“You and I…have lived many lives…”

Reincarnation -- artist unknown
Reincarnation — artist unknown

So: reincarnation.

Many fields numbered among the Esoteric Sciences contemplate, or outright assume the existence of, reincarnation.  In very brief capsule summary form here, by “reincarnation,” I mean the concept of a person’s spirit or soul moving onward after the physical death of that person’s body, to inhabit a new form in a subsequent “life.”

Many major religions deal with this notion, with some embracing it, some dismissing it, and some sort of pointedly ignoring it.  In some views, the forms into which souls reincarnate are determined by the behaviors of those souls in any preceding life: that is, if you’re “good” in one life, you get a new and improved form in the next, but if you’re “bad,” you get bumped downward into a “lower” form so as to learn your lessons more successfully than what you showed in the life just ended.  Other schools of thought may not lean quite so heavily on the good/bad approach, but do adopt the idea that souls continue to grapple with the same karmic issues across multiple lifetimes until these issues can finally be put to rest.  Astrology is often employed to examine past lives and karma, and so are such disciplines as Tarot, crystal work, and mediumship.

I’m not trying to write a treatise here in this little box about all the definitions of what reincarnation can be, or to espouse opinions on which is the “right” view.  The thrust of this here blog post is mostly just to ask a question…

As a quick aside, I should first state that there does exist a subset of reincarnation theory that essentially sidesteps what I’m about to get into: certain works of fiction put forth scenarios in which a character seems to become stuck in a sort of “reincarnation-loop,” such that they continue to live their current lifetime over and over again.  For example, see the plight of Bill Murray’s character in the film Groundhog Day, the main action in the novel Replay by Ken Grimwood, or even the odd existence experienced by the cosmic character Starhawk in Marvel Comics’ Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series (some version of which is in development as a major feature film, right now!).  These scenarios all involve a circle within a character’s existence, usually covering the same period of years on Earth through multiple repetitions.

Aside from these reincarnation-loop kinds of predicaments, though, I feel fairly justified in saying that reincarnation seems virtually always (at least in my admittedly subjective experience to date…) to be presented as unfolding in a very linear fashion down through our time-stream.  That is, a soul touches down on Earth to inhabit a body for a period of time, disengages from our timeline when that life ends, touches back down a bit later in time to experience a new body and a new life, disengages, moves further along, etc., perhaps on into infinity.  The concept seems almost exactly, to me, like the skipping of a stone across the surface of a body of water, with the stone representing the soul in question, and the body of water — lake, river, whatever — playing the part of our linear time-stream.

Is this how reincarnation works...?
Is this how reincarnation must work…?

So here’s my question: why would a soul, disengaged from our time-stream — arguably operating outside of it between the death of one form and its entry into the next — be bound to the linear dictates of that time-stream?

You will almost always hear people discuss past lives as having been truly past, and occurring in chronological sequence (chronological not just for them, but also within the context of what we all experience in our shared consensus reality here on Earth).  For example, someone might speak of having lived as a knight during the Middle Ages in Europe, then as a beggar on the streets of Calcutta in the 1600’s, then as a blacksmith in the American colonies before the Revolutionary War, as a young soldier killed in the trenches during World War I…  But why would it have to occur in that strict order?

I’ve never heard someone say that in their own subjective chronological order, they experienced life as, say, a Siberian shaman around 900 AD, then reincarnated as a cave-person at the post-dawn of Time, then became a spacefaring explorer two thousand years from our own current era, only to next awaken as an island native dealing with incursion from armed aggressors in the Pacific theater during World War II…  If reincarnation occurs as so many theorize, why wouldn’t the soul hop around without regard for the restrictions of the linear time-stream?  Yes, sure, while ensconced within a physical form and bound to a specific life in a specific era, time would most likely unfold in pure linear fashion for that soul…but wouldn’t “death” more or less pop you right outside of that linear flow?  I’d imagine that seen from the outside, time would be less a straight line, and more a circle, or maybe a spiral that extends infinitely in two or more directions (it would probably be all but impossible to even reduce time to something simple enough for our present four-dimensional conscious selves to easily grasp, but this is the best I can do at the moment).

Anyway, I apologize for raising such a rich and fascinating topic here, and then not offering any set answers.  Hopefully the asking of questions will at least have been worth the cost of admission here today!  What are your thoughts on reincarnation and linear time…?

4 thoughts on ““You and I…have lived many lives…”

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