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3.08.2007

Mere Reincarnation

I mean no ill-will by this post. I just don't get reincarnation. I'm sure people don't get me believing in the Hope I have in Christ, either. But reincarnation REALLY doesn't make alot of sense to me.

So you die. And live again. As something else. What or who decides what that will be? Karma? So if I live well, I get to be a Platypus or something equally fun? Live poorly and I'm a Dung Beetle or TsiTsi Fly? What's the moral compass that determines living well and poorly? Sure, Ghandi is probably whatever he wants to be according to this faith, and Hitler is probably a Herpe, but away from the extremes and into the gray areas of morality, how high is the bar of ethics? And who determines what's right and wrong? What those ethics actually are? With no absolute moral values, is it up to the individual to decide? And if so, wouldn't that make Hitler ok if HE thought so? If HE thought for whatever twisted reason that what HE was doing was for the greater good, then HE would have high morals still. Right? It's all relative?

I don't get it. Is it qualitative or quantitative? Is it more important to do a few really important and great things, or lots of little semi-good things? And again, aside from the extremes, what really is great vs semi-good? We know murder is probably not great, and finding a cure for cancer is pretty nice. But lying? Some don't think it's wrong. Some do. The same with gossip or cheating or cursing. Who decides? I'd say it's the difference between becoming a Mosquito and an Elk. You better know what you're doing.

What happens when the Earth is no longer suitable for life? What do we come back as then? Nothing? Where do we GO then? Is that when we finally die? I can see the incentive for protecting the planet. Do we come back as Rocks? Do we start over? Re-evolve into new creatures that we can take turns being? And if you evolve into a cool animal, does that mean you lived well previously? And if you can come back as a new species or newly evolved animal, why not come back as one that isn't around anymore? I mean, if you're in control, why not come back as a Velociraptor? And if it's how you live that determines what you come back as, then what does that mean about extinction? That people quit doing whatever it was that made them become Pterydactyls? If they figured that out, why don't they figure out how to quit becoming Anthrax and Spiders and Herpes.

What about life on Mars? Reincarnation can't be limited to Earth. If you believe it existed at one point on Mars, where is it now? Are they all grains of red sand forever blown by the winds of lonliness? Will they only re-evolve into new life on Mars if they live well as a grain of sand? Maybe it gives us a clue to the death of the planet. Everyone's resigned to this fate as a molecule of lonely red dirt because they all lived so poorly. Their pennance is to forever look alike and not move unless rolled over by NASA's Mars Rovers. Or maybe we are what Mars was. Maybe we were the life on Mars in our former lives.

Or at least Tom Cruise was.

Or maybe it's all chance. You die and are buried. You come back as dust and maggots? Gross. Sorry. Can you only become where you last were? Die in a field, become a red fern? Dying in Antarctica would really limit your chances of up-selling beyond a frozen Guppy. I'm moving somewhere exotic and diverse. There's a few more options in the after-life around Hawaii or the Galapagos than say the Yukon. Or Siberia.

It seems like it requires a lot of faith to believe in reincarnation. You get something wrong about your faith--flip off one too many people, eat one too many desserts, cuss one too many times--without a guideline, you're hovering around cow manure for the four-day life span of a fly. But then what? Sure we get from here to there. We murder someone and we're doomed in the next life as a Nutria Rat. From the Human species to species Tapewormia. But how do you get from there to somewhere less...crappy? A Dung Beetle for instance. How do they get from Dung Beetle to caterpillar? Living well requires WHAT of a Dung Beetle? Eating lots of crap really well? Not stealing from other Dung Beetles' piles of dung? Not cheating on your Dung Beetle life partner? Raising your Dung Beetlets to respect their elder chief Dung Beetles?

What about a Tapeworm? It's very existence is detrimental to life. Living well as a Tapeworm involves ruining people's lives. So what is the criteria for a Tapeworm to quit being a Tapeworm? If it lives well within its purpose, it's causing harm to the world. So it's only looking out for itself. That doesn't get you promoted to TsiTsi Fly-hood. If it lives for the good of the world then it's not living well as a Tapeworm. There is NOTHING you can do as a Tapeworm to help the world. No action you perform gives you the hope of a different life later on in the circle of life, unless you detach yourself from the innerlinings of the stomach and come out without incident. So basically, whoever sucked bad enough to be reincarnated as a Tapeworm is in a manner of speaking, stuck there for eternity. It's the same theology of hell, I suppose. So you perpetually reincarnate as what you already are, only varying in the degrees of your Tapewormness, i.e. size, stature, street cred, etc. Saddam Hussein is probably someone's Tapeworm right now.

But see that frustrates me. He tormented people as a human on Earth, why does he get that pleasure AGAIN?

Or is reincarnation only inner-species? You're no longer bottom of the Dung Pile, you reincarnate as Grand Master Dung Beetle? Tapeworms become bigger and badder? Mosquitos come back resistant to DDT? I mean, how many people do you know that came from the stench of dung piles to successful businessman in one fell life cycle?

So maybe it's gradual. First Tapeworm. Then TsiTsi Fly. Then Dung Beetle. Then caterpillar. Butterfly. Some other winged soul. Maybe Salamander. Maybe Garter Snake. Anaconda. Small Mammal. Dog. Billy Goat. Pony. Secretariat. Baboon. Janitor.

That's a lot of work. A lot of effort. A lot of striving. It's a lot of fear and misguided hope, if it's even hope at all. If you believe it's up to chance, then you're only hope is to find somewhere sunny. But all of this. For what? To find joy in maybe being a Dog instead of a Cat? Of being a Flying Squirrel instead of Road Kill? Of being a millionaire instead of a janitor? It's funny what people put their faith in. What they live their lives for.

I don't mean to mock reincarnation in that some people believe it's real. But I don't get it. To live this life in fear of the next, to find that you are the pinnacle of your faith, of what you believe, of what you strive for, and that it can only go downhill from what you are now. I choose not to believe in such a fraudulent hope. Such a pointless purpose.

I choose Christ.

Because He's real.

Because He's my purpose.

Because He is Hope.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Though the thoughts of becoming a Dung Beetle are soooo appealing, I have to say that I too choose Christ. I'm not a "super" religious person, but I thoroughly enjoyed this blog and I have to agree with you on reincarnation. What justifies "good behavior?" And "if" I'm "good" what do I come back as? Anyways, there are just too many unanswered questions for me! ~Carie

Catherine said...

I've always wanted to fly. I wonder if being a doctor could get me one of the flying birds; it'd be cool to have an internal compass too. I'd like that. Maybe an eagle. I could be a stamp.
Have a question; did you see An Inconvenient Truth and what did you think of it's legimitacy?

Carrie Cutrer said...

so what will you do with this? It seems as though you have typed a lot about what you don't know, and in a very entertaining style, I must say... But, how can you find out the answers to these issues? Most people that believe in reincarnation believe that there is a limit, for instance, if you are a woman and commit to a "nun-hood" of sorts, then you are guarenteed to be a man in the next life and therefore the opportunity to become a monk - the only being that has the chance to go to paradise after that last life. But even if it's a never ending cycle - what can you do with that? How can you better communicate this Christ you've "chosen to believe" to these people that "don't get" what you're about? Good blog, brother. I enjoyed every tsi tsi fly and hitler comment. You've got a gift for blogging.

Dylan Peeples said...

So how does a Jayhawk upgrade itself to a Longhorn?

Brent said...

dylan, i'd say winning the big 12 championship's a start. not to mention the other W's along the way...

catherine, you'd make a great stamp.

carie, thanks for your consistent feedback

carrie, sis, you're right. always so much deeper than i choose to go.