Monday, April 02, 2007

Life and death and life

I am reading a book at the moment on reincarnation. I don't normally read books on reincarnation, but a friend at work lent it to me, probably thinking I needed it - what does HE know??? I am of a somewhat sceptical nature. I was once a devout Christian, but not any more. In fact, I completely reject the whole notion of god or gods, consigning it to the realms of fantasy, myth, folk-lore and legends with a sprinkling of wishful thinking mixed with superstitious fear. In short, I'm a "born again" atheist. There, that's got that out of my system, I feel so much better! Thankfully, the book hasn't mentioned god yet and I'm over half way through it, so I haven't given up on it yet. If the writer stays away from the g word for the rest of the book, I dare say I might even finish it.

Yes, I am a skeptic, but I will consider almost anything weird, so long as there is some reasonable evidence to back it up. What seems to come out of this book, as well as documentaries I have seen on the television is that there are many well documented cases of people, often young children, who seem to have detailed and very accurate memories of past lives, sometimes, many past lives. A lot of research has been carried out into this, and the weight of the evidence seems to be far too great for mere chance. There is also, it would appear, evidence building, that between incarnations we go through a process of reviewing our previous life in a sort of a "judgement"and choosing the next one. Another colleague at work lent me a book by a different author who claims to have had an "out of body" experience after clinically "dying" during a major operation. The spooky thing is, the whole experience she describes is almost exactly similar to the "between births" claims of the subjects in the reincarnation book, lending a degree of independant re-inforcement to the argument. I am not saying here that I neccesarily believe that these are real cases of reincarnation, but if they are not, then there is a lot of further research needed to come up with a rational, reasonable explanation. Is it possible, for example, for a person to "receive" the thoughts and personality of a dead person, and not actually be reincarnated? There is plenty of evidence in physics to suggest that time can go backwards. Also, at the quantum level of the sub-conscious mind, who knows what is possible. We hardly know anything about what constitutes consciousness, let alone the mind. We are only scratching the surface.

Personally, although I reject the idea of a god, I don't, in principle, have a problem with reincarnation - of a sort. The reasoning goes like this:

There was a time before my birth when I didn't exist.
When I die I will go back to that same state of non-existance. Since I came out of that state to be here writing this now, who's to say I won't do so again at some point in the future?

There is a problem here, however, as what I describe is not true reincarnation in the classical sense of the word, because I have left out the concept of a spirit or soul. The "reincarnation" I describe would not transmit any memories between lives, because although "I" might live again, I could never be conscious of this life without a soul or spirit which constitutes the essence of "me" crossing from one life to the next. However, another way of looking at life is that we are all immortal until we die. As we cannot experience being dead because we have to be conscious to experience anything, we cannot be conscious of being dead. In that sense, the only thing we will ever experience is life itself. Death doesn't exist in our experience. Better make the most of life!

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