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Growing up the constant refrain on the lips of those in my midst seemed to be, "I don't want to have to come back to Earth." Or: "I hope this will be my last incarnation as a human."

You may wonder who is wont to say something so bizarre. Was I hanging out with a bunch of kooks? Turns out most people believe in reincarnation. Some are just more vociferous about it. 

The Earth is a planet of lessons. It is not unlike a school. We as perfect spirit are sent to a womb, confined to a body that grows old, gets diseased and dies, and in our short stint we are dealt every sort of set-back, disappointment and obstacle under the sun, whose damaging rays cause cancer and reptile skin - if you are lucky to live long enough. When living to a "ripe old age" basically means becoming a prune, who in her right mind would fancy such a God-awful thing!

Sure, this planet offers its fair share of sensory delights. Sex feels good, food is tasty; and success, however brief, is satisfying. But is there any deeper satisfaction than sleep? And being characterized by unconsciousness, sleep is indistinguishable from death. No wonder these kooks are in such a rush to get the hell outta of Dodge. I've never been to Kansas. But Dorothy spent all of Wizard of Oz trying to get back there, so it can't be that bad. And indeed Earthly life is very fulfilling to a specific personality type. They are called young souls, in my dad's parlance. They love life in the body, they crave every type of experience imaginable, they devour their days with relish and mustard; and if they have it their way they'll keep coming back to the merry-go-round that is life, over and over again, ad infinitum. Because to these young souls, life is a carnival where the lines are easy and admission is free.

It's the old souls that are itching to get out. Just as old people, in the words of my now diseased grandma, "cannot wait to die." It seems they've had enough of the arthritis, existential or actual. But what these world-weary folk don't see is the flawed reasoning at work in the belief that a person comes back to Earth against her will. The assumption is that they haven't learned their lessons and need to "repeat the grade," as it were. But if you don't want to be born again (not in the Christian sense, of accepting Jesus Christ as you personal Savior in accordance with the injunction, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again" (John 3:3) - I mean if you don't wish to literally be born again in a new body after this one breaks down, then don't. It's not as if someone is holding a gun to your head and saying, "Get back in a body or else!" 

Well, maybe and maybe not. In the spirit realm you are confronted with others who do influence your future decisions. They are the good genius and the evil genius, as the Tibetans call them. And they both are aspects of you. The good genius sheds light on your noble, pure and altruistic acts, while the evil genius tries to justify those times you were selfish and cruel. Both are very wily (thus the genius), and the good aspect has your soul's best intentions at heart, while the evil side of you, which serves your lower nature, is like the kid who wants to eat the whole cake (of life) and then blame it on the one who didn't come to class that day. Only the absent child is you too!

And maybe if you as good genius don't feel that you have gotten all you can from your days as a human, he/she will gently recommend that you return for one more go, or a thousand. Because if your spirit is immortal as is presumed, then chances are you have been here a gazillion times before. 

Here again the logic breaks down. Because if the spirit is perfect, then why all the ignorance, mistakes and lessons we humans must learn? If our nature is divine, why is God (as you and me) such a dullard once he takes a body? I know, I know, the flesh is weak. But if we have all eternity in which to play, then if this is to be our final go-round on the globe, where else is there to go? How can you be sure life is any better wherever? And if you are born again - God forbid! - but don't remember the present, is that future person really you anyway? 

Now I understand why the Buddhists denied the reality of the soul: because it's like L.A. weather - always changing! Some things (like the weather, and the soul) the mind cannot fathom. Which, I suppose, is where faith comes in. Now I think I understand why Christians are born-again. So they don't have to be! 

So, rack your brain and make the unknown as small as possible, and when it's time to doff your thinking cap - that is, when you're done thinking deep thoughts - go ahead and take the leap. May you land safely on the other side of Reality. Once you get there, tell the mere mortals you've left behind what it's like. Because I'm done trying.


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