And so it goes with the degradations of consumer culture- never mind that any number of very ancient religions practiced by vast amounts of people believe in the concept, all it took was a few hucksters on Oprah to sully the belief.
Or did it? It's one of those things that you'll find a lot of people believing in quietly, almost automatically. It always made more sense to me than an eternity spent in some cosmic realm. And it's one of those things I began to seriously wonder about when I looked back on my childhood.
I was a weird kid in elementary school. I was fixated on things from the 1930s and 1940s. I loved the old radio shows, which you could get cheaply on LP at the local discount store. I was obsessed with the heroes of the Golden Age of Comics and the pulps. Certainly a lot of those characters were being revived at the time, but the audience was most certainly not grade school kids, in fact most of those revivals tanked pretty quickly.
I was so fixated on that Depression- World War Two era that I'd make my mother buy anything that had imagery from the period. I even made her buy Moxie (a soft drink from the period) when it was reissued.
It goes without saying that I was fixated on the Little Rascals and Three Stooges, nothing unusual for a kid at the time, but I doubt many kids were fixated on Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and George Burns and Gracie Allen.
I moved on to other obsessions eventually and didn't give it much mind until I remembered a recurring dream I had, even after I outgrew my weird 30s/40s fixation (though you certainly see the vestiges of it in Our Gods Wear Spandex, no doubt about that, and would've seen a lot more if I had my way).
In this dream- and there were minor variations on it- I was carrying a rifle and walking through a snowy forest. Out of nowhere a man in dark clothing and a helmet charges at me with a rifle. That's usually how it ends. In some versions his rifle has a bayonet.
This could be an artifact of the war movies I used to watch, but why that one motif? I've read theories by proponents of reincarnation that people who died violent deaths were more likely to remember their past lives in their next incarnation, and that children would often suffer various psychological and physiological problems as a result of their past life trauma.
I often wondered if this was one of the reasons I obsessed on the movie Jacob's Ladder, and watched it incessantly back in VHS days (like, unhealthily). That film has the main character attacked in a very similar fashion to my recurring dream, although that takes place in Viet Nam, not in some snowy pine forest.
I remember having the dream take place in a forest behind a house I later had a rather involved (and unrelated) dream about transmigration (don't ask), a dream I had before I began to consider all of this in the context of reincarnation. I don't know what the link is exactly but I find the connection fascinating nonetheless.
I think this belief in reincarnation, which although it has never been especially studious on my part, brought me out of the Church. I couldn't wrap my mind around Heaven and Hell. I may not have studied all that much on reincarnation but for some reason it was a conviction. I'm still not entirely sure why.
Of course, all of this is extremely unfashionable at the moment, just like everything else of real interest or value. But reincarnation was held as truth by millions long before the current vogue for nihilism and will endure long after it is gone (which is to say by century's end, judging by demographic trends).
As with so many things trying to find a mechanism for reincarnation might require us to look beyond the realm of the senses and the limited worldview instilled by our conscious attention. To look at the world and the Universe as living organisms, not just dead voids inhabited by meat robots and bacteria. Fractal thinking- whatever happened to that?
I often wonder if the Sun plays a role in all this. I was thinking how heat was the difference between a living and dead mammal (to name an example), and how heat rises. Is our spirit a form of radiation, of heat, that rises back towards the Sun upon death and is reincarnated through solar radiation?
It sounds absurd until you actually sit down and think about it. You die, you go cold, the heat in you rises and somewhere confronts the energy of the Sun. Is that radiation a carrier wave for consciousness? Is the Sun more than a nuclear furnace, is it a broadcaster of souls? Is every living organism a harbinger of that greater consciousness in some way?
I think one day a new kind of science will emerge that will move beyond materialism and nihilism and all the other kneejerk adolescent behaviorisms so prevalent today. I think concepts like reincarnation may one day be truly understood. I hope I come around again to see it.