9: What is Going On?
"A human life is a schooling for eternity" - Gottfried Keller
All of the different forms of evidence of the afterlife tell much the same story. Death is nothing to be feared. The life after this is a pleasant one, and people who go there would rather stay there than come back.
If these were all made-up stories, or just manifestations of popular pre-conceptions, as the materialists allege, then why do they not reflect popular ideas about heaven and hell? Why are the afterlife stories not full of St Peter and the pearly gates, or of angels playing harps, or of the fires of hell? There is nothing concrete to support any of the materialists’ attempts to speculatively explain the evidence as it actually is.
There is no basis whatever on which to support the materialist who states, with all the confidence of an omniscient teenager, that the evidence is all hokum. One cannot just look at a pile of evidence, and arbitrarily declare it meaningless, just because it does not fit one’s own prejudices or preconceptions.
So, if this reincarnation stuff is actually going on, what is it all about?
My view (and that is what it is, my view, not a statement of fact, although I have based it on the perceived evidence, not on wishful thinking, materialist or otherwise) is that we are here for schooling, to build character, and to learn about life. We keep coming back until we have mastered it, completed the schooling, and can graduate from this Earth-life school, as perfected human beings, or Spiritual Masters, or whatever you might like to call them.
There are a number of popular misconceptions about reincarnation. For example, it is said that we can reincarnate as an animal. Many people, on learning that I am interested in this topic, say things like: "I would like to be a cat in my next life."
But none of the evidence that I am aware of suggests that this is likely to happen. There were no instances of past-life recall in the evidence I have seen that indicated a life as an animal. There are some mentions of lives on other planets in the universe, but these are relatively few, and they seemed to be about beings at about the same level of awareness and ability as Earth-based humans.
Some religious systems teach that if we misbehave in this life, then we might be reborn as an animal that reflects the type of misbehaviour. But this idea does not make sense to me, and is probably the equivalent in those religions ot the stories of eternal damnation familiar to those of use living in a Christian-based culture, that are supposed to ensure that we all behave ourselves. If I am studying a university course, and fail it, I will not expect to get sent back to kindergarten. I simply get to repeat the course I just failed. It ought to be the same with incarnations, and the evidence suggests that it is.
Another popular misconception about reincarnation, often trotted out by the sceptics, is that "Everybody remembers being someone famous". Again, the evidence does not support this assertion. Most of the more striking recollections are of ordinary, unremarkable individuals. There are a few claims of being famous people, such as Paul Gauguin, The Red Baron, or the particularly notable recollection of a life as Anne Frank. But the great majority of past life recollections that named names were not of famous people. There are those who claim to have been Napoleon, or some similar famous leader, but it seems much more likely that someone with a genuinely-held but hazy memory of Napoleon will more likely have been one of his soldiers, of whom he had many, or of someone else involved with him in one way or another, so that the presence of Napoleon is the strongest, albeit still unclear, memory available from that particular lifetime.
My own mother, listening incredulously to my tales of having been alive before, that conflicted with her particular strongly held religious viewpoint, simply responded with: "That is just nonsense. Why would anybody want to come back to this kind of life?"
But that is simply like the seven-year-old boy who cannot understand why anybody would want to return to school to be cooped up in a classroom again next year, when there are so many other adventures out there to fill one’s day with.