Sunday, March 17, 2013

Reincarnation and Animal Rights

Hi everyone! Happy St. Patrick's Day! I didn't post here last week, but bear with me. I'm still doing this blog almost every week, despite the occasional forgetfulness. (To those of you who don't come here often, I'm supposed to post every Sunday, but...)
Did you know that humans and animals reincarnate as each other? If you are a human now (I'm guessing that you are), you may well be born as a dog or an elephant in your next life. And if you're a dog, you might just be born as a human in the next life! Let's hope you don't come back as a chicken or cow or pig, because then you'd be in trouble.
But, you see, that's the point. If you don't know what life-form you'll be born as in your next life, shouldn't you advocate for good, just treatment for all? Not only are you helping other people/animals/souls, but you're also saving your own skin!
Without further ado, let us delve further into the subject in an article written by a physics major who happens to be my sister, Mary-Jean Harris: 

By Mary-Jean Harris     January 2013
Reincarnation has had many names and many faces throughout history, as if the idea itself has been reincarnated. But like reincarnation of a soul, so too has the idea retained the same essence in the minds it inhabits. Some people call it transmigration of the soul, others metempsychosis, Nietzsche called it eternal return, but they are all about a soul incarnating into a body again (hence the “re”). Yet in our culture, most people are strictly materialist and so the idea of something persisting after “death” and having existed before you were born seems simply impossible. And it is: if you are just matter and the matter is destroyed, it is like trying to make a teddy bear from a rock; you just can’t do it if you want something cuddly. However, for those of us who believe that there is more to your existence than atoms and DNA, reincarnation is perfectly plausible. For why should the soul, spirit, or mind (I’ll call it a soul) be destroyed with the matter, given that it is immaterial? Why could it not return to Earth to inhabit another body? And reincarnation is more than just a mere possibility, for an evil teddy bear is a possibility, but we all know that teddy bears are perfectly nice (disregarding some swashbuckling teddies...).

Evidence of reincarnation has been found by various groups investigating the science of reincarnation, such as Paul Von Ward’s Reincarnation Experiment (you can read about it in his book, The Soul Genome). The Reincarnation Experiment tries to find past-like matches for people by looking for similarities in personalities, memories, and physical features. Although everyone has probably had some past life, it is difficult to get much information about common people in the past, so most of the matches found are to well-known people such as Thomas Jefferson, Marilyn Monroe, the painter Paul Gauguin, and more. So unfortunately, unless you start having past-life memories (which does happen more often than you would think, especially in children), then you would never know if you were once the nameless servant of Cleopatra or a lost Spanish pirate. Yet with the past-life matches that have been found, there are remarkable similarities between the lives of the present and past incarnations such as birthmarks where the past personality had been wounded, similarities in lifestyles and occupations, who they married to, the paintings they drew (in the artist’s case), and many more physical and mental similarities. Indeed, facial resemblances are often so precise that the best face scanners used in security would be unable to tell the two people apart. Past life memories also abound, and it seems to me that these are “mistakes”, for a soul is not supposed to remember details about its past life, though we can learn much from these mistakes (you can see a neat example here: Paul Von Ward suggests that the aspects of a person transferred between incarnations exist in a “psychoplasm” (a play-off of the cytoplasm in a cell), which is basically an immaterial cell that contains information to make the soul version of you just like a physical cell has the DNA that creates the physical version of you. Like an animal cell, different parts of the psychoplasm encode different traits (see the picture using an analogy of a physical cell for the psychoplasm with names representing different aspects of a soul. You can read more about it here:

People will continue to investigate reincarnation scientifically, but it is not entirely about the physical, since the soul is not physical so we can only get traces of it through science and not its whole essence. Thus, we can also learn about it through many philosophies. The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Indians, Druids, and many more cultures believed in some form of reincarnation. Buddhism and Hinduism also believe in reincarnation into a body that corresponds to how you acted in previous lives until you transcend the system of karma to reach nirvana. And not only can you reincarnate into another human, but also into other animals. Some Greek philosophers such as Plato and Pythagoras also believed that the soul incarnated into various species based on how virtuous the soul was, which Plato talks about in his dialogue the Phaedo.

The phoenix: a symbol of rebirth and reincarnation
Now let us wonder what our society would be like if we did believe in reincarnation. Part of this is seen in Buddhism and Hinduism, for their philosophy respects all creatures. From this, people would take better care for other animals, and issues such as animal abuse and factory farming would be greatly diminished. For what if you are to be a pig in your next life? A reincarnated soul is certainly a connection that brings you closer to other species, though “you” certainly takes on a more abstract sense! And the fact that you return, whether as another animal or a human again, will often foster us to care more about how the future will unfold and what we do now to help it thrive. We already understand the consequences of polluting or destroying natural places, but people often put it off for someone in the future to deal with. Of course, they are never perfectly confident that all will fare well, so if you believe you will return, there is a greater incentive to be responsible now. The essence of you is thus related to the past and future much further than a normal lifespan. Yet the greatest change that would emerge from an acceptance of a soul and reincarnation is the idea that there is more than just matter to the world. There is something that transcends what we physically sense. We need not be religious to believe in a soul, for it is more a common truth to all religions and many philosophies, just like you don’t need to like a pirate teddy to like teddy bears, though you have to like at least some teddy bears to like a pirate teddy. Although reincarnation is significant in itself, there are many more ideas and theories that complete this view, notably those of the ancient Mystery Schools.

So even if ideas of reincarnation and a soul have done no more than knot your eyebrows, we might still ask what if this were true. Yet with the budding evidence of reincarnation even in the scientific world, you need not turn to ancient doctrines if you don’t want to. Reincarnation is an important aspect of the spiritual nature of all creatures, and if Plato and the Buddhists are right, one day we will all know. -MJH
Back to me (C) now. Some people, I find, will say that they don't need to care about animals because all that matters is the "here and now" and that life is just about "having a good time". It is practically impossible to fight with this if the other person has a completely meaningless concept of life and death. However, if you look at the reincarnation perspective, caring about others  and the world seems to be much more important than previously expected...
What will you do to help animals this week?

1 comment:

  1. How interesting, lots to think about, as always with this blog.
    Thank you, C and MJH.