Persistence of Memory
“God is Santa Claus for grown-ups.” ~ Unknown
People of faith often believe that, when we die, if we are good, we’ll get eternal happiness, and if we’re bad, we’ll get eternal punishment. But does that sound fair to you? Does that sound like the invention of an all-knowing, compassionate being? Or does that sound more like a bedtime story you’d tell to kids?
Hey, kids, you know, if you’re really good, Santa Claus will bring you lots of presents, but if you’re bad, he’ll bring you an icky lump of coal instead. And he can see when you are sleeping and knows when you’re awake. In fact, he won’t even come until after you’re in bed.
You know, there’s a reason they call it eternal rest and sleeping like the dead.
It doesn’t seem right to me that God should give you an eternity of something based on the actions of a fraction of a fraction of that time. Given all the hype about God, I think he would have more sense than that. I mean, even our own limited and fallible human institutions know that people change over time and that reward and punishment must be in accordance with a person’s recent behavior. For some, it may takes moments to change, for others decades, for some maybe even a few hundred years, but that’s still nothing compared to eternity.
Based on the laws of karma, I do believe that you receive some sort of reward or punishment after you die, but I hardly think it’s eternal.
“Death is rest for the soul. Who was it that said that? If the body did not die, and the fears borne in the mind just continued to pile up, the world would be nothing more than an eternal prison.” ~ Ziggy, Xenosaga Episode II
The law of conservation of energy states that energy is neither created nor destroyed, only transferred. Even a cynical empiricist who worships the scientific method must admit that if consciousness is energy, then it retains some form even after the body has died. It might not be in exactly the same state, but it still continues to exist in one state or another. And what does that sound like from a spiritual perspective? Reincarnation, perhaps?
Reincarnation is simply the conservation of consciousness between one lifetime and the next. Many religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and even Christianity teach that this is what happens to you when you die. The body decays and the carbon, water, and other components go back into the environment. The mind goes offline and reawakens in some other body, like transferring documents from one computer to the next. And the soul just remains as it’s always been, in the position of the observer.
The concept of reincarnation can be scientifically verified. In fact, some people have already tried. Maybe you’ve heard stories and news reports about young children being taken to certain places and having knowledge of those places and certain events relating to them that no one has mentioned to the child and which the child can’t possibly know otherwise, except through some sort of metaphysical transfer of information. That would be a way of proving reincarnation to someone else, but there are other ways of proving it to yourself.
“‘How can I tell,’ said the man, ‘that the past isn’t a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?'” ~ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Ever since I was young, I’d always gotten along a lot better with adults than I did people my own age. I think a number of people can probably say they feel the same way. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve conversed with people much older than myself and have come to realize that there are people ten, twenty, even thirty years older than me that act like children. I don’t really count myself particularly privileged, at least no more-so than those individuals. So what accounts for this?
When I was in college, I took an introductory course on Psychology and learned about the various stages of development that the human mind goes through. Among them was the concept of Generativity vs. Stagnation, more commonly known as the mid-life crisis, in which a person looks back on their life and feels that they’ve done nothing but waste time and miss opportunities. I was only about twenty at the time, but I felt as though I’d already had several mid-life crises over the course of my lifetime.
Some months later, I began to do a great deal of soul searching and starting to become aware of the fact that this wasn’t the first time I’d been here on this planet. All in all, I’d been here at least five or six times that I can recall (possibly even more than that), which would mean that I’m a fairly old soul.
People often ask me how I know all this, how I came to realize that I’d had past lives and that they took on the particular characteristics that I claim they did. Well, let me put it to you like this.
I know that there is a lot of New Age emphasis on the Power of Now, as made famous by Eckhart Tolle and others, and that along with this comes the realization that there is no past or future. But for sake of argument, let’s assume that there is a past. Most people would think it reasonable to say there is a past. But how do you know? How do you know that you weren’t literally born yesterday? How do you even know that there was a yesterday? How do you know that, when you woke up this morning, it wasn’t the beginning of time and you simply discovered you had all these thoughts in your head from the very beginning?
When you play a video game, it’s all a programmed illusion that begins as soon as you turn the game on. That is year zero. Yet when you turn the game on, you are immersed into a world and a body that has history, or so it believes. In rare cases, such as Assassin’s Creed II, you get to know the character from the time of their birth; but usually you just wake up one day to find that you are now in a situation and that you have thoughts and ideas in your head about who you are, where you are, what you do, and who your friends are. Time began at that moment, so all the so-called past is really just an illusion.
Do you think it’s reasonable to suggest that the same could be true for us as well? That time could just be an illusion and the past merely accounting for discrepancies between our present condition and our memories?
But let us suppose that the opposite is true. Supposing there really is a past. So there’s a yesterday and a last year. Why would your birth, then, be the beginning of your consciousness? Genetic memory and the 100th Monkey Effect can explain where behavioral instincts come from, but not memories and wisdom of things that neither you nor your ancestors experienced. For that, you’d need reincarnation.
So how do I know that I lived a past life? Simple. I remember something about it, the same as I remember something that happened yesterday or last year. How do I know it’s memory and not imagination? Well, how does anyone know that what they experienced yesterday or last year was real and not simply made up? You feel it in your gut that this is true and accurate and what really happened to you. That’s how.
“Now if you’re thinking, just now, ‘Why me, oh God?’ The answer is, God has nothing to do with it. In fact, God is never in France this time of year.” Dorleac, Count of Monte Cristo
Reincarnation is tied with karma. What you do in the past effects your future. Even if you get away with something in this lifetime, there are higher forces at work that will see to it that you make up for it next time. Just like in playing a video game, if you fuck up and die, you retain the memory of what happened and that can effect future outcomes.
That’s probably also what Déjà Vu is, too. If you feel like you’ve experienced something before, it’s probably because you have. You just hit the restart button and decided to play over from your last checkpoint. Like Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day, when he keeps trying to find the right words to say to his coworker.
So if you find yourself thinking, “Why me, oh God?” the answer is, it’s always been on you. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people and to young children? It’s probably to teach you a lesson for something you did in a past life. For instance, in one of my past lives, I was a really shitty parent. So God decided to grace me with a bad father. Not as bad as I had been, but enough that I could understand what it was like from the receiving end.
In another past life, I was a cruel Templar master. So God decided to set me in a time and place where the Templars ruled as the sort of cruel masters that I had been. He set me on a path to learn about the New World Order from the perspective of one of their slaves. If I am truly the observer and the creator of my universe, then it stands to reason that such things as The Da Vinci Code and Assassin’s Creed were also created by me as tools for my benefit. The entire history of the world has been constructed and uploaded into my mind to serve as context while I progress through the game of life towards my objectives. It’s only logical.
It’s a lot like Alice dreaming of the Red King, who’s dreaming of Alice, who’s dreaming of the Red King … From your perspective, I’m the illusion and the whole world is created for your benefit and lesson. So life becomes a dream, a shared dream (like in Inception), in which we all create and grow and experience together. And when we die, we simply wake up somewhere else, with only the memory remaining.
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