How’s Life as a Tree Working Out?

Let us explore the idea of reincarnation that permeates the Hindu and Buddhist religions (and was hinted at in last week’s post). Reincarnation is an interesting idea that is not coherent. To broach the idea, let’s think of it in two related ways - materially and spiritually. Materially, reincarnation as a concept works because, in a way, when we die, our atoms keep on living. This is consistent with the law of conservation of mass. It is easier to think about this using an analogy. Plants use the energy from the sun to create food; animals eat those plants, we eat animals, we die, we serve as fertilizer for plants. Thus, our atoms live on in a way through the cycles of life. Reincarnation in this case, and in any way you think of it, has a sense of continuity embedded in it. This is my fundamental critique of the idea. Here’s why.

According to Buddhists and Hindus. Reincarnation is essentially the returning of the soul in a different form, popularly conceptualized as coming back in human form. When we bring in the idea of continuity, this does not work. If a person dies and “comes back” with no remembrance whatsoever of their past life, then did they return in a different form? It is essentially the same as the end of your life span and the return of an entirely different being. Reincarnation is analogous to this scenario. You have two weeks to live. You go to your doctor, and she tells you about a treatment that can bring you back to full health, but you will have to die first. The machine that will carry out this process will obliterate you to smithereens, and your essence will be transferred to a different body. You know nothing about who you once were and have no memory whatsoever of your past life. This new being is entirely different from you down to the molecular level. As you can see, you are essentially dead. There is no continuity. The other “person” goes on living a different life functionally separate from you.

As an open challenge, if you look long enough, you will find someone who claims to have memories from their past life. First of all, he or she is a lying liar who lies, but these memories are not strong enough to warrant a change in your life based on life previously lived. I am open to having my mind changed.

Certainty Rating: 62%


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