Birth is sometimes described as miraculous. Life is what you make of it. Death is inevitable.
Ever curious and perhaps sometimes “out there,” my mind often wanders off in directions without a map; certainly without GPS!
Back in my high-school career (1964-68)one of my favorite assignments was researching for and writing a paper on any topic I chose. Raised as a devote Catholic, I believed in Heaven and a here after of some kind. Somewhere, in my run away thoughts, I wondered about reincarnation. That was my topic of choice. Were those flashes of having been there or done that before connected to previous lives? Deja vous?
The challenge was finding credible research on that topic. The usual research options began with multiple sets of encyclopedia at home; the school library; the public library. Books written by experts and recognized as such by their peers were very rare during those years. Buddhism beliefs include rebirth and karma. There was the 1952 account of Virginia Tighe, who, while under hypnotic regression described a previous life in Ireland as Bridey Murphy. That was it. So the paper was more about Buddhism.
Many years later, Brian Weiss, M.D. wrote “Many Lives, Many Masters.” A very believable account of his experience treating patients through regressive therapy through hypnosis. A traditionally trained psychiatrist, Weiss was basically blown away by what his patient revealed. He was reluctant to share the experience with colleagues, believing he would be professionally discredited and perhaps disbarred. Eventually, he could no longer keep the information to himself. Evidence of reincarnation?
Weiss’s work was very reassuring to me. I shared his book with enthusiasm. Mom’s brother, Vernon had died about the time I discovered “Many Lives, Many Masters.” The book provided comfort. I gave Mom a copy and encouraged her to read it; not sure if she ever actually did. She was, however, an avid reader. Weiss describes how our current circle of family, friends and acquaintances were present in our past in some role. Most likely, the same group of folks will be reunited in the future. The relationship to each will probably vary.
Disney’s movie, “The Lion King,” introduces the concept of the “circle of life.” “From the day we arrive on the planet…more to do than can ever be done. Till we find our place on the path unwinding…in the circle of life.” It sings to me of the certainty of mortality and the possibility of reincarnation or re-birth. But that’s what I want to hear.
Since the recent death of my sister, Mary, pennies seem to appear before me more frequently than ever before. I pride myself on being observant so I say that with utmost confidence. Again, wanting to believe the coins are messages from Mary now in Heaven, how can it be anything else? Okay so that may confirm that there is a Heaven and Mary is letting me know that all is well there. But what about reincarnation?
The years and extensive work of Dr. Ian Stevenson convincingly proves reincarnation. He interviewed thousands of young children. The kids related memories, characteristics, knowledge and experiences that correlated to documented lives of people who had died before the interviewed children were born. A lot of the interviews were conducted in countries open to the theory of reincarnation.
It is with great disappointment that my personal experiences are absent of conscious encounters with earth bound spirits of any kind or substantiated evidence of life before this one. I strongly suspect that my son is a recent incarnate. I’ve been told by a medium that I had at least one previous incarnation as a young French boy. In that life, I kept a journal hidden under my bed. I wonder if I may have previously been a healer of some type. During a guided meditation, I saw myself armed with a musket. And then shot by one. I felt it the pain in my lower left back.
Lyrics from another song, “I believe that every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.” I believe…that life of any kind is nurtured by the elements of earth, wind, fire and rain. Evolution may be more concrete that creation. The chicken or egg conundrum. Reincarnation.
However strong my belief in reincarnation, there is no way to deny our mortality, either.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross presented her research and theory “On Death and Dying” in 1969. Death is something many people are uncomfortable thinking about, let alone discussing. Her work became widely recognized and respected. As a culture, we need more discussion about dying. Talk opening about personal thoughts regarding end stage possibilities and choices. Burial vs. cremation. Consider writing a draft of your own obituary. Death is one thing everyone has in common.
Atul Gawande is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Being Mortal.” His book may become the twenty-first century guideline(I’m only on page 75)encouraging much needed conversations. Gawande discusses the dilemma of modern medicine and science capabilities. Do clinicians loose perspective?Is their focus on treating a chronic condition? Do they not consider the person in front of them? Is life sustained by artificial means humane? Or simply prolonging the inevitable? We are mere mortals. Even the most gifted of physicians and surgeons are mortal.
The links below provide easy access to more detailed information on today’s topic. I encourage you to explore for yourself!
Imagine! and Happy trails…