One of the things you have to do when someone presents their belief/opinion/point of view to you, is ask yourself Where are they coming from? What is their bottom line/frame of reference? What do they believe?
I believe that we have human souls that are evolving from the lowest most basic state to their highest state. (this may be linked to the expanding and collapsing of the universe). A spiritual self-actualization. We are here to learn completely what it is to be human and as we learn we evolve to increasingly advanced states. Just like school. Universe school! That is a huge separate conversation but a background about my frame of reference, so you know where I stand.
It makes sense to me that we cannot do this in one lifetime and so it is my belief that we reincarnate into many human lives. I do not believe, like many Buddhist/Hindu faiths do, that a human soul can spend a lifetime as a fish, say. I was born to a Catholic and a Protestant. I attended a Muslim private school for four years (it was awesome). I live in a place with one of the highest Indian (mostly Sikh) populations in the world outside of India, and have basic knowledge and understanding of many world religions, but have always somehow believed in past lives, and I also believe I have had a few instances of past life recall. Believe me, anyone who thinks they were Napoleon or Cleopatra in a past life is full of nonsense. They were more likely a gay grave digger in Zimbabwe. Oh, but my point is, I do not have a religious affiliation with the concept of reincarnation and I also understand that some religions appear to be more open to the concept than others. I do believe all enlightened teachers knew about it and I also know that most religions are based on interpretations of documents written by observers of an enlightened teacher. As such, much of the truth of what a teacher said and knew has been convoluted and misunderstood for various reasons. If you understand a universal TRUTH, it stands regardless of the religion and, yes, many universal truths are referred to in all of the religions. When you understand the basic truth you suddenly recognize how each enlightened teacher in each religion has somewhere likely tried to say the same thing.
It does not make sense to me that we can learn all we need to know in one lifetime and in one set of circumstances. We cannot know what we need to know from the point of view of one gender, one religion, one culture, one race. We have to come back to learn the next level of what it is we need to learn.
It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not. In fact, at certain stages it is harmful to know that this is the way things are.
If you think you are tired of this life and your misery and you want out, the bad news is that, if my theory is true, you will have to come back and learn the lesson you are learning now. This used to really piss me off. You know what I mean? - when your tired is too tired? But I came to begrudgingly accept that it makes sense and it is the way it is whether I like it or not. And avoiding your lessons now will make them potentially harder in the future (as the world becomes less habitable than it is now). Would you like to learn the exact difficult lesson you are learning now, say, in North Korea? Or pick a place you fear. Think about it. As far as I know there is no easy way out. Only through, not out. So based on that alone, one would do well to refocus their attention from “How do I get out?” to “How do I get through?”.
Now you might also fall into the fretting over what sort of past lives you had, what you did wrong, and so on. But really, there is no point in dwelling on it and there is a very good reason you do not have clear access to remembering your past lives. Processing one at a time is hard enough! Oh there are often good hints to some of your past lives (civil war re-enacters, people who form societies to build medieval weapons, people obsessed with certain countries, cultures, foods) but it does not serve you well to process the experiences of another life in this one. That is what you do between lives. :)
Well, as I said, don’t believe me. Just ponder the: hmmm, what if? Everything they seem to be getting away with? They’re not. Just because you don’t see that karma exists doesn’t mean it doesn’t. It is one of the primary laws that govern us. But that’s another post topic.
Imagine all the things people think they are getting away with because “YOLO” and then it turns out you don’t. One of my best friends used to mock my environmental conscientiousness. I’m no saint but I really don’t want to ruin the planet if possible and she thought I waste my time trying to recycle etc. She said “I really don’t care about recycling. I don’t care about wasting water. What a waste of time. Haha!” and I don’t normally want to say anything that implies my way is right but I had to say it: “I hope you won’t mind being born poor in India next time then.” (Not that it is bad karma to be born poor in India but there are challenges which make one appreciate resources like plastic and water). The look on her face as she thought about the What if was priceless.
If I was a higher power in the universe, it would make sense to me that what you don’t learn in one life requires an environment conducive to learning it in the next and I would totally see reincarnation as the way to remedy that.
So yeah. Reincarnation plays a role in the way I see things and this was not because I was taught to believe it. I came here already aware of it. I share this to be fair to you just so you know my frame of reference.
(note: the reason I chose this picture is because of all of my stock, this seemed most fitting given that one of my past life recalls was as a male Buddhist monk. I am not Buddhist now.)