The apparent contradictory concepts of reincarnation and resurrection can be resolved by a very interesting theory developed by Peter Novak, author of The Division of Consciousness: The Secret Afterlife of the Human Psyche and The Lost Secret of Death: Our Divided Souls and the Afterlife. His compelling theory, which he calls the “Division of Consciousness Theory,” is based both on modern science and ancient scripture. It explains for the first time how each of these ancient perspectives might be true simultaneously.
1. Introduction to Division of Consciousness
Novak’s research uncovered extensive data from both scientific and scriptural sources that all pointed to the same promising yet highly disturbing conclusion – that the human psyche does survive physical death, but often divides entirely apart in the process into separate conscious and unconscious components. Novak suggests that the traditional “reincarnation” and “resurrection” hypotheses can, at long last, be reconciled by factoring the dissimilar scientific qualities and functions of the conscious and unconscious minds into the equation, pointing out that scriptures from a great number of different traditions already reflect just such a divided, “binary-soul” vision of the afterlife.
Basically, Novak’s theory states that the soul body and spirit body separate after death. The soul body is discarded and the spirit ultimately reincarnates with a new soul body. After a large number of reincarnations, the spirit has discarded a large number of soul bodies. At the time of the “Final Judgment,” a doctrine held by all Middle Eastern religions, the so-called “resurrection” will occur. Novak theorizes that at this time, all the discarded soul bodies will reunited with the spirit body. The result will be a world of highly enlightened people knowing all their past lives and their associated life experience and knowledge. Thus, reincarnation and resurrection are not mutually exclusive concepts according to Novak’s theory.
Not only do elements of both classic psychology and modern sociological research support such a hypothesis, but eerily similar concepts appearing in Biblical, Persian, Egyptian, Gnostic, Greek, Hawaiian, Chinese, Native American, Swedenborgian, and many other traditions raise the intriguing possibility that this peculiar and unfamiliar “Division Theory” may actually be a millennia-old case of deja-vu.
If this extraordinary hypothesis is proven to be true, it will revolutionize the entire field of religion. A number of respected scientists, theologians, and philosophers are already convinced Novak’s “Division Theory” will do just that.
2. The Science of the Division
Early this century, our scientists discovered and proceeded to map out the basic characteristics and functions of the conscious and unconscious halves of the human mind. But for nearly a century, those psychological discoveries have quietly contained an unnoticed surprise of incalculable significance to the world of theology and life-after-death research. According to the commonly accepted tenets of modern scientific theory, if the human psyche actually was to survive and continue to function after death, but did so in a divided state, then the two surviving components of the psyche would, due to their very natures, encounter entirely different conditions after death, conditions startlingly similar to those described in Eastern and Western traditions:
The conscious would completely lose all traces of its memory, but it would also remain free to go on to new experiences (in effect, reincarnating). Its partner, meanwhile, would undergo a memory-review, and then become trapped in a dreamlike, unconscious heavenly or hellish netherworld.
In short, modern science has found that the conscious and unconscious each possess the very characteristics necessary for them to perfectly reproduce the millennia-old afterlife scenarios of Eastern and Western traditions, but only if they divided apart at death.
A bizarre coincidence? Perhaps. But an after-death division would also explain a number of extremely peculiar details routinely reported by researchers investigating near-death experiences, past-life regressions, and ghost reports.
3. The History of the Division
Such an after-death split was widely recognized in ancient times, being mentioned in Gnostic scriptures as the division of the soul and spirit, in Egyptian texts as the detaching of the “ba” from the “ka“, in Greek teachings as the rending of the “thymos” from the “psyche“, in Hindu doctrine as the withdrawing of the “vital spirit” from the “reasonable soul“, and in Zoroastrian works as the separation of the “urvan” and “daena“.
Such an after-death division of dual souls also appears in ancient Chinese religion as the splitting of the “p’o” and “hun”, in Native American tradition as the cleaving of the “ni” and “nagi”, and, more recently, in Swedenborgian theology as the parting of one’s “inner and outer elements”, and in Edgar Cayce’s readings as the divide between the soul and spiritual forces (this same fundamental dicotomy is also reflected in the philosophies of Kant, Blake, Hegel, Tillich, Schopenhauer, Buber, and Sartre).
Just as with today’s conscious and unconscious, each of the above traditions held that one of the two soul-units was more willful, objective, and intellectual, while the other was more responsive, subjective, and emotional. And in each case, the two soul-units encountered radically different afterlife conditions after separating.
4. The Christian Connection
Numerous passages within the recovered Nag Hammadi scriptures make it clear that such a division-based doctrine was not only present in the early stages of Christianity, but constituted the very heart of the mysterious Gnostics’ theology.
As did the cultures surrounding them, the Gnostics viewed man’s inner being as bipartite in nature, differentiated into two entirely different elements – soul and spirit:
“…without the soul the body does not sin, just as the soul is not saved without the spirit. But if the soul is saved when it is without evil, and the spirit is also saved, then the body becomes free from sin. For it is the spirit that quickens the soul….” – The Apocryphon of James 11:38-39, 12-1-6
For the Gnostics, death specifically meant having these two parts divide apart, having one’s inner being sliced right down the middle at death:
“For such [death] is the judgment which had come down from above. It has passed judgment on everyone; it is a drawn sword, with two edges, cutting on either side.” – The Gospel of Truth 25:35-26:4
“On the day you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?” – The Gospel of Thomas 11
They were even under the impression that Jesus himself underwent such a division at his death:
“‘My God, my God, why, O Lord, have you forsaken me?’ It was on the cross that he said these words, for it was there that he was divided.” – The Gospel of Philip 68:26-29
To be “divided” was spiritual doom, while being “undivided” meant spiritual salvation:
“If he is undivided, he will be filled with light, but if he is divided, he will be filled with darkness …” – The Gospel of Thomas 61
The story of Adam and Eve was inextricably linked to their ideas about death, seeing the separation of Eve from Adam as a profoundly seminal “First Division”, the tragic origin of death itself:
“When Eve [the soul] was still in Adam [the spirit], death did not exist. When she separated from him, death came into being. If he again becomes complete and attains his former self, death will be no more.” – The Gospel of Philip 68:22-26
This division and its reparation are themes these Gnostic scriptures return to again and again, often using the term “woman” to indicate “soul”, and “man” for “spirit” :
“For they [the soul and spirit] were originally joined to one another when they were with the Father before the woman [the soul] led astray the man [the spirit], who is her brother. This marriage has brought them back together again and the soul [the woman] has been joined to her true love, her master [the man, the spirit]….” – The Exegesis on the Soul 133:4-9
Repairing this ancient division was expected to restore the souls of the dead to life:
“If the woman [soul] had not separated from the man [spirit], she would not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this, Christ came to repair the separation which was from the beginning, and again unite the two, and to give life to those [souls] who died as a result of the separation and unite them.” – The Gospel of Philip 70:9-22
This “Reunion of the Two” is a common theme in the Gnostic scriptures. But instead of always calling them “soul and spirit” or “Adam and Eve”, they sometimes portray the two in terms very reminiscent of science’s “conscious and unconscious”:
“When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside, and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female … then you will enter the Kingdom.” – The Gospel of Thomas 22
To firmly unite these two, they thought, would make a person like Christ himself:
“Jesus said, ‘If two [the soul and spirit, the conscious and unconscious] make peace with each other in this one house [body], they will say to the mountain, `Move away’, and it will move away’ … ” – The Gospel of Thomas 48
Given Novak’s extensive research on this subject and the evidence he provides to support it, his Division Theory should be considered to be one of the best theories ever devised to explain the mysteries of reincarnation and resurrection.