Over the years I’ve developed at least two thought processes related to reincarnation. One came from a crocodile friend of mine, another from a chaos magician. Both of the things I was told had a glow of rightness, despite being things that could be argued to be patently untrue, unproveable, idealism.
The crocodile told me that every moment is a reincarnation.
The magician told me that when we die, the things that makes us unique, die. The things that makes us the same, goes on.
If you can witness the passing of time, you can see the constant changing of everything from one moment to the next. Every thing changes into another.
If you can agree that there is something fundamental to consciousness that is what makes us all the same, then it shouldn’t be hard to see how big that is.
These are things I believe, despite belief not really being my style.
Reincarnation as commonly interpreted – ‘I was x in a past life’ or ‘when you die, you become something else, depending how you lived’- comes wholly under the category of ‘incomprehensible guesswork’. There is no way I can know whether it’s real or not. It strikes me as an outside possibility, but what happens after we die is an absolute mystery. That’s part of its nature. Death is the undiscovered country. It remains so until we die, and you don’t get to send back messages.
And if you do come back knowing? I’m not going to be able to believe you. It’s not something I can take on trust.
But it could be true enough.
When, on the other hand, someone tells me that the every second you die and are born again into a new future, I believe that. I know that each instant is an opportunity (often wasted) to build something new. That’s called the passing of time. Reincarnation is pretty much what happens. The knife of the the present stabs into the past and the future bleeds out. An oldness dies and is replaced with the new.
Every. Single. Instant.
That’s something I believe in. That’s something I’ve seen.
My experience tells me that I am conscious. Aware of my self, I gaze out into the world and I act and react and learn and experiment.
And I don’t make leaps of faith, but there may just be one I can reach for. All the other things I see walking around and looking alive? They have that same sense of self.
We are all the same.
Enlightenment consists only of really knowing what makes you feel like you, and realizing that other people feel much the same way about themselves.
We are all the same, and each instant of empathy teaches us or tries to teach us: we may as well be each other.
In a previous life. I was me. And you. And all of us.
Illustration by Henry including AUDIODOODLE: