“Some ask whether one will be saved immediately, if the body is left behind. Let no one doubt. The visible parts of the body that are dead will not be saved. Only the living parts that exist inside will rise. What is the resurrection? It is the revelation of those who have risen. … It is no illusion. It is truth. It is more proper to say that the world is illusion, rather than the resurrection. …
“What am I telling you now? The living will die. How do they live in illusion? The rich become poor and kings are overthrown. All changes. The world is an illusion. Why do I seem to shout? The resurrection has nothing of this character. It is truth standing firm. It is revelation of what is, and the transformation of things, and a transition into freshness. Incorruptibility floods over corruption. Light rivers down upon the darkness, swallowing obscurity. The pleroma fills the hollow. These are the symbols and images of resurrection. They establish its goodness.
“Resurrection is here, O Rheginos, do not lose yourself in details, nor live obeying the flesh for the sake of harmony. … Though you have lived many years, why not look at yourself and see yourself risen now? You have the resurrection, yet you go on as if you are to die when it is only the part destined to die that is moribund. …
“These words I have received from the generosity of my lord, Jesus the Christ. I have taught you and your brothers and sisters, who are my children, about them, and have omitted nothing that may strengthen you.” ~The Treatise on Resurrection
No Resurrection for the Body
This Gnostic treatise makes it quite clear at the beginning. There will be no resurrection of the physical body. Not now, not ever. It is the spirit and soul that survives death and can, potentially, go to Heaven. It is the spirit and soul that can experience resurrection.
The treatise says that only the living parts will experience resurrection. This can be considered in two ways. First, if the physical body is dead, it is what is left alive, namely the spirit and soul, that will “rise”. Or to be more accurate, the spirit and soul will survive. Whether or not they rise to a higher dimension with you along with them depends on what you did to prepare for the eventual death of your body. If you followed the teachings of the ancients and awakened your soul and became a completely integrated being before death, then you complete being, minus the physical body which, after all, is not really a part of your true being, then you will rise along with the spirit and soul. If you haven’t done that, then you will fall to even lower dimensions before eventually returning to Heaven.
All Changes in Illusion
In the world of illusion, everything changes, everything grows old and dies, everything is destroyed and replaced. If that doesn’t sound like something a good and benevolent God would create, you’re right! This realm of constant change, death, disease, etc. is the creation of the Demiurge, not the true God who creates only good.
This world is a world of illusion because it is not what it appears to be. That truth is now backed by the science of quantum physics. It is also a world of illusion because it is temporary. According to most ancient spiritual leaders, anything that is temporary is illusion. And anything which is temporary and illusion does not experience resurrection.
Obeying the Flesh
This treatise is written like a letter from a parent or teacher to a young student. In the latter part quoted, this student named Rheginos is warned to not live his life “obeying the flesh”. What that means is that he should not spend his life satisfying the needs and desires of the physical body while ignoring the mind and spirit. The mind is certainly as important as the body, and the spirit and soul are more important than either of those. Many of the ancients of various faiths understood this which is why they accepted physical death rather than turn the control of their souls over to the government through their military agents. They didn’t become martyrs because they thought it was a good thing. They did it because their immortal souls were more important than their temporary bodies.
Resurrection and Reincarnation
Some are likely to confuse all this about resurrection as being about reincarnation. They are not the same thing. Resurrection is when the spirit and soul rise to higher dimensions of consciousness, generally called Heaven. It has nothing to do with being reborn in another physical body. Reincarnation is popular these days, but popularity doesn’t make it true. In fact, being popular almost always means a thing is false, or at least distorted. And remembering a past life doesn’t mean it was your life. It is most likely ancestral memories stored in your own brain (we all do have those), or you are simply tapping into the Akashic Records. So don’t waste this life thinking you can do better next time. Prepare for resurrection and enlightenment in this life. Even if reincarnation is real, this may be your last chance anyway.