Saturday, May 10, 2008
Reincarnation ... some say it sounds like an easier philosophy than others ... putting off till next time the consequences of today's actions; not fearing death because one is an eternal being. Actually, in many ways, reincarnation requires taking responsibility for one's choices in a way that other spiritual paths do not require.
We all see lives where someone good and kind suffers deeply for no discernible reason. We also see greedy, evil and monstrous people who appear to escape punishment. Some see in this a cruel and sadistic god or universe. One lifetime is not long enough to see the chains of cause and effect in all cases.
We are evolving, learning to be strong human beings: kind, yet firm, with others. There are avatars (not computer-generated simulacra but highly evolved human beings in history) who show us the way to live. We try to follow in their footsteps, but along the way we fall and fail. Every failure is a learning step. We make mistake after mistake, until we become fully conscious of our true role as human beings, mediators in the pageant of spirit and nature (defining these terms is beyond the scope of this post).
A friend said, "if we do not remember our other lives, how can we learn from them?" A valid question! Do we need to remember past mistakes? We encounter almost exactly the same circumstances time after time until we learn how to overcome the problem. Then we move on to the next problem.
Looking back on life, all of us see we had earlier patterns that no longer plague us. Choices that were self-and other-destructive are finally changed to ones that are healthier and more compassionate, as the consequences of our choices hammer home over and over again. There is no need to look back to other lifetimes. The problems we face in this lifetime are the ones we are focusing on for now. Every human being faces the same problems, but not all at the same time or in the same way.
So in a sense, it makes no difference at all if there IS such a thing as reincarnation. We are charged with the responsibility of our choices, no matter what our spiritual philosophy. Some of my best friends are agnostic or atheistic, and those particular people happen to be some of the kindest, most generous and caring people I know. Therefore, atheism is a healthy spiritual philosophy for them. Others choose religions and try to follow the precepts they promulgate, and for those people, that is the best way (hehe in this lifetime!).