Memories Of Rebirth: Is Reincarnation For Real?
My personal opinions about reincarnation are largely shaped by my first memories. What's your earliest memory? Just how far back can you remember? For most people, the answer is some incident when they were perhaps two or three years old – helping their mum make cakes, perhaps, or jumping around the living room excitedly to a song on Sesame Street. Some people claim to be able to remember a little further back than that - perhaps to eighteen months old or even one year old.
Is reincarnation really real? When we die do we just retreat for a little while into the ether, before returning in a new guise as a newborn baby, taking on a fresh challenge in the material world?
We all have our own opinions on the subject, from the religionists who sternly inform us that we each get only one single turn on the merry-go-round, to the atheists who even more severely lecture us that such fancies are mere wishful thinking and psychological immaturity, and the sooner we realise that we're all just bags of dirt who cease all consciousness on the moment of death, the better! And of course we mustn't forger the New-Agers, ever-willing to hypnotically regress us to past lives as Nell Gwynne or an Egyptian princess - once we hand over our credit cards...
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But what about my first memory? Now, be ready to have your credulity stretched a little bit – I'm not saying that what follows isn't a little difficult to swallow, if not outright brain-boggling!
The first thing I can remember didn't happen when I was three years old. Nor when I was two, or eighteen months, or one year old. The very earliest thing I can remember happened when I was a negative number! What does that mean? It means that my first memory is of before I was actually incarnated into this body!
Whoo-hooh, crazy lady! Well, not really – though obviously I wouldn't think so, would I? It might reassure the rationalists, atheists and agnostics out there if I say right at the kick-off that I maintain reservations about my own memories of incarnation. I have enough knowledge of the vagaries of the human mind – both mine and those of others – and how the brain can trick you, to maintain a little scepticism.
Now,my memory seems utterly real and reliable to me. But then it would, wouldn't it? But memories can be 'manufactured' – for example, my brother remembers with absolute certainty that I was born five days after the date on my birth certificate. And this is something he still maintains many years later, in the face of all disagreement and opposition. (What I always say to him, is that I think my mum is likely to be the person who remembers exactly what date it was best.) It's also a commonly-held fact that multiple witnesses of a crime will 'remember' directly contradictory details about the offenders, suggesting yet again the mutability of memory.
So, before I even describe my memory to you, we both know that I accept I have no verifiable proof of its veracity. And yet I am reminded of the words and actions of Bishop Berkeley, whose response to philosophical doubts about the verifiable nature of existence itself, was to boot away a stone in his path and say 'I refute it thus!'
What can I remember about being incarnated? First of all, I remember being in the 'other place' – whatever you want to call it, and however you want to describe it. The dimension that isn't this dimension – the place where anything is possible.
I remember I was with a group of my friends. I believe a New Ager or spiritualist might call them my 'soul group' or 'guides.' It seemed more informal that that to me.
My friends were advising me as I contemplated diving into the incarnated state again, into this very life I'm living now. And they were advising me, very strongly, against it! I mean the 'diving' part quite literally – we were examining the life I was considering through a kind of 'viewer' flat on the ground – but this was simultaneously a kind of 'well' through which I could dive and get started on this life.
This life wasn't a good idea, my spirit world pals told me. I wasn't sufficiently spiritually mature to cope with it. It would be too demanding for my capacities and reserves as they were currently. However, I could work, here in the spirit world, on improving my maturity and resources, and then return to attempt this life at a later time.
This is how it was explained to me. And it was all very sensible, no doubt. But I wasn't having any of it. I guess being here tells you what the outcome was. My 'pals' could advise me – but they didn't have sufficient seniority over me to prevent me doing as I pleased. So I took the plunge, and leapt into this life, finding myself a baby in the womb. It didn't take me long to realise my friends were right and I'd made a big mistake. But all my pleading couldn't reverse my decision, and I was going to have to live with the consequences...
So, is it a 'real' memory? Or is it 'real' only in the sense that I genuinely remember it, and yet it's something my brain knocked up in my early years to keep me amused? It's hard to say. All I can add is, that if it's true, then according to my subsequent memories, birth is no more of a cakewalk for the baby than the suffering mother. But I guess we could have worked that one out anyway...