So if you can’t know yourself in this life, or in your previous lives, or in your future lives, what is there to love? Certainly not this temporary material body that is nothing but a vessel for carting your soul around in. That would just be gross, honestly. Because bodies are so…like…disgusting and stuff.
Are you with me so far?
Good, because now we need to move on to other people.
So there you are, doing your best not to think of yourself as YOU and trying not to love anything material, and you meet a guy who you think is pretty much a jerk. Reincarnation lets you say “Man, it’s a good thing his soul is full of eternal bliss and knowledge, because I really can’t stand the body that he’s in.” Pretty sweet, right? You don’t have to love and care for the jerk. The jerk guy is just a temporary prison that his soul (which is his real self) is trapped in. If you can get him to change and start doing things you like, things that make you not think he’s a jerk anymore, that would be pretty sweet. Because then he can have a chance at a better body in his next life OR maybe you could even get his soul to heaven. That would totally get you extra good karma points! But, BUT, you don’t have to actually love the jerk. Sweet.
So here we are not loving ourselves and not loving others, because our bodies are just vehicles and others’ bodies are just vehicles and this whole material world thing is an illusion. Instead we are supposed to be loving souls that we can’t know, because the souls are what were created by God and that’s who, or what, gets to go to heaven.
Where does that leave us?
Sad. Lonely. Confused. That’s where it left me, at least.
Until I was able to let go of this ingrained habit of distancing myself from my self, I had no peace. And let me assure you, it still rears its ugly head sometimes. It was, and is, a constant struggle. To be not at all dramatic, it was an exercise in self-sabotage. Because “UGH, this body is just a hindrance! It won’t be my body in another hundred years, so who cares about it? I might think I love Family Member X, but I can’t forget it’s all an illusion. In a hundred years, they won’t be them either! So why waste my time?”.
Why waste your time cultivating deep, meaningful, personal, loving relationships with other lumps of flesh? Why waste your time identifying your own personal, unique strengths and weaknesses when those strengths and weaknesses aren’t even yours? They just belong to this wretched body which “soon will have to go” (the rest of the lyric from that song), ya know. They don’t matter.
You don’t matter.
Reincarnation says that this you, the only you that you can know, doesn’t matter. What you do kinda matters in terms of karma, but you don’t have any inherent value outside of the things you make happen.
And my girls understood all of this. In the time it took me to merely define the basic principles of such a belief system, they grasped the striking sadness of not being able to know or love your family and friends. To not know what my grandma would be like in heaven. For my grandma and grandpa’s earthly relationship, the faith-filled marriage that produced 14 children, to have no eternal meaning. To imagine that I would not actually be their mother and that would not actually be their baby sister was, in a word, heartbreaking.
Reincarnation takes away the permanence of our selves. Reincarnation takes away the importance and urgency of love, kindness, and relationships. Reincarnation destroys the very foundation of self-awareness.
The problem with reincarnation is that it tells us we don’t matter.