h Phoenix Qi: Reincarnation - some thoughts

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Reincarnation - some thoughts

Thousand-petaled Lotus: symbol of reincarnation and immortality

You would think that, being a phoenix and all, I'd not only be on board with reincarnation, I'd be driving the wagon.

That has not been the case. I have been on the fence over this topic, leaning first one way and then the other, changing my mind pendulum-like from yes to no to maybe mostly because I could not reconcile my beliefs about the nature of the spirit with the beliefs familiarly held by most major spiritual teachings.

I have finally come to the conclusion that yes, I do believe in reincarnation – thought the details are subject to change without notice – but with a twist.

What settled the question for me was, not surprisingly, the yin/yang nature and behavior of spirit and energy.

Energy continuously cycles from the material to the immaterial to the material, et cetera and so on. That's the nature of spirit and energy. That's what it does…it cycles. If it didn't, breakfast wouldn't be the most important meal of the day, and a Three Musketeers bar wouldn't be a pick-me-up at 3:00 PM. If energy didn't cycle, you wouldn’t burn calories by running or swimming. You wouldn't ever be happy or sad, you would be emotionally numb.

If energy didn't cycle, you would never change at all…which would be a blessing for some people and a curse for others!

"The ancients' belief in reincarnation produced many cyclic images of existence..." – from "The Wheel" by Barbara J. Walter from The Women's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects

It was once believed that the Sun died every night as it was submerged into the ocean to be reborn the next day. Another image of cyclic existence is the moon that disappears roughly every 27 days to be reborn after three dark nights. Then there is the annual cycle of the leaves that fall from the trees in autumn and decompose to feed the roots, nourishing the next years' growth in spring, long considered the "season of rebirth."

You can't name one material thing that doesn't cycle back into immaterial energy because everything does, even if, like plastic trash bags, it takes tens of thousands of years, everything eventually cycles from the material to the immaterial, and then feeds, indeed nourishes the creation of the material.

The thing that we know now that we perhaps did not know before is that matter IS energy. Through our knowledge of the behavior of waves and particles, we can say that matter is just energy gone solid. Light and heat and other forms remain as energy in a not-solid state.

Your body is obviously energy gone solid. However, in every cell of your body, there is a spark of non-solid electrical, spirited energy. Your cells vibrate to a particular frequency, your brain operates on electrical impulses, your heart beats to the rhythm of an electrical discharge. When these electrical charges cease to operate, your body ceases to operate. The material portions of your body will decompose and become energy for some other form of matter.

However, the energy that mobilized your body, that formed your thoughts and held your memory, your spiritual energy, has not disappeared, just as the electricity that fuels your light bulbs doesn't disappear when you turn off the light. That energy still exists, it just no longer exists in the same place.

So, where does it go? Look around….it's everywhere…spiritual energy is everywhere. You continually breathe in spirit every minute of every day! (Latin inspire and expire derive from spirare which gives us the words for both breathe and spirit).

Some Daoists believe the body is born with ten souls or spirits, three from the heavens called hun that are nourished by breath energy, and seven called po that come from the earth and are nourished by food energy.

Human Lotus: symbol of one way to practice to achieve immortality.

It is your job in this lifetime to work with these souls on the energetic level (through tai chi, qigong, meditation, etc.) until you bring them into perfect balance and harmony at which time they merge into a single soul and you become an Immortal. Some beliefs about Immortals continue on to include physical immortality. In others, it is believed the physical body dies, but they are often regarded as "light" beings, consciousness of Self is retained; You would still be You with the same thoughts, ideas, and memories.

If your ten souls do not merge into a single soul during this lifetime, the ten souls return to their origins, the hun to the heavens and the po to the earth. They mix with other hun and po souls, and eventually inhabit a new body when the time is right. However, since they have scattered since their last incarnation, they do not return as a group. It is possible that some people who recall a past life are recalling the past experience of one (or several) of the past experiences of a hun or po soul.

Personally, I think it goes beyond even that. If thoughts are things, how much more then is your life energy?

With all the millions of cells in your body, all the millions of little life-giving charges released into the atmosphere when your body is finished with them, it is very likely that there are millions of bits of you floating around, each with some thought, idea, or memory that you held as an incarnate being. I don't believe that each bit of spiritual energy is a personality as such. However, each of those thoughts, ideas, and memories is something that was unique to you, a treasure that is no longer available to the material plane. They can no longer be used in a meaningful way because they need a physical plane on which to manifest.

However, here is an interesting thing: all those energetic spirits released at the demise of the body have known each other for a while, and have become quite familiar with each other. I believe it is very possible, likely even, that their energetic familiarity works just like a magnet; it attracts them to rejoin in their next physical body. In sufficient critical-mass numbers, enough to "remember" their chosen ideal, they may even do so for the purpose of continuing to complete some theory or idea they had begun to formulate in a previous existence.

The Egyptians believed that the three souls of a person stayed together only if the body had been preserved. The body acted as a magnet to attract the souls. The Ba roamed around as a human-headed bird, the Ka was tomb-bound and required food, drink, etc, the Akh journeyed to otherworld sometimes as a bird. However, if the body were allowed to decay, the souls would dissipate.

I think those little sparks of life energy don't hang around the old body all that long, they move on to combine in other ways with universal energy. Remember, this is what spirit and energy does; it's the nature of spirit and energy to cycle from immaterial to material. It doesn't want to hang around; it's ready to move on.

This is not to say that former human energy always returns to a human just as a plant does not always decompose to feed the next generation of flower, fruit, or vegetable. Some of your energy probably ends up somewhere else, and some of the spirit you enjoy in your body right now may have come from other planes, or even other galaxies.

I know that may sound a little far out, but consider: you look up into the night sky and see stars. That star light, that light energy, has traveled millions, perhaps billions of miles, but as soon as it touches your eye, you touch it, too, and you accept it into yourself and absorb it just as you take in air, sunlight, moonlight, and last night's salmon dinner, and that's a good thing!

You know how confined and depressed you feel if you are stuck in a rut in day-to-day living. Imagine how you would feel if you were stuck in a rut from lifetime to lifetime with the same thoughts, same ideas, same spirit for eternity! You need that cyclic, energetic exchange; you need, from lifetime to lifetime, to have an infusion of new energy to create new bonds with universal energies, to think up new ideas, to imagine new beginnings.

This is how we, as a species, are able to progress. This is what we do, we un-form and re-form energetically, spiritually, to share information and inspiration, and ultimately to enhance our bond with each other and the universe.


Anonymous said...

Insightful, to say the least. I think that you've touched on something very important here. Another thing worth considering is whether or not we motivate ourselves, in terms of doing the great work, out of fear or a desire for self preservation.

It has to be said, it's very stressful.

Phoenix said...

Thanks for stopping by.

I don't think it has to be stressful, but that we make it so.

Your thoughts on motivation are very thought-provoking.

I think the answer may be found in various sacred texts. What do they teach? Fear and reward? Immortality?

Motivation would be an interesting topic to explore with a person who grew up without being involved in an organized religion. That could be very insightful!