If you believe in reincarnation

(71 Posts)
RedMolly Wed 12-Sep-12 16:03:13

Would you mind sharing how you see it? I'm especially interested in whether you see it is an impersonal transition or whether you believe that we retain our individual self? I used to believe the former but lately have been having a rethink. Would love to hear what others believe.

RedMolly Sun 14-Oct-12 22:20:29

Personally, i find karma harder to get my head around than reincarnation. The mechanism required for it to operate baffles me. I think (for Buddhists at least) karma does not necessarily replace free will. Karma plays a part in determining the present and may influence the will but does not control it. This could mean in the case of the victims of September 11th their personal karma had nothing to do with what befell them - that was the consequence of the actions taken by the perpetrators, who will pay their dues in their next lives until their debt is repaid, if it ever can be. The victims personal karma may have manifested in terms of the kind of family they were raised in or similar, but their deaths were simply the result of bad people doing bad things, not something pre-ordained.

GlassofRose Sun 14-Oct-12 22:45:02

I suppose it is Karma that I find hard to get my head round too.

It just seems odd that we're punished with bad karma yet perfectly good people can fall victim to other peoples decision to do bad.

Also, may "bad" people have good karma. confused totally boggles me

inaworldofmyown Mon 15-Oct-12 17:45:01

I'm 54 years old and can remember being in the womb. I have known this since I was a child. I also 'remember' being in between lives and being told by someone that it was time for me to go 'back' and live another life. I have no answers to this. It is just something I have always known.

CoteDAzur Wed 17-Oct-12 18:35:26

"our memories etc don't make up our true selves our true self is that which observes eg observes our thoughts"

Don't you then think that the observer (i.e. the conscious person that you are) changes with each major thing that happens to him? That is, we change and grow with what we see and do through the course of our lives.

If you agree: "Observer" changes with events in one's life. Therefore, our memories in a way make up/grow/change our true selves... and reincarnation is pointless because what is reincarnated isn't "me" if I can't remember past experiences.

If you don't agree: "Observer" doesn't change with events in one's life. Therefore, what we experience in one life doesn't change our true selves... and reincarnation is pointless because it doesn't help an "observer" grow/change into a better/higher one.

This really trips up reincarnation believers imho smile

Scaredbutdoingit Wed 17-Oct-12 20:35:24

I'm not sure I believe in any afterlife at all, but if I was going to, it would be reincarnation.

Within that belief system, I would say that the 'Observer' is our true self, and the only part of us that survives death.

I would also say that the Observer does indeed change with life events, but in a very slow, indirect way... kind of a process of maturity through gained wisdom and experience.

As we die, and then come back in another life, what makes most sense to me is that all of our specific memories of that single identity are lost, but that we keep the wisdom that we gained from living that life, learning those lessons, and that we move on to new lessons in a new life.

If you think about it, there is actually very little of our lives that we remember even within this life. We think we do, but what we actually remember are major events, or fond memories, or things that were very repetitive (like the way Aunty Jo always gave you a caramel sweet.

Lost in the fog of our brains are the countless days all through toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence and beyond where we just got up and did everyday things. We also forget a huge percentage of our dreams.

Despite all of this forgetting, we retain a sense of self, and we retain a sense of learning and maturing. Even people with certain types of amnesia, who remember nothing about their own identity, seem to still have a certain wisdom that they have gained through their life experience, and almost always remember how to do certain things (that they learned previously).

So, I would say that if we do reincarnate, we would still very much have a sense of being ourselves, and even a wiser and more mature version of ourselves, but with a clean slate to paint a new life upon.

Scaredbutdoingit Wed 17-Oct-12 20:42:49

Oh, and just to really complicate things grin, I don't believe that reincarnation (if it exists) is linear in the sense that our time is.

Which means (in my mind), that you could reincarnate into the past, the future, or even the present.

Which means you could literally bump into another reincarnated version of yourself in this life.

I believe that if reincarnation were real, then our whole true selves exist outside of time (a 4d being), and that our manifestation into 3d, linear-time living means we are like a branch sprouting from a tree. When we die, the branch gets reabsorbed back into the tree.

CoteDAzur Wed 17-Oct-12 21:21:16

"all of our specific memories of that single identity are lost, but that we keep the wisdom that we gained from living that life"

HOW exactly do you keep the wisdom if you are not keeping the memories that provide you with that wisdom?

If I have learned to be more tolerant of people because several times in my life I have seen someone do a bad thing but then understood the circumstances that made him do it, HOW can I keep that tolerance WITHOUT the memories of what I have seen of these circumstances?

If I have learned to be cautious in business because so many people have tried to trick or backstab me, HOW can I keep this wisdom WITHOUT the bitter experiences of deceit?

Scaredbutdoingit Wed 17-Oct-12 22:10:48

I just believe its possible CoteDAzur, I think that our experiences change us (the real us) in a permanent way that remains with or without our memories.

I guess I think of it a bit like a tree... the way the trunk and branches grow influenced by the winds and sunshine at the time they grew. The tree does not have to have any memory of those things happening, but it was altered by those things happening permanently. This obviously isn't a perfect analogy, but I'm trying to kind of point you in the direction of the way I conceive of it.

I believe it is possible for us to have a sense of balance/wisdom that we retain, without necessarily remembering how we actually gained it. Some people would say this kind of wisdom is evident in a lot of very young children who've hardly had any life experiences yet (often referred to as old souls).

CoteDAzur Wed 17-Oct-12 22:26:54

Put aside the "I just believe it" for a minute and think about what I have said.

A tree is a plant without a brain. It doesn't know anything about anything. We are human beings. And in human beings, character and memory are inextricably linked. Severe amnesia quite often brings about a change in character. WHY would that be, if the real you is independent of your memories?

Scaredbutdoingit Wed 17-Oct-12 23:19:26

CoteDAzur I can assure you that I do in fact think quite carefully about the things I state, and the way in which I respond.

The fact that you pointed out the flaws in my analogy just shows me that you really didn't get the point I was trying to make (which I do not blame you for by the way). I stated myself that it was a flawed analogy, but one which I hoped would serve as a kind of pointer.

Yes, amnesia does bring about a change in character, as do different brain injuries. But I am not talking about character, I am talking about something much more vague... wisdom.

I believe experiences actually create a kind of 'imprint' if you will, on who we are, our real selves (the mind not the brain). The memories were the vehicle for that to happen, but the memories do not have to remain for the imprint to remain (because I believe the imprint itself is permanent).

GossipWitch Wed 17-Oct-12 23:30:15

I heard this story once, I think its a pagan children's story, and I like it, basically when we die our souls go to the summerlands, after were done recuperating at the summerland we go into a huge pot/cauldron then a goddess/witch (cant remember name brain is frazzled tonight) stir's up yours and everyone else's souls and mixes them them up and makes them great, then hands them out all mixed up to make brand new individual people.

CoteDAzur Thu 18-Oct-12 12:47:00

" I do in fact think quite carefully about the things I state, and the way in which I respond"

So why did you respond to my post re inextricable link between the person/personality/"the real you" and memories with... "I just believe its possible CoteDAzur"?

I just wrote in a rather detailed way why I think it is not possible to forget all experiences and stay the person you had become with those experiences. If you have thought carefully about all this, why don't you answer that post with something other than "I just believe"?

Scaredbutdoingit Thu 18-Oct-12 13:37:54

To be quite honest, its because I don't like getting into debates where it appears the other person is intent on getting their view across, and enjoying the 'attack' so to speak, rather than actually looking for any kind of mutual enjoyable exchange.

I'm quite willing to accept I may have made the wrong interpretation of your intent, but as it is essentially my time and energy to spend, its also my call to make.

I am under no compulsion to explain anything to you, and whilst I do in fact have very detailed reasons and thought processes behind the things I 'just believe', I am not inclined to share them with people who simply command me to, or who tell me rather patronisingly to think.

Truthfully, I'd quite like to engage in a debate with you, but not on the behavioural terms you have been approaching me with thus far.

CoteDAzur Thu 18-Oct-12 13:42:13

I'm sorry if you feel attacked. That is definitely not the case. Unless you define "attack" as "questioning apparently unfounded beliefs", in which case the Philosophy board in particular and even MN in general might not be for you.

I have been taking the time to write to you several posts in which I detailed my reasoning. In reply, I got "I just believe".

If you don't want to talk, why are you here?

Scaredbutdoingit Thu 18-Oct-12 13:52:08

Thank you for acknowledging and apologising, I appreciate that.

I can assure you that I am as against unfounded beliefs as you appear to be, hold no religion, and label myself 'agnostic' if asked. So please do not mistake me for someone who has a 'corner to defend', so to speak.

I am also quite aware of the various boards and their purposes, and am fully capable of deciding where I do and do not belong. wink

I 'believe' the things I do through a lifetime of considered thought and experience, and the things I 'believe' change on a constant basis, depending on which new information comes to light.

I essentially use 'believe' as shorthand for the sum of my conclusions based on my reasoning.

In addition, you did not just get 'I just believe' as a response. This was my opening sentence, but I did attempt to elaborate and clarify in the following paragraphs (in the same post).

I am here to talk/engage with people whom I feel will provide an enjoyable exchange. I enjoy challenging debates above all, but only on a friendly/respectful basis, and not when it appears it may descend into hostility or other unpleasantness.

I don't expect agreement in any way shape or form (and very much welcome disagreement), but I do expect civility, and politeness.

CoteDAzur Thu 18-Oct-12 13:54:24

OK... But I'm still not getting what this "considered thought" might be.

Do you really think that "the real you" is independent of your experiences?

Scaredbutdoingit Thu 18-Oct-12 14:00:33

I do not believe that our 'real' selves (by which I mean the Observer) is independent of our experiences.

I do believe it is independent of our brain (although it works through our brain much as we might communicate through a computer).

I also believe it is independent of our current, conscious mind (as in it does not require it for survival), but that it is heavily influenced by the mind.

Note: I use 'brain' and 'mind' to mean two different things.

If you think of the 'Observer' as rather like a ball of clay, then I believe our conscious mind and experiences make 'imprints' on that ball of clay.

These imprints are permanent, and over time essentially slowly change the state of the 'Observer', from immature to mature, and foolish to wise.

I believe that because these imprints are permanent, whatever happens to the brain, and whatever happens to the conscious mind, that loss of memories has no effect on the 'Observer' whatsoever, and (if I were to believe in reincarnation, which I do not quite... yet), death has no effect on it either (although in this case both the brain and the conscious mind are destroyed).

Scaredbutdoingit Thu 18-Oct-12 14:02:16

Substitute all those 'believe' words for 'think' if it makes the post more palatable for you by the way. It is just as suitable a word for what I actually mean. wink

RedMolly Thu 18-Oct-12 20:29:44

If you agree: "Observer" changes with events in one's life. Therefore, our memories in a way make up/grow/change our true selves... and reincarnation is pointless because what is reincarnated isn't "me" if I can't remember past experiences.

This is probably close to the Hindu viewpoint. Memories are retained from past lives but these are stored in your chitta (memory bank) in your unconscious mind. When you are reborn you do not consciously remember your past life. However, the potential to tap into your unconscious and past memories is there, just difficult to reach. Although most people do not remember their past lives, their past traits may be apparent in this life. In this sense it is still 'you', but you living a new life rather than a continuation of the previous one.

If you don't agree: "Observer" doesn't change with events in one's life. Therefore, what we experience in one life doesn't change our true selves... and reincarnation is pointless because it doesn't help an "observer" grow/change into a better/higher one.

This is closer to Buddhism. The transfer of memory and everything connected from one life passes on to another life through karma. There is no retention of memory. In this sense the evidence of growth is in the position one finds oneself in with the new life.

Gossipwitch -are you thinking of Ceridwen's Cauldron? She is usually represented as the godess as crone - all souls return to her cauldron of life, death and rebirth to await reincarnation. Cauldrons have a really interesting history. They were used as sacred items in both Greece and the Celtic world from the late bronze age, as well as being symbols of prestige. Apparantly prisoners of war were sacrificed by having their throats cut over the cauldron. They have also been found in water as votive offerings. I'm digressing!

IndigoBarbie Thu 18-Oct-12 21:30:48

scaredbutdoingit, I like your style smile

I know that reincarnation is not linear. Our true essence, to me it's like a fully multi-dimensional holographical lightspark, and the simulataneous eternity is always, ever now, on all dimensions and vibrations smile

RedMolly Thu 18-Oct-12 21:46:06

I believe that if reincarnation were real, then our whole true selves exist outside of time (a 4d being), and that our manifestation into 3d, linear-time living means we are like a branch sprouting from a tree.

Scared - i kind of get where you are coming from with this. Sometimes in yoga meditation i get lost with where to focus when trying to connect to my true self. Quite recently i have been feeling more and more that the true self is not to be found within the heart, head or any other part of the body, but is elsewhere, and the chakras are like doors that open to that dimension. I suppose if this is true, when we die our soul don't go somewhere else - they are already there, we just sever the connection with the brain and the body.

I have also come round to thinking that our souls are distinct from the source, but are of the same nature, so that we retain our uniqueness while being part of the greater consciousness. I am quite happy to be fluid in my beliefs - i love the thought that tomorrow may bring new insights and ideas that i can't even conceive of today.

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