When I yesterday mentioned that I have stopped believing in reincarnation, I of course did not mean that I now believe in the Christian idea of heaven or hell. In my eyes both philosophies are man-made, created by religion in order to make people do the right thing. I don’t believe in the Hindu idea of reincarnation anymore because it does not fit to my thinking and nor does any other religion’s idea of what comes after death. I know however that many westerners decided to believe in reincarnation. Obviously this means that even though they were brought up as Christians, they rather believe in being reborn again than getting stuck in hell or rejoicing in heaven for eternity. How come? What makes the philosophy of reincarnation so attractive to people in the west?
One reason is that you can feel life is not simply over after death. And it is also not only either heaven or hell. You have some more hope because something will come after it. There are more lives to come. If you miss someone who is dead, it is consoling to think he will be reborn and you might meet him in another incarnation. You yourself don’t need to suffer from too much guilt because you will get another chance in another life. If you have unfinished business, you will be able to finish it next time. It reduces the amount that you suffer and gives more hope than the wide-spread and usual Catholic or Christian idea. Hinduism practically teaches you the art of dying. I did mention this in my diary before, too.
Another factor, which is the one I already mentioned yesterday, is that it serves as an explanation for why things are as they are today. If you are poor and miserable, it is because of your past life and what you did then. If you have a lot of problems with your family, you can find an explanation saying that you still had to learn that lesson from your past life when you made your own family’s life difficult.
The problem with this way of seeing reincarnation is not only that people get stuck in the past instead of living in the presence. They also tend to neglect their own responsibilities. They don’t accept their mistakes in this life and don’t take responsibility for their actions because there is always a very convenient excuse: that happens because of my past life! Then a problem with your ex-husband did not start because you both were egoistic and should have listened to each other more but because he was the one who allegedly killed you in a past life. How easy, now you don’t have to work on your conversation skills but just accept that it was not meant to be. It was Karma, it happened and that’s it.
It is convenient not only for many people as an excuse but for many others a great chance to make money. Hindu gurus and modern western healers claim to know what is going on in past lives and a lot of them even say they can heal any problems resulting from that! I have written a lot about this topic of fake healing and more in my diary before, too:
Fake Business of Healing Past Lives – 14 Feb 09
Healing Past Lives – a Good Business – 9 Jun 09
Storytelling of Past Lives – Something nobody can Prove – 10 Jun 09
Psychics need Psychotherapists – 7 Dec 09
When reading these diary entries, you may find that I mention my belief in reincarnation. As always, I say we humans are changing in an everlasting process. What I believed then, that we have past lives and are reborn, is not what I believe now. Two years ago I just thought it is not important what we experienced in past lives. Today I don’t believe in reincarnation anymore at all. I accept change and whenever I write my entries, I honestly write what I have on my mind.
The foremost reason however for people in the west to believe in reincarnation is in my opinion not really any of the ones above. It is neither that they are very worried about their life after death nor do most of them search for an excuse for what is happening in this life or are very interested in what happened in their past lives. No, I believe for the majority of western people who believe in reincarnation the main reason is that it is ‘in’. It is in fashion to believe, at least a little bit, in Hinduism or Buddhism. A lot of stars claim to have converted to one of these religions and the whole esoteric scene is a big mixture of Asian religious ideas. Some appeal to a greater group of people, so they are accepted by masses and I believe reincarnation is one of those ideas.
Anyway, there is no way to prove whether Christianity is right and there is heaven and hell as your final station, whether Hinduism is right and you have to come again and again to learn and finally reach Nirvana or whether I am right with what I believe, that there is just simply nothing else anymore. You and I will not know it until we are at a point where we won’t be able to tell it to anyone on earth anymore.
So let’s just accept that some people do good in this life because they think they will come in heaven, others do good because they believe they will have a better next incarnation and some do good because they are simply convinced that it is good to do good. If this is the result, I don’t mind a difference of opinion at all.