But about one thing they are all agreed, and that one thing is the idea of reincarnation, rebirth. Even Buddha, who does not believe in the soul, agrees with it. It looks very absurd – how can there be rebirth if there is no soul? He does not believe in a soul but he believes in a continuum. He says: Just as you light a candle in the evening in the morning when you are blowing it out can you say it is the same flame that you had started in the evening? It is not the same – and yet somehow it is connected. The flame has been changing the whole night. the flame was disappearing the whole night – it was disappearing into smoke and a new flame was replacing it each moment. In fact the movement was so quick, that’s why you couldn’t see the gaps. There has been a continuum – a constant change, but very quick and fast – one flame being replaced by another, the whole night.
So when in the morning you are putting the candle out, it is not the same flame that you had started – although it looks almost the same. The first flame and the last are connected – they are part of one chain, one process – but you cannot say that there has been one flame, one soul.
That is the Buddhist idea of reincarnation: the continuity continues but individuals disappear – there is no individual soul. But still Buddha believed in reincarnation. Jainas believe in reincarnation, Brahmins believe in reincarnation.
But Jews, Christians and Mohammedans don’t believe. Those are the three great religions which were born outside India. How did it happen that all three Indian religions stumbled upon the fact of reincarnation? – although they don’t agree in any other matter. Why do they agree about one thing? They could not disagree. From where did this experience come to them?
And you will be surprised – the answer is vegetarianism.
When a person is utterly vegetarian he can easily remember his past lives. His clarity is such that he can look into his past lives. He is not gross, his energy is not blocked, his energy moves easily. His river of consciousness can penetrate to the ancientmost times; he can go backwards as much as he wants.
The consciousness of a non-vegetarian is blocked – in many ways. He has been accumulating gross matter in himself. That gross matter functions as a barrier. That’s why all the three religions that were born outside India, and have remained non-vegetarian, could not come to the idea of reincarnation. They could not experience it.
Pythagoras lived in India, lived the life of a vegetarian, meditated deeply, became aware of the past lives, could see himself moving backwards. He could understand what Buddha means when he says, “Once I was an elephant, once I was a fish, once I was a tree.”
The idea of evolution has been here in the East for ever – and in a far more subtle way than it has been given to Western science by Darwin. Darwin’s idea is very raw: he says monkeys have become man – although Darwinians have not yet been able to prove it, because they are still searching for the link between the monkey and the man. And the problem arises: why did only a few monkeys become men? What happened to other monkeys? And monkeys are basically imitators – if a few monkeys had become men then all the monkeys would have imitated. What happened to the other monkeys? Great imitators they are – why only a few men?
And the monkeys are still there! Thousands and thousands of years have passed and monkeys are still monkeys. And you don’t come across a monkey suddenly becoming a man…one fine morning he wakes up and he is a man. Nobody has ever seen this miracle happen.