The word incarnation comes from Latin incarnari "be made flesh," and refers to divinity in human form.
Reincarnation means it is repeated: divinity takes flesh again.
In Tibet, when a reincarnation is found, it is a very rare, sacred event that is celebrated with great joy, festivals, rituals, and other events. This is not common, and does not happen to every person, but only to a select few. For example, when a new Dalai Lama is born, it is celebrated by all Tibetans as a national event, because the Tibetans know that reincarnation is a rare occurrence. It is special, because a deity, a divine being, has "taken flesh" again.
Unfortunately, especially in the West, the term “reincarnation” has been misunderstood. When Asian mysticism arrived in the West, it was simplified to make it appeal to the public. Now, the public believes they know about reincarnation, karma, mantras, meditation, etc. but actually have been poorly educated. It is incorrect to say that the average person "reincarnates."
In one of the most important scriptures from India, Krishna said that only the gods reincarnate. That is obviously true, because re-incarnation is divinity once again incarnating in a human body.
Divinity cannot incarnate in the body of an average person. If it did, that person would be instantly destroyed. Divinity is an energy, a power, of extremely high intensity. The average person cannot handle that energy.
"Unfortunately, intellectual animals cannot incarnate their real Being (Atman-Buddhi-Manas) because they only have lunar bodies; the lunar bodies could not withstand the tremendous electrical voltage of their true Being, so they would die. " —Samael Aun Weor, Light from Darkness
What Happens When We Die
If we observe any average person, what do we see in them? We see someone trapped in a collection of defects, traumas, desires, habits... A multiplicity of competing desires, a bunch of inner contradictions in constant conflict. How could those elements incarnate divinity? Divinity cannot incarnate in a person filled with impurities, ruled by desires, dominated by instincts, prejudices, cruelty. If divinity were to mix with impurity, it would no longer be divinity.
It is necessary to clarify once and for all that the ego is that which continues after death; yes, the “I” returns, the psychological “I” comes back to this valley of tears.
It is necessary for our readers to not mistake the Law of Return for the theory of reincarnation taught by modern Theosophy. The Theosophical theory of reincarnation had its origins in the doctrine of Krishna, which is a Hindu religion of a Vedic type, yet, his doctrine was regrettably modified, adulterated by “reformers.”
In the authentic, original doctrine taught by Krishna, only the heroes, the guides, those who already possess sacred individuality reincarnate.
Yes, the pluralized “I” returns, comes back, nevertheless, this is not reincarnation. Therefore, the crowds, the multitudes return, but this process is not reincarnation.
This concept about the returning of things and phenomena, this idea of the eternal repetition, is not so ancient: we can find it in the Pythagorean wisdom, as well as in the ancient cosmogony of the Hindus with the eternal return of the days and nights of Brahma, the incessant repetition of Kalpas, etc. This Hindu doctrine is invariably associated in an intimate manner to the Pythagorean wisdom and to the Law of Eternal Return and Recurrence.
Gautama Buddha also taught very wisely about the Doctrine of the Eternal Return and the wheel of successive lives, however his doctrine was very much adulterated by his followers. - Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
What happens when we die? The impure elements (anger, pride, envy, gluttony, etc) continue to trap our consciousness while it is between lives. That “between” state is exactly like our dreams: we are unconscious of it, and while we are there we are conditioned by those defects, so we experience that state as we do our dreams: an incohesive, unconscious series of scenes, chaotically changing from fear, pride, lust, and more. Then, for example, terrified and running from some terrifying scene, we see a safe place, a warm cave, and we go in there to hide, but do not realize it is a new womb. We are propelled back into a new birth.
We Return to Repeat
Those impure elements do not reincarnate. They return, with our consciousness trapped within them. Death and birth do not free us from our defects or our karmic debts.
Return is a mechanical cycle powered by cause and effect: our actions and their consequences. Return is symbolized by the famous wheel of samsara, and is known in Kabbalah as גלגול הנשמות, the "wheel / cycle of souls." Through return, drawn by repeating circumstances, we repeat the same problems and sufferings again and again, because we repeat the same mistakes.
This is how some people know what will happen in their life: because they have already lived the same circumstances so many times before. In each existence, they repeat themselves again and again. This is why we can meet people "for the first time" but feel we have known them for a long time... because we have. We are meeting again, to repeat the same circumstances again. This is why we are quickly drawn into relationships seemingly against our will, like magnets, to quickly recover the circumstances of a previous existence, to repeat and repeat...
It is mistaken to say that we "reincarnate," just as it is mistaken to say "you only live once." The terrifying reality is that we return, propelled by the consequences of our actions. Physical death does not "delete" our mistakes and the harm we caused.
Stop the Wheel
To stop the repeat sufferings of our lives, one needs to destroy that which causes it: our internal defects. This is accomplished by constant Self-observation, and daily meditation to understand and purify our psychological qualities.
Then, to escape the wheel completely, one needs to create a vessel that can handle the incarnation of divinity. For divinity to incarnate within a human body, one must be prepared. One needs solar bodies, internal bodies capable of handling the power of the Being. These are symbolized by the blessed armor and weapons of the mythological heroes, the chariots of Ezekiel and Krishna, etc. And, there needs to be a fully defined sacred individuality, a prepared consciousness that can incarnate the divine. When that prepared consciousness is born into a new body, it can host divinity; that is, divinity can incarnate in them, and act through them to help suffering humanity. This is why reincarnation is rare: few are capable of these feats.
Read Beyond Death by Samael Aun Weor