Over the years, many people have pondered their past lives. Some people have taken courses in meditation or undergone past-life hypnotic regression hoping to discover who they were in previous lifetimes. Mediums sometimes bring up past lives to explain issues occurring in present lives including phobias and repetitive challenges.
So what about future lives?
Whenever I watch the news or documentaries, I frequently find myself wondering about what I— my soul I—will choose for its next life. Will it be a logical progression from my current life, like a continuation of my work this life, or will it be something completely different?
I often wonder about this in the context of all those people who are engaged in living as racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. It applies to anyone who is marginalized or oppressed just for being born a certain way. Will my higher self decide that I should experience being born something that another group will automatically despise and attack?
Materialists, of course, think of birth as the chance result of genetics. Materialism does not consider the idea that pre-birth consciousness deliberately chose to be something for the purpose of learning particular lessons. Materialists are likely to say, “You cannot choose your parents,” for instance. They also say, “You only have one life to live.”
The theory of reincarnation suggests that we have an inkling before incarnating of what we’re getting ourselves into before visiting earth. People who believe in and teach reincarnation often say that we (our soul selves) choose many of our life circumstances. In a way it is like being a fiction author designing characters with certain traits like race, gender, religion, social status, and so on. Authors often make their choices based on what the character is supposed to do, learn, or represent in the work.
Currently the United States is embroiled in accelerated racial tension. Part of that reflects deep-seated prejudice, distrust, and dislike of those who are different. Another part is created through political discourse fanned in the media. For many people, conversations about race do not consider the implications of reincarnation.
I think of this as I watch news reports. I marvel wondering who would choose to be born in a country knowing that it would be so hellish that one had to escape it to survive? What spiritual motivation would be behind someone fleeing thousands of miles on foot to seek asylum in the United States (with some actually headed to Canada?)
I like to imagine what might happen through the eventual roll-out of the SoulPhone™. What might the impact be after extensive communication with hypothesized postmaterial luminaries (‘deceased’ persons who were highly productive geniuses while living on earth)? How might our earthly experiences change if it became commonly known that each of us experiences a variety of situations—gender, race, status, etc.—over a series of lifetimes?
We might come to seriously consider that in some future life experience, we could end up becoming a member of an attacked, oppressed group. Think about any situation you would hate to be born into; what if your soul self chose that situation for the growth and service opportunities? (Of course the soul would choose this with a broader understanding of the greater reality about what is truly positive and negative in the long term.)
I believe that thinking about reincarnation could go a long way in easing tensions that currently exist. If a white male realizes that he might be a multi-racial female in his next life, he might be more open to make life better for others in this life.
There would then be more to speaking and acting appropriately than mere political correctness, or even doing what is morally and ethically right. It would be in our collective self-interests to make this world a better place for everyone.
It might also make diversity more fun. Each lifetime could be more consciously viewed as an adventure in being something unique from before. The way things currently are, some people often ridicule or degrade others for being different. Would that improve if we knew that part of eternal life is choosing diversity in our chain of lifetimes?
Spiritual teachers often say that karma is not intended to be punitive, but is instead about balance. We are in Earth School to learn, and that means experiencing a variety of situations. Every life situation has pros and cons in the greater reality. What may seem like punishment from our current viewpoint might be a proverbial blessing in disguise.
For me, karma was best illustrated in a TEDTalk by transgender woman and reverend Paula Stone Williams on her transition from male to female. She said that as a male, she thought she was sensitive and fair-minded towards women. When she finally came out as a woman, she learned massive amounts about cultural gender forces and biases she had been blind to previously. (If you want to see her talk, click here.)
Having lived essentially two lives with one brain, she saw how her different situations brought her new insights.
Part of the solution to tensions about diversity in the future could be proliferation of the insight that everyone is created equal in a larger sense than is currently perceived. Whatever you are now, you might not be it next time, and you might not have been it last time.
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