Hope and Meaning in Reincarnation

by ‘Paulo’ OBrien

I’m getting old, and I don’t like feeling that I’m running out of time! To make matters worse, anxiety exacerbated by global threats to “eco-anxiety”—the fear that human life on this planet is extinguishing itself through short-sightedness, addiction to magical thinking, greed and choosing short-term convenience over long-term survival. Since I realize I can do little to mitigate planetary problems like global warming and threats to democratic society, I am left with the dilemma of what can I do to balance right action with some semblance of happiness or peace of mind? At the very least, how can I inject some hope and a greater sense of meaning into the rest of my life? Well, the best I have come up with so far is to strengthen my belief in reincarnation.

That’s right, reincarnation—a concept embedded in various religions and philosophies that refer to the belief that one’s essence, after death, keeps coming back in renewed form until we graduate from this damn “reform school!” The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth is believed to continue until we attain a high enough level of understanding or “enlightenment.” While the specifics of beliefs in reincarnation may differ, a core principle is consistent: life does not end with death; it’s just a transition. Letting go of a fear of death as some kind of judgment day/final ending brings me hope, no matter how imperfect I might be!

If one believes that death is a transition, rather than a final ending, fear of the unknown diminishes. This perspective can be comforting to those nearing the end of their lives or grieving the loss of loved ones. There’s solace in the idea that they will be reunited and that we may have yet another chance to fulfill our purpose.

I find a sense of meaning and purpose in the perspective that life is a series of learning experiences that never ends. This view encourages me to embrace life’s challenges as lessons to be learned, promoting resilience and adaptability and an accumulation of good karma through ethical living. Moreover, mistakes or setbacks can be seen not as failures, but as opportunities for growth (and good karma) in this life or the next.

Many traditions that uphold the concept of reincarnation embrace the law of karma, where actions in one’s current life can even influence the shape of future lives. This belief instills a sense of responsibility and pro-social behavior. People are more likely to engage in good deeds and avoid negative actions, anticipating the consequences they will inevitably have to face. This renders all our decisions, even small ones, that much more meaningful.

Furthermore, a quest for enlightenment or liberation from the cycle of rebirth can motivate individuals to invest in self-improvement. This might manifest as a dedication to spiritual practices, meditation, education, or personal reflection. Such endeavors not only enhance individual well-being but also positively influence the community at large.

Past life regression therapy, though controversial, has helped some individuals address unresolved issues and traumas they have suffered In this lifetime. Whether the recollections are from past lives or just symbolic narratives, many have found healing and closure through this process.

The underlying principles of a belief in reincarnation offer strong benefits that can enhance personal well-being and promote a more harmonious society. By encouraging ethical living, fostering connections, and continual growth, faith in reincarnation can offer hope and serve as a profound tool for individual and collective transformation.