Reincarnation is the rebirth of the soul in another body after the being’s biological death.
Some people think it’s thoroughly barren while others consider it interesting.
Some believe in it and some don’t.
Reincarnation is a vast subject to talk about. However, no matter what opinion we have regarding this matter, I think it is always beneficial to be skeptical yet open to learning more.
Personally, reincarnation has always interested me. Throughout the years, I have done extensive research on it. I have come to believe that there is a big probability that we are indeed reincarnating in different bodies across multiple lifetimes.
I have immersed myself in the culture of Buddhism for the past three years. The concept of reincarnation has been a source of constant curiosity.
Buddhists believe that until we reach enlightenment, we will keep on reincarnating to cleanse our karma. The less we do, however, the more lifetimes we will return to; we will stay stuck in samsara. If we wish to stop the cycle of rebirth, we must create good karma and attain enlightenment during the life we visit.
My teacher in India explained to me the notion of rebirth. He used the room in the guesthouse I was staying in as an example. He said our energy (soul) is like the room. It is unchangeable. It is always there. However, he said that the people staying in the guesthouse are the bodies that temporarily inhabit the room. We come and go. I stayed there for 20 days, others may stay for a week. Plenty of people come and go but the room stays—it’s a constant. We will go through many lifetimes but the energy is the same. The body is only different.
For me, I see it as a game. We have a goal, or more or less a mission. The goal is enlightenment, reaching consciousness. Until we reach enlightenment, we will keep on bouncing between the cycles of life.
I think reincarnation is interesting because I believe that we didn’t just come here for nothing. I would like to believe that we are on a mission in this particular lifetime, and all others. It makes sense to me.
If we take a closer look at our daily life, we can reflect on and relate to this mission that spans multiple lifetimes. The unexplainable fears or phobias we have might be closely related to our past life. The talents we possess don’t come from out of the blue. For instance, there have been many prodigies in the world who have made me wonder about and question their abilities. A remarkable reincarnation story that came to my attention is the story of Barbro Karlen, who is allegedly the reincarnation of Anne Frank. Barbro was a talented writer as well, long before she knew of her ties to Anne Frank through reincarnation.
For me, dreams represent memories from past lives. Sometimes we feel a certain belonging or affinity for a particular place and we just can’t explain it.
The stories about people having memories from past lifetimes are innumerable. A good deal of them were published, and became a source of fascination for many people—including me.
However, there are certain reincarnation stories that have touched the core of my being, making me reconsider my beliefs regarding reincarnation.
While reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a particular story mentioned in the book got my attention. This same story also came to the attention of the Dalai Lama, and he sent a special representative to interview her and verify the story.
“Kamaljit Kour was the young daughter of a schoolteacher in a Sikh family in the Punjab . One day, on a visit to a fair in a local village with her father, she suddenly asked him to take her to another village some distance away. ‘I have nothing here,’ she told him. ‘This is not my home. Please take me to that village. One of my school-friends and I were riding our bicycles when we were hit by a bus. My friend was killed instantly and I was injured in the head, ear and nose. I was beyond cure so my relatives asked to take me home.’ Her father was shocked, but when she insisted, he finally agreed to take her to the village.
Kamaljit Kour recognised the village as they approached it, pointing to where she had been hit by the bus. The little girl and her bewildered father then made their way to the house she said belonged to her former family. Neighbours confirmed to her father that the girl’s story was true. The dead girl of the village was called Rishma and had been 16 years of age when she was killed. Kamaljit went straight up to Rishma’s house, recognised Rishma’s grandfather and her uncles and named them without mistake. She pointed out ‘her’ own room, asked for her school books, ribbons and her new maroon suit—which were all confirmed! She was then led away to her uncle’s house, where she identified more items. The next day she met all of her former relatives and when it was time to catch the bus home she refused to go, announcing to her father that she was going to stay. Eventually, however, he persuaded her to leave with him.
Kamaljit Kour was born ten months after Rishma died. Before she even started school she could remember the names of all her school friends in Rishma’s school photograph. Kamaljit Kour had also always asked for maroon-coloured clothes. Her parents discovered that Rishma had been given a new maroon suit of which she was very proud, but she had never had time to wear it. The last thing Kamaljit Kour remembers of her former life was the lights of the car going out on the way home from the hospital; that must have been when she died.
Rishma’s own family did not know whether or not Sikhs accepted reincarnation but they were convinced beyond any doubts that Kamaljit Kour was in fact their Rishma.”
Like Kamaljit Kour, I think each one of us holds with him memories of past lives. However, the capability of remembering those memories highly depends on our spiritual experiences and level of consciousness.
But, if we failed to remember in this lifetime, we can at least prepare for our upcoming life. This is why I personally I believe that reincarnation should matter to us, because if we give it the benefit of the doubt and consider its existence, then we can considerably change the way we’re living.
We can start twisting our own karmic actions so we reduce of our number of returns to samsara. Suppose that reincarnation doesn’t exist and we only live once, we wouldn’t have lost anything being good in this one and only lifetime we’re coming to. Hence, I think whether reincarnation does exist or not, we’re only benefiting ourselves and the world if we consider the possibility of its presence.
If we look around us, we can see that everything is reincarnating. The cycle of birth and death exists everywhere in the realm of this universe. Personally, I think nature is the greatest proof of the possibility of life after death. If a plant can die, only to grow again after a while, why can’t we die and live again?
Source: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Caitlin Oriel