It didn’t keep me up all night, as my ideas often do. In fact, I think I fell asleep as my head touched the pillow. But I remembered it this morning. And, because I do believe that there’s a reason for everything, I came to the conclusion that this is the topic I should be writing about today. So tell me …
Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you believe that, once you’re dead, your soul can begin a new life? And that you (as in your soul or your spirit) can come back as another human, as an animal or even in a spiritual sense — depending on how good or bad you were in your previous life? Karma. Reincarnation is, by the way, at the very core of the Indian religions. In an earlier post (in fact in a few of them) I talked about how kind, compassionate, understanding, generous and selfless I found the Indian people to be, when I visited there. I am sure this is at least one of the reasons for it.
In jest I always say that I’d like to come back as one of my cats. And who wouldn’t. No stress, lots of love, never hungry, never thirsty, and a comfortable place to lay your head (my pillow) when you’re tired.
But in all seriousness, the idea of rebirth is not an altogether unpleasant thought, at least not for me. Which is contrary to the teachings of my tribe (Jews). In fact, within the majority of sects within Christianity, Islam and Judaism, it is not believed that we come back again. Although, followers of the Kabbalah, do believe it. It is said that both Plato, and his mentor, Socrates were also believers, which should be a good enough recommendation for us to at least give the idea some serious consideration. They did, after all, along with Plato’s student, Aristotle, lay the foundations of Western philosophy and science.
Like Hindus, I also believe in Karma. Which is to believe that every action has a reaction. And, if you believe in the concept of rebirth, then you also believe that the ‘force’ of this action/reaction determines one’s next incarnation. So you could say that karma and reincarnation complete the job that our justice system doesn’t always do very well. You just have to be patient enough to wait it out. And of course, just as the bad are punished, the good are rewarded.
I’ve read, in Wikipedia, that one is reborn through desire: a person desires to be born because he or she wants to enjoy a body, which can never bring deep lasting happiness or peace. After many births every person becomes dissatisfied and begins to seek higher forms of happiness through spiritual experience. When all desire has vanished the person will not be born again. And when the cycle of rebirth thus comes to an end, a person is said to have attained liberation (moksha).
So why might we want to be reincarnated? Hindus believe the #1 reason is to experience the fruits of one’s karmas. Enjoy the reward to which you are entitled. Another reason is to satisfy one’s desires. They say that when we indulge in material pleasures, we develop a stronger desire to enjoy more of it. And it is this unending desire that causes your soul to want to be reborn in more bodies.
A third is, simply, we still have unfinished business to complete. Next, to fulfil a debt; and in this case, you are reborn as either a relative, a friend or, interestingly, an enemy. If you have committed a very, very serious mistake or sin, you would be reincarnated as an act of justice — you would be forced to suffer in your next life; which would not, necessarily, be lived as a human. You could come back as a worm, or an insect, or as an ant. And last, we’d want to come back in order to attain moksha.
There is so much more to think and talk about on this subject, it deserves many more blog posts; and conversations. And I will revisit it.
But there is one thing I know for sure. I have never believed that one life is enough for me to do everything I hope to do.