Most people have some cursory idea of reincarnation — if we don’t get things spiritually right in this life, we are brought back to try again in a subsequent life. Depending on how well or badly we behaved in our previous incarnation, we might come back as a lower life form or with fewer amenities. If we’re good, we might return a little richer, with a higher IQ or higher social status.
This is most people’s casual idea of reincarnation. But what if reincarnation is not a small “s” self, individual soul phenomenon? What if it is not a system of checks and balances to punish or reward? Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase becoming ONE with the universe?
If you ascribe to the belief in Advaita, the experiential understanding that all is One — manifest and unmanifest at the same time, then we are each of us, wholly One thing experiencing Self through the illusion of multiple individuals.
If that idea seems too complex to grasp then think of what you feel when you sit in meditation – a connection to the universe, one soul, one Pure Consciousness. This Pure Consciousness could be like the white light that shines through the prism of existence, refracting in all directions creating a rainbow of individual colors. The rainbow is an illusion. Orange is still white. Purple is still white.
Hold on, you may say, there are people who can remember a past life and Clairvoyants who can read your past life. Doesn’t that indicate individual experience? Not necessarily, if there is One single consciousness, then I may well have a memory of living as Napoleon Bonaparte. I am That, he is That. All of this (throughout history) is nothing more or less than That. It would explain why two people can have the same past life memory, and why several people remember being the same famous person. Along that same vein, the Clairvoyant is accessing this consciousness database as well.
Now, am I literally saying that I remember being Napoleon? No, the fact is I have manifested as small “s” self with a specific set of spiritual lessons to experience. But lately, I have realized that I, individual Sanora, am not the center of this existence. I am the conceit, the form, the physical vehicle that moves through lessons about money, knowledge, commitment and communication. The physical vehicle is circumstantial and ephemeral, as is the emotional database, the intellect, the ego – all of these will drop when the body drops. The experiences though will be absorbed and recycled again and again in other vehicles that allow the unmanifest One to manifest as Self.
And yes, we can remember those experiences because we are That. Is there reincarnation? There can be no doubt, but as a system to make you, small “s” self, a better, more pious individual? Not necessarily, think about your own existence in this lifetime. What are your recurring themes? How do they bring you in contact with other individuals? That contact is the point of multiplicity.
Perhaps reincarnation is simply Oneness living as many selves over and over in order experience itself through the eyes of an Other — in order to ultimately experience the greatest unity – love.
If this makes you feel small or unimportant as an individual, you merely need to go back to the immense beginning: I am That. Thou Art That.
We are the One experiencing Self through multiple manifestations and the colors refracted through the prism are infinite – as is the conscious storehouse of memory.