I have believed in human reincarnation throughout most of my conscious life. Amazingly, I can even pinpoint in memory the day when, as an eight-year-old, I realized that I completely accepted the concept.
It was spring, near Easter, and I was sitting in church on a weekday morning, attending Mass at my Roman Catholic school. I was seated near one of the beautiful stained glass windows that frequently took my mind off the incomprehensible, still-in-Latin mass. I even recall what I was wearing (as we didn’t wear uniforms at Holy Name in the early 1960s): a little yellow-striped seersucker skirt and top, brand-new, of which I was inordinately proud.
And as I sat there, mind wandering from the Mass, I realized that I didn’t question whether I had lived before; I only wondered, “But if I’ve lived before, why can’t I remember?”
I reached my 20s before I actually researched the concept of human rebirth, learned the difference between a belief in reincarnation and transmigration, read the multitude of accounts of those who had proof of an earlier life, and, finally, began to experience dreams which seemed to reveal brief moments of my own past existences.
For someone who does not accept the theory, all of this undoubtedly seems like a great deal of nonsense. And that’s fine. It would be a very boring world indeed if we all followed precisely the same path. I’ve also reached the conclusion that some of us do choose to live but a single existence in this human plane (which is, after all, sometimes pretty close to Hell). I’m sure there are souls which select the path of personal spiritual growth working wholly on the Other Side.
But the gift I have been given by a lifelong belief in human rebirth is a source of knowledge and a sense of comfort. I have a clear explanation for why certain individuals, certain situations, have been drawn into my life, sometimes over and over. I understand that there are reasons, causes, and motivations behind the seemingly-random and often cruel events of life. And I accept complete responsibility for my situation, knowing that I chose this life and these lessons – that my life is, in a sense, a do-over, and one which I requested.
I recall reading of one author in the 1950s who, having experienced memories of a past life that she found it impossible to deny, nevertheless found the whole concept horrifying. She used her memories in writing a novel, but she wasn’t at all happy with the idea. I understood her aversion. The knowledge that we have made the choice to return to this life, might choose to do so again, can be harsh. But there it is: I cannot un-believe something which walked into my consciousness in early childhood, and which simply makes such good sense to me.
Yet sometimes, I admit, when in the midst of grief and utter misery, I must acknowledge the sad truth: that believing we have only one life to live would actually be easier.
So very much easier.