There was a time in my life when I believed in reincarnation. It made total sense to me and I loved the idea that we have all lived many lives and will live many more. If you know anything about reincarnation, you know that it is based on a belief that we are spiritual beings and that we are in bodies to learn, to advance spiritually. When we have reached what is commonly referred to as enlightenment, we become part of the “god” consciousness that we came from and don’t have to reincarnate anymore. The reason we continue to reincarnate is to correct the mistakes we made in previous lives and reconnect with those we may have harmed so that we can make amends.
I was raised in the Roman Catholic faith, but I had already decided in my teens that Catholicism wasn’t for me. I was always a rebellious Catholic, even when I was very young. I remember questioning the nuns about things we weren’t supposed to question and having my knuckles rapped with a pencil. I never got the thing about people going straight to hell because they weren’t Catholics. I would ask the nuns, “Well, what if they don’t even know there is such a thing as the Catholic church?” I always got the same answer. It didn’t matter that they were unaware. They were still destined to go to hell. It just didn’t make sense to me.
So I was a lapsed Catholic, I guess you could say. I had stopped going to church and I hadn’t been struck by lightning. I slowly accepted that it was probably okay to not be a religious person and I began to question all of religion and whether it served any real purpose. I saw that it limited people and even made them afraid. I saw how people in one religion judged all other religions, and I saw how people used religion to hurt others. I really wanted no part of it.
I was in my twenties when I was introduced to reincarnation, much more mature than a teenager, or so I thought. I didn’t have any real knowledge about Eastern religions, but it was the sixties and there was a lot of attention being paid to them. The Eastern religions were “groovy” and gurus were everywhere. When reincarnation was explained to me, I was smitten. What a perfect concept, what a great “pass” on everything, big and small, in my life. This was freedom! I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted because no matter what, I had many lifetimes before me. I could put off learning in this lifetime because I could come back and learn it in my next life. And that person that pissed me off? I could let them have it and not be sorry one bit because I would run into them in another life and could make amends then. Wow! What a cakewalk!
Of course, I knew in the back of my mind that I was prolonging the amount of time I would have to spend reincarnating by transgressing. But it was a whole lot better than the one life, one shot, and if you mess up, you go straight to hell concept I had been taught in my youth. No get out of hell free card for me! But this, the whole reincarnation thing, bought me some time, a whole lot of time, to pay off my debts. I was living the dream! It was so liberating!
Along with a belief in reincarnation comes karma, a truly magical thing that says no matter what you say, do or think, it spirals out into the universe and then Comes Back! And even better, it works on all those lousy jerks who kill, rape and commit other horrendous crimes. And it even works on the jackass who pulled out in front of me and almost caused an accident. People absolutely love the concept of karma, mainly because they really think it works. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say things like, “Well, he’ll get his karma! That will come back to him.” And they really believe this.
But look around at the real world and you’ll see that there is no such thing in play. People commit horrendous crimes and get away with it. People say the most offensive things and get away with it. There are wars, there are so many bad things that happen in our world. You would think karma would have long ago taken care of these things.
But wait! With reincarnation, karma may not happen in this lifetime. In other words, we may not see the karma because it’s going to take place in the future, in another life. So the evildoer in this lifetime may be having the time of his or her life, but rest assured, they are going to pay in a future life. Perfect!
As you can see, it all makes sense in a weird, convoluted sort of way, which I think is why I bought into it so wholeheartedly. My friends and I would sit around talking about history and imagining who and where we might have been in previous lives and in what eras we lived in. It was fun! And even the Beatles were into it!
Over a period of time, though, I began to realize that there were things about these concepts that just didn’t jive with reality. I looked around at the world and saw the truly random nature of our existence on Planet Earth. I saw that much as I would like to think that even a simple thought in my mind could have a reverberating effect in the real world, this just isn’t the case.
We are human beings. We live one life. We have one chance to live a fruitful, meaningful life. Our rewards and punishments are right here and right now. That is what I choose to believe and how I choose to live my life.
One other thing. The person who turned me on to reincarnation in the first place was a crazy megalomaniac who professed to be pretty much every famous person in history. If I had been as mature as I thought I was in my twenties, I would never have fallen for reincarnation in the first place. Oh well. Chalk it up to experience, the best teacher I know.