Thursday, 2 April 2020

Further thoughts on 'reincarnation?'

Lent 2020 Day 37

Why doesn't the Western world believe in reincarnation? Because we were not brought up to do so. Whether you are a practising Catholic or a devout atheist, traditionally, the notion does not sit easily with folks round these parts. However, a quick look at the Wikipedia page on reincarnation shows just how widespread the notion is across a great many other religions.

To feel that thread of eternal existence(s), you need sensitivity, an imaginative disposition and openness to ideas others than those you were brought up in. The ability to observe within your subjective experience those incursive qualia that come from outside your lifetime. As a child I felt them, from before my fifth birthday even, but as I grew older I dismissed any meaning of them - partly because the religion I was brought up in didn't recognise the concept of previous lives and partly because science didn't recognise them either.

And yet those recurring familiarities of the past continued coming, as they do to this day; weak, irregular, but undeniable. Sensitivity is very important as the metaphysical does not manifest itself in forthright ways. I do, however, believe that as consciousness evolves, it will become easier to be aware of those manifestations.I'd coin the term xenomnesia - cognate with xenoglossy, the phenomenon in which a person is able to speak or write a language they couldn't have acquired by natural means. Xenomnesia is a memory that a person experiences that they couldn't have acquired by natural means.

The reincarnation believed in by Buddhists or Hindus differs as much mine as the God believed in by Christians or Muslims differs from mine. I would get away from the karmic nature of reincarnation as being too close to social control (do good and you will be born again as a rich nobleman, do bad and you will be born again as a low-caste leper). No; the ego is lost, the bonds of genetics, epigenetics and social origin are lost; what remains in that thread is the essence of consciousness. It is a weak force for now, but it will strengthen over the millennia as atoms re-order themselves. The spiral goes around but climbs to a higher level; we can look down on where we were and gain in wisdom.

Those dreams and flashbacks - Bowling Green, Kentucky; Zig Zag, Oregon; Stony Point, Maryland; the time and the place consistently fit a pattern. The recent dream of Florida, another one. From childhood dreams to the present day, a lifelong thread ensues

Watching lectures in which anaesthesiologist Prof Stuart Hameroff talks about the process of slipping in and out of consciousness as being a quantum event fills me with a sense that science and religion can move towards a common ground, based on a shared vocabulary. Religious philosopher Richard Swinburne is happy to use the words 'soul' and 'consciousness' interchangeably.

In the same way that science cannot stand still but constantly seek, experiment and learn more, religion too must move forward. Rooted in antiquity, denying any departure from orthodoxy stifles the soul's quest; any religion you wish to build must be dynamic and open to the new concepts.

This time last year:
Peace of mind stolen by Brexit
[We thought things were bad then!]

This time two years ago:
On Learning and Living

This time four years ago:
Goats and hares

This time five years ago:
On Gratitude, and loving life

This time eight years ago:
Edinburgh views

This time nine years ago:
Halfway through Lent

This time 11 years ago:
Swans on ul. Trombity

This time 12 years ago:
Papal anniversary, Warsaw

This time 13 years ago:
Sowing oats, Jeziorki

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