These are some of the most popular books about rebirth and karma
Learn about karma and reincarnation from the perspective of Buddhism, Theosophy and Hinduism. But also based on the science of past life memories of children and regression.
I’ll start with a bit of a cheat: my own book on Karma: Essays on Karma. In it I discuss both the Buddhist and the Theosophical perspectives on karma.
Karma and predestination – do we have free will or is everything predetermined? That is my main theme in answering the basic questions westerners ask when it comes to karma, as well as common misconceptions.
Because I’m obviously biased, I’ll stop now and only repeat one of the user reviews the book got on Amazon.
First, the essays are thoughtful, not just undigested regurgitations of cliches about karma. You can tell she has pondered the concepts well to understand them and has made them her own.
Second, she is well informed. She not only discusses ideas of her preferred Tibetan Buddhism, but also the concepts of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, as well as Hindu and Theosophic interpretations.
Perhaps most importantly, she takes a practical approach. Karma is not just a theory, but a universal law which thoughtful people use to guide their actions to yield the best outcomes in their lives–skillful action as the Thai Forest monks say.
Also important is her understanding a karma having its wellsprings in the mind. It is psychological first, as thoughts are the foundation of actions. Change the mind, change the karma.
Since she approaches the subject from such a broad perspective, viewing the simple yet complex ideas from different angles, a reader can come to a fuller understanding of the subject.
Well worth reading.
Elizabeth Clare Prophet on reincarnation
Elizabeth Claire Prophet has a very simple style of writing. Her books are a great introduction into alternative spirituality.
A classic. Like all Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s books, this one is easy to read and gives a good introduction into the topic from a Western Esoteric perspective.
One of the favorites with readers of a previous version of this article. The main debate among people who believe in karma is whether this involves semi-automatic spiritual evolution. Theosophists started this idea and Elizabeth Clare Prophet also teaches it.
This book introduces the subject of reincarnation and karma by looking at the past. But this book quickly becomes practical: how does that help you understand with your present life better? What lessons do you need to learn – and how can you best make sure you don’t repeat the mistakes of the past?
Reincarnation from a Hindu / Yoga philosophic perspective.
Selected from his many writings this text goes into a subject at the heart of Indian spirituality: reincarnation and karma. Paramhansa Yogananda puts the subject in the context of our souls journey, but also goes into important questions like poverty, sorrow, suffering, war and so on.
Proof of reincarnation?
There is no such thing. Every ‘proof’ there is can also be explained in other ways. However, since there is also no proof that reincarnation does NOT exist, we can just decide for ourselves.
In other words: there is certainly EVIDENCE that we’re reborn.
One of the arguments in favor of reincarnation is that there are young children who remember their past lives.
If you do want proof of reincarnation – this book is the closest you will get. In researching kids who claim to have past life memories, Ian Stevenson walked very controversial ground. In this book he has gathered 20 cases of children who claim this. Stevenson goes into all the circumstances and ticks off all the scientific questions (like were the kids coached etc.).
Looking at the topic of reincarnation from the perspective of evidence and science.
What is it that gets reborn? Does karma make sense without rebirth?
These are only some of the questions Nagapriya asks from the perspective of secular Buddhism.
While karma and reincarnation are topics for all the Indian religions, explaining it from the point of view of Buddhism has one extra disadvantage: the ‘no-soul’ doctrine in Buddhism doesn’t fit easily with the idea that something gets reborn.
This book goes into Buddhist thought and the concepts around karma and rebirth to put all the pieces together. Yes, something reincarnates – but no, it’s not an (eternal) soul.
Your Soul’s Plan
Robert Schwartz’ book is the most popular on this page. It puts your life’s journey and troubles in the perspective of lessons you were meant to learn and meaning you were meant to give to your life.
What I used in my own studies on the topic of Karma
- Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth
- Karma and rebirth: Post Classical Developments
- Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions
- Karma: Dimensions of Asian Spirituality
This is a classic in the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This volume contains a lot besides karma: the whole of the beginning of the path to enlightenment. However that’s not the reason it’s listed here.
If you want to get a good overview of what karma means in Tibetan Buddhism, this really is a great place to start. Just read the chapters on karma (p. 215 and on) and Dependent Arising (p. 315 and on).