by Anura Guruge
7 related posts on REINCARNATION:
0/ Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.
1/ Buddhist reincarnation: Question 1.
2/ Extremist Buddhists.
3/ Happy Vesak.
4/ Buddhism 2nd largest religion in 13 States.
5/ ACLU lawsuit re. Buddhism.
6/ Is Buddhism a religion?
++++ Check category ‘Religion’ on sidebar for other related posts >>>>
It was NOT the subject matter of the “Reader’s Digest” article that was perturbing; it was that “Reader’s Digest” for so long a respected bastion of U.S. values would run such an article without the appropriate warnings, caveats and apologies.
As the 6 posts listed above will amply testify I am NO stranger to reincarnation. I actually, with due modesty, consider myself quite the expert on the matter — and in a ‘minute’ I will relate a reincarnation story, from Ceylon, that I personally experienced that is far more graphic than any of the fairly lame stories talked about in the article. It is the fact that I know reincarnation so well, and DO NOT subscribe to it, ONE IOTA, that perturbs me about this article.
First and foremost the U.S. is predominantly a Christian Nation. Reincarnation is NOT a Christian notion. Reincarnation is counter to Christian beliefs. That “Reader’s Digest” will blithely print an article like this, with no regard for Christian values, bothers me.
The article says 24% of Americans, across all religions, now believe in reincarnation. Heaven help us.
Well lets start with that 24%. What exactly do they believe?
I have been asking ‘experts’ questions about reincarnation, albeit Buddhist reincarnation (but that is the platinum standard for the belief), for 40 years. I have yet to get any credible answers.
Let me start with just 3 — with a lot of sub-questions — to begin with:
1/ Who gets reincarnated? Just those that believe in reincarnation? Buddhists? Do Christians get reincarnated? Can something like reincarnation be selective, i.e., only applies to certain people.
2/ In the stories in the article there is no real mention of religious affiliation. So these reincarnated kids are getting born at random to Christian parents? Were the parents reincarnated too.
3/ In the RD stories there are large time gaps between the remembered lives — like 1932 in Hollywood or WW II. Any idea where these people were in the interim? [Yes, Buddhist reincarnation has a theory for that.]
I cannot explain how these children can talk about events that took place before their birth. I have NO answer to that.
But, after spending 4 years, in my late teens, carefully and deliberately studying reincarnation I came to the conclusion that there was no way that I could subscribe to it.
Lets just start with the mechanics. Think about it for a second.
Who or what controls the immensely complicated process involved in reincarnation. St. Peter equivalent with a ledger will NOT be able to cut it. So how does it happen? It sure can’t be natual selection and evolution.
How are the memories transferred. OK. We get the egg & sperm part — and with it DNA and all of that. Where the heck do the past memories come in? Are they floating around us and get injected into a fetus? Come on? Give me a break. Make it somewhat believable?
The whole issue of the SELECTIVITY aspect of reincarnation is hilarious. Buddhist believe in reincarnation. But they can’t tell me whether Christians get reincarnated too. And that brings up the question. What about somebody like me? I do not believe in reincarnation. I am NO LONGER a Buddhist. I was raised in a Buddhist family BUT I was adopted. I have no idea as to the religion of my parents. Do I still get reincarnated? Can I choose? Who decides.
Now lets look at it from a different angle. Lets just deal with the currently 14 million Buddhists that believe in reincarnation. The Sri Lankan Buddhist population has been growing in leaps and bounds. Where are all the NEW souls, and we are talking MILLIONS, coming from? Basically the World population is increasing. Simply put there weren’t enough souls in the past to keep on sustaining growth per the reincarnation belief.
Best Reincarnation Story — Ever
My adoptive father, among many other things, was the Sri Lankan ‘Billy Graham’ of Buddhism. When we all lived in Ceylon, 1953 to 1967, he had the resources, access, means and motivation to collect and document stories on reincarnation — just to be used in scenarios like this RD article. ‘Circuits’, a British colonial Civil Service concept, was a big part of our lives. As the term implies you did the ’rounds’. In my adoptive father’s case, given that he was invariably the top dog, or close to it, at the Ministry of Education, it meant going around Ceylon inspecting schools, attending prize givings, officiating an opening ceremonies, hearing cases etc. But it meant that we travelled incessantly. And these travels were a great means to collect reincarnation stories BECAUSE for whatever reasons most of them came from villages, from boys that only spoke Sinhalese.
I remember this case because it used to give me the ‘willies’. I was young. Probably 10 or 11. BUT, interestingly it was this case that got me, at that young age, thinking about the validity of reincarnation.
Yes, it was a boy. Funny that. Most of the time it is boys. Ditto RD article.
He, at a young age, had, like those in the RD article, started talking about his past life, his past family, his past village and his past house. Unlike the U.S. Ceylon isn’t very big. Size of N.H. & Vt stuck together.
So the parents, in time, managed to locate the village and the family that he talked about. Yes, yes, yes. They had lost a son some twenty odd years ago. Everything added up. Up to this point very similar to the RD stories.
Then it becomes weird. The dead son, now reincarnated, had been executed. HUNG.
He had stabbed a woman to death! He was apprehended, tried and hung. That was some 20 years ago.
Now here he is reincarnated! Wow.
But he had never talked about the woman, the murder or that he was hung.
But wait. But wait ….
The reincarnated boy had a deformed (hardly formed) right hand.
Wait for it ….
OMG! He had stabbed the woman, to death, with his RIGHT HAND.
And now he had been reincarnated with a deformed right hand.
Reincarnation works! Buddhism has been vindicated.
Well you can see why, at 10 or 11, this story would give me the willies.
This story bothered me, for years. It wasn’t the gory aspects; something didn’t compute.
Then, much later, it dawned on me. This story didn’t gel with Buddhist doctrine! IF he committed murder, a heinous crime in any religion, it would, per Buddhist ethos, take a LOT for him to be reborn as a human. 20 years did NOT cut it. That was the beginning of the end for me when it came to reincarnation.