Living with Reincarnation
Updated June 1, 2003
Thomas was a grandfather seven times over. His two sons had each had three delightful kids, two girls and four boys between them, and his daughter had a young girl named Stacey. The boys and their families lived “halfway across the country,” and Thomas had never been able to spend much time with his grandchildren... except for Stacey. Stacey and her mother lived with Thomas, and partly for that reason, Stacey had become very, very special to her grandfather.
Stacey’s father had left his wife and new born child shortly after Stacey’s birth. Thomas had welcomed his daughter and small girl into his home, and, being a widower and only 48 years old, he had happily become a substitute father for his youngest grandchild. The transition from widower to temporary daddy had been an easy one -- Stacey had been an ideal child.
As a baby, she had almost never cried, smiled more than she slept, and had always greeted her grandfather’s attentions with delight and glee. By the time she was three and a half, she had somehow managed to skip the “terrible twos,” and had become the brightest gem in her grandfather’s eye. She was everything for which a grandparent could ask.
Two months before her fourth birthday, Stacey was killed in a traffic accident.
Living with Death
Can you imagine how Thomas felt? In similar circumstances, how would you have felt? Think about that for a moment. How does one cope with the death of a young child?
One of the most fundamental questions that arises from theories of reincarnation and related aspects concerns the way in which our theory of reincarnation affects the way we live. In other words, what are the implications of this theory on our everyday lives? From the view-point of Thomas’s loss, what can we say about reincarnation that can help a grandfather cope with the loss of a darling grandchild?
Bluntly speaking, there are only three possibilities for the grief Thomas feels for the loss of his grandchild -- two are positive and one is negative. The negative one is Thomas feeling sorry for himself and grieving the loss to him of the joys brought by Stacey’s love. It is definitely sad that Thomas has suffered this personal loss, but it is his loss and not Stacey’s he grieves for here. As such, our sympathy for Thomas has definite limits; i.e., self-pity is not acceptable in the long run.
Furthermore, reincarnation theory would suggest Thomas and Stacey may very well have planned for this event in their lives, and probably more for Thomas’ benefit than for Stacey’s. Thomas, for example, has been given an opportunity to use this bitter and terrible experience and grow from it. He can allow the experience to cause him great unhappiness, or he can find ways to gain from the experience. Thomas can always choose the manner in which he will live with the death of his grandchild. Inasmuch as Stacey had previously given so much happiness to her grandfather, perhaps we should not grieve too much for Thomas.
The two more positive aspects of Thomas’ grief is his grieving for the state of affairs which has ended a young girl’s life. In effect, this more socially acceptable grief is for the fact the young girl has lost her life. However, this fact of life and death is not necessarily sad. According to our theory of reincarnation, Stacey has returned to a blissful heaven. Why should we be sad about that? Isn’t this a time for rejoicing on her behalf? According to the theory of reincarnation, it’s definitely good news for Stacey.
This concept of Love N' Death is perhaps new to many people indoctrinated into the fear and loathing of death. Nevertheless the idea is fundamental to what many would prescribe as the only reasonable interpretation of what transpires after our incarnation on this third rock from the sun and our destination therafter.
Even Christianity and most other religions -- those who no longer officially recognize reincarnation as a viable philosophical theory -- promise essentially the same positive end in death. Christianity, for example, tells of a heaven for Stacey (assuming that Stacey, by virtue of her exemplary but brief life, has qualified for entrance into heaven). Hell is also provided for, but hopefully, Stacey will not have to reside in such a dark dismal place. Reincarnation, on the other hand, removes any doubts about one’s future destination (insomuch as one chooses to go there). While Christianity may provide only the possibility of good news, reincarnation assumes the good news to be the normal state of affairs.
The two views diverge even more, however, when we consider Stacey’s youth. Here is a child who had less than four years of life. According to some tenets of Christianity, this is indeed sad, for Stacey had only one life to live and ended up with a mere three years and ten months. For other children who may have had even briefer lives, the tragedy is greater. Where’s the justice in a death for a child who dies at one month and before being baptized? It is indeed cause for grief.
Reincarnation sees it differently. Stacey was merely living one of many lives. She very likely planned her early death (or at least the probability of dying before her fourth birthday) and now can move on to other variations on life. Reincarnation takes the position that young Stacey was not shortchanged by an early death, but simply took the course, Dying Young 101, at the local college of earth. Again there’s no cause for grief.
The implication, therefore, of living with reincarnation is that death is seldom cause for genuine grief. Perhaps a bit of self-pity, but minimal grief. According to reincarnation, death is but a mere transformation and a temporary one at that. Anything we missed the first time around we can come back for a second try. And if we make the same mistakes, a third try and so forth. Why else, do you suppose “history repeats itself?”
The same train of thought can be used in dealing with deaths and tragedies of others. For example, when an airliner crashes, killing the crew and passengers, we can view the horror with considerably more calm. We may want to participate in a group effort to help send the bewildered victims into the Light (this is done in many cases by volunteer groups), but our normal sense of tragedy is considerably lessened. In fact, most of life’s tragedies can be viewed in the same manner, whereby the pain and death afflicting both ourselves and others are viewed as aspects of the various courses in living in which we are enrolled in this incarnation. There are no errors in the universe -- “misfortune” has been planned for its ultimately beneficial effects on the evolution of the soul.
In The Bridge Across Forever, Richard Bach speaks of it this way:
“Because of our practice, the death-and-tragedy we saw on TV were not death and tragedy; they were the comings and goings, the adventures of spirits of infinite power. The evening news turned for us from grim horror into a broadcast of classes, of tests to be taken, of social investment opportunities, challenges and gauntlets thrown down.”
In Richard Bach’s earlier book, Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, he says it even more succinctly:
“The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”
But please note -- this is not fatalism. Death, suffering, destruction, etc., are not something to tolerate because in the end we all die. Quite the contrary. Ram Dass, in his book with Stephen Levine, Grist for the Mill, points out that we can eventually look back upon our lives of neuroses and suffering and realize life’s perfection in bringing a person to a particular state in one’s life. These authors see life as a paradox where on the one hand we are participating in an incredible melodrama, and on the other there is a great deal of suffering going on. They also note when one is suffering, it doesn’t help a great deal to say, “Hey, it’s only an illusion, don’t worry.” Instead the two advocates note that even as we understand there is real suffering in the world, it’s nevertheless a perfect world, and that furthermore our doing everything possible to alleviate the suffering is part of the same perfection. They also claim the the only reason to stay in the incarnation is to alleviate suffering and to bring others to a consciousness liberation or to God. In their view, life is hell and perfect at the same time.
If one believes in reincarnation and the blissful heavenly life in the bardo awaiting us after we have cast off our physical bodies, then death can no longer hold a threat over our lives. The elimination of any fear of dying can give immense comfort and provide us with a shield capable of deflecting any of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Anyone who truly believes in the bardo described in Chapters 6 through 8 will have no fear of death. Such individuals cannot be threatened, coerced (upon pain of death), intimidated, or even cajoled, and thus can be very tough hombres! Not exactly cannon fodder for the tyrannical governments and/or Corporate Rule.
But as Richard Bach notes:
“Take your dying with some seriousness, however. Laughing on the way to your execution is not generally understood by less-advanced life-forms, and they’ll call you crazy.”
Of course, if you’ve been reading this website, you won’t care what they call you. Because, no matter what nametags they may attempt to attach to you, you will never be scared to death.
This alternative view of death as something to accept also raises some disturbing questions. At what point do we continue to exert extraordinary efforts to keep someone alive? How far do we allow our medical practitioners to conduct Herculean efforts to prevent a loss of life when there is little hope for recovery? Should there be limits to the preservation of comatose patients?
This website cannot answer all of the questions posed in these pages, but the implications of accepting reincarnation theory demand that such questions be posed and that answers be sought. Feel free to begin seeking the answers on your own.
Finally, the reincarnation view of death suggests a strong reason for knowing how to die. Westerners are not known for spending a great deal of idle time thinking about dying and such is not the intent here. Rather, it is to suggest, that anyone and everyone come to terms with the death experience. If you know to look for the white Light (no matter what!), you will be well on your way to the promised land. If you remember to avoid the fanatical and emotional ties to earth and how to let go and depart this earth for the Light, you will be able to avoid being earthbound or worse. And if you understand the process of death and dying, you may even be able to help others find their own way to the Light.
Swimming can be a delightful sport, but it is always more fun if you know how. When you die, it’s truly sink or swim time. Knowing how to swim (or die) is infinitely preferable to sinking.
Did you choose to be born? Were you reluctant or eager? Did you actually choose the mess you find yourself in today? In any case, if you believe your soul did in fact make all the critical decisions and planned for the coming life by choosing parents, birth times, and environment, then you have to accept responsibility for your bardo choices (as well as your Choices made during the incarnation). Bummer!
By selecting this probabilistic future, you have eliminated any justification you may have had for exhibiting jealousy, envy, covet ness, etc. You are suddenly responsible for your lack of talents, money, friends, etc., in that you chose the specifics for yourself (and for a purpose!). We have and are precisely what we chose in the bardo state (and to a lesser extent, what we choose while incarnated). In that state, with clear understanding of the plans of other souls as well, we made our decisions and there is precious little that happens in this life that we can blame on others.
Has someone recently hurt you? Were they just being a bad guy, or did you bring it on yourself? Not, did you act like a seeming victim, but did you specifically choose to be hurt? Some would advocate the choice is always up to you and to you alone. You have free will, you can do whatever you want to do, including being hurt by someone else... or, you can choose not to be hurt! In many cases, it’s a question of how you perceive it!
Obviously, this is a massive charge on your responsibilities. As Richard Bach said, in his book, Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah:
“Every person, all the events of your life are here because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.”
This view is quite prevalent in reincarnationist thinking. Its major characteristic is that it places all responsibilities for each soul’s action directly on that particular soul. Fate cannot be blamed on others. This may be disconcerting to some, but it’s an inevitable implication of the concept of our choosing our own fates. Any attempt to practice either Scapegoatology or Woundology simply doesn't fly!
A related aspect is when hardship befalls you, you can avoid dwelling on the problem and consider instead, how you can benefit from the hardship. Sounds a little bit like the “power of positive thinking,” no? Perhaps so, but if we have chosen our probabilistic destinies while in the bardo, then we also probably chose this particular hardship and, more importantly, we chose the hardship for a specific reason. Think of it as a challenge we placed in our life paths in order to learn some valuable lesson.
A rather mundane example is Clyde, an entrepreneur trying to start a new consulting business. After months of nice growth in the business to where he was finally at the break even point, our enterprising consultant was notified of a 40% increase in his office rent. The normal reaction would have been anger, review of the lease agreement in haste, the threat of a possible lawsuit, and a great deal of emotional upset. Clyde, on the other hand, having become a believer in the theory of reincarnation, took it calmly. Instead of fighting it, he immediately considered if it was time to move the business. Thinking about it, he realized he needed less office space and could save on other expenses as well. The very next morning, he met a friend of his who had just leased office space and was looking for someone to sublet an extra office. The extra office was perfect, Clyde would be able to cut his office expenses in half, and suddenly, his business was in the black. A business friend of his is still fighting vainly the rent increase.
Decisions While Incarnated
Not only do we plan in the space between lives, the experiences and events that come to us in the incarnation, but because of free will, we can actually do some very impressive ad-libbing in the here and now. There appears, for example, to exist in the universe some basic and very fundamental laws. One is that “Like attracts Like” -- or “The Law of Attraction”. Simply stated this “law” says that if you are constantly thinking about a hot fudge sundae, and in fact, are becoming quite emotional about it, you will soon receive a hot fudge sundae! Really! And it’s guaranteed! Note, however, that it makes no difference if you earnestly want one, or for diet reasons, are earnestly trying to avoid one! You still get it. It’s like the universe doesn't understand “no”. The key is whatever you’re dwelling on, will eventually be attracted to you. Importantly, this can include health or sickness, prosperity or poverty, safety or rape; depending entirely upon what your mind and emotions constantly concentrate their attentions.
A corollary to this “attraction law” is that you have the free will to decide precisely what you want (in other words, your chance to ad-lib like crazy!). At the same time, you can avoid “negatives” by simply concentrating on the positive alternative. The universe is quite clear on this: You can, in fact, create your own reality. This simple fact derives from the abilities of your mind and soul, the fact you’re created in the image of God (and therefore have the creative abilities of God), and the fact that the reason you’re here in this incarnation (among other things) is to create. (More on this in the next chapter!)
Given that you understand how things come about in your life (through your attracting them), and that by deliberate decisions, you can specify what you want to attract, it might appear you pretty well have it made. However. There is one other aspect of which you should be aware. Other souls have the same privileges! And more than any other challenge in our lives, the one that counts is the requirement that we allow others to create and attract the experiences and events that they decide upon. This additional corollary to the “Law of Allowing” appears to be fundamental and very, very necessary, and is really nothing more than the Golden Rule, or a practical application of Common Law.
No, we’re not talking about your new boat. We’re talking about attached entities hooking on to you or your loved ones.
With reincarnation we recognize the possibility of an entity attaching itself to a living being. One of the many implications of this idea is that we should know how to avoid such parasitic attachments. Good mental health is always an effective way, and some proponents would also include a careful watch over your aura (that strange shimmering surrounding your body and which acts as sort of an esoteric immunity system). Nevertheless, there is always the possibility of your letting your guard (or aura) down, at least, occasionally. Such moments of weakness may occur in traumatic emotional states, sudden injuries, and so forth. [This is also the reason that when many Catholics are suddenly scared, they make the sign of the cross -- the action being designed to guard against any attempts at possession while in a momentary state of fright.]
Being aware of the possibilities of possession can always reduce the likelihood of becoming possessed and, in the event of actual possession, knowing or suspecting you’re possessed will allow you to get de-possessed. The choice is yours, but generally it’s better to shed excess luggage before you attempt to soar with the eagles. (But then again, perhaps you prefer to run with the turkeys.)
If the many aspects of reincarnation theory are correct, we can expect to be able to, among other things, heal ourselves of many afflictions. We may want to use medical professionals for most situations, but we can contribute to our own cure and not depend entirely on modern medicine.
Through meditation, dreams, and possibly extrasensory powers we can accomplish wonders. Epileptics, for example, can often reduce the number and intensity of their seizures through routine meditation, while, at the same time, not giving up the beneficial aid of prescribed medications. Individuals with emotional problems can often discover underlying meanings and possible solutions to their difficulties. We can each control, to a large extent, our mental and physical health by preventive means and self-help. We may also be able to help others.
Just don’t try practicing medicine without a license. That might be thought of as “attracting” some very unpleasant experiences!
As mentioned previously, we do want to keep in mind the limitations on helping others, which are imposed by an acceptance of reincarnation. This generally accepted implication is that we should not impose our help on someone who does not want it. We can’t expect to eliminate all the suffering -- if for no other reason than that suffering might be a part of another soul’s evolution. And we can’t always help others by doing it ourselves. Instead, we can better help them by teaching them to help themselves -- when they ask for it!
The possibilities for growth are immense, and the techniques for achieving growth include a multitude of diverse and unique capabilities. We can potentially do everything from starting a day on a more positive note, to taking a quick tour of Saturn’s rings in an out-of-body state. Reincarnation, far more than any other view or philosophical theory of life, allows for a vast menagerie of ideas and capabilities. While many philosophies impose limitations and rules, reincarnation loosens existing constraints and provides a host of unlimited potentialities. In a manner of speaking, the sky’s the limit.
What’s this? Are you suggesting we actually have to love one another? No more fun in flushing others down the drain? No more the thrill of victory as we trip our opponents and surge ahead? Just as we were savoring the possibility of excellent health and out-of-body experiences, you expect us to suddenly think in terms of others? Surely you jest!
The fact of the matter is you’re free to do whatever you want, including being unloving. Life’s not nearly as much fun that way, but you still have the choice.
Kurt Vonnegut tells a particularly appropriate story of an alien visiting the earth and becoming fascinated with the story of Jesus Christ. The biblical story was so intriguing that the alien began to study the gospels in detail. But then our ET investigator began to realize that somewhere along the line the religions of the world had missed the point. This became such a major concern to the alien that he actually went to the trouble of writing a new gospel, one in which the point would be more self-evident.
The main difference in the alien’s gospel was that Jesus had not been born the son of God, but in reality, the ordinary son of a carpenter and his wife. There was nothing miraculous about the birth, no star of Bethlehem, no wise men from the east -- just a normal delivery. But as Jesus grew to manhood and beyond, he began teaching, accomplished all of the miracles told about in the other gospels, and, in general, gave to all of us the same inspiration of his life. The only difference in the alien’s gospel was that Jesus was just an itinerant preacher with a lot of good things to say, but nevertheless a preacher with absolutely no connections with higher authority. It was what he knew and not who he knew that counted.
When Jesus had accomplished all of the miracles and given all of the teachings, he ended up on the cross and was near death. But just before he died, God came down from on high and announced that God was adopting Jesus as his son. Suddenly, Jesus now had connections! The Romans, Pharisees, and all of the other bad guys had started out crucifying some poor ordinary fellow with no important connections whatsoever, and ended up crucifying a Christ with a direct line to God!
The implication seems clear. One must be careful about treating badly or, alternatively, not taking care of some bum who apparently has no connections. There is always the chance that this same bum will suddenly come into connections with the most high. Cheat someone or pass by on the other side of the road, and you may find you’ve done it to a recently adopted son of God. Wouldn’t that be a bummer? That’s the sort of thing that could spoil your whole day.
Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 25: 40, 45), said:
“And the King shall answer and say unto them. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethern, ye have done it unto me.
“Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
It’s easy to love someone who is kind and beautiful. It’s not so easy when they’re ugly, thoughtless, antagonistic, and downright belligerent. Loving the “least of these” can really be a challenge, but it is just one of the challenges posed by a belief in reincarnation.
But how, exactly, does one love? Considering the potential for misuse of the word, “love”, perhaps we should define it a bit more clearly. Scott Peck, in his bestselling book, The Road Less Traveled, provides what is perhaps the best definition of love: “The will to extend oneself in order to nurture one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”
If you apply this definition to all your acts of “love” which are extended to others, you may be in for a rude awakening. What you have called love may instead be based upon a desire to control (basically fear of the lack of control), to elicit gratitude, to possess, etc., etc. If you really want to know about love, read The Road Less Traveled. If you don’t really care about love -- all the more reason to read the book!
Proponents of reincarnation tend to have notable tolerance for the growth and beliefs of others. This may derive from the idea that karma and successive reincarnations will always ensure justice, and that therefore there is no major hurry for such proponents to work actively ensuring everyone gets whatever they deserve. Neither are “quickie” conversions essential. Everyone can live and let live.
Such a viewpoint is even extended to helping others. An almost fundamental tenet of proponents of reincarnation is that one doesn’t “help” another unless asked. As was noted before, praying for someone is not necessarily in their best interests. If they ask for help, you can rush to help with total enthusiasm. If they don’t ask, don’t help!
Everyone is almost always better off, if they are, at least given the chance to solve their own problems -- particularly if that is the very reason they are here. If you solve their problem, they may have to make the trip to earth again. By tolerating their idiosyncrasies, you may save them a long and arduous trip.
Of course, if someone is drowning and appears incapable of calling out, you might not want to wait for them to ask for help.
War and Peace
A larger scale corollary to this point is in the earnest quest for peace on earth. Peace is a laudable goal, but the means by which it is achieved is equally important. There is every reason to believe that the end (peace) may not justify the means (how some have advocated the achievement of peace).
Why? Consider the following. If in the bardo state, we all plan for our next lives, then it is reasonable to assume that much of the pain and anguish, the war, the poverty, the famine, and the other traumas rampant upon our globe, were planned for in that space between lives -- at least as possibilities. Our future probabilities have already been set and for, ostensibly, very good and important reasons.
If someone now finds a way to enforce a peace, they will end up violating the free will of others who are attempting to come to terms with their own lessons from the past or present. An enforced peace may deny the opportunity for others to settle their karmas, learn from the changes that they can bring about (by their own free will), and impose help where it has not been requested.
In C. S. Lewis’ classic, The Screwtape Letters, the devil tells why he prefers peace to war. In war, all sorts of noble and honorable acts are committed (not the sort of things that sends men to hell). Men and women make all manner of sacrifices on an almost daily basis, relationships are intensified (usually for the best) and in the ultimate gesture, some give up their lives to save their friends (“Greater love hath no man than that he give up his life for another”). Peace, on the other hand, is a time when people slowly become bored and begin to look for diversions at whatever level of morality (“Idleness is the Devil’s workshop.”).
Peace is still an honorable goal to work toward, but if the process of seeking peace violates basic principles, then the end result will not be worth the achieving.
Do-gooders rushing in where wise men fear to tread are, according to many reincarnationists, doing no good. A possessive or controlling love is no love at all. One person solving the problems of the world is doing a disservice to all those who need to be about the business of solving their own problems. One can respond with help whenever it is asked for, typify by their own good example, make available teachings and healings, offer their unconditional love, but one must never legislate help and require people to accept help.
Note the qualifier on the word love: unconditional. Love has a severely limited value, if the extension of it includes attached strings. For love to be unconditional, there must be nothing that obligates or controls the recipient. Unconditional love does not infringe upon the free will of others.
Clearly the implications foisted upon us by the existence of free will and souls in the bardo planning their own futures are extensive and far reaching. When we stand before our advisors and counselors, participating in the instant replay of our last incarnation, the questions will not be what happened to us, but how we reacted to events. It will be our decisions, not that of others, that we will subject to our own self-judgment. If self-reliance is a privilege we seek, then why should we attempt to deny others the same opportunity for self-reliance? After all, self-reliance is merely the ability to exercise free will. The tolerance of another’s self-reliant nature is equivalent to allowing them to exercise their own free will.
Is this reasonable? Can anyone live this way?
Perfection is hard to obtain (primarily because everything is changing, including whatever defines perfection). Thus we seldom expect to find anyone totally self-reliant with the wisdom to allow others to seek the same notable goal. However, if there is a common characteristic of the true believers of reincarnation and all its related aspects, it is that they seek to direct their own lives without the seeming necessity to direct the lives of others. This is important, because you really can’t have love without tolerance (i.e. continuing forgiveness).
Accepting reincarnation has some profound effects on our personal relationships whether they be with spouses, children, parents, friends, acquaintances, or even people we “chance” to meet in the street. With a multitude of lifetimes behind us, we invariably meet up with those to whom we may owe a debt (or vice versa) or to whom we need to “complete a relationship.” Perhaps you shot your brother in a previous life and that same entity which was your brother in that lifetime is now your child in this one. If that child, understanding all the implications, can turn to you and say, “I forgive you,” all may be well. If not, you may have to resort to other means to finish what your soul has started.
Soulmates may be nothing more than unfinished relationships. The intensity of lovers or married spouses only places a greater need for dealing with the karmic ties. If you deserted your wife in a previous life, leaving her in dire circumstances, you may find this time around somebody who is looking for compensation. But do you now have to marry her and this time stay married till death parts you? Possibly. It would depend on what was needed. If you married her and then managed to complete your relationship with her, you could conceivably divorce her and move on to other relationships.
Divorce tends to be a tricky subject -- which may be a result of Jesus’ teachings against divorce. However, if one recognizes the reality of the age in which Jesus lived, His teachings would be better understood. It is important to realize that at the time of Jesus, a man could divorce his wife with a word and toss her out onto the street. The woman would typically end up with absolutely nothing. For the female, divorce was a disaster. Jesus taught against divorce for obvious reasons. It was, to say the least, catastrophic for the woman.
Because divorce today does not always have to be disastrous for either party, it’s entirely possible Jesus would not view modern day divorce as an absolute and inherent evil. Furthermore, if one views divorce as the return of free will to two people, divorce can take on all the attributes of good. Some proponents of the reincarnation and related thinking believe that divorce is justified when one spouse is restraining the other from spiritual development. It may be any severely limiting feature of a marriage can constitute justification for divorce. Sometimes it may very well be that the relationship is complete, and it’s simply time to move on.
There are a multitude of ways to complete a relationship. Mutual agreement is nice, but in some cases it may be enough for someone to simply (or not so simply) come to terms with any lingering hate, anger, desire or other attaching emotion. If someone, for example, has done you a great disservice (and is unlikely to apologize), you may be able to complete the relationship by forgiving and forgetting the trespass.
It is not enough to simply agree not to seek revenge -- one has to extend unconditional forgiveness and truly eliminate the upset feelings. This usually takes time and some extension of your own effort, but the alternative is a return incarnation, when you may have to deal with that entity again. Wouldn’t you rather forgive the S. O. B. now, and avoid him like the plague in a later incarnation?
The Tao of Pooh
Winnie the Pooh is one of the classic characters of fiction. Written in 1926 by A. A. Milne, the fuzzy little bear with a yen for honey has captured the hearts of millions. However, would you believe Pooh may also represent an ideal in how to live one’s life?
In Benjamin Hoff’s book, The Tao of Pooh, the little bear’s true heritage becomes clear. The wise old owl is shown to think too much, the clever rabbit to be much too calculating for his own good, piglet too hesitant, and Eeyore just too fretful. But Pooh, wandering through life without a care, letting his intuition roam, gathering his honey wherever he may find it, seems to be living life just right. Pooh just is.
The Tao (pronounced dao) is not easily summed up in a few paragraphs. Better you read The Tao of Pooh yourself and allow a fuzzy little bear named Pooh to enlighten you. Suffice it to say for now that the Tao suggests that we are better off if we cease our clever tampering with the nature of things, shift our thinking with the left brain to experiencing with the right brain, and return to simplicity. Go with the flow, so to speak. This same point is beautifully illustrated in the handwritten preamble to Richard Bach’s Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (another book, particularly worth reading).
The Tao may not necessarily be the best way of living. It may be more a means of avoiding growing pains. If one avoids any attempt at achieving things, one will seldom fail. Wading through life with the single-minded desire to avoid making waves is not likely to be a significant learning experience. And learning may be what it’s all about (see chapter XII). The Tao seems to provide for a means of achieving the easiest living, but such is not necessarily the best tactic for a developing soul.
Besides, can you visualize yourself patterning your entire life after the example of Winnie the Pooh? Really?
Making one’s primary goal in life the search for honey may not appeal to the average intellectual, but some advocates of reincarnation and related thinking do have a tendency to take this laissez faire attitude to an extreme. If something good happens to them, then obviously somebody on high is taking care of them, but if something bad happens, it’s obviously designed to build character. It’s a win/win situation -- the perfect sort of thing for optimists.
There is something to be said for the idea of easing off and taking life as it comes (and not necessarily as it is preferred). In Tom Robbins’ book, Jitterbug Perfume, the sign over the doorway into Hell conveys this ultimate piece of wisdom, i.e.: “Lighten up.” Don’t take the day-to-day happenings of life so seriously that you lose sight of what’s really important. Try to keep in mind what the forest looks like even when you’re still wandering from tree to tree. Or even if you're running into trees.
In this respect, meditation (and/or prayer) may help keep things in perspective. Considerable comfort can be derived from meditation, and it seems likely that regular meditation can also develop introspection, directed thought and understanding. All of these aspects are fringe benefits of living with reincarnation. There is also the potential of dreams. Taking note of dreams, for example, may provide a lot of good hints for planning a life. Richard Bach, in his book, The Bridge Across Forever, suggests that one could program self-directed dreams and specify the form of your enlightenment from dreams. Seems like a straight forward way of accumulating information.
Why Are We Here?
The most likely answer is that we're here to gather material for a stand up comic routine in the after life. Notwithstanding this superlative reason, we might also derive another answer from from reincarnation theory, which may allow us to answer the all important question of: “Why are we here?” If we are unable to answer this basic question, all of our theories of life and living are built on sand. It is thus time to attempt to find an answer that can provide the essential foundation.
For this effort, however, we will defer to the next chapter.
Chapter Fifteen: Predictions of the Future
Chapter Seventeen: Choices
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