Do you believe in reincarnation, and if so, does it matter? According to a 2018 Pew Research survey, 33% of Americans say they believe in reincarnation, yet it is beyond the range of ordinary polling to ask why this belief exists. In an age of faith, both East and West, a person’s daily life was deeply influenced by a religion’s teaching about the afterlife.
Questions of sin and redemption, karmic retribution, heavens and hells, and journeys through other bodies such as those of animals—these were pressing concerns for many centuries. Now in modern secular society, the question of surviving the extinction of the physical body has been channeled into belief versus science. We don’t ask if God finds us worthy to go to heaven so much as how credible a near-death experience might be according to the best research.
The scheme of belief versus science is something of a false divide, however. There has been credible research on reincarnation, which would surprise most people, including scientists. Pioneering studies were conducted by Ian Stevenson, chairman of the psychiatry department at the University of Virginia Medical School, who began investigating the phenomenon of young children who say they recall a past life. Hundreds of such cases were looked into with the aim of validating if the person they remembered being actually existed.
And what of an afterlife? In our humanness, the question stays too small. Like crabs on the bottom asking each other if there is life after the ocean. What if one thing is supposed to carry another? What if the purpose of the snake is to keep the process of shedding alive? And the purpose of being human is to keep the process of loving alive? What if heaven for the wave is evaporating into sand? And destiny for the fox is that when he dies he will live inside the coyotes that eat him? What if paradise for rain is the root it swells in the dark? What if reincarnation is not one to one, but more like leaves broken down to mulch? What if we disperse into all that we love? What if your kindness becomes part of the lake that held you? And my heart becomes part of the wood that braces a bridge that saved me? And Susan’s ability to listen becomes part of the canopy that shades those tired on the way? What if Robert’s unshakeable belief in all that is unnamable becomes the bent nail that keeps the barn from falling? What if our tears and sweat irrigate the dreams of those yet to be born?
A Question to Walk With: Imagine what you might become in the next life that would represent who you are.
This excerpt is from my book, Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living.
Over the years I have been asked thousands of questions about the Afterlife: What happens when you die? How does it happen? What do our loved ones have to say? So, after a while I started writing them down. Then, once I finished writing my book, The Love Never Ends, I put a little book together called Answers-About-the-Afterlife. These are some of the top questions and answers from that book. I hope they bring you some insight… and maybe even answer some of your own questions. ~ SDJ♥
Over the years I have been asked thousands of questions about the Afterlife: What happens when you die? How does it happen? What do our loved ones have to say? So, after awhile I started writing them down. Then, once I finished writing my book, The Love Never Ends, I put a little book together called Answers-About-the-Afterlife. These are some of the top questions and answers from that book. I hope they bring you some insight … and maybe even answer some of your own questions. ~ SDJ♥