Reincarnation is a subject fraught with the danger of being me being “Canceled,” if I may use the modern term. However, if you don’t cancel me and bear with me, I promise not to turn you into a pagan or worse. I will only attempt to show what many religions and philosophers, both now and in ancient times, believed and why. I will also relate any thoughts I have on the matter.
The belief in reincarnation or transmigration of the soul has been part of belief systems as far back as historical records exist. East Indian religions – Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and most Hindus – believe in reincarnation. The Kabbalah in Judaism references the transmigration of the soul, which some strains of Orthodox Jews believe. Also, certain Eastern Christian churches have this belief traced back to their beginnings. Many indigenous people of the Americas and Australia have such views. Even philosophers such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato, among others not so well known, have cast their lot into this camp.
Of course, the fact that so many religions and philosophers hold these beliefs provides no scientific evidence that there is any basis for these beliefs. The rationale for why we don’t remember any earlier incarnations, as it is called, has several answers depending on the source. What many believe occurs upon being born or soon after is called the Veil of Forgetting. This means when you are born into a new body, you are caused to forget earlier existences. One theory is that it is so you can live an authentic life without drawing from the past. Another is that if you remembered all your previous existences, it would mess with your ability to function in the present. I have heard of a few more theories, but I would say that most of us have trouble with memories in this life messing with us; who wants to remember all the shit storms from the distant past. Of course, if you lived perfect, joyful lives in your past incarnations, that might not be a problem. Let me hear from you if you believe you lived a few centuries in perfect bliss. I would love to hear you say so with a straight face.
We can’t question Socrates or Plato to get their story. Still, many people today say they remember past lives to one degree or another. Some eagerly tell how they have been Queens, Kings, and Royalty in all their past lives and usually brag about it to anyone who will listen. I am sure someone had to be all those people, but I would keep it to myself if it were me. Most I have researched have been ordinary in one way or another, and none I have heard of remember all their lives, nor all of any individual life. Like our present existence, the past lives they recall are of memorable or meaningful events. What they had for breakfast on some morning in the year 1326 would only be recalled if they choked to death on a chicken bone then and were triggered today by getting food caught in their throat and choking similarly. One of the most common ways to hear testaments from people with these experiences is by researching NDEs (near death experiences). Yeah, it is so common that it has its own acronym. There are thousands of recorded instances of NDEs, and a portion of them have experiences of remembering past lives. Many others have had past life memories without NDEs, and there are as many differences in the trigger for the event as there are people telling their stories. Past life researchers estimate that known instances of these memories are a small fraction of people who have had them. That stands to reason; most people would be considered nuts for saying so. You might as well add that aliens abducted you from outer space to enhance the story.
You may wonder, or not if you know me, why I would dive so deep into this subject. The simple answer is that I have had such memories more than once myself. No, I don’t remember being royalty. My memory, closest to the present, was my death during WWII. I was in my 20s when I remembered this, and I don’t know what triggered it, but I have my suspicions. I won’t go into details about it here, but briefly, it was only a few minutes of memory at the most. It was very clear, real, emotional, and in every way in sharp detail at the time. Today, I only have a faded memory, void of all emotions or feelings.
Another instance was sometime in the Middle Ages when I was a young peasant with a redheaded wife. This was not a trauma but an ecstatic joy of being alive and in love, and we were both strong and happy. I remember the one-room hovel, the interior details, the mud outside, and me chasing her through the mud and water, both of us laughing joyously. Perhaps the trigger was a redheaded girl I saw at a truck stop that I instantly felt an intense attraction to, even though I only saw her from across the room. It was only later that I had the memory come up, and it hit me in broad daylight like a ton of bricks. No, it was not a dream, as far as I am concerned.
This is typical of the other memories I had. Once it was “re-experienced in full” it became the same memory many of us have in this life. Once the extreme emotion has faded to an “intellectual” memory. As we revisit the memory, the emotional impact continues to dissipate until it becomes a simple memory. This applies to these life memories as well. The wasp sting as a child, becomes a vague memory later in life.
I will not take the time to relate two other instances of past life recall in detail. I was a woman in the distant past; in the other, I was a seaman on a 17th-century sailing ship.
Now, I do not expect you to believe in reincarnation, past lives, transmigration of the soul, or that being an eternal spirit works both ways. Trust me, I have wondered if I am experiencing, in this life, what someone else who lived before me had happened to them. I wrestled with this question, yet the experience felt so real; I don’t know how I could have that much feeling and emotion in another’s memory. For now, I have to go with “it was me”, but as I always say, I could be wrong. In the mystery of life, it is always wise to be open to new understanding.
If you have had these experiences or wonder if you have lived before, I am open to having a conversation with you about this or referring you to reliable sources of information. Email me, and I will contact you, and we can set something up. Don’t bother if you just want to start an argument; I won’t take the bait.
One more thing to add fuel to the fire while I am on this subject. I might as well get it over with and prepare for cancellation. I’m just forwarding a possible idea about the confusion many have about gender identity. Partly, I attribute it to the chaos of being young in a world where even preteens are bombarded with mixed messages about how to live a good life in a divisive world. Beyond that, could it be possible that having in previous lives been another gender gets triggered in this incarnation, causing spiritual confusion about gender identity? This could happen at any time from birth onward. I only came up with this theory because of the instance where I had a memory of an incarnation of being a woman with all the emotions, feelings, and sensations attendant with that gender. That memory happened when I was a young teen. A young person with a life of uncertainty and confusion may see a memory such as that as an indication they were in the wrong body, especially if society agrees and encourages that belief. Just saying, and of course, I could be wrong. BTW, I never had gender confusion and never had to be “macho” to prove to myself and others that I was entirely male.
In the final analysis, whether or not we believe in reincarnation doesn’t matter in this life. It is what we do now that counts. The only value of the past is the lessons we learn from it, whether one life or many. And as we go forth in life, love, kindness, joy, forgiveness, love of God, and using our talents for the good of our fellows and all life is job one. Anything else is a distraction. And so it is.