To be a truly ‘religious’ or spiritual person I think it is necessary to explore and study and try to understand as many belief systems as our little brains can handle. The more we open our minds to all the possibilities, the better able we are to see that there is no such thing as an exclusive set of beliefs. It becomes more and more difficult to say “I am this” or “I am that” or this is the only truth there is, this way is completely right and that way is completely wrong. Everything overlaps. All religions have the same basic premise, but there are an infinite number of twists and revisions and spins put on things until each one of them comes up with their own little book of rules.
I like the idea of a soul or a spirit in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. Plants die in the fall and come back to life in the spring. Adult animals die and their young take their place with the same instincts and talents for survival. We like to think we’re above all that and more important, maybe because we are able to put all our crazy ideas down on paper and convince other people of their brilliance.
I like the idea that the immortal soul is held prisoner by the body until it completes its spiral of ascent and is finally set free. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that we get as many chances at this as we need to finally get it right, whatever ‘right’ might be.
I like the Taoist teachings that tell us “Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting-point. Existence without limitation is Space. Continuity without a starting point is Time. There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in.”
I respect the things that people believe in, as long as those beliefs give them comfort and peace, and as long as they don’t try to force me to agree with them.
And yes, I do know that the question was “what other person or animal could you have been in a former life?” Have some patience, I’m getting to that. I’d love to say I was Joan of Arc or Cleopatra or Florence Nightingale, but if that were true I haven’t learned much or been able to transfer many of their good traits into my present life.
So I’m thinking I was probably a house cat. I am lazy and self-indulgent and like to sleep a lot. When I was young I was cute and playful. I have been known to hiss and spit when I get angry or frightened or just for the hell of it. I don’t like dogs, but I can tolerate them if I have to. I like to sit completely still and stare off into space. I pretend to be aloof and untouchable. I take affection for granted and being pandered to is my absolute favourite thing ever. It must have been a good life because I appear to be trying very hard to replicate it all in this one. Perhaps in my next life I’ll be a houseplant, with even less responsibilities, and merely have to sit around looking good.
The results of a quiz I took to see what historical figure I might have been in a past life came up as 100% in favour of Mary Wollstonecraft, Anglo-Irish feminist, intellectual and writer. There is only a ten percent chance that I was Alexander the Great.