I occurred to me that I have reincarnated. Many times as a matter of fact.
I can vouch for reincarnation as a definite, and can truly dare anyone to prove me wrong about my complete belief in reincarnation. Yes, I dare you!
Let’s look at the most common definition of the word “reincarnation”
Reincarnation (Source: Merriam-Webster.com)
1. a.the action of reincarnating : the state of being reincarnated
b. rebirth in new bodies or forms of life; especially : a rebirth of a soul in a new human body
2. a fresh embodiment (b : to make concrete and perceptible)
Most of us want to focus on the “rebirth of a soul in a new human body” portion of the definition. I tend to believe in that as well, but since I can’t prove it beyond some personal experiences I have had I don’t tend to make it part of my normal discussions with people. What I’d like to focus on here is the “fresh embodiment” aspect of reincarnation.
I can prove that I have reincarnated many times if I use that definition. That proof is called “life experience” and is something we can easily see if simply willing to take some time to review our life experience and see the magnificent manifestations of reincarnation we have undergone. I’ve compiled a list of “forms” I have seen in my review, and would love to share them here with you now.
The SaplingSource: digitalart
Yes, I was a Sapling, a baby. Now, while most of us tend to think we were nurtured by our parents and grew from them, I suggest that we were nurtured by the universe that manifested Itself as our parents and/or caregivers. Our Soul had an intention when it conceived human form (uh-oh, there I go heading into the unproveable) and the universe provided the “soil for the soul” which we call our culture, our archetypes, our parents and/or our condition. Some of us were born into very fertile soil, others not so much. Still, we were born, and we were like a sapling struggling for life.
In my experience, since we provide the creative force behind our present moment, we also provided the creative force behind which soil we were born into. The difference is that one was chosen by our soul and the other created by our minds.
I believe I was like a Dove when I was a young boy. I loved peace, and loved people. I had a unique compassion andSource: Salvatore Vuono
sensitivity as well as a curiosity about all things. I loved life, loved living and searched for joy wherever I could find it. I explored, I challenged, and I got into more trouble than I care to remember. I loved to make people laugh and feel good about themselves.
So, the Sapling was reincarnated into a Dove. I no longer was completely helpless, yet I was still dependent (as we all are) on my universe for most things. Yet, my mind was forming and being formed. I was experiencing things that would alter my perceptions, change my attitudes, and influence my path.
I faced challenging conditions during this part of my life. I won’t get into too many details right now, but let’s just say that it was time for another reincarnation as my life, and my environment, took yet another turn.
The ChameleonSource: Lavoview
When I was about eight years of age, my mother remarried and we moved. I went from a neighborhood full of kids (and a ton of friends) to a farmhouse on a busy road with few kids and few opportunities for friendship. While I made one of the best friends I have ever had during this time, I felt lonely and completely shell shocked. Add to that the fact that I began experiencing physical and mental abuse at about this time, well you can see the reincarnation experience.
Part of this abusive home life included isolation. I was hardly allowed to play with my new friends (this went on for years) and they were belittled both when present and in private. No one was “good enough” for me to be around, and I was not “good enough” to be around anyone. This isolation and hardship created in me an alter-ego, one that became his surroundings in order to survive the experience. Today, I call that alter-ego the “Chameleon” since he would change his colors to whatever would help him get through the moment.
I began to be unsure of who I was. I felt no love at home and no companionship outside of it. In this phase, you have no choice but to lose sight of who you are because you are never your true self. You are trying, failing, and recreating who you are just to get some feeling of security. When you do this, as I was later to find out, all you do is create conditions by which insecurity and earth-shattering destruction is all but certain.
At some point, I’d say around the age of 15 or so, the Chameleon began getting tired of getting beaten and teased. It was time for me to reincarnate yet again.
In stark contrast to the Dove I was as a young boy, the Ass was born as my mind began to take ownership of my existence. IThe Ass (disappointed?) Source: Paul Martin Eldridge
can remember the first time I stood up to my abuser. I had a bit of blood trickling from the corner of my mouth, and I simply said “hit me again, bitch, and don’t stop until you can’t swing your arms anymore.” It was a liberating thing, and unfortunately my mind associated reactive violence with liberation from fear. It began my journey as the Ass.
I began to work out hard in earnest. I would push my body beyond its limits. I figured that if I could torture my body (and my mind) beyond their limits, no one else would be able to come close. I would deprive myself of food for days while exercising into a frenzy.
I began to lose weight and gain muscle quickly despite my fasting. I was always a strong kid, but I began to not only get stronger, but to realize my own strength. I would goad my abuser into attacking me just so I could prove to myself that I could take physical pain.
I began to want to push my pain tolerance to its limits and beyond. I would do sit ups until I vomited, often getting right up from chucking to punch myself in the gut until I would vomit for good measure. Whatever I did to myself I did to the extreme.
Still, I did not act out in violence to others until I was about 19. I was still the Ass, but the Ass was growing. I was a pacifist kid for the most part; I never wanted anyone to feel the physical or mental anguish I was experiencing. That changed in my 20s.
My first sexual experience was not a good one. I was about 10 days shy of my 14th birthday, and I was taken advantage of by an 18 year old woman. It took me decades to realize that this was abusive, and I learned it by taking a look at my relationships and how I treated women in them.
For nearly a year I was taught how dirty sex was in ways I don’t care to remember. As my mind picked up on the fact that sexual gratification was tantamount to some kind of “happiness” (my mind, at that level, did not know what true happiness was), it began to seek it out everywhere. I was hooked, and most of my relationships in my later teens and 20s were destroyed by this understanding of what “happiness” was. Women were not to be cherished for anything other than the gratification they could provide me.
Yes, that is an Ass.
I had no trust in people at this point, and didn’t want them to trust me either. I played my part well, and played it continuously until the birth of my first daughter in 1994. That moment changed my life (I call it my “first taste of Nirvana”) because I actually felt love for another human being. I walked into that hospital an Ass, and left it truly wanting to change.
Another reincarnation was on its way.
The CaterpillarSource: Academy of Natural Sciences
On that day in April, 1994, my Soul left my body for a bit. I looked at this little girl looking back at me and felt something completely foreign. Imagine feeling so cold that your numb and never realize it until suddenly you sit near a roaring fire. It’s mind-bending to say the least.
Here I was, a tough guy street fighter (and boxer) who trusted no one never shed a tear for anything or anyone, sitting in a rest room at the hospital bawling my eyes out. My head hurt, my eyes were closed with only the vision of my little girl burned into them. I was on my knees, not the place you really want to be in a hospital restroom, just letting go of the emotion of the moment. I sobbed for nearly an hour, and had absolutely nothing left when I was finished. I just wanted to see my daughter.
The Ass was letting go, reincarnating as the Caterpillar. I wasn’t free from my torment, but I was beginning to saw away at the chains. I knew my relationship with her mother was over at that moment. I knew my life was going to change. I knew pain and torment was on its way. Somehow, though, I knew it was going to be worth it. If not for me, at least for the little girl who was not going to have an asshole freak for a father.
The Mind, as I was going to find out in this experience, is horribly opposed to change. It finds safety and security in the present condition, no matter how dangerous or painful that present condition is. It took decades for me to break free. In that period I got divorced from what was a horrible and self-defeating relationship (in some ways, I had married my own mother). I lost time with my daughter. I lost myself and my security. I had not lost my strength though, and in some respects I was very happy during this period of time. Sure, I engaged in self-destructive behaviors but I began to see those behaviors for what they were. I was breaking free.
This long process of being the Caterpillar was exactly that: long. While seeing my behaviors for what they were, I also began to see just how deeply ingrained in me they had become. There were times when I firmly believed that they would never end, and that I was doomed to living them.
Contrary to a vow I had made, I began a long-term relationship during this time. This relationship was, unfortunately, doomed because it began during my time as a Caterpillar (and perhaps hers as well). Two beautiful children and 12 years later it was very painfully over. It was, however, necessary for me to be launched into the next phase.
There is a reason that the Caterpillar stage is known scientifically as the “feeding stage.” I was feeding on every experience, every perspective and every moment whether mindful or mindless in that moment. Yet, at the end of this tumultuous time I had moved on to the next reincarnation my Soul desired to experience.
The interesting part of the Pupa stage of a butterfly’s metamorphosis is that it is not a universal experience. The time of thisSource: Academy of Natural Sciences (http://www.ansp.org/explore/online-exhibits/butterflies/lifecycle/)
“transition stage” varies greatly. I think it is appropriate to suggest that I am in this stage, and that I have reincarnated again into a Pupa hanging from the Tree of Knowledge. I haven’t quite learned to let go of this tree so that knowledge may become wisdom, but I have let go enough to begin to see the potential (and practice it a bit).
I often wonder if it is at this stage that a Caterpillar experiences being a Butterfly without actually being one. There is no safety at this stage, but the Caterpillar must learn to let go so that the wings It has created can allow it to fly. It must be able to know this without experiencing it. It must learn to trust, to accept, and to recognize its own beauty through what it inspires in others. It does not break through its cocoon until this has been accomplished, and it does not experience true flight until it is ready.
The Caterpillar has set its intention, and has planted to seed that will grow. No one could mistake a Butterfly for a Caterpillar (or vice-versa) but the Butterfly does not exist without the Caterpillar. It had to have each and every experience, each and every lesson and each and every tribulation in order to find Itself.
I feel this way. I appreciate the “story” of my life for what it has taught me even if I see life through a different set of eyes. I can release, let go, experience and, most importantly to me, be myself. I can love, I can trust, I can appreciate others in a way never before possible. I can be alone, or in a crowd. I can be still or active, happy or sad, without judgement. I seek what makes me happy knowing full well that joy will follow me. I have seen that when my vibrations are high, others around me are happier. I can spread joy. I can be non-violent (yes, I love being non-violent). I can be a Lover and be Loved with equal abandon and energy. I love being loved, and I love loving.
How long I will be in this stage is anyone’s guess. Yet, I am fine being here until I am ready. I can feel the Butterfly within me. I can feel my wings spreading and taking flight. I can feel the beauty that is coming because the beauty is here within me. It is coming, and I am overjoyed.
The Butterfly stage is known scientifically as the “reproductive stage.” For me, it is a chance to reproduce happiness and joy and to help others in any capacity I can. I see what I want once I break free from the cocoon romantically, spiritually and professionally. I have stated my intentions romantically (see “Ode to the Lover“) and spiritually (each and every moment) and am beginning to formulate my professional plan which is becoming very clear to me. I can reproduce the feelings that raise me up over and over again if I simply make the choice to do so.
I can plant whatever seeds I want, and it is up to me to plant the ones I want to be.
What Does This Mean?
For me, this review (and the inspiration behind it) has taught me to not be too attached to the past. I doubt a Butterfly is attached to its past, it flutters around in the present moment loving life. Beyond that, I can find little meaning behind any of this. Humans Being have a unique ability (or disability depending on your current point of view), we seek an understanding of our place, time and purpose in this life. So, our pasts can be a burden if we choose to see them that way, or it can be a springboard to flight and purpose.
I hope you take some time to engage in this exercise, and that it helps you in any way it can. It has helped me in a tremendous way as I stand on the verge of great change with my arms and heart wide open.
I see a tremendous amount of hope in the Butterfly, both for reasons stated and for reasons deeply personal to me. It represents hope, courage and experience. It also represents the power of love. I patiently await its arrival.
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Relephant: I don’t believe in Reincarnation. Am I still a Buddhist?
Editor: Kate Bartolotta
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