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Recycle Me, Please ...

I was 15 years old, strolling down Newbury Street with my sister and some friends when someone took a hold of my hand. “You have a warrior’s soul,” a voice said. A sad-eyed gypsy in jeans and a T-shirt was looking at me. “I can tell you...” She said. “No thank you,” I shouted as I pulled my hand away. After all, psychics of the street corner variety are only out to make a buck by telling you what you want to hear right?

I walked off to catch up with my group. Somewhere behind me the woman yelled, “You don’t always have to be the hero.” I stopped, but I did not look back. Something about those words struck a chord. Rewind to when I was 10, at a fair with my uncle and some cousins. There was a run-down psychic’s booth at the entrance. It was the size of a lemonade stand, and in the center sat a petite old woman with bright red hair and piercing green eyes. “You!” She shouted. I stared at her in fear. She was the exact physical manifestation of what I thought a witch was. “You! C’mere.” She commanded.

My uncle took me by the arm and pulled me away. But I could not shake that woman from my head. After exiting the Ferris wheel, I walked back toward the entrance with my sister to get a cotton candy. The old woman was looking right at me. I went to her. She took my hand and I saw that she wasn’t a scary old woman at all. She smiled and told me that I had fought wars in all my previous lives but the one before this one and that it left a void in my soul that made me feel as if I had to find a purpose greater than what I had been dealt.

From that point on, I was obsessed with reincarnation. I came up with an infallible plan that if I read every book and studied every language and science I could, that in my next life I would be a genius. I truly believed this and I used cases of prodigies to support my theory. It didn’t take long for me to realize that yes, I can read every book, but I can’t remember all of them. And I may study every science, but I can’t pass all of them. My plan had failed me.

And yet, isn’t that the basis of reincarnation? To come back better. To move up on the evolutionary ladder (spiritually speaking); to make your way slowly but surely to the front door, to the office of the almighty himself? This has been the crux of the belief since its conception. The idea that with every life your soul accumulates more knowledge...more brownie points on its way to wherever it is that we are supposed to go beyond this life.

But there is a flip side. For every misdeed, you take a step down. You may be the top attorney in your town now, but according to ancient beliefs, in your next life, you’ll be lucky if you come back as a snail. That’s right...a mollusk. The same is true in Judaism, where a human may reincarnate as an animal.

In the Gnostic belief system, reincarnation is a purely evil act, because the human body is evil, hence, if you are reincarnated it’s only because you’re bad and you haven’t learned your lesson.

In Islam only the Sufi’s believe in reincarnation, despite the fact that Islam as a whole rejects this belief.

In Eastern traditions, reincarnation is mostly about Karma. Particularly in Hinduism. The belief is that a person is reborn only because the soul desires to experience physicality, but once the soul is ready to move on spiritually, one can move beyond the physical plane all together.

In Christianity, the majority rejects the idea of reincarnation, despite the fact that passages in the Bible seem to allude to it. Jesus made mention that John the Baptist was none other than an incarnation of Elijah.

Growing up a Catholic, I was never given a reason to believe that reincarnation was evil...it was just ridiculous. It lent no value whatsoever to the meaning of life. It was something to be mentioned in whispers, in the back of the church while discussing a horror novel with your friends. And yet it fascinated me to the point where I found myself knocking on the doors of various psychics in town, asking for a guided tour into my past. The thing is, not all of them do this. But they will suggest a hypnotherapist specializing in past-life regression.

The psychologist Robert Baker conducted an experiment in which he later proved that PLR or past-life regression was successful solely for the individuals who believed it would be. This, of course in no way explains reincarnation itself, but only demonstrates that some techniques used to explore the topic individually may be flawed.

Edgar Cayce, dubbed THE SLEEPING PROPHET was known to give people insight into their past lives. Some people were documented as having been Atlanteans in previous incarnations. Some of these files can be viewed at the A.R.E. archives, for research purposes only.

So why are we all so fascinated by our passed selves? I, for one, believe that it’s the life we currently lead that makes us hope that we are destined for greater things. But should this life fail us, maybe we all seek comfort in the possibility that we carried more weight in the cosmos in our past incarnations.

For the average Joe taking an office job, struggling to pay the rent and wishing for a break, the possibility of having been a King of some long lost Kingdom is reassuring. It makes you think, “Maybe I was greater...better than this.” And maybe in the end, it just gives us the hope we need to be as great as we want to be in this life too.

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