Shower Thoughts: Reincarnation

I’ve been thinking about reincarnation. I put this down to the fact that I recently was in Bali, which is hugely Hindu, and I just read (this is related) “Eat, Pray, Love”. More on that in a future post, maybe. Reincarnation is an idea that captivates me. I respect and appreciate the traditions of the world that teach that we are being placed “back into the flesh” over and over to correct our imperfections and bring us into unity with the Divine. As I understand it, many Eastern belief systems incorporate this idea of reincarnation as (ideally) going ever upwards, starting with perhaps the lowliest of creatures and moving forward with each life — full of lessons and good deeds– until the soul can inhabit the body of a human being who has reached a state of enlightenment. That soul then joins the universe free and at peace. Forgive my oversimplification. I think that’s a beautiful way of looking at things: second, third, fourth chances for us to learn, grow, and to evolve spiritually until this cycle brings us into a perfect unity with everything.

But my shower thought of the day is— are human beings really the closest thing we can get to the Divine? Closer than an inch worm? Based on what I have witnessed during my stay on Earth, maybe we need to reincarnate “backwards” until we humans can become the lowliest of creatures before we can achieve enlightenment and oneness with the universe.

Okay yes, human beings have a great capacity for love, language and understanding. But we are selfish, wilfully ignorant, cruel beyond measure, self-absorbed and petty. All of these things keep us from God, or Nirvana, or true communion with the Force. Our own smart brains and smarter mouths distract us from listening. We are so busy and overloaded with technology and commitments that we become harried travelers who literally miss our connection. The natural world is so unlike the plastic one that we have fashioned for ourselves, it’s no wonder we can have trouble relating to the interdependence of all living things.

We can reflect upon the simple beauty of a butterfly, or an ant, or a leaf. These beings do not constantly try to fit in a manicure on their lunch hour or scheme about how to pay less in taxes. They don’t go into debt every time Apple releases a new phone. These creatures are single-minded in their devotion to the Universe and/or God; their devotion is manifest in the way they carry out what they were created to do. The butterfly spreads beauty simply by being a butterfly and going about his business rockin’ what he was born for. The leaf sets about each day to create energy for the plant from the sun and the rain; it’s not trying to sneak out of the office early if the boss isn’t around. The ant is working as part of a phenomenally complex commune; he isn’t wasting his life baiting people with incendiary political posts on social media or cutting into the queue during rush hour traffic. I’m being somewhat tongue in cheek, but I really do sometimes think we humans have it all wrong. We spend a lot of time, at least I know I do, looking for proof that we matter, that other people like us, that we are perceived well, or that we have the trappings of what our species has labeled “success”. A ray of light does not require validation from outside to be a ray of light.

And for all our faults, we humans still have the nerve to look down on the rest of the creatures of our planet. There is a passage in the Bible often quoted by people wishing to justify their agenda on the world, that one about Dominion over the Earth and its creatures. I have no use for that. Dominion? Protection, yes. Respect, definitely. But this planet no more belongs to humans than it does to the earthworm. I think as long as we continue to consider ourselves too good for this world, we will always be bound to it. Only in celebrating what it means to live, to breathe, to work, to contribute, and to respect life wherever we find it, do we reach toward the sacred and have any chance at becoming our potential Divine selves.

That’s it. Gotta go blowdry my hair.

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