Thursday, May 7, 2009
Threads of reincarnation
I don't believe in an afterlife, but I'm not 100% sure that one does not exist. So sometimes I ponder how it might work. How is the soul tied to the body, and where does the soul go when the body can no longer carry it?
One idea is that there is a whole other realm where souls go after leaving this world – heaven, hell, etc. But a simpler idea is that the souls return to our own world to continue their existence. They are reincarnated with a different body and maybe with different circumstances based upon what the soul did in previous incarnations.
One argument against reincarnation is that there are not enough souls to go around. The population of the world is growing (generally exponentially), so there are many more bodies now than there were a thousand years ago. Where did we get all the souls to inhabit these bodies? Or what were today's billions of souls doing when there were not enough bodies for them to inhabit?
I believe that time is an illusion, so I have an explanation based on the plasticity of time. Think of our world as a sheet of canvas and think of our souls as long threads. With time running from left to right across the front of the canvas, a soul comes into life by piercing the canvas from behind. It lives its life along the front of the canvas and leaves our world by piercing back behind at some point to the right.
If time were immutable then any reincarnation must occur with a return to the front of the canvas somewhere still farther to the right. But if the netherworld is free from our constraints of time, then the thread could run in any direction behind the canvas. It might return to the left, and come back to the front at any point, even one corresponding to a time before its prior life.
If the soul has little or no memory of its previous lives, then it could even make parallel runs across the front of the canvas without any paradoxes of coexistence. This flexibility means that all the living people you see today could be inhabited by any number of souls (up to as many as there are people today). And there could be any number of souls, weaving back and forth through time to inhabit all the bodies that ever have been or ever will be.
So be nice to your neighbors. They might be the other lives woven from the same thread as you.