This article questions of validity of reincarnation and explores a deeper meaning to the concept. Here, I shall show how the concept is true and false at the same time by exploring another level of its implications in ones pursuit of personal growth and finding happiness.
The concept of reincarnation can serve the purpose of encouraging one to work on improving themselves out of fear that their next life will be a suffering one if they are not good in this life. It can serve the same purpose of the promise of heaven and punishment of hell.
In my opinion, that is not really the point from the mystical view. To understand the value of the concept, I neither concern myself with fear or encouragement. Rather, I explore the principle behind it so that with clear understanding I am able to gain the most value out of the concept.
The question that reincarnation can answer is: who or what are you?
Reincarnation, in a practical, real world sense, is not true. The proof is in the entire concept versus the reality of our consciousness. What reincarnates? One may say it is your soul or essence, and that may be valid, but the problem is that it is not your soul who is discussing this concept.
The personality who you are today does not reincarnate. Your essence or soul is what is believed to return. The problem is that we are not conscious of our essence and our entire life is lived in our personality, which obviously does not continue, or we would remember our previous lives, which we do not.
There are some people who claim to remember their previous lives. That could be true, or it could all be in their imagination. Then there are the exceptional few who know many facts about a person who died before they were born, and that becomes interesting. The real issue is not if the concept of reincarnation is true or not, but is it true for you.
There is a difference between the objective and relative views of reality. The objective is that which is permanent and can be tested and proven consistently regardless of circumstances, such as a 10 kilo stone will weigh 10 kilos and if dropped on anyones bare foot will break their bones. Relative reality is very personal. This changes from person to person with their personal views. If a building burns down in a remote country that you never heard of, it did not actually happen in your reality because you are not aware of it. Neither the building nor its burning down are real in your world.
Thus, if one says; “I will reincarnate”, that is not true. I, the personality who made the statement, will die with the body. Perhaps something else will reincarnate, but it will not be me, the person making the statement. Thus reincarnation is not true in the relative reality of my life even if it may be true in the objective reality of the mystical realm.
I view the Buddhist concept of reincarnation as seeing a human being, or the part that reincarnates, as a dustball. The Buddha said that all we are is a collection of thoughts, opinions and desires. It is those things which form together to make up what we can refer to as our soul, and it is that collection of thought forms which continues after our body dies, and then reincarnates.
The dustball, hiding under the bed, is made up of threads, dust, hair and other very fine and tiny particles. I perceive each of these bits as a memory, opinion or desire. If you can release your fixed thoughts and desires one by one, taking the dustball apart, thread by thread, hair by hair, what is left? Nothing. That cannot be correct. If there is nothing left, then what held all these particles together?
The scientific explanation is static electricity. That is fine, but then the question is if the static charge was there when the threads were there, what happened to the electric charge when there was nothing left to hold together? It did not cease to exist as science also knows that energy cannot be destroyed. Science also knows that the earth is surrounded by a static electric charge, as any kid knows in winter when they get that electric shock touching another person or metal object.
The static electricity that holds the thoughts together that make you you is all pervading and continues eternally. The thoughts themselves which give you individuality will and must change if they try to reincarnate otherwise we would still be living like cavemen with the same basic ways of living. What caveman would desire to buy an iPhone?
You, as the individual person you are, do not reincarnate. Rather I believe that the eternal energy, whatever you want to call it, static or spiritual, repeatedly forms into a new body, be it human, animal or insect, giving animate life to the newly created material form which nature created biologically, and in the human animal, consciousness and self-awareness.
The person you are does not reincarnate, if you did, then how could you be who you are today if you were a conglomeration of thousands of other people of a different sex, religion, culture, everything that makes you who you are, all living in this one body? We would all be either immensely intelligent and knowledgable or insane.
The force that gives life to all things reincarnates, or we can simply say, incarnates, repeatedly and eternally over time.
If this is true, we have the opportunity to become self-aware of this energy that is the true source of our human life, as it holds all our thoughts and opinions together, thus discovering that we are in fact an eternal and infinite being. Certain meditation techniques are effectively reverse engineering the human mind and personality thought by thought to find the original beginning, that which holds it all together.
However, if you are fixed on the concept that you as an individual reincarnate time and time again, you live with the separation of your human individuality and thus maintain your dustball separated from other dustballs, never taking yourself apart to leave nothing other than the electrical charge that is all pervading.
It is for this reason that I say the pursuit of discovering our past lives is counter productive as it builds up the individual ego personality and strengthens the concept of separation of individuals rather than the dissection of the current thought formed dustball to become enlightened to the unity of all things.