Another question from Gregory Stock’s book is this:

If you knew that when you died you would immediately be reincarnated as the next baby born in the world, how–if at all–would your attitudes change about foreign aid, international politics, and birth control?  (Note that ninety percent of all births now are in the poorer regions of the world.)

They wouldn’t change at all.  Poverty is not the only cause of human suffering. 

For example, though I live below the poverty line in the United States, I live above the poverty line in the world, at large.  All of my basic needs, like food and shelter, are met.

But I’m more miserable than ever in my life–because of mental illness.  I suffer emotional agony that few can even imagine.  And there truly is no physical agony that can compare to emotional agony. 

Most forms of mental illness are hereditary–and mine is among these.  I inherited my mental illness from the genes of both my parents.  In fairness to them, of course, they had no knowledge that they carried them.  But that doesn’t change my situation.

The majority of babies may be born into poverty–but the majority of babies are not born with mental illness.  So if, after my death, I were immediately reincarnated as the next baby born in the world, I’d most likely suffer less, poor or not.

Only problem is, of course, I wouldn’t appreciate it–because I would have no knowledge of my past life.  Thus it really would make no difference. 

There may be reincarnation–but there is no karma.  The concept of karma is as illogical (not to mention evil) as the concept of Hell. 

More significantly, though, no one knows if there is an afterlife for any of us, at all.  Everyone has beliefs about an afterlife (even those who believe there is none)–but no one knows. 

So if I knew there’d be an afterlife for me–I’d definitely be the first person to ever know. 

And this knowledge would free me to live much more freely.  I would stop taking my psychiatric medications–which probably do more harm than good, anyway, due to their debilitating side effects.  I would drink alcohol as often as I wanted, I would resume smoking, I would have sex with prostitutes–I might even take up “crazy” sports like skydiving and rock climbing!

In other words, if I knew there were an afterlife for me, of any kind–including reincarnation–I would no longer fear death.  So I could truly live, defying death as much as I desired.

It is not death itself that we fear–but the uncertainty of it.  And if we knew there were, indeed, an afterlife for us–there’d be no more uncertainty to fear.  We could let our bodies die–knowing that our spirits (and perhaps even our minds) would continue living, indefinitely.


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