In my previous post, I mentioned that in order to be free of the ongoing cycles of rebirth, we need to completely purify the effects of our past karmas and be without any sense of having unfulfilled desires. This is easier said than done! So, for most of us, we can count on coming back in another body. This is why Hindus traditionally spend their later years in a kind of purifying, reclusive, contemplative existence – using that time to spiritually prepare for their next life. This is possible because we carry the same soul from one incarnation into the next. If we have to come back again, we are wise to prepare our soul as best we can ahead of time.
People often object to reincarnation because they have no memory of past lives. This argument is not a problem for me because I don’t remember many things from my current life! Also, since we don’t remember the time of our infancy or the time we spent in the womb, why do we expect to remember past lives? We have a different brain, different body and different physiology than we had in the past. Yet, I believe our soul remembers – carries from life to life – the important lessons learned in the past. Our soul remembers even though our brain cannot. This is part of what gives me a sense of hope about reincarnation.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit our life-lessons are hard to learn. We often make the same mistakes over and over in slightly different contexts. Many of our lessons cannot be fully learned in one lifetime. One relatively short life doesn’t give us enough time to learn everything we need to learn – and then go on to either heaven or hell for eternity. Catholics recognize this truth – hence, the belief in purgatory as a place of purification. In reincarnation, the purification is ongoing through successive lives in different bodies. This is why it’s important to avoid judging other people for their decisions. Everybody is on their own journey, progressing at their own pace.
The goal of life is union with God (or, as some spiritual traditions say, the realization that such a union already exists). Everything else is smoke and mirrors. Seriously.
We spend many lifetimes obsessed with ourselves and with various distractions and forms of entertainment. We spend many lifetimes trying to hoard money, possessions and people without seeing this isn’t the path to liberation. We try to attain all kinds of achievements that seem desirable to us. But all we need, all we truly want (even if we don’t yet know it), is union with God. This doesn’t mean we ignore the world or our daily responsibilities. It just means we don’t obsess over them or become attached to them in a negative way.
So, I’m hopeful about the future and even about my future lives because I know I’m trying my best to progress spiritually. My soul will continue this progress in future lives.
Okay, I think I’ve gone on long enough here – so I promise I’ll give you the conclusion in Part 3.