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Is One Life All You Get? Do You Believe In Reincarnation?

Updated on August 4, 2012

Are you a religious person? Would you describe yourself as a religious believer? There are certainly multiple options out there for a person of a spiritual persuasion: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Scientology, Jainism, multiple faiths, sects and cults old and new, big and small. There are similarities and differences between all the religions available to us, but one of the big ones is whether or not it adheres to the doctrine of reincarnation.

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Some religions, for example Christianity, hold the inflexible viewpoint that this one life is all that we are given to live. (Although, if you listen to some scholars, that wasn't always necessarily the case... It's amazing what a little Bible tinkering can do to a text!) But there are other options in the smorgasbord of religious faith. Buddhism and Hinduism, for example, adhere to the notion of reincarnation, or karma. This is the belief that we do not have just one life, topped and tailed by oblivious non-existence and a triumphant entry through golden gates with a heavenly choir urging us on. No, we have many: spending the time between existences in a kind of limbo, or heaven, or spiritual disembodied state, while we bide our time, as we pick and choose our next round of earthly existence.

But what do you believe? Do you believe that you burn through a brief, bright existence here, that you then die and that's it, darkness and all over with? That you enter Heaven on the arm of St. Peter and it's all bliss, bunnies and happy ever after? Or that you take what you can from your experience – this experience – here on earth, and then learn from it, and try to do better next time – be a better, smarter, kinder, stronger person, perhaps?

Because, for those who believe, that's kind of the point, I think. It's an educational approach to existence: working through the different grades in the school of life. Until when? Until we graduate, maybe. Lord alone knows what comes after that! It's a tougher educational course than regular school: the modules can seem like a pretty random selection, and failure is always an option. You can get a big fat F on any module! On the other hand, maybe you can re-take it until you get it right?

I like to think that reincarnation is at least a viable, somewhat realistic possibility, out of all the possible options available when we ponder meaning and mortality. For sure it's the one that makes most sense to me: there's so much to learn, so much to know, that it's hard to know just how to pack it all into one life! How about you?


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