replicated ... which it cannot. If it exists, it is a huge random and chaotic phenomenon. 

I am not against the idea, I just think that how it is presented in English/the West needs to be limited, developed and refined ... which it probably is in the original Sanskrit.

The way it was portrayed by BKs was that *EVERYTHING* was as an inescapable result of some action in the past, whereas I am fairly sure that much of what effects our lives is highly random and beyond our control and influence ... merely being the consequences of a Big Bang millions of years ago, and the expansion and contracting of the Universe.

Unfortunately, there's no documentation about the development of Brahma Kumari karma theory at all. Do you know how their theory differs from Vedanta? As usual, it's a boiled down and simplified version.

One would have to be scrupulous to remove what is not a consequence of past actions and not to assign blame for every random occurance, e.g. at some level within India, being born handicap is seen as the curse of an evil past, when it's probably just the bad luck of which sperm reached which egg during the child's conception.

Karma theory been used very badly and very discriminatorily.

There are dangers in how it appeals to individuals' vanities (seeing themselves as being all important and at the centre of the universe as an infant might), neuroses and paranoias.
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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post20 Feb 2016

The foundational literature and philosophy of Hinduism or the Vedic culture, of which Vedanta is one part although the word Vedanta gets used to refer to it all, are expansive. In the little that I have studied, I have not found an elaborate treatise on the Law of Karma, just that your suffering and happiness are results of your past actions. It is unclear what is the baseline. We can spend much time analyzing and thinking about it and its interplay with other aspects of life, which is probably what the sages did in the past, eventually writing the vast literature they did.

Based on my understanding, everything is indeed the inescapable result of past actions. One school of thought says that what you do in the moment is in your hands.

Of course, per BK Murlis, what you do in the moment is also preordained as per The Cycle.

BK Murlis also do not explain the mechanics of the law. BK teachers on ocassion try to explain it further. Since BK Shivani is on TV, I can only remember her explanations. Unfortunately her explanations leave some unanswered questions, which I wished the program hosts had posed to her.

Say, you cause me sorrow. Per BK Shivani, I had it coming. Accounts between you and me are now settled. Does this mean you did not sin and are off the hook? Then, when does one sin?

An additional question that I have had since the time I took the 7-day course is: if no one sins in the Golden and Silver Ages, and all souls are pure before they descend on earth the first time, who is the first to cause sorrow and why does the recipient deserve it in the first place?

I once tried asking my cicc, but got ignored. Haven't bothered again.
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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post20 Feb 2016

I wish people would not call it a "Law". It's not a law. I don't even know if it was originally (pre-science) described as a "law". Facts ... hypotheses ... laws ... and theories, these are all different things.

I can understand why some people want to call it a "law", it's an appeal to authority increasing its fear and power value and making it appear to be inescapable ... thereby leading them into a nearly position where they can be manipulated and controlled.

Whether it ultimately exists as it is claimed ... and there are more than one school of thought on the matter ... it is still also the above; a tool of social control.

Your observation of no answers to questions at BK centres is certainly accurate. Push it too far, they will turn on you or put you down as having "Brother's Maya" ... their only answer being, "ask Baba" ... "have more Yoga".

In short, they don't know and haven't a clue about said other schools of thought and observations, or its history. Not even the history of their own adoption of it (in the early days, they believed they did not incur any karma because they were with their "Divine Father").

The BKs are also unique is believing that "good karma" (charity) is "bad", binding one to the receipient, e.g. I heard of some BK Brothers making a point of consecutively giving each other a hair cut so that one would not be burdened with a karma debt from the other.

The concept of karma developed and evolved over centuries and changed as it went.

The BKs are just like jobbing musicians "playing" what they think their audience wants to hear. Karma sells? Make noises about karma and putting a small unique twist on it to identify it as your own, like a jeweler adding a decorative pattern to piece of jewellery they bought elsewhere.
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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post21 Feb 2016

I agree with Arbit’s observation that if those experiencing pain do so because they ”deserve it” for past bad karma, then those who inflict that pain are agents for their liberation, not doing any bad karma themselves. Hitler helped the Jews pay off their ”collective karma” (I actually heard Janki and Jayanti say things like this).

The Buddhist view of karma, when examined rather than presumed, differs considerably from the Vedic. The Buddha said that karma is cettana, i.e. conscious choices. What is apparent from the 4 Truths and Eightfold path described by Buddhism is that the repercussions of one's actions are basically measurable by one’s ability to ”sleep at night”, i.e. to not suffer, in this life.

He (reportedly) refuted the ideas of the Akash and akashic records. Such notions are all part of the endless proliferation of theories that must be invented to rationalise baseless ideas. Given that the basic underpinning of Buddhism is Anatma/Anatta - i.e. that there is no autonomous, immortal self - then what would possibly experience fruits of karma ”beyond the grave”?

That is, karma is a personal responsibility, to do with what I do. But although there’s many things beyond me and my control that can also impact on me, they are not ”my karma” or my fault. (Hence the joke that the essence of Buddhism is ”Sh*t happens").

That is, if I drive carelessly, hit a post and hurt my back, that is definitely my karma and I immediately experience the fruit of that karma. On the other hand, if I am hit by a drunk speeding driver and am injured, that’s not "my" karma - the drunk driver is not an ‘instrument’ for clearing my karmic debt (note the mercantile verbage here?).

His actions, his choice of drinking & driving then hitting someone, bears obvious fruit for him, to suffer the psychological anguish of knowing what he has done, along with any legal ramifications. If he chooses to suppress or deny his conscience, take responsibility for his actions, he'll end up suffering in other ways in the short or long term. It is a pretty simple, sensible and ordinary way to see it.
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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post21 Feb 2016

... to which we must add the interconnectedness of "Karma" philosophy and Caste.*

In short, how the upper classes kept the lower classes down generation after generation, e.g. "it's your own fault you are an impure Sudra or Dalit, you must have done something bad or evil in your last births" (bearing in mind how the upper castes were happy to ignore such "laws" when it suited them ... or to re-write and amend them when necessary, as the BKs do).

However they externally "dress" their philosophy for public consumption, this is also rooted into the essence of BKism.

Their idea is that the highest and most deserving souls were those born alongside Lekhraj Kirpalani during their last birth in the Sind, and the rest of us are all eternally doomed to our proscribed positions ("numberwise" according to our time and geography of birth!?!).

Leading back to the original topic, I wonder how much self-esteem based on social position is also communicated genetically?

For example, I remained bowed and feel unworthy because my parents and their parents were forced to bow and feel unworthy, subject to the abuse of the more powerful and violent for generations, in places where there was, and still is, no human rights or rule of law.

How deep does such conditioning go ... how easy can it be changed ... and does BKism address it in any way ... or does it just *exploit* it by the leaders self-electing themselves as the "top knot" top dogs?
    * If anyone is interested, Google ... "Self and Identity in Modern Psychology and Indian Thought' by Anand C. Paranjpe
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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post21 Feb 2016

On the flip side, some aspects of BK teachings do help to tackle situations:

Tolerate that which only hurts your ego, but stand up to wrong, let go of what you cannot control, learn your lesson and move on without wallowing in self-pity, accept what you cannot change, do what is right and not what seems right in the moment.

Of course, these are not profoundly new teachings, the relentless focus by BKs on them is.

Believing in some form of reciprocity of actions and outcomes helps.

Of course, contemplating these things, studying different takes, and reasoning about them can be fun and stimulating.
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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post22 Feb 2016

Believing in some form of reciprocity of actions and outcomes helps.

No-one anywhere denies that actions have repercussions. If they didn’t no-one would bother doing anything.

It is understandable for ancient people to try to rationalise why some people get an easier go of it than others, whether it be ”god’s will” or past karma.

Just as the victors get to write the history, so too they get to set the social and religious paradigms. Hence the Vedic Aryan invaders can set up their social order to sustain dominance for their descendants. The way out of this is to be iconoclastic from within, like Buddhism, or from without, like Islam, or by maturation into a modern secular democratic state with a constitution and laws that encourage equity and discourage prejudices.
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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post22 Feb 2016

I cannot say that I ever heard the "stand up to wrong" line being promoted by or, especially, within BKism and would argue against the idea of "relentless focus" on them within the BKWSU. However, I might be able to accept that different zones of the BK movement prioritise different approaches.

For examples, we were under the Kirpalani Klan; Janki and her 'heir-in-waiting' Jayanti. Janki's relentlessness was always about "remembering Baba". Ditto, I would say the emphasis in the UK/West was on passivity (being spiritual) whereas Westerner BKs would note how bossy or dominant (some) Indian Sisters in India were.

And how does what judge "what is right"?

This is not a criticism of you and your values, Arbit. I generally find that individual BK's or ex-BKs' values are actually higher than those promoted or embodied by the BKWSU and there there is an element of them projecting their own goodness and sincerity into the BKWSU/BK movement.

Keeping 'on topic' with genetic influences ... I would start by arguing that submissivity and conformity have been bred into masses (mostly by religion in one hand and 'the sword' in the other), especially in Asian societies ... just as dominance has been bred into the tiny minority that makes up the Elite ruling classes.

Historically, this was quite often done deliberately, e.g. in Ancient Greece, the ruling Athenians used to send their young men in amongst the large Theban slave caste, and if they found anyone with leadership potential ... would kill them. A principle practised ever since.

Before one sincerely sets off on a spiritual path, one would have to ask how subject one was to such influences, and keep reviewing it as one went.

For example, one of my hypotheses is that all the Kirpalani Klan has really done is decide it wants to be part of the Brahmin caste and rather than liberate others from the caste system or the influence of breeding, their followers included, all they are doing is clambering up the greasy pole ... Lekhraj Kirpalani having learnt that is much preferable to be at the top of the **** pile than at the bottom of it.

When, for example, do the Brahma Kumaris leaders ever encourage anyone to be more assertive?

(There is a genetic theory related to this ... regarding the difference between the primarily arable farming and hunter/trapper communities (Avidasi/Scheduled Tribes etc), and those such as the Aryan horse and livestock breeders who swept down and across India ... amongst whom the British are descendents.

Part of it relates, on one hand, to an inherent understanding of "good breeding" that animal husbandry brought, versus the collective/cooperative/non-competitive nature of the arable farmers.

Rough sketch only ... time does not allow for a longer or more accurate explanation
).

These are still a very good and pertinent questions to ask ... how much is "our karma" and "spiritual influences", and how much is magic karmic voodoo? And how much of an influence ... and to what extent ... do "positive thoughts" or "remembrance" really have in changing such things?

What proportion split would you suggest?

Look at the difference in brain development good or bad childhood nutrition can have ... then multiply it by generations ... now tell me how much Yoga someone at the bottom of the pile needs to reach the top of the pile?

Or do they just need to be well fed, go school and then university?
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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post23 Feb 2016

Pink Panther wrote:Hence the Vedic Aryan invaders can set up their social order to sustain dominance for their descendants. The way out of this is to be iconoclastic from within, like Buddhism, or from without, like Islam, or by maturation into a modern secular democratic state with a constitution and laws that encourage equity and discourage prejudices.

I am not sure whether karma and stuff were created with ulterior motives. It is a philosophy. Some will use it and some will abuse it. Moreover, Buddhism or Islam or modern democracy is not exactly a panacea. But I agree with what you are hinting, that our understanding need not be static.

Hinduism probably originated some 5000 years ago and has evolved over the centuries. Despite its warts, it thrives and draws seekers from around the world. IMO, several simple yet profound aspects of Hinduism have kept it relevant, whereas others that came before and after it have disappeared or struggle.

Hinduism recognizes that anyone can attain God, by one of several possible ways. Prayers offered to any of His form ultimately reach Him, and efforts that fail to attain Him in one lifetime can resume in the next. Hinduism, of course, encompasses various schools of reasoning, medicine, maths, astronomy, etc., besides theology. These principles and the well of knowledge allowed multiple, divergent philosophies to originate and evolve within the Hinduism tent, even contradict each other on occasion, and intellectually flourish without fear of retribution. Remarkably, some modern major religions are yet to stumble on some of these ideas.

BK teachings, while drawing and expounding on some principles of the Hindu theology, run counter to some others in a stark contrast. I find many aspects of the BK teachings appealing. At the same time, although Hinduism leaves ample space in time and thought for philosophies to evolve, some aspects of BK teachings seem to have frozen after evolving in the first few decades. God speaks only through DL and DG, BK teachings are the only means to attain Him, the one life you have now is the only time you can, and only a fixed minuscule of humanity can do so.

For long I believed, perhaps as do many others, that only one “best” way exists to get there. But I have now also started contemplating Hinduism’s core beliefs of pluralism and the evolution of our understanding of our selves and our surroundings, beliefs that seem to stay hidden in plain sight. Why can only a Brahma Baba or a Virendra Dev Dixit converse with God and create philosophies based on what he knows at the time? Why can others also not independently start their own journeys from wherever they are? Maybe what has been created so far are only signposts, and one still has to find the way for himself.
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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post23 Feb 2016

Absolutely fascinating (viewing time in total 28 min)

Video
"OUT OF AFRICA
http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4411212.htm

What can modern medicine learn from the people with the most diverse DNA on the planet? Only by working with the San desert communities (Kalahari bushmen) in southern Africa can geneticists trace the deepest roots of the human family tree.

In a world first, Prof Vanessa Hayes is searching for the origins of modern society - the DNA evidence of when hunter-gatherers became farmers. Mark Horstman joins her on a unique road trip through exotic Namibia, in a quest with far-reaching implications for everyone.

As Vanessa reveals the bedrock of human genetic diversity, her work exposes some startling truths about racial inequality in modern medicine.

The longer a population is around, the more time it has to build up genetic variations. San people carry some of the oldest known human lineages, stretching back more than 170,000 years.

NARRATION - What's even more amazing is how little the locals need to drink. Unlike me, they're genetically equipped to survive up to seven days without water.

Professor Vanessa Hayes - There's actually been an adaptation in their genetic make-up. What we see is genetic changes in their cell channels to allow the retention of water, and we seem to have lost that in more recently diverged populations. We've either lost it or they have retained that ability to do that.

Professor Vanessa Hayes - "If we take any two Europeans, or a European and an Asian maternal genome, and we compare it against each other, we'll see approximately 20 differences. But what is more significant than that is if we compared two click-speaking people. So a Ju/'hoansi and a !Kung, both hunter-gatherers, both living in the same area, to you and me look exactly alike - they carried, on average, 80 differences."
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Mr Green

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Re: Reincarnation & ‘sanskaras' or genetic memory?

Post23 Feb 2016

Karma is the biggest pile of Crap going!

I think you feel how you behave that's about it, there is no payback for your actions there just is not.

Victims of circumstance like to make themselves feel better by believeing that perpetrator will get what goes around. It doesn't happen.
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