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Reincarnation, do we need it?

"I used to believe in reincarnation but that was in a past life"
~ Paul Krassner 

Brian: I have been wondering about beliefs and theories about how we survive death to live on again in another body. This is pretty much taken for granted in many mainstream eastern philosophies. The puzzling part is making non-dualism and its moksha (enlightened liberation) somehow fit into this game plan. 

Wim: It can be done when we re-view the conventional concept of reincarnation and find out that it is based on something more original, something that is prior to the idea of reincarnation. 
In my own case I found that I don't have to adhere to 'reincarnation' at all to make sense of my experiences of memories of events that happened prior to my date of conception.
If I do use the term 'Past Lives', I don't use it in the context that it means that I or anyone lives through a string of personal past (and future!) lives. There are way too many people who have claimed to be Cleopatra!!!  

Brian: But Wim, there are far too many people out there who have semi-briefly experienced this 'continuity process' to toss it out as merely some sort of 'must go on until we get perfected' mind-set or manner of thinking.

Wim: True!

Brian: So, I think it - reincarnation - must be happening.

Wim: No doubt, 'something' IS happening. But that something that is 'happening' became at some point and over time misinterpreted until it eventually developed into the 'belief in reincarnation' and the 'concept of past lives'. 
The way I see it is that the idea of, say, 'personally owned past lives' and 'reincarnation linked to past life karma' is a simplification of something that is in origin fundamental and radical... 
Compare it to how an 'urban myth' can evolve from something that was originally very primal, fundamental and real, into something that subsequently became 'just' a belief, concept or theory or a powerful - but still dubiously fanciful - myth. 

Brian: Yes, I can see that. What I am also beginning to see is that while still believing in or accepting the 'good old reincarnation process' that it is difficult to adhere to an 'advanced' non-dualistic philosophy of life or being.

Wim: I don't think it is difficult, I think it is impossible! 
But... we might be able to understand how from some underlying and original genuine dynamics, concepts like reincarnation, past lives and past life karma could develop. We could investigate why and how they, from our perspective, became such confused and confusing derivations. 

Brian: Does one have to reject one in order to believe the other? 
Could it be that there is indeed a survival of the death process alongside a subsequent reincarnation? Or... maybe not, reincarnation also seems to be something to get beyond as it is essentially contains quite a bit of fatalistic judgmentalism.

Wim: I think Brian, that you are on the right track taking restrictions away that enable you to gain greater and deeper insights into this. 

Brian: Well, I am still willing to try and accept the 'tried and true theory of reincarnation'... I am willing to deal with it if it proves to be true. 

Wim: Nothing wrong with being flexible. Having restrictions or limiting preconceptions about any such ideas will not help you in finding out what might in fact be behind the theory of reincarnation.
But before diving deeper into this though, we have to be aware of the difference between:
  • Reincarnation, the Tibetan Buddhist way in which say a Dalai Lama gets reincarnated, a version of reincarnation in which only certain beings get that chance or privilege, and  
  • The Hindu belief in reincarnation in which everyone reincarnates until one gets to jump off the karmic wagon and gains liberation or moksha.
Be that as it may, as for me, I myself don't hold to the concept of reincarnation, although... I personally have quite a few memories of events that happened a long time ago, and I remember episodes from the lives of beings who apparently lived way before I was born... Somehow I retrieved long stretches of memory - some of which were also dealing with the evolution of life on earth and episodes in the development of the cosmos - but I never felt the urge to view them as my own personal memories. 
Instead I felt an urge to look for a different understanding, and eventually I found an explanation in which the concept of "Akashic records" played a decisive role as I discovered and experienced that it is possible to gain access to the history of any previous living being or any previously existing structure or dynamic when... needed. 
Why that can be so and how that could be handy is quite an interesting topic for discussion. 

Brian: It seems to me that the tricky part in what you are saying is what or who one considers oneself to be in that process of 'history retrieval' that you are describing. 

Wim: But Brian, one is always 'I'
By the way, it is remarkable that, to my knowledge, English is the only language in which just one letter is used to represent one's identity: 'I', and moreover, it is a capitalized 'I'! 
Everyone IS always I, and it is a wondrous surprise when one discovers the significance of that. 
One finds that in fully integrated awareness everything/everybody/everyone shares in that one - I feel it as divine - "I"dentity. 

Brian: Wow! 
But Wim, let's be realistic, let's come down again.
You see, honestly, I still tend to think that we should consider ourselves to be a physically bundled assembly of desires, wants, reflexes, body memories, etc., etc., all packaged in individual temporal physical forms. And something in me still wants to believe that we kind-of linearly go from one life to the next and that our karmic actions somehow control the nature and quality of those lives that we go through... 
Yes, in  spite of what you just said... although I must say 'I' impressed me!
In any case, and again realistically, we should really consider that because each one of us experiences himself or herself separately, that the eventual process of reincarnation indeed seems to continue and revolve around each one of us individually. 

Wim: I don't think we need that consideration at all. 

Brian: If, however, before the death process,... 

Wim: I'll cut you off here for a second, Brian... There is this thing about death... 
Death is a concept that has to be seen as something radically different from how it is usually talked about by non-participating bystanders or onlookers. They only observe from the outside and mistakenly assume that the one who is 'dying' so to speak, experiences the same thing - death - as what the onlooker sees as happening. As you know, I have many times talked about my brushes with 'death', when I accounted of my various NDEs, and I must say, one - who to the outsider appears to be 'dying' - does not experience any such thing at all. One seamlessly experi... 

Brian: OK, OK, Wim, I get it! I really think I do, so let me continue.  I am starting to see something that I'm sure you will agree with. If before or even during our "death process" we are able to sufficiently self examine what-and-who-we-actually-are and consider or even recognize our real self to be the sentience behind all the bodily images, memories, etc, then the actual moksha-break will come to completion, will it not?  

Wim: Makes quite a bit of sense, does it not?! 

Brian: Yeah, the difference being that the memories/desires go on but they would not be attached to us. I have no clue yet as to how these 'go on' without us though, but... alright... 

Wim: It has to do with:
  • the seamless continuum of integral awareness, 
  • segmentation of what-one-is-aware-of as a function of or operation in the process of consciousness with enables each individual to make sense of that continuum in terms of time, place and space,
  • and... unfortunately pseudo-consciousness which is the result when that seamless continuum of awareness is lost out of sight and when the conscious segments as distinguished within the whole are treated as broken-up and separate, as though unrelated to each other.
Brian: Could you elaborate on this pseudo-consciousness?

Wim: It is of course off-topic but OK...
What is conventionally called 'consciousness' is in my view merely 'pseudo-consciousness', a clumsy and broken tool that is used differently from how consciousness was originally designed to be applied. 
As every functional process has side-effects, so does consciousness. When those side-effects are exploited by people with abusive ulterior motives, they become adverse side-effects
Pseudo-consciousness and pseudo-self go shackled-hand-to-hand with unilateral dependence, slavery, etc. as brought about by that exploitation.

Brian: Wim, you are saying, "I see 'pseudo-consciousness' as a tool that is used differently than how it was designed to be used."
How was this 'pseudo-consciousness' designed to be used?
What is the relationship between 'pseudo-consciousness' and I?

Wim: Consciousness by itself is a faculty designed by humans for humans to use to help their 'core awareness' live practically, efficiently and effectively in equal, reciprocal and mutual relationship with 'all that is' (Sanskrit 'om tat sat'.)

I consider direct 'I Awareness' or 'Soham' the core of our being. (See Ramana Maharshi and his "Who am I" nondual inquiry.)
I consider consciousness to be an extension of our core awareness, I don't place it at the top of what it means to be human, I view consciousness as a faculty - rather like a tool.

Now, just like any other tool can be used for purposes it was not originally designed for (a hammer can be used to help build houses but can also be used to clobber someone to death) and just like, for example, medication can have adverse side effects, the same counts for consciousness.
Typical abuse or misuse of consciousness results when people with negative ulterior motives trick other humans into situations of stress and duress and then manipulate their victims to become dependent, they 'give them' so to say 'a piece of their mind'.
This type of abuse is always accompanied by sentence-like verbalizations (judgments, curses, spells, sentencings, incriminations,) that get lodged in the mind (engrammatically engraved) of the one being manipulated.
Internal dialog, could be seen as evidence of how inner conflict is really a conflict between oneself and one's usurper, one's conscience and the acquired or 'forced-upon-you' surrogate or pseudo-consciousness.
When mental abuse of power occurs (remember... under duress and stress) core awareness of the recipient goes into hiding, moving out of harm's way. (Luckily to emerge again later after therapy or yoga or say, Vipassana meditation.)
The original consciousness of the victim gets usurped by the manipulator and becomes pseudo-consciousness, the core of the victim's being goes on hold or in hiding and gets temporarily replaced by a pseudo-center (often called ego) and thus... the victim 'feels not him or herself anymore'.

The aim of the manipulator is of course to create dependent underlings who will do the bidding of the manipulator.
Words like manipulators, victimizers, power mongers are strong words, and the number of people operating that way may not be considered great. However underlying our common society structures are softer forms (more socially accepted versions) of manipulation they may be somewhat acceptable, although they can easily and eventually lead to excesses like consumerism, capitalism, communism, religious fanaticism, materialism, spiritualism, religionism, etc.... ergo all the various ways of cajoling innately free human beings into dependency to have them live under 'conditional conditions' set by hierarchic structures - behind which incidentally, those with 'agendas to take advantage of others' are hiding.

Manipulators always include maneuvers and strategies in their creation and handling of dependents that make the manipulators go scot-free and have their victims incriminate themselves when they run into modes of suffering that are actually the result of external manipulative strategies... rather then the inadequacies that the victims tend to accuse themselves of.

That is not to say that it is not possible to have relatively well operating societies with hierarchical structures that safeguard a free society enabling people to retain their innate freedom while still functioning for mutual and common good. 
Examples from history are some Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms where enlightened kings/princes returned freedom back to those who used to be their underlings. A case in point is the ancient Khmer kingdom. (Angkor Wat - in the region that now encompasses Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, etc.) 
Khmer experienced many centuries of an enlightened society, although the history books don't necessarily account of it. Looking at its art though, its architecture, the agricultural infrastructure, they show clear evidence that a leader doesn't have to be the leader of a pack... but can help fellow human beings to regain their freedom... freedom that was only seemingly lost... (Suffering is the illusive appearance of seeming loss of freedom that is made to feel as though more real than reality.) 
To see a fine Cambodia slideshow click the following link

(For another treatment on 'dropping the belief in reincarnation', please read Karma and the power of Entrapment.)

21 May, 2010

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