Quotations on Reincarnation

Alcott, Louisa May

I think immortality is the passing of a soul through many lives… such as are truly lived, used, and learned, help on to the next, each growing richer, happier, and higher, carrying with it only the real memories that have gone before.

I think I must once have been masculine, because my love is all for girls. (Quoted in E. D. Walker, Reincarnation, A Study of a Forgotten Truth)

Anderson, Gillian (American actress)

My whole belief system is that our paths are drawn for us. I believe in reincarnation. I believe we’re here to learn and grow. We choose how we come into this life based on what it is we have to learn. Some people have harder lessons than others.

Balzac, Honore

All human beings go through a previous life… Who knows how many fleshly forms the heir of heaven occupies before he can be brought to understand the value of that silence and solitude whose starry plains are but the vestibule of spiritual worlds?
- Seraphita

The virtues we acquire, which develop slowly within us, are the invisible links that bind each one of our existences to the others – existences which the spirit alone remembers, for Matter has no memory for spiritual things.

Besant, Annie (British Theosophist)

The soul grows by reincarnation in bodies provided by nature, more complex, more powerful, as the soul unfolds greater and greater faculties. And so the soul climbs upward into the light eternal. And there is no fear for any child of man, for inevitably he climbs towards God.

Benjamin Franklin (American patriot)

I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. We shall rise refreshed in the morning.

Finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other always exist.

[Epitaph written by himself:)
The Body of B. Franklin, Printer, like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost; For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new and more elegant Edition, Revised and Corrected By the Author.

Blake, William (English poet and painter)

In my brain are studies and chambers filled with books and pictures of old, which I wrote and painted in ages of eternity before my mortal life; and these works are the delight and study of archangels.  . . . You, O dear Flaxman, are a sublime archangel, my friend and companion from eternity. (Letter to John Flaxman, quoted in E. D. Walker, Reincarnation, Study of a Forgotten Truth)

Bonaparte, Napoleon (Emperor of France)

I am Charlemagne. do you know who I am? I am Charlemagne . . . . Tell the Pope that I am keeping my eyes open; tell him that I am Charlemagne, the Sword of the Church, his Emperor, and as such I expect to be treated.

Bruno, Giordano (Italian friar and philosopher)

By birth and growth the spirit-architect expands into this mass of which we consist, spreading outwards from the heart. Thither again it withdraws, winding up the threads of its web, returning by the same path along which it advanced, passed out by the same gate through which it entered. Birth is expansion of the center… death contraction to the center. It is the soul that gathers about it, groups and vivifies the mass. The soul is not the body and it may be in one body or in another, and pass from body to body.

Burbank, Luther

The theory of Reincarnation, which originated in India, has been welcomed in other countries. Without doubt, it is one of the most sensible and satisfying of all religions that mankind has conceived. This, like the others, comes from the best qualities of human nature, even if in this, as in the others, its adherents sometimes fail to carry out the principles in their lives.

Caesar, Julius

The Celts were fearless warriors because “they wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another.

Carlyle, Thomas (Scottish Historian)

Death and birth are the vesper and matin bells that summon mankind to sleep and to rise refreshed for new advancement.

Davy, Sir Humphry (British chemist and physicist)

We sometimes, in sleep, lose the beginning and end of a dream, and recollect the middle ofit, and one dream has no [seemin] connection with another, and yet we are conscious of an invite variety of dreams, and there is a strong analogy for believing in an infinity of past experiences, which must have had connection. . . . I sometimes imagine, that many of those powers which have been called instinctive belong to the more refined clothing of the spirit; conscience, indeed, seems to have some undefined source, and may bear relations to a former state of being. (Consolations in Travel, quoted in The Phoenix Fire Mystery, 293)

Emerson, Ralph Waldo (American writer)

The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew… it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.

It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals; and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some strange new disguise.

Ford, Henry (American industrialist)

I adopted the theory of Reincarnation when I was twenty six. Religion offered nothing to the point. Even work could not give me complete satisfaction. Work is futile if we cannot utilise [sic] the experience we collect in one life in the next. When I discovered Reincarnation it was as if I had found a universal plan I realised [sic] that there was a chance to work out my ideas. Time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock. Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. Some are older souls than others, and so they know more. The discovery of Reincarnation put my mind at ease. If you preserve a record of this conversation, write it so that it puts men’s minds at ease. I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us.(San Francisco Examiner, 26 August 1928)

For thirty years I have leaned toward the theory of Reincarnation. It seems a most reasonable philosophy and explains many things. No, I have no desire to know what, or who I was once; or what, or who, I shall be in the ages to come. This belief in immortality makes present living the more attractive. It gives you all the time there is. You will always be able to finish what you start. There is no fever or strain in such an outlook. We are here in life for one purpose: to get experience. We are all getting it, and we shall all use it somewhere.

Fourier, Charles (Social Reformer)

I do not reckon the numerous revivals or incarnations of our souls on the globe as the future life. . . In fact, at the epochs when it is freed from the human body, it revives instantly int he great soul of the globe, whereof it is part and parcel, and disdains the present life, as at the moment of waking we despise or cherish a dream, according as it has been happy or unhappy. Now the civilized and barbarian state is an ugly dram to 99/1000 of souls . . .upon the globe in the new body. . . . Some exceptional individuals . . . remember their past experiences. (The Passions of the Human Soul, quoted in The Phoenix Fire Mystery, 292)

Franklin, Benjamin

I believe . . . that the soul of man is immortal and will be treated with justice in another life, respecting its conduct in this.

I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. We shall rise refreshed in the morning.

Franklin write this epitaph:

The body of B. Franklin Printer,
Like the Cover of an Old Book,
Its Contents Torn Out
And Stripped of its Lettering and Gilding,
Lies Here Food for Worms,
But the Work shall not be Lost,
For it Will as He Believed
Appear Once More
In a New and more Elegant Edition
Revised and Corrected
By the Author

Frederick the Great (King of Prussia)

I feel that soon I shall have done with my earthly life. Now, since I am convinced that nothing existing in Nature can be annihilated, so I know for a certainty that the more noble part of men will not cease to live. Though I may not be a king in my future life, so much the better: I shall nevertheless live an active life.

Gandhi, Mohandas (Indian statesman)

Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.

I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace.

Gauguin, Paul (French painter)

When the physical organism breaks up, the soul survives. It then takes on another body.

George, David Lloyd (British statesman)

The conventional heaven with its angels perpetually singing, etc., nearly drove me mad in my youth and made me an atheist for 10 years. My opinion is that we shall be reincarnated.

Gibran, Kahlil (Lebanese writer)

A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.

Goethe, Wolfgang (German writer)

I am certain that I have been here as I am now a thousand times before, and I hope to return a thousand times.

As long as you are not aware of the continual law of Die and Be Again, you are merely a vague guest on a dark Earth.

Gordon, Charles (British general)

This life is only one of a series of lives which our incarnated part has lived. I have little doubt of our having pre-existed; and that also in the time of our pre-existence we were actively employed. So, therefore, I believe in our active employment in a future life, and I like the thought.

Graves, Robert

No honest theologian therefore can deny that his acceptance of Jesus as Christ logically binds every Christian to a belief in reincarnation – in Elias case (who was later John the Baptist) at least.

Harrison, George (British singer)

Friends are all souls that we’ve known in other lives. We’re drawn to each other. That’s how I feel about friends. Even if I have only known them a day, it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to wait till I have known them for two years, because anyway, we must have met somewhere before, you know.

Hedge, Frederick (American Minister and Transcendentalist)

Of all the theories respecting the origin of the soul, it (pre-existence) seems to me the most plausible and therefore the one most like ly to throw light on the question of a life to come.

Hugo, Victor (French Novelist)

Each time we die we gain more of life. Souls pass from one sphere to another without loss of personality, become more and more bright . . . . The whole creation is a perpetual ascension, from brute to man, from man to God. To divest ourselves more and more of matter, to be clothed more and more with spirit.

Huxley, Thomas (British biologist)

The doctrine of transmigration… was a means of constructing a plausible vindication of the ways of the cosmos to man; …none but very hasty thinkers will reject it on the grounds of inherent absurdity. Like the doctrine of evolution itself, that of transmigration has its roots in the world of reality. (Evolution and Ethics, quoted in The Phoenix Fire Mystery, 559)

Jochai, Rabbi Simeon ben

All souls are subject to the trials of reincarnation. They know not how they are being at all times judged, both before coming into this world and when they levee i. They do not know how many transformations and mysterious trials they must undergo. The souls must re-enter the absolute substance whence they have emerged. But to accomplish this end they must develop all the perfections, the germ of which is planted in them; and if they have not fulfilled this contition during one life, they must commence another, a third, and so forth. (Zohar, quoted in The Phoenix Fire Mystery, 557)

Jung, Carl (Swiss psychologist)

My life often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and no end. I had the feeling that I was an historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing. I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer; that I had been born again because I had not fulfilled the task given to me.

Rebirth is an affirmation that must be counted among the primordial affirmations of mankind. The concept of rebirth necessarily implies the continuity of personality. Here the human personality is regarded as continuous and accessible to memory, so that, when one is incarnated or born, one is able, potentially, to remember that one has lived through previous existences, and that these existences were one’s own, ie, they had the same ego form as the present life. As a rule, reincarnation means rebirth in a human body.

London, Jack (American writer)

I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of millenniums… All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, promptings in me… Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born.

Mahler, Gustav (German composer)

We all return; it is this certainty that gives meaning to life, and it does not make the slightest difference whether or not in a later incarnation we remember the former life. What counts is not the individual and his comfort, but the great aspiration to the perfect and the pure which goes on in each incarnation.

Mailer, Norman (American writer)

I’m a great believer in the hereafter, in karma, in reincarnation. It does make sense. I believe that God is not just a law-giver, but a creative artist. The greatest of all. And what characterises artists is that they want to redo their work. Maybe it didn’t come off perfectly, so they want to see it done again, and improved. Reincarnation is a way for God to improve his earlier works.

Masefield, John  (English writer)

I hold that when a person dies His soul returns again to earth; arrayed in some new flesh-disguise another mother gives him birth. With sturdier limbs and brighter brain the old soul takes the road again.

Maugham, William Somerset

Has it occurred to you that transmigration is at once an explanation and a justification of the evil of the world? If the evils we suffer are the result of sins committed in our past lives, we can bear them with resignation and hope that if in this one we strive toward virtue our future lives will be less afflicted.

McTaggart, John (British philosopher)

There are so many things that are incompatible with a single life. No one can learn fully in one life the lessons of unbroken health and of bodily sickness, of riches and of poverty, of study and action, of comradeship and isolation, of defiance and of obedience, of virtue and of vice.

Nietzsche, Friedrich (German philosopher)

Live so that thou mayest desire to live again – that is thy duty – for in any case thou wilt live again!

Patton, George S. (American general)

So as through a glass and darkly, the age long strife I see, Where I fought in many guises, many names, but always me.


The soul, still a dragged captive, will tell of all the man did and felt; but upon death there will appear, as time passes, memories of the lives lived before, some of the events of the most recent life being dismissed as trivial. As it grows away from the body, it will revive things forgotten in the corporeal state. And if it passes in and out of one body after another, it will tell over the events of the discarded life. It will treat as present that which it has just left, and it will remember much from the former existence. But with lapse of time it will come to forgetfulness of many things that were mere accretion.

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel (English poet)

I have been here before, but when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell, the sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
You have been mine before – How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar, your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall, – I knew it all of yore.

Rumi (Sufi)

I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as an animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.

Salinger, J. D. (American writer)

It’s so silly. All you do is get the heck out of your body when you die. My gosh, everybody’s done it thousands of times. Just because they don’t remember, it doesn’t mean they haven’t done it.

Schopenhauer, Arthur (German philosopher)

Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him: It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life.

Schweitzer, Albert (French, Nobel Prize winner for Peace)

If we assume that we have but one existence, there arises the insoluble problem of what becomes of the spiritual ego which has lost all contact with the Eternal. Those who hold the doctrine of reincarnation are faced by no such problem. For them that non-spiriual attitude only means that those men and women have not yet attained to the purified form of existence in which they are capable of knowing the truth and translating it into action. So the ida of reincarnation contains a most comforting explanation of reality by means of which Indian thought surmounts difficulties which baffle the thinkers of Europe. (Indian Thought and Its Development, quoted in The Phoenix Fire Mystery, 559)

Sibelius, Jean (Finnish composer)

Millions of years ago, in my previous incarnations, I must have been related to swans… because I can still feel that affinity.

Socrates (Greek philosopher)

I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence.

Tagore, Rabindranath (Indian, Nobel Prize winner in Literature)

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age old pain,
It’s ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers,
Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting,
the distressful tears of farewell,
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours -
And the songs of every poet past and forever.”
                                                                      – Selected Poems

Thoreau, Henry David (American writer)

As far back as I can remember I have unconsciously referred to the experiences of a previous state of existence.
 (Journal, July 16, 1851)

And Hawthorne, too, I remember as one with whom I sauntered in old heroic times along the banks of the Scamander amid the ruins of chariots and heroes. (Letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson, July 8, 1843)

I lived in Judea eighteen hundred years ago, but I never knew that there was such a one as Christ among my contemporaries. (Letter to Harrison Blake, April 3, 1850)

Why should we be startled by death? Life is a constant putting off of the mortal coil – coat, cuticle, flesh and bones, all old clothes.

As the stars looked to me when I was a shepherd in Assyria, they look to me now as a New-Englander. (Letter to Harrison Blake, Feb. 27, 1853)

Tolstoy, Leo (Russian novelist)

As we live through thousands of dreams in out present life, so is our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life… and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real life of God.

How interesting it would be to write the story of the experiences in this life of a man who killed himself in his previous life; how he now stumbles against the very demands which had offered themselves before, until he arrives at the realization that he must fulfill those demands. . . . The deeds of the preceding life give direction to the present life. This is what the Hindus call Karma. (Diary and other Writings, quoted in The Phoenix Fire Mystery, 560)

Twain, Mark (American writer)

I have been born more times than anybody except Krishna.

Voltaire (French writer)

After all, it is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.

Wagner, Richard (German musician)

In contrast to reincarnation and karma, all other views seem petty and narrow.

Whitman, Walt (American, writer)

(American poet)

I know I am deathless…We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers, / There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.              – Leaves of Grass.

And as to you, Life, I reckon you are the leaving of many deaths; (no doubt I have died myself 10,000 times before).

William Wordsworth (American poet)

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting. And cometh from afar.

William Butler Yeats (Irish, Nobel Prize Winner in Literature)

Many times man lives and dies…