Many do, all over the world and across many cultures. They believe that the personality lives on after the life force has left the body. Dying, they say, is like taking off a cloak; we just step out of it like a snake sheds its skin.
In a famous letter written in 1854, the Native American leader, Chief Seattle, was of this view:
‘When the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone…. they will not be alone…. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land…..
The dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds.’
Only a change of worlds! Of course many pour scorn on these ideas, but there is evidence that some trace of ourselves survives this transition. For instance, people who have had near-death experiences often report going through a tunnel and emerging into light to be greeted by friends and relatives who have already made the transition. Their accounts are remarkably consistent. Most say they found such joy and peace there that they didn’t wasn’t to come back.
Is this proof that the personality lives on after death? Not really. Neuroscientists argue that near-death experiences can be explained by the death throes of the brain and can be reproduced under hypnosis or hallucinogenic drugs. So the jury is out.
So where do you stand?
People who believe in reincarnation think that after a period of reflection we are reborn into new bodies to continue our spiritual growth on this Earth. Reincarnation, they say, explains childhood prodigies such as W. A. Mozart and occurrences of ‘déjà vu’. Have child geniuses been here before and brought their previous learning with them? And is it possible that ‘déjà vu’ is really a memory from a previous life?
Again, we can’t be sure so it’s best to keep an open mind. Life is a continuing experience of growth. We take on challenges as a way of raising our consciousness. Who’s to say the process doesn’t continue over several lifetimes?
Is it worth dwelling on? Probably not. The important thing is not what you did in previous lives, but what you are and do now.
©David Lawrence Preston, 19.1.2017
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How to Books, 2007