Thoughts on Reincarnation

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Life is split into four, like the seasons of the year. One is born, one grows up, one is adult and then one ages and dies. Likewise, the year has four seasons; summer follows spring, autumn follows summer, winter follows autums. The spring represents childhood and life’s beginning, the summer youth and strength and everything beautiful. Autumn represents ageing and decrepitude. And winter naturally, death.

But what follows winter, if not spring? After the annihilating coldness of winter, nature is rebirthed. Flowers bloom and erupt into colour, trees grow green, and birdsong can be heard once more. Life returns. We can imagine human life in a similar form. We are born, live and then die, are born again and live, die, and so forth.

The belief in reincarnation has been with us from the earliest of religions, even though very few current world religions still have the belief. Reincarnation in the pre-Christian Europe, for instance, is not the same as the belief in Paradise in Christianity. In its essence, in its purest form, the belief in reincarnation is the belief that, after death, you return to this very earth, in a new form, a new body. This happens within the family, in other words through the blood. You share your genetic makeup with your ancestors; how do you know you’ve never lived previously? Are you them?

In the pre-Christian Europe, you were buried with your valuables. This practice has been observed in other parts of the world as well, for instance Egypt. The purpose of this, was the one would, in one’s new shape, would recognize oneself, and remember. If one suffers from amnesia, it sometimes helps to have things at hand that were valuable emotionally to the person in question. One can imagine that the reincarnation process is something akin to amnesia, and so naturally, finding one’s possessions would help in recognizing oneself. There is a possibillity that the custom of naming children after their dead relatives comes from this practice.

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Reincarnation fascinates me immensely, and I think it might be a worthwhile basis for a spiritual worldview. In ancient times, reincarnation was used as something of a moral compass as well. If you lived a decent, honorable and worthy life, the chance of being reincarnated would be higher than if you were morally reprehensible. This belief we recognize as Karma, in Buddhism. I think that a widespread return to the belief in reincarnation would be a very positive thing.

 

 

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