The body is only a temporary vessel for a divine spark of consciousness that is the essence of who we are. Like all things in the material world, bodies age, break down, and eventually die, but at the level of divine essence there is only an eternal cycle of rebirth. When you die, your consciousness, your crucial energy, your soul if you prefer, detaches from its temporary home and is reborn in another person. Man, woman, rich, poor, near, far, future, past–it doesn’t matter. All that we know is that you will be reborn. Death is not the end.
When you are reborn, will you share some physical characteristic with your previous incarnation–a charmingly lopsided smile, perhaps, or a telltale way of stirring your tea? No. Physical characteristics are parts of the material world. They have nothing to do with your essential divine energy. Will some aspect of your personality persist then, an echo of your previous incarnation’s temperament that someone who knew that person might recognize and find moving? No. Psychological characteristics are–no less than physical ones–mere shadows of this transitory material world. If you have a powerful and mysterious conviction that in a past life you were Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, or Clara Bow, what does that mean? It means that you are daydreaming about being rich and famous. What about dreams, then? Could a particularly strange and compelling dream be a remnant of a past life? Don’t be silly. Everyone finds their dreams strange and compelling. That’s just the way our transitory physical brains are wired.
Imagine a colony of ants living at the base of a majestic old tree. We may wonder whether the ants are aware of the shafts of light peeking between the roots, but we do not ask, “What about those ants who fly to the surface of the sun?” Likewise, the spiritual realm exists far above the site of our day-to-day cares, and nothing inessential may pass between them. Reincarnated souls are shafts of light, not message boys. Question one: do you find this account of reincarnation plausible? Question two: do you find it satisfying?