Life’s A Bitch And Then You Die…Again?!?
It’s true: life can be hard and cruel.
An intelligent person might wonder why anyone would ever want to go around again—perhaps for endless lifetimes. Ouch!
You’d think the hard facts of our birth and death alone would tend to deter most energy Beings from ever wanting a body again. Of course, there are rewards . . .
But in order to answer the why of reincarnation we must first answer the wherefore:
Is there such a thing and how does it work?
Answer these questions and you have answered the eternal question: The Secret of Life.
Know now, from the beginning, that the answer comes down to belief.
Yet, some beliefs are better than others. Or put another way, we can’t say for certain what the meaning of life is but we can get a pretty good idea what it is not.
We start by applying reason, that glorious/terrible faculty that, above all else, sets us apart from all Creation. Without reason one belief is no better or worse than any other. As Pagans and Wiccans we know that just isn’t true, at least not for us.
First, I believe it’s rational and reasonable to assume, for the moment, the probability that there is a purpose for our existence and the existence of the worlds around us.
Science does not generally share this view. Science dictates that reason forbids anything not provable by science, that spiritual beliefs of any kind are not reasonable. This mandates a mechanistic existence that blinks out like a light bulb when it’s over—man and woman the same DNA as the worms that eat us in the end.
However, if this were the case I wouldn’t be sitting here writing to you at all but at best, locked in a life and death struggle with another bacteria or hostile slime mold. Probably wouldn’t exist at all. None of us.
Okay, so what about the Theory of Evolution?
You know, take an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters and one of them will come up with the complete works of Shakespeare.
Doesn’t Evolution prove that the biggest baddest meanest microorganism gets to pass on its genes and that’s the real reason why we’re here? Isn’t that what the law of the jungle is all about? And as such isn’t it logical that this truth is the only truth worth knowing and that the only reason we’ve banded together as clever monkeys is to further the advancement of our genes at the expense of all others? That’s what science teaches.
And in that case, isn’t reincarnation or an afterlife in any form is just wishful thinking?
Fact is, though evolution is generally correct it has its problems. I’m not saying that the earth is 7318 years old (in 2005) as the Bible (Septuagint) would have it and that the devil plants fossils in the ground to fool the gullible. But there just hasn’t—by science’s own admission—been enough time for random mutation and natural selection to produce the miracle that is you and I and the world we live in. Essentially, we don’t actually have an infinite number of typewriting monkeys; not by a long shot.
Nor is any explanation forthcoming for why we would even care if we passed on our genes. Procreation is often the biggest burden an organism can undertake. If you doubt this you probably haven’t tried to raise a teenager.
Without a burning need to pass on its genes an organism could not, would not evolve.
What would likely happen if a bunch of inorganic chemicals started reproducing for some unlikely reason is that the primitive life forms that resulted—having the basic need to consume other life forms for fuel—would have the earth’s first and last donnybrook until the one remaining starved to death.
Evolution requires both a mechanism to play itself out—natural selection—and a driving force, without which we go nowhere. It’s like having the means to produce a boat or a car but no earthly reason to go anywhere. Why build it? Why build us?
Okay then, have we at least given ourselves some room to reason that doesn’t fly in the face of the truths of the physical sciences? If not, I suggest reading Richard Dawkins wonderful books, The Ancestors Tale and Climbing Mount Improbable. Dawkins is a brilliant Social Biologist who holds to the mechanistic model of life, the one that precludes an afterlife in any form. Evolution is the whole truth with no need for any other power to make it happen. See if he makes his case for you.
If, on the other hand, you are ready to move onward and upward let’s consider that the life that is you and I carries an esoteric spark of some kind—if only as an irresistible drive to transcend the needs of the individual organism. That’s what’s needed.
Perhaps there may even be a plan at work, though what that plan is remains to be seen, even to whether or not it can really be a plan in the strict sense of the word if there is no specific Creator acknowledged, since some belief systems do and some systems don’t have a God/dess in charge—not even a Sacred “IT”. Though I find that impossible to imagine—like trying to think of Nothing.
Therefore, Whatever is out there pulling the strings may or may not be sentient—in the way we perceive but something unimaginably powerful nonetheless. Something that may even require a higher order of Being than all of us Twenty-First Century humanoids could muster with our combined reason to comprehend.
All we can assume at this point is that we don’t have the answers, and probably never will. Perhaps even if there is or is not something positively absolutely definitely going on behind the Cosmic Scenes—or Not.
About the only thing we can say for sure is that we can’t say anything for sure.
. . . The mind wobbles…
Just the same, we’ve reasoned together this far and come up with one fact: science does not have all the answers. That’s the part to remember.
It’s also worth remembering, that neither do we.
In that vein let’s take a look at the other side of the Mobius strip: The Divine Spark.
But let’s skip over lightly the information that’s already out there. Namely, that the vast majority of religions do or did at one time believe in reincarnation, though the eastern philosophies speak of “Metamorphosis”, in that life can emerge anew in any living form, up or down the evolutionary ladder. While we tend to think of climbing only in an upwards direction, which may well be true considering the general direction of Evolution, from the elegant simplicity of the helium atom to all of this around us both, you and I this minute having evolved out of pure Energy—truly awesome! Just a couple of quick ideas:
Jesus most likely presumed reincarnation, as did the Kabalists. Starting with Matthew 22:23 Jesus debates the Sadducees (who deny the immortality of the soul) with the Pharisees who held the majority opinion, that of reincarnation. It’s a Pharisee who asks Jesus if he is Elijah come again. In addition, the Apostles continued to preach the immortality and rebirth of the soul for nearly four hundred years.
Then Emperor Constantine, after his conversion to Christianity (and his subsequent conversion of Christianity to a predator religion Jesus would not recognize) abandoned the concept of reincarnation (Google: “Emperor+Constantine”).
Constantine did this when he instigated the “heaven or hell” model that Pagans so soundly disagree with. The problem was that once Constantine insisted that he was the “voice of god” and that they had better do what he said or burn in hell he had to abolish reincarnation. You can’t very well be burning in hell and show up alive again.
So we’ve seen that science cannot even start to disprove reincarnation and that the majority of peoples throughout all time before that believed in reincarnation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t prove reincarnation exists or why. We’d be done now if it did.
Nor does it prove anything that actor John Ford and historical martyr Jane Evans, to name just two of many, had highly credible past life regressions.
But let me tell of my personal experiences with past life regressions. They aren’t as flashy as John Ford’s but credible in a different way. One I wouldn’t have guessed at the onset.
It started when I took a class in Parapsychology at Northeastern. Our group proposed to test reincarnation using hypnosis and a subject that was informed that she had other lives. I was to do the hypnosis.
First we took the subject to the head of the Psych Dept. to provide tests and evaluation as to how likely it was that she would fabricate past lives. He assured me that it was not in her nature to consciously lie.
At first I found it hard to induce a trance in her. Then she showed me how wrong I could be about people—an important lesson to learn young—and dived down like she had been pulled under by a dark wave of sleep.
I turned on the tape recorder and cast her further back and down, back to her past lives.
She started to tell me what was going on in front of her and to mention every item in a ratty back yard of undetermined origin. He was sitting on a mud wall watching a bug (yes, “he;” people can apparently change sex in past lives). I won’t tell you all he said (unless you’re an insomniac and want to be bored to sleep). Just that he described every little detail in real time. When I would prompt him to tell what else was happening he would turn his head in a new direction and describe something equally mundane.
Finally I got him to fast forward to something important that was happening. I didn’t have all day to waste looking at someone else’s idea of beautiful.
Turns out the only important thing that ever happened to this person after he was born was his death. Even that was boring: an infected wound. I was tempted to regress her even further to see if being totally boring was maybe a trend or if she had been shot out of a cannon three times daily in one life, or something, and wanted things to be very, very quiet for a few lives.
So he died and his soul floated up towards the ceiling with a woman crying and praying below in the light of four candles at the head and foot of his little death bed—never made it out of childhood.
Up he goes, through the ceiling and into the night. Cut! New Scene.
But instead of arriving in the lifetime we share she’s giving birth in a clump of brush in some Asian country, probably hundreds of years ago still. This is where I get off, I thought. What chance does an ancient Asian woman have of being fulfilled in her lifetime? Unless her idea of fulfillment is giving birth in the rough.
But what impressed me most was not what she had to say. The words were simple, those a child would use—I would have expected that. What got me was the one-to-one time frame. Every minute of her telling was a minute of her living the past life (and a minute of mine unfortunately). I doubt in my wildest dream as a writer I could capture every detail of a scene I wasn’t actually looking at without once tripping up. I don’t know any who can (or would want to).
For instance, planting a new scrubby cactus where one had already been described. I found myself believing her. And that’s something I hardly did in those days (question everything!) along with my usual impatience.
I still question everything but I’ve learned that the journey requires much patience as well.
The next and last experience was with a dear friend of mine who always went into a heavy death fixation every year after Christmas.
One day I hypnotized her into a past life. I thought that maybe if she realized she’d be back she wouldn’t fear going so much.
This kind of backfired because her last life had an unpleasant end. But what I hadn’t expected was catching something between her lives. I had known this woman for years but had never heard her speak in such a serene voice full of confidence and grace. It was definitely her . . . but perfected. Wow!
And when I brought her back to the present, she no longer feared death in the slightest—despite the nasty death she had discovered for herself the time before.
Did I somehow use hypnosis to con her? If I did, her new attitude gave her the welcome addition of three more months to enjoy every winter of her life. Nor was her apprehension of a terrible death to come true.
Years later she died instantly, painlessly, totally unexpectedly—if horribly—as I watched the World Trade Towers burn and crumble. No trace was ever found but I hope to see her again someday.
Anyway, that’s it. Two of my personal experiences and a synopsis of what’s available online and in books. All the evidence is anecdotal, of course.
It’s up to you: does it ring truer than the ‘evolution just happened’ theory of science that makes life out to be nothing more than animated chemicals? Or the “life is a test” dogma of the Christian faiths, that makes us begging sinners on our knees? Or whether the clues point more towards a divine explanation? I won’t hold you to it.
But if you’re still with me it’s a good time to see what we can learn from popular religions and which ones make the most sense. Again, there is a great deal of theology and doctrine available everywhere since the dawn of recorded history (and beyond) so we won’t go into details here.
Basically, what all the beliefs in reincarnation have in common is that they all believe that our true selves are energy Beings, without physical existence, that leave the body to find a new home upon our deaths.
Wiccans and Pagans generally believe that there is a rest stop on the cycle of life and death called the Summerlands where we go to await our next life.
The Summerlands are where we’re on sabbatical, out to pasture (but not permanently). We are only there to rest and visit with our friends and family (and cherished animal pals) that have passed before us and to be on hand to welcome new arrivals. Often, the first thing we feel after death—not as a physical sensation but as an emotion—is the loving comfort of someone we’ve lost, a mother, a father, a wife, or a child—often more than one lost lover all at once—holding us in their astral arms, until we are no longer afraid—especially if our death had been a bumpy ride.
The first thing we “see” after our death is the parting of the gray rain clouds of the mortal world opening on a silver-blue ocean. Then, far off in the distance, the white cliffs shining in the sunlight. Above the shoreline green, green grass and rolling hills lay beneath us. Here we come to rest; here we will find our loved ones standing near an orchard in full bloom, petals falling like pure white snow.
Then we may “walk” arm and arm down the lane of whatever our personal heaven feels like and more loved ones come and greet us. And everybody is arriving and embracing, laughing and crying, cheering. It has been a long haul but we’re finally here, in Summerlands. Joy!
From this point on I can only give you my personal vision of Summerlands. You will probably have a different scenario in mind.
First you smell it, the green everywhere, the new mown hay. But not really smell or see as you did with your old body. Now you are the essence of green, its truest nature beyond spectral radiation exciting optic nerves. I am one with green! And one with the Beings of my kith and kin at the same time (if time had meaning in the Summerlands). It’s as if we’re leaves in the forest when the wind blows warm from the south, rustling ever so softly, knowing it all in the only way possible: Pure Universal Unity.
Suddenly, everything becomes crystal clear; it all makes sense—finally! And now we are the soft breeze as it swirls through the starry night, caressing every living thing with our life. Yes, we are life, all life, a part and the whole all at once. Not the flesh but the life within.
And here, in Summerlands, we get the ultimate do-over with the very person we may have clashed with when we were flesh. Yes, it was, after all, the flesh that had blinded us to who we really are and who we are to each other always. We should have known better. Ah, but there’s always next time—perhaps up a rung or two on that old evolutionary ladder—evolving towards what/where/who we cannot say from our vantage point here today. We know only where we came from, not where we are heading.
Perhaps we had an unsuccessful life and we end up a rung or two down. It’s a possibility.
But my personal belief is that judging solely by the direction of our evolution we must generally evolve to a higher order Slime mold doesn’t get to be president in one lifetime (well, sometimes). We have to keep living over and over again until we get our existence and the existence of our fellow beings to where we’re going. Some say we are reborn until our souls are purified. But I believe we are doing the best we can for who we are so far. There’s nothing impure about it. True transcendence is in the journey as well as the destination.
Finally, we’re ready to take another crack at it—Life—to have a body again, to feel instead of just remembering it all, the joy and the pain.
Not only is rebirth irresistible it’s the only game in town. There’s only so much you can learn from remembering the past. You have to get mortal to transcend.
And that’s the answer. I warned you, it’s speculative and highly personal.
We live more than one life to refine the process, in one way or another, time and time again.
We are on the path to we know not where, only that it’s somehow the Will of Creation—if only ipso facto.
If you doubt this, check in with your own heart. We know emotionally when we are headed in the right direction, though we are often lost in the convolutions of our mind.
The proof is that in looking back it’s easy to see that if we had listened to that little song in our heart we would have been much better off. When we are on the right path we feel it. When we are off track we feel bad, somehow, even if what we are doing is something we want.
In that way, happiness tells us we are doing the Divine Will of the Universe.
Why then would anyone what to live more than one life? Again, it comes down to the personal:
Why would you want to live even once? (Always presuming you have a choice)
What makes you happy?
Only you can answer that, and only for yourself.
So, may it be.
P.S. My muse wants me to tell you that She wrote this . . . with my hand.