Saturday, September 05, 2009

The thing about reincarnation...

Begin with the assumption that your karma is bad, bad, bad and you have been trotting on the treadmill of Samsara for millions of lives. Birth, death, rebirth, over and over. There's a detail most natural philosophers overlook; between this life and the next, you have to wade through the River Lethe and forget your former life. A trip on the Stygian riverboat takes you to the Cosmic Bardo, and judgment; a waist high wade through the Ford of Lethe takes you back to the everyday world.

Or a world, at any rate. Your reentry glide path is weighed down by karma†. You might skip off the atmospheres of Earth and wind up in Valhalla, you might crash and burn in Niffleheim. With any luck, you're back in Des Moines. With a few exceptional moments of better than average karma, you join the country club.

And you know nothing. You remember nothing. That former life is a disc of vinyl in a cardboard jacket, squeezed between a score of other distant lives, a pent-up flood of deja vu, the nameless band, the hundred half-remembered tunes...

For the sake of argument, let's assume that death is fairly traumatic when it happens, even at the best of times. The anoxic brain experiencing the gentlest demise will feel put upon. At the worst... A sudden drop, a sudden shock.

The thing is, since you're recycling this stuff, you're drawing your engraver's diamond tip over the same circules and swirls you etched in a former life, a farmer lyfe, a phoarmaa liffe, kapabin rif... The big dramatic moments have jogged your hand, the moment is recorded. When the needle retraces that moment, the needle bumps and jumps, you amplify a shock you tend to remember.

No details, just a sudden jolt. You're drifting off to sleep, your wife at your side, your kids snoring in another room. Suddenly your mind implodes. BAM! The strange thought invades your space. You've just met an old familiar gallows. You fell a half a meter, neck snapped, sense of being vanished in cold shock. The unreality takes your breath away. Man, what did you DO...? You get up, bare feet on the cold floor, and get yourself a sandwich in the kitchen, well past midnight.

Here's the rub. The older you get, the more frequently these echoes arrive. (Got a headache? Oh, yeah... Four lives ago... Mules kick, stupid!) You usually died in your sixties, it all comes flooding back. How will you live to be 90 with all this ghastly moaning pulling you down?

Me? I'm betting on the BODHISATTVAS, dude.

Hmmm... Is karma a stack (LIFO) or a queue (FIFO)?



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