From the very first time the idea crossed my mind, I realized that reincarnation isn’t a happy or comfortable thought.
Apart from the small perk of getting to try things, visit places, and (if you’re fortunate) get re-acquainted with people you knew in another time, there is a great deal of baggage. These people, places, and things are seldom the same. Favorite foods change recipes, favorite places get demolished or change beyond recognition, people grow old and eventually die, and even the music isn’t quite right after a few centuries. And even when things don’t change, sometimes you do.
Moreover, I find that since about 2009 or so, I fear life more than death. I can’t say I was happy with the idea of oblivion because happiness never entered the equation; but there was always something to be said for cold comfort. As I believe I’ve said before, I preferred to believe in oblivion because it meant a definitive end to suffering.
Jack’s memories opened a can of worms that I never wanted to open. It opened the prospect of a universe where, in the absence of God or justice or order, we were plunged in and out of material existence.
Desperate for some hope of deliverance, I fell back on Buddhism and Gnosticism in hope that I could follow a wise path to deliverance, but it felt dishonest; I never saw anything of deliverance in all this. To believe in transcendence at all was too much of a leap of faith for me.
Now I live in a time of upheavals. The prospect of nuclear annihilation, civil war, societal collapse, or ecocide loom large. I honestly don’t expect to live much longer; queer lefty types like me will probably get the noose sooner rather than later. I don’t want my last thoughts to be “Shit! Not again!” If I’m going to die soon, might as well embrace it with some hope of endless, dreamless sleep beyond the realm of suffering.
Maybe this is what Buddha was trying to tell us. Maybe we trap ourselves in Samsara by believing in Samsara. Perhaps liberation comes only from acceptance of death and oblivion. I certainly believed in some form of life after death in my last two lives.
I’m going to reflect on this over the next few days. I’ve retreated from social media and any unnecessary socializing for the next few days, and I intend to be in deep contemplation during the interval.