Do you believe in reincarnation?
No. sadly I do not believe anything happens after death. It’s a bummer, really. I WISH I believed there was a magical land where I would live forever and see my family and all my dead dogs and cats. Also, I refer to myself as an ‘aspiring Buddhist’, which is 100% true. The Buddhist belief is that you will continue to be reborn until, basically, you get it right. The endless cycle of rebirth is called ‘Samsara’, and the freedom from that burden is what ‘Nirvana’ is. ***
Buddhism was largely born out of Hinduism, as the Buddha himself was born Hindu. They have a similar belief in re-incarnation… but it’s not as hopeful. They believe in the caste system. This means if you are born a chimney sweep, then that is the class you will always be in this life. In addition, you are excepted to NOT try and rise above your station. You is what you is. In Hinduism (and this is a very loose interpretation, mind you)… by being the best lowly chimney sweep you can be in this life (and nothing more, mind you) … then in your next life maybe you will get to be in charge of the chimney sweeps.
What interests me in the caste system (of Hinduism) is that the highest class isn’t kings or queens. It is the Brahmin class/caste. This is what the Buddha was born into. This group exists SOLELY to pass along the sacred texts of Hinduism by memory and word. Think of it as their bible, but MUCH longer. If you are a Brahmin, you memorize verbatim these massive sacred texts so that you can pass them on to the next generation. This was obviously designed for a time before books and the printing press.
Interestingly, scholars have traveled across India and found villages that were thousands of miles apart… and completely isolated for generations… and yet their re-telling of the sacred texts to be perfectly word for word the same. How much to remember, and teach? Think a full set of Encyclopedia Britannica’s. I mention India because I believe this is specific to India as India is almost entirely Hindu. Whereas their neighbor, Pakistan, is almost exclusively Islam. What is nice about Hinduism is it acknowledges other philosophies. The Dalai Lama, for example, lives in India. He has always had a terrific and warm relationship with the Hindu leadership. Islam, as you likely now know, is not nearly as tolerant.
Pretty good for just knowing all that off the top of my head, don’t ya think? This stuff fascinates me. However, the independent mythologies of most of them I regard as nonsense. I hold the origins of Islam, Scientology, Hinduism, Catholicism, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster to all be about as valid as the other. To me, all the origin stories are mostly nonsense to explain things to people before we had science. Rahmen!
Have you ever felt that you knew someone the first time you met them?
No. BUT, I have a kinda cool story about that. Just last month I got to attend a teaching by his holiness, the Dalai Lama. He VERY much believes in reincarnation. He is, after all, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. At the teaching, there was about 3 to 5,000 people. During his speech, he stood up and pointed to a guy in the audience. He said he knew him from past lives, and for that guy to please come backstage for a chat after the teaching. How incredible must that have been for the guy? He just looked like a middle aged non descript white guy. Or, as they put it in ‘the Jerk’ “just another random milk eating bastard”. We can only hope the Lama advised him to stay away from those oil cans.
Have you ever visited a foreign country or city for the first time and found that you knew exactly where things were?
No. I get those déjà vu feelings, like all of us. However, from what little I understand, it is just random synapses firing off and giving you a false read.
Have you ever looked in the mirror and ‘seen’ a different face?
Kinda, but it involved LSD. I ain’t saying any more than that.
Is the belief in UFOs, aliens, physic powers, etc, growing because the belief in religion is dying?
No. I don’t think there is necessarily any more or less interest than there always was. As for ghosts, I neither believe… nor not believe. I am open to either one being very real. Here is something you didn’t know about UFOs, though, I bet; you know that all Muslims prey 4 or 5 times a day facing Mecca. They are all expected to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life. What is Mecca? It’s a place… a big stadium with a sacred building on the inside that you and I will never get to go in.
There is something in that building they are praying to. It is a large and heavy black stone. Scientists are pretty sure it is a meteorite. Think about it, it makes sense. A large and heavy and fiery big ass stone came shooting through the atmosphere from outer space. How else could you explain that other than ‘god must have done that?’ Christians have the cross that they worship as the icon of their deity, and Muslims have the black rock. Interesting, huh?
At this point in the narrative, if you are still with me, you should be asking ‘well then what do you believe in?’ Kindness and public service****. Though I am a pretty militant atheist, I am pretty fascinated by the first (or old) testament of Christianity. Most of those events happened, and science has proven them or found them. Example – did Moses part the Red sea? No, that is nonsense. However, at the time that was believed to have happened, there was a big ass volcano nearby. They know it would have dried up and temporary retracted the Red Sea. To someone approaching, especially in a pre-science era, it would appear as if God magically opened up the sea.
What is the difference? To me, it is a BIG difference. Like, when I look at Mormonism… that shit to me just looks 100% made up out whole cloth. Just… make believe (like Scientology). Whereas… it appears much or maybe even all of what shows up in the first testament really did happen… it was just mis-understood and mis-explained. What it wasn’t, though, is bullshit. That is why I like the first testament, and why I respect Judaism so much.
*** bonus footnote. As I mentioned, this is ALL from memory, the terms… etc. After I wrote this up, because I want to be thorough (and correct) , I google my references. I was dead on. I
was am Correct!
**** Kindness & public service – I keep two quotes pinned up to my desk that are right in my siteline at all times. “service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth” – Muhammed Ali
and this one – “A bare minimum of one kind act a day should be our self imposed cover charge for living in this world” – Wendy McElroy