What is not reincarnation?
For long years I had a skeptical look towards this idea of reincarnation. Yogic scriptures talk about reincarnation. I am someone who invests a lot of time in yogic teachings. So I did not openly reject the idea of reincarnation. I said, `I will investigate this issue after I die, why bother now.`
Yet, in this article, I will tell you how I come to believe in reincarnation.
Lets first explore the idea of Samskara.
Samskaras are the impressions we inherit from
- our past actions,
- our ancestors,
- our environment.
- and our past lives.
All our habits, our choices that we make without realizing that we had other options are manifestations of Samskaras.
As you probably can guess, as we repeat the same action, the impression ( Samskara) deepens. For example, when you eat junk food, again and again, you increase your inclination to do it again.
With every repetition of the action, Samskara gains strength. Or to better put it, you give more power to the Samskara.
So when you need to resist eating junk food the next time, the temptation is even stronger.
Junk food is just one example. I can give you more examples: waking up late, drinking too much, overeating, spending too much time looking at the screen, skipping exercise, postponing things that need to be done, getting into unhealthy relationships, skipping meditation, never beginning that thing you wanted to do, taking unnecessary risks, never taking risks, being stuck, etc.
Did you notice any familiar patterns? There are more, so much more. Yet, don’t fret. I just explained the dark side of the moon, and there is a bright side as well. The positive habits and inclinations are Samskaras as well. So you can cultivate good Samskaras and make them irresistible. Imagine how easy life would be if you did not get any objection from your mind when you need to work hard or wake up early.
Anyway, let me tell you how the Samskaras are related to this article’s topic, reincarnation. Yogic texts also tell us that we carry Samskaras from our previous lives. You know how even babies have their unique behavior patterns. Yoga tells us we bring those and much more from our past life Samskaras.
You know how it is tough for some people to resist addictive substances; for some, it is not even an issue. According to yogic wisdom, it is because of how each individual accumulated samskaras in their past lives.
We want to think that every newborn begins with a clean slate. They can be anything and that they are not destined to thrive or fail. We wish to believe that they will choose what they will become. (And they will, just like we are doing every moment. )
As life happens to us, we begin to blame our circumstances and others for our situation. Or we act like we never had a choice, and we will never have. We wait for something to happen, something miraculous (maybe someone named Godot) and change everything. There are so many lives that are nothing but the story of this waiting.
The idea of transference of Samskaras to the next life aims to the heart of this wait. It tells us that even if you die and get a brand new life, you will end up in the same cycle unless you break it.
According to certain yogic texts, with every exhale, we die, and we are reborn with each inhalation.
It is a clean slate every time. With each breath, you have the power and responsibility to create your own life. Like a newborn, even if you do not want this responsibility, you undeniably have.
So every new breath is a reincarnation. Every previous breath is a past life. I will carry its impressions, but it does not define the new one. I will begin fresh, as fresh as the life of a newborn.
An average person breathes 18 times a minute. Here you go: eighteen new lives to create every minute. It is hard work, no one said it would be easy. But it will be beautiful.