John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey
the_gneech

Pretty Sure Isaiah Mustafa Is Not My Spirit Guide, But I Could Be Wrong

WARNING: Incredibly long and rambly post is incredibly long and rambly.

I have mentioned before, that I have a kind of native belief in reincarnation. The details of that belief are fuzzy, and given its complete lack of provability or disprovability, it's certainly not something I'd ever evangelize as being Teh Turth! It's simply a thing that I kinda quietly believe, the same way I believe that treating people with respect is the thing to do when given the option.

My earliest notions of this belief came out of reports from my mother, who told me that when I was very young I used to tell her about things I'd done and places I'd gone before I was born, apparently with uncanny detail and accuracy about things there should have been know way for me to know. Now, my mother was a highly suggestible woman and prone to crackpottery, but mine is hardly an isolated case. The phenomenon of young children having "past life memories" is fairly common, and seems to be a thing that fades in most people by the time they reach five or six years old, as the life they are experiencing now crowds out recollections of the life they left behind.

Is it evidence of reincarnation? I can't really say that it is. There are lots of explanations of this phenomenon that do not hinge on the idea of a transcendant soul/spirit/atman/whatever. Given what neuroscience is learning about the various fields generated by brain activity, it's entirely possible that developing brains are "picking up" free-floating memories the same way the right environmental conditions can make a radio pick up broadcasts from the far side of the world. At the current level of understanding, and by use of the scientific method, there's just no real way to know. Science can't really prove things, it can only disprove them. Science is about what is repeatable, which is why even the most rigorously-scientific paranormal studies (and there have been plenty) come back with a result of "insufficient data" at best.

These phantom memories of mine (of which I no longer have conscious recollection anyway) aren't the only thing that makes reincarnation seem likely to me. When you look at history, when you look at the structure of the universe (in as much as we understand it), and so on, you see these repeating patterns, from the electrons orbiting the nucleus to the Moon orbiting the Earth to the Earth orbiting the Sun to the Sun orbiting the Milky Way, and so on. Stars coalesce, condense, shine, explode, and coalesce again. All of creation seems to be about cycles.

But, if a nebula condenses into a star, that star shines for however long, and then goes kablooiee, is it accurate to think of the next star that forms as being the same star over again? Even different branches of religious thought that embrace the idea of reincarnation differ on this point. Hinduism says yes, incarnations are all about the same soul on a journey through different lifetimes, with your body being something you put on at birth and toss away at death like an old set of clothes. Zen says no, incarnations are more like a flame being passed from one candle to the next, with the current lifetime being more like an echo of the previous lifetime than a continuation of the same life.

If the neuroscience model of memories being imprinted like files being written to your mind from a backup drive is correct, then the Zen model is probably closer, but like the whole notion that reality is actually a giant computer simulation anyway, how would you know if that were true? And at that point, does it even really matter? You may be an echo, you may be an avatar in a cosmic roleplaying game, you may be a ghost driving a skeleton in a universe that's exploding. But all you've really got is here and now.

In any case, I have decided to go exploring the whole past lives thing, as much as a meditation exercise as any sort of "spiritual journey." I have found some discussions on ways people have used to find past life memories, mainly involving visualization exercises. Whether the images that come to me are actually memories or are just new things my imagination is making up, doesn't actually matter that much, as long as the experience helps me towards self-knowledge or improvement.

Today's attempt was just a starter "practice run" so to speak, somewhat inhibited by not having had enough sleep last night. Instead of any kind of useful memories, the images that came to my mind were basically dreams based on visual stimuli from yesterday. Specifically, I was greeted by Isaiah Mustafa in his OldSpice Guy persona, presumably because I saw him in a commercial yesterday. He did welcome me to wherever it was we were and held a door open for me, tho, so thanks OldSpice Guy. Could there be a more symbolic act? There are way worse spirit guides I could have.

Unfortunately, that was the only solid image I got before falling back into myself. But the past-life exercise guides I've found all say you should write down the results of each session, no matter how big or small, and so there we are, and honestly it's not a bad start. Hopefully next time I'll be able to actually step through the doorway, or at least get a look beyond it.

-The Gneech
Tags: crackpottery, deep thoughts, dreams, reincarnation
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