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.

CoteDAzur Wed 12-Sep-12 21:52:24

If it is an "impersonal transition", how is it still me who is reincarnated? I'm not arguing, just curious about what that phrase really means.

RedMolly Wed 12-Sep-12 22:50:24

That is one of the things i'm wondering about. If the personality/experiences are not retained but the soul/atman is reincarnated with associated karmic debt, then the person housing that soul the next time round is paying for actions that they were not responsible for/has no knowledge of.

This seems to be what most of the eastern traditions say - i'm hoping someone who believes this can explain how they think it works.

RedMolly Fri 14-Sep-12 16:00:20

Just me wrestling with this one then? Was hoping there would be some Buddhists, Hindus or other spiritual types out there who had thought about this.

CoteDAzur Fri 14-Sep-12 16:38:34

Fwiw, I'm not wrestling with it at all. Reincarnation assumes:

(1) We come back after death in new bodies
(2) We don't remember anything of our previous lives

... which to me means that the whole concept of reincarnation is meaningless, for I am not me without my memories and you are not you without yours. That is, our character is defined and forged by what we have lived and how we have lived them. If we don't remember our experiences and we are not in the same body, how can we say that we are the same people as before?

IndigoBarbie Fri 14-Sep-12 20:09:56

Hi RedMolly, When you say the 'person' housing that soul the next time round, what do you mean by that?

IMO we choose our bodies, we come back to experience mostly what we have already agreed on a soul level with others in our soul group.

Have you ever been for a past life regression before? This might help you answer your own questions smile

CoteDAzur Fri 14-Sep-12 20:18:37

"what we have already agreed on a soul level with others in our soul group"

We... what?

RedMolly Fri 14-Sep-12 20:41:45

Cote - i agree. Buddha taught that all that is physical, including the personality ceases to be on death, so what is left? The soul would be no more than the mileage recorder on my car, recording my karmic balance. The new person may be housing the recorder but have no knowledge as to why they were having a crap time as any memories of their actions from a previous life would have ceased on death. Doesn't seem very fair. I feel a bit of an idiot that this has only dawned on me fairly recently! I hope one or two Buddhists here on mn might shed some light.

Indigo Barbie - i think you are coming from the second position in my op. When we die we retain our personalities and memories and have input into what our next life experiences will be. Have i got you right?

Soul groups i don't know much about - could you expand?

I'd like to know if possible where this view on reincarnation originated as you don't come across it in the traditional faiths that have reincarnation at their core. I've come across it mostly from a neopagan viewpoint, but have never got to the bottom of its origins.

IndigoBarbie Fri 14-Sep-12 20:52:16

Cote - That statement has been one of the hardest even for me to accept, however- I have experienced a few past life regressions, and life between lifes regression and I learned some of the reasons I chose to have particular experiences with certain people in my life. This was extremely eye-opening, and very humbling too.

Red - I speak only from my own experiences, I don't have any religious attachments. Yes, you have got me right - this is what I meant. My view originated from me having dreams of choosing my parents and other such flying dreams. I was drawn to find out about what this could mean, I then discovered a book by a psychiatrist Dr Michael Newton who realised that when he took people back to the 'root' of their problems, he was taking them further back than birth in this life....Also, he spoke about soul groups. When I experienced my regression and I went up into the heaven space I was presented with 10 people who are in my life as me right now. But, I had just been through my last life's death and some of those people had been in my past life too. Therefore, I firstly saw them as who they are in my life now - but could also see them as who I had seen them as in my life that I'd just come from, if this makes sense.
It can be a difficult thing to explain, but it was an interesting experience, and it has expanded my love and view on humanity.

CoteDAzur Sat 15-Sep-12 09:18:53

Correct me if I'm wrong, but "past life regression" is basically suggestive questions under hypnosis. Worse, it is based on the wrong assumption that memory is an exact recording of past events, whereas we now know that memories are reconstructed at every remembrance (which is why eyewitness accounts are unreliable, memories fade & become more tolerable, and trauma therapy involves debriefing in a safe environment).

I find it interesting that you claim the same people around you now were also around you in your "past lives". So how does that work on a practical scale, for billions of people? How does everyone's friends and family get placed around them at every reincarnation?

RedMolly Sat 15-Sep-12 16:51:30

I was wondering that too, given that we all have different lifespans. I also wondered - do you believe that your soul group always reincarnate in the same sort of roles or is it fluid? I find the concept that my son could be my father or husband in another life profoundly disturbing, but i don't know enough about it to understand what you're saying.

I've read Brian Weiss, but i haven't read Michael Newton's book. I may give that a go. Have to say, i have had a past life regression. At the time it was quite a profound experience, but i was not convinced i was experiencing anything other than my brain working through some issues in this life, and i do feel that i was being led by the hypnotherapist. I have to agree that memory even in this life is very unreliable (can't even agree with my mother on stuff that happened in the last year!) I had nothing in my regression to suggest life between lives and what that may be like.

To what extent would you say that the person you are now is the person (or at least soul) you are inbetween lives? Since your personality can change, as a result of brain injury for example, does that amended personality become part of your 'true' self, or do you revert back to type? I'm confused as to how the 'brain' you is retained as the 'soul' you, iyswim, when the brain parts cease on death. If you ask 'who am i?' and try to get behind the brain, the ego, environment, etc - how much of the you that is left is you that is recognised as an individual?

Sorry for all the questions and my inarticulate way of putting them.

IndigoBarbie Sun 16-Sep-12 10:12:14

Cote - The only suggestive question I was given whilst under hypnosis was - And then what happened? Or, can you describe what you are experiencing now? There were never any leading questions or anything else that would suggest that what I was experiencing was as a result of what the practitioner said to me. I have full recordings of my experiences, and I was fully aware when I was under hypnosis. I'd recommend a practitioner for you, if you were interested for yourself? Each person I am sure would experience something different, but if it's meaningful to the person then I view that as positive. I have no idea of the mechanisms relating to the re/incarnation process, only that this is what I feel to be true. I'm not sure what you mean about the practical level for billions of people? Why wouldn't it be practical? Again, I have no idea. I don't have all the answers for everyone, only what I experienced.

Red- I don't think we all reincarnate in the same types of roles, but then again I don't really know. In one of the past lives I went back to - my son in that life was my father, and I learned that there were profound reasons for us to choose these roles - as in, specific learnings/experiences for that particular lifetime. This allowed me to realise that as others are my teachers (facilitating specific outcomes via emotional response, their own thoughts and freewill etc), I too must be a teacher for someone else? I saw these souls as energies, or souls - so a level above who they convey themselves to be in my current life.
I chose to undergo the life between lives session, this is slightly different and longer from the past life regressions - only because the intention is set to focus on this current lifetime. Although I gleaned a lot of information about "this time round", I saw myself having a choice of body, whether I would choose a male or female body, and the reasons why I decided upon what I chose.
In relation to the who am I, I don't know either. The way I think about it is that each of us are playing out a role, and somehow personality must reckon in there. Therefore - those who we find arrogant etc, these are human traits, and not necessarily ones which as a 'soul' we would even bother with. I believe that at a soul level there is a complete 'love' essence, and that human emotion doesn't factor into it. Or, is emotion a physically defined attribute - something we 'feel' with our bodies, and is affectable by others? I think that when we choose to come back into human bodies, we accept that there are some character traits that we convey as humans. Perhaps by conveying certain attitudes and emotions we use these as the mechanisms to create the experience levels for our learning, and the knock on effect of our attitudes creates experiences for others? However, I'd still like to think that the 'me' part of me, is still 'me' if that makes sense, without my brain?

RedMolly Sun 16-Sep-12 16:26:18

Here's how i did see it, using a borrowed analogy. We are all waves on the ocean. While we are a wave we can see other waves and see ourselves in the same way. Most of a wave is the bit you can't see, the bit under the water. We are therefore all part of the same ocean. So, our soul is part of a greater universal soul, that experiences itself through life and then returns to the source, before becoming another wave. In this way, personality as we understand it would be a physical construct. Our true selves could be understood through stillness and meditation as a way of overcoming the individual ego.

That was fine until i became a mum. It has really challenged my belief in reincarnation in this form. You could argue that comes from my fear of my individual connection to my child being only a construct of this life (and would be right), but i just feel, deeply, that there is more to it than that. I 'knew' him as soon as he was born, as did my dp (who is the most un-woo person you could imagine). This is why i am interested in what you say IB, but the problem for me is that regression as a source of information isn't one i have much confidence in.

IndigoBarbie Sun 16-Sep-12 19:54:04

Red, that is beautiful what you have said. I know exactly where you are coming from with the knowing your son smile I knew mine too, I feel.

Anyway, I think the whole thing about the reincarnation thing is this: It might be one of the secrets of the universe - but, does it really matter? We are here in our lives right now, we should make the most of what we have, when we have it - no matter what else may lie ahead or what has gone before.

I wholly believe that the most purest form/source of information that any of us could ever tap into is ourselves. Go with what your heart says - at every turn. It always knows what is best for you, and leads you to happiness when you listen. More often than not, we are taught not to heed our bodies sensations - but these are the very radar that we should be using smile

CoteDAzur Sun 16-Sep-12 20:38:23

"I'm not sure what you mean about the practical level for billions of people? Why wouldn't it be practical? Again, I have no idea."

Really? It's simple enough: Given that everyone has different life spans and loads of people move to different cities/countries/continents how do groups of people get rejuvenated together and in the same place over and over?

I was born in Country A. DH was born in Country B. We met in Country C, which is where we live now. Where is his "soul group" and where is mine? My brother was born in Country A (with me). His DW was born in Country D, now they live together in Country E. Where are their "soul groups"?

Even for people who live all their lives where they were born (staying with their "soul groups"), doesn't that mean some 10 people or whatever need to be born at the same time at the same place over and over? How does that work for everybody, given that your friends all have their friends & family, and therefore other people in their "soul group"?

CoteDAzur Sun 16-Sep-12 20:46:46

"the problem for me is that regression as a source of information isn't one i have much confidence in"

It can't be. People under hypnosis are very suggestible. Even saying "Go back to your birth, now go back further" is a suggestion. People under hypnosis are known to confabulate. Hypnosis is like a dream state and our brains make up stories in this state, as we all know.

Not everybody who goes through past life regression comes out of it with a story of a past life. Many people don't "remember" any past life. In fact, it was demonstrated that the single most important determinant of the "success" of PLR is the subject's belief in reincarnation - i.e. if you don't already believe in reincarnation, it is highly unlikely that you will not "remember" anything about a past life.

What do you think this means?

IndigoBarbie Sun 16-Sep-12 20:46:55

Oh right, sorry. Well, I know that not all of my soul group are here right now, with me. One of them includes my Dad who is no longer on earth. One of them includes my son, who is here - but he's only 2.5 years. Maybe he was having another life while I was younger, or maybe he stayed as a soul waiting for the right time to come in.
I really, don't know :S Again, this is going with what I feel.
I do know though (I think) - that there are close knit soul groups of say 10/12 souls? and other expanded groups. So, therefore - you and I may be in an expanded group where you decided to come online and chat about this very subject?
Yes, I see what you are saying, If each of us have 12 souls in our 'group' I also believe that of those 12 souls, they have their own 11 other souls to make up 'their' soul group. I wish I could draw it........Multi-directional.
Which is true to what I have foudn out about a friend of mine. He is in my primary soul group, as am I in his, but his family in this life are not in mine.
I don't think soul groups all come into the same country or time - I believe that during the course of our lives we come into contact with the primary close knit soul group.

IndigoBarbie Sun 16-Sep-12 20:50:33

Cote, you raise good points.
I do know that I seem to have had very detailed past life recollection/memories (whatever it actually is), and yet a friend who is not a believer had a good regression too. However, I do know that it can be hard to accept what you are seeing.
The most striking thing about my experiences was the emotion that I felt, this made it real for me. Very real. My whole body was shaking with fear during one life-scene, and that I couldn't fake, even by being suggested to. This was very real and very very vivid (if that's a word I can use to describe the sensation :S)

CoteDAzur Sun 16-Sep-12 21:14:35

Where do you think that you house these "memories", considering that they predate your brain?

Silibilimili Sun 16-Sep-12 21:25:19

red, to me, I am not sure about the reincarnation bit but do believe that karma is now, in this life. It all happens in this one life. Eastern philosophy also argues this some what. No hard and fast rule in belief in this.
In Hinduism, I believe the reincarnation thing was all made up. It all looks/reads out of sync with the rest of the Gita which is a lot about here and now.

IndigoBarbie Sun 16-Sep-12 22:00:43

I believe these memories are held in my soul. Which, in itself sounds a bit mad, but I still believe that.

CoteDAzur Sun 16-Sep-12 22:03:35

If memories are held in souls, how come people have partial amnesia when a certain part of their brain is damaged?

Japple Mon 17-Sep-12 05:54:11

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

CheerfulYank Mon 17-Sep-12 06:01:17

I'm a Christian, so I don't really believe in it, I guess...and yet I do.

I remember a past life. I become less and less sure of it the older I get, but...

KnickersNotPanties Mon 17-Sep-12 06:08:23

I think that we life this life in pursuit of positive Karma to ensure that however we come back in the next life we come back as well as we possibly can if that makes sense.

So in this life we live well to ensure we don't reincarnante as a lesser being. It's immaterial after death what you did in this life, you can't take it with you. You can begin again on a slightly more even playing field if you live this life well though.

KnickersNotPanties Mon 17-Sep-12 06:09:41

I don't believe that memories are held in souls. I believe that memories shape the soul but are not retained.

nameuschangeus Mon 17-Sep-12 06:14:07

I believe in reincarnation but my belief is not linked to any particular religion, just in the belief that there is more than one time for us in the world.
I believe that your soul or personality returns, so someone or something will return with your character and understanding of the world. I don't believe that that being will remember they were once you, but they will have understanding and experience they gained whilst inside your body.

I can't make my mind up about reincarnation, I do find a lot of the evidence extremely convincing, but way gets me is what's the actual point??

We can't ever know for definite if we lived before or that we will ever live again, coupled with the fact that if we did live before we very very rarely remember anything about it.....I guess what I'm trying to say is, what's the difference between reincarnation and oblivion? I don't understand how it can be a comfort to anyone, given that we will never have my definitive recollection of it.

Any* definitive recollection, rather!

RedMolly Mon 17-Sep-12 16:25:20

Thanks for all the responses. A few things:

IB - i'm glad you understood what i meant about ds. I've only discussed it a few times in rl and just got hmm! I agree that the answers are within rather than 'out there'. I'm very commited to yoga and meditation practice, but i'm no longer clear on what i'm connecting with - whether the soul is completely identified with a world soul or still retains some differentiation that makes it 'me'. I want to believe that we retain some seperateness, i really do, but then i think maybe i'm just failing to master my ego.

Cote - re suggestion with regression. That is exactly what i meant about feeling led. I wasn't led in a 'you are now entering a magnificent castle' kind of a way, but by being asked 'what are you seeing now' i (and i'm sure most people) felt compelled to see something, to do it right. There was one point when i was asked to go to the moment of my death and look down and describe what i was seeing. What i came up with was quite startling and traumatic, but i'm pretty sure it was my brain trying to construct a story and give it meaning, rather than any kind of memory.

SBM - interesting what you say about reincarnation being an add-on to Hinduism. In Taoism as well (not that i pretend to understand it) there's very little suggestion of reincarnation or anything about life after death in the Tao Te Ching - it seems to be added later on. Buddhism of course does include it, but probably because its roots are in Hinduism.

TapDP - i suppose there's two ways (probably more) of looking at it:

1) We may not be able to recall our past lives but karma determines where we are in this life, so in that sense we do have an idea if we led good or bad lives previously. We can then determine the outcome of the next one by our actions in this life.

2) We only see the bigger picture when we are between lives - our spiritual selves, and then decide ourselves what we need to experience, much like IB has been saying (whether or not you believe in regression).

I suppose for 1) you need to accept that the universe has a moral or law-giving dimension to dispense karma, whereas with 2) you need to believe that your personal self survives and makes its own decisions.

suburbophobe Mon 17-Sep-12 16:35:58

I believe in reincarnation cos life doesn't make sense otherwise (to me). I think we need (chose) to go through many different experiences and lives in order to develop spiritually.

Will go back and read the replies but just wanted to put in this link:


Japple Mon 17-Sep-12 17:17:49

Dear "CheerfulYank". It is a very Real blessing that you can Remember some
Events from a "Past". but...here's the Rub; "Time" doesn't Exist.Time is NOT
a linear Thing.The Past-as You can remember it, may just Not Be "This" Time-
On This particular Diminsion.And. Oh,yes-these Diminsions are beyond Count-
Ing...Beyond our Ken.What you "remember"is Very Real, but perhaps not in
THIS earth existence.Learn to Trust yourself and your beliefs.Do Not "Label"
yourself as a "Christian". Not Necessary...and you are placing yourself in a
Pigeon-Hole...subject to All sorts of "Earthly" Ridicule.Be True to youself.Be
True to your God.He Knows your Heart.If He is For you...No one Can be
against you. Jill.

CheerfulYank Mon 17-Sep-12 19:36:55

Thanks, Japple. I am Native as well (a teeny, teeny bit Blackfoot) but have live in Minnesota since I was a little girl in an area greatly influenced by the Anishinaabe people.

CheerfulYank Mon 17-Sep-12 19:39:55

When I was very little I would ask my mom what my name was before, and tell her I was starting to forget it. She would say "Oh silly, it's always been Cheerful", and I would tell her, "no before ." I used to tell her that my fingers hurt when I was old, and that we were hungry but didn't mind so much. And when I was 19 and saw the ocean for the first time I remembered the smell.

IndigoBarbie Mon 17-Sep-12 21:17:52

Hey all smile
Cote - smile I think because the soul energy is different from the brain, as in - eternal. So, when we are 'in a body' we are almost limited by the physical i.e if there has been some kind of injury or illness etc that may impair the physical - the soul is still intact...
Red - smile I think we probably connect with our own soul in meditation, our higher selves - the real 'us' and although we may be part of a bigger oneness, we still have the 'us' part of it. Therefore, all raindrops in the big cloud? smile
suburbo- love it! Haven't read it all yet, but very very interesting smile
Japple - smile I agree with what you have said, and I know that I am omni-present and multi-dimensional. I also know that time, does not really exist - and I know that everything that ever happens, or will ever happen is in this very moment. smile I have experiences from my simultaneous lives, where I believe a certain amount of my soul energy has been allocated to those 'dimensions'.
Cheerful- smile This is wonderful, your memories smile
With love xxx

CoteDAzur Tue 18-Sep-12 08:52:12

All that is great (as fantasy smile) but if "memories" of a past life aren't in the brain and they aren't in the soul, where do you think you find them during "past life regression"?

CoteDAzur Tue 18-Sep-12 08:55:49

Re "decide what we need to experience" - Are you saying that children horrifically murdered by pedophile serial killers wanted that experience "in between lives"?

RedMolly Tue 18-Sep-12 12:15:49

I don't think that is what is implied, Cote.

You could interpret it as karma playing itself out. So, if someone was the perpetrator of a heinous crime in their last life they become the victim in the next. Personally, i would find this quite abhorrent, as no doubt would the parents of any child who has suffered. Here's quite an interesting extract from Mark Albrecht’s book Reincarnation (i need to learn how to link!):

1) The person of Hitler ceased to exist at the moment of his physical death. Only the impersonal self will reincarnate, accompanied by its karmic deposit. However, there is no continuity between the person of Hitler and that of the individual who has to endure the hardships imposed by Hitler’s karma. The newborn person doesn’t know that he has to work out Hitler’s karma. After the cruel life and death of this person, other millions of reincarnations will succeed with the same tragic destiny. The most intriguing fact is that the person of Hitler, the only one who should have endured at physical and psychical level the results of his deeds, was dissolved at physical death, while other persons, totally unaware of this situation and innocent, have to work out his bad karma.

2) As a result of the hardships that have to be endured by the new incarnations of Hitler, it is almost certain that they will react with indignation instead of resignation to their situation, and thus will accumulate a growing karmic debt. Each new reincarnation of Hitler becomes a source of newly acquired karma, initiating a new chain of individuals who have to endure the consequences. Hitler himself was the one that had karmic debts to pay. Whoever he had been in a previous life, he made his karma a lot worse during the years of The Third Reich. Therefore, instead of solving the puzzle of global justice, the problem worsened. Starting with a single individual such as Hitler, we reach a huge number of persons who pay his karma and accumulate a new one. And this is just one case in human history. An attempt to imagine what happens at a larger human scale would reveal a catastrophe that could never be solved.

You do not need to see everything that happens as predetermined - i certainly don't believe that it is. Bad people will do bad things, regardless of what plan an individual (victim or perpetrator) may have come up with while discarnate. We are also part of the natural world and vulnerable to illness and accident like any other lifeform - i don't think someone contracting a life limiting illness is any way pre-ordained. I think if karma exists then it is not an invitation to sit back and leave it to fate, but an opportunity to live the best you can to ensure a better outcome next time round, to make the best of the cards you have been dealt.

Most people (away from here anyway!) don't go around gazing at their navels. If it is possible to connect to your soul then it is still a very difficult thing to do, certainly to the extent where you can discover what your life plan is (assuming for a minute that there is one). So, most of us will have no idea what our plans are. I'm pretty sure my plan was to be running the V&A and married to Rufus Sewell - but here i am in a rural backwater living with a hairy biker (not one of THOSE hairy bikers!). I kind of think if it is so hard to discover your plan then we are probably not meant to know what it is, and are just meant to live the best lives we can, doing the most good and the least harm. I could accept that those closest to you have a deeper spiritual connection and are there to help you (or maybe challenge you a bit), and you them, but i could never see it as a 'tell you what, i'm going to develop a terminal disease so you get the chance to be compassionate' kind of a plan.

CoteDAzur Wed 19-Sep-12 08:04:30

I was replying to Indigo who said: "we choose our bodies, we come back to experience mostly what we have already agreed on a soul level with others in our soul group" which is NOT karma.

So my question to her stands: Does this mean that children who were raped and killed by sadistic pedophiles actually chose to have this happened to them, agreeing to it with others in their "soul group"?

If you really believe this, what are the implications? If victims are willing participants, what does this mean for our justice system?

Jacinda Mon 24-Sep-12 18:41:29

I'd like to believe that each live is an opportunity to learn and better ourselves. Some lives are more of a challenge, but the idea that people who suffer somehow deserve it is dreadful. It's behind the worst atrocities that ever happened. I have no idea why people 'choose' abusive families and difficult lives - maybe their choice is limited or they need this experience to learn or teach someone.

It seems that the next life is similar to the previous one rather than being a " punishment" or a "reward" and we often make the same mistakes - until we learn not to make them again, hopefully. I love the idea of "soul groups", but as with any other group they are probably fluid - we can join or leave them. My husband is the only person I feel weirdly connected to - exactly as if I met him before. Maybe "soul groups" are the reason why people always feel close to the places they grew up in and their families, even if they cut ties decades ago.

Jacinda Mon 24-Sep-12 18:41:53

each life that is

downindorset Wed 26-Sep-12 21:14:43

I think my viewpoint (for want of a better word) is closest to RedMolly's. I too have done a lot of yoga and meditation practice - it's been almost daily for some years now. As time has gone on, I feel I "know" less but I also care less about how much I know.

Practice has given me the ability to differentiate between the mind (the talking part in your head) and the "other" part of myself which some people call the watcher. The watcher can be thought of as that part of the self that is eternal and ultimately perfect.

What's interesting is how much I identify with the mind on a day to day basis rather than with the watcher. It's very easy to think that these thoughts ("ooh, I must do that, she's wearing a funny dress, what is that move he's pulling etc etc") are actually me when in fact they are generated by this life's experiences. The watcher is "me" but most of the time it is obscured by the mind. The practice allows the mind to be still long enough to catch glimpses of the watcher and over time, those glimpses increase until it becomes easier to access. Although "catch glimpses" is really the wrong way to put it... more... the mind is still long enough to feel the existence of the watcher.

Yoga is a philosophy that assumes that all your life experiences are stored in your body. From practice I can say with some certainty that this is true. Through practice I have re-experienced and let go of a lot of "stuff", mostly long held emotions but also habits and ways of acting - parts of my personality that do me more harm than good. There is still a long way to go and it is an ongoing process, which yogic philosophy says takes many lifetimes.

Yogic philosophy might also say that the fact that I have been attracted to certain practices in this lifetime means that I began those practices in a previous lifetime. I have no idea whether this is true! I can tell you that I have been interested in religion and spirituality since I was little, I have no idea why. I also used to stand on my head for long periods and watch the TV for no other reason than I felt drawn to do it. I had a million distractions and went off the rails numerous times but somehow I always come back to it until now I've been almost forced to accept that I will always do it and that it is what I do.

Bad things have happened to me and I've had some very distressing and difficult periods but I can say without exception that I have learnt from each one, even if the only thing learnt has been how better to accept what I cannot change. I've also done some bad things and am highly aware of how much I still have to learn.

I don't know what, if anything passes through when you die but I can tell you that the mind is the part of you that is affected by the physical but there is another part of you that is not. So perhaps that is the part that continues to exist.

Salbertina Sat 29-Sep-12 11:03:28

Dorset- that's rather profound. I'm exploring Buddhism at the moment. Not a believer in reincarnation as such though.
I liked your refs to the perfect watcher- that embodies the Buddhist view of the perfect being as opposed to the traditional cultural/Christian view with which we're brought up of us souls tainted by original sin

Salbertina Sat 29-Sep-12 11:11:10

<< sorry for hijack, but anyone up for discussing/explaining the dharma? Seen v v little on here and am surprised...>>

meerkate Sun 07-Oct-12 13:44:23

Hi girls! I love this thread - the sort of subjects that fascinate me and continually make me wonder. I am a Buddhist of sorts - that is, I've immersed myself in Buddhist books for the last few years after a classic mid-life crisis, and became one officially last year - but I also find much comfort in the Quaker approach, and live in an area where there are Quaker meetings but nothing on the Buddhist front at all, so I guess I feel like I have a foot in both camps. That said, I mainly just do my own thing - yoga, meditation, and immersion in books of all kinds on these topics. I've read Michael Newton and was deeply intrigued, but feel like I can't know whether he's on to The Truth(!) or not - I do feel reincarnation is probably what happens, but I don't feel qualified to say that I 'know' this for a fact. I'm just bookmarking my place here, as can't write much more right now, but it's lovely to 'meet' you all! Back soon smile

meerkate Sun 07-Oct-12 13:46:33

PS Dorset I completely identify with all you said re the observer vs the busy 'monkey-mind'. Mindfulness approaches have been so helpful for me in recent years. You're not so far from Gaia House in Devon - ever been there?

Kellyl26 Mon 08-Oct-12 21:22:52

I think our memories etc don't make up our true selves our true self is that which observes eg observes our thoughts, it has been said that descartes only had half the picture when he said 'I think therefore I am' what is should be is 'I see that I think therefore I am' you are not your thoughts. Identification with things that happen to us and what we do is just ego and not the true self, not our spirit and it is that which goes on.

GlassofRose Sun 14-Oct-12 00:30:06

Mark Albrecht's theory sounds rather unfair. If you become indebted with bad karma in one life, you carry it to your next totally unaware so totally unable to figure what the problem is confused

"An attempt to imagine what happens at a larger human scale would reveal a catastrophe that could never be solved." <<< This. Surely inheriting bad karma without knowledge would just result in us all steadily becoming awful. After all nobody is perfect.

I don't understand the theory of living again and again a fresh slate/without any memory. What is the point of living again and again and not remembering it? Wouldn't that make us a soap opera.

Hearing other people talk of their past lives makes me unable to dismiss the idea, especially when these claims are made by young children.

Would also like to hear the response to that question Cote put forward

RedMolly Sun 14-Oct-12 09:57:18

Glad to see this thread is still ticking over.

Re Mark Albrecht's theory - it is one of the things that has made me question the impersonal reincarnation theory. There really is no justice in it, which i think is the point he is making. I think Buddha used an example of reincarnation being like a flame being passed from candle to candle, so it is difficult to think of the flame of the final candle being in any way the original flame. His view of karma if i understand correctly was that it is a product of the causal connectedness of life, without the transmission of any spiritual substance of any sort. I guess the point of it would be that your actions in one life fix your circumstances in your next life, and it does not require any actual memory of a previous existence. Not saying i agree with this anymore btw - i have moved more to an inclination that we do retain some seperateness.

Re past life recall in children, i've read some of Ian Stevenson's stuff on this and found it really compelling. There are some criticisms of his methodology so i don't think it can constitute proof as such, though on one skeptic site the best alternative explanation they could come up with was posession!

I still haven't read the Michael Newton book - suspect it might not convince me. I reread the Brian Weiss book after starting this thread (though it deals with past life regression rather than life between lives). It has now gone to the charity shop. Just one example of the sort of stuff recalled during the subject's regression - she was in a place called Hamstead, apparently a sea port in Wales, where they were talking British!!!

GlassofRose Sun 14-Oct-12 18:07:40

I can see why you moved away from it. I don't understand how the harm caused by others has anything to do with karma indebted to you from another life. Look at September 11th. There is no way that all of those people in the twin towers earned that in Karma.

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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