Two independent events over the weekend that were coincidentally relevant have forced me to think about fundamental questions of birth and death. In the past, I have studied the questions of birth and death, life and its vagaries, desire and pain, destiny and free will as explained from multiple religious standpoints. However, in the recent past, I have learned to simplify my existence, my world view, my understanding and love of God to very few basic principles. This simplification has allowed me to be far less questioning and far more accepting thereby making life, well, more simple. But these two seemingly small events revived the questions from the past that had been blissfully suppressed so far. Quick context. Event 1: Advertisement that called for essay entries with the title “Who am I”. Event 2: Unplanned spontaneous discussion on reincarnation for a Hindu.
These two events got me thinking. If I were to ask myself “Who am I” would the answer after many layers of questioning be that “I am a soul”? And if that is true, what is the mission of this soul to have taken this particular form, at this time, in this country, in this family, in this set of associations with people? According to Hindu religion, a soul is on a mission of attaining maturity over multiple births to finally be rid of all worldly associations, realize the universal nature of God, and finally become liberated and attain God. I get “attaining God through understanding His universal nature and self-realization”. I understand the core teachings and absolutely love them. However, the aspect of reincarnation / repeated births has always troubled me in inexplicable ways.
As a human, I am obviously troubled in the face of major uncertainties. And if this uncertainty pans out over multiple lifetimes, the anxiety morphs into fear. Yes, fear. Although there are many small questions and fears on the concept of rebirth, the primary fear though is of facing overwhelming loneliness. For, we are each one of us are utterly alone on this journey through space and time for eras together. Probably in each birth, there would be other humans (or animals) we can call “loved ones”. However, the journey itself is one for an individual and highly personal. To truly attain self, we would need to think of God as the One and Only; the absolute everything that makes us need nothing. So we need to consciously make ourselves learn to be happy with ourselves and become fully independent physically, financially and most importantly emotionally. This last aspect terrifies me; the prospect of having to make myself emotionally independent means starting to become detached from my loved ones. However, if I believe that the essence and the meaning of my existence is because of them and to be with them, the call for independence leaves my reality bare. It strips away my ability to “connect” with my present life leaving me distraught and lost.
Perhaps in some birth, when my soul is “mature” I might be able to understand, accept and be rid of this fear. For now, though, I have tackled this fear successfully by reverting back to my simplified outlook.