Karma Chameleon

Reincarnation: do you believe in it?

Apparently I found the song of the same title as this post by Culture Club absolutely hilarious as a child.

I’m not sure what answer I’ll get to, but I’ll start typing. If I start with time…

If time moves in a straight line, it’s harder to believe in reincarnation. Sometimes I quite like the idea of a moving in a straight line. It indicates progression as well as moving away from rubbish things – the further away one is from something, the lesser its effect and influence.

The other way to view time is in cycles, like the seasons, rolling in to each other with no clear beginning or end but in a constant state of renewal and, essentially, second chances.  This recognises the immediacy of an event, making it no less true because it belonged to yesterday.

Of course, the other option is that time is non-existent and we are all just incidental!

There is a thought that, because sensory information travels at different speeds and nerve signals need to transmit that information to the brain for processing, and that some events happen faster than others, that by the time we have actually perceived something, it is already history.  So, in essence, we aren’t living in the time we think we are anyway.  But maybe that’s digressing…

A few weeks ago New Scientist published a really interesting article by Emma Young entitled “Who Do You Think You Are?” in their 30th January 2016 edition, pages 30-33, about how we see ourselves.  Young’s synopsis is that “no one knows themselves as well as they think” and, to that end, she provides 4 rules to help people learn about themselves.

Rule 1 is to be humble.  Apparently we can be “particularly deluded” when it comes to judging the traits we care about the most.

Rule 2 is remembering that looks matter. “We all make character judgements based on appearance within seconds of meeting someone.”

“See what others see” is rule 3.  Young puts forward that, as philosophical rather than scientific as it sounds, our personalities are “bound up” in our relationships with others.

And for rule 4, we should forget what we know.  You know what you think you are, but we can be so immersed in our own private attributes that we can’t accurately rate the more easily observed parts of ourself.

The article is well worth a read.  Down the side of the last page is a small article entitled “The Essential You”.  It states that our identity is comprised of a number of factors, both physical and mental.  These can be things like skills, habits, sexuality and intelligence.

Many psychologists, when asked to define the essence of identity, would point to a “combination of five character traits:  openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.”  However, research by Nina Strohminger at Yale University actually found that morality is key to how others see you and construct your identity.

The theory was tested on dementia patients who were still recognised as “the same person” when their personality changed or they suffered memory loss.  But if they became dishonest, for example, they were seen as being a changed person (Psychological Science, vol. 26, p1469).

So how am I tying this back to resurrection?  “Rather loosely and flamboyantly” is the answer.  In the Bible (I don’t know enough about reincarnation in other religions and barely know enough about it in Christianity, but keep with me) John at 3:3 quotes Jesus as saying that no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.  Of course, there’s some ambiguity in that phrase as to whether Jesus is referring to a physical rebirth (reincarnation) or a mental resurrection, such as a positive change in morality (often seen in Christianity as plea for God’s forgiveness).

I guess it depends what we’re talking about when we talk about reincarnation.  Can a leopard change its spots? Yes, in some instances I believe it can.

Do I believe that people can be physically born again in a new body? I don’t know, it feels a little far fetched and I’m not sure I believe in karma anyway.  But if the essence of self is most clearly defined in our ideas of what is right and wrong, that would never really cease at the same time as our physical selves anyway.  It’s like our bodies move on the linear line, while the rest of us moves in circles, working through experiences time and again, learning along the way.

I hope that makes sense.  The ending wasn’t meant to be quite that poetic!

The night.
She brushed her hands upon my flushed cheek,
Smelled of childhood remnants of a dusty weeping willow,
Clouds soothe, Shredded by the calico
Were oh so vast and quick as I was on my own now.

This time, like every other time, I believe that I’ll never find
Another sweet little girl with sequined sea foam eyes,
Ocean lapping voice, smile coy as the brightest quiet span of sky,
And I’m all alone again tonight. Not again, not again, not again.

And don’t it feel alright? And don’t it feel so nice?

Lovely.

Still I’m unable to inhale all the riches
As I’m awkward as a wound on my bones.
Still I’ve got cobblestone joints and plate glass points,
As I’m all by myself tonight.  Not again, not again.

And don’t it feel alright? And don’t it feel so nice?

Lovely.

Well if you should nervously break down,
When its time for the shakedown would you take it?
It’s when you cry just a little but you laugh in the middle that you’ve made it.
And don’t it feel alright? And don’t it feel so nice?

Lovely.

Say it again. Lovely. So lovely, to do it again,
Again. Loving again. It’s coming again.

Lovely.

Tonight, Not Again by Jason Mraz

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