The idea of reincarnation has existed in various religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions around the globe. It speaks to something deeply mystical and inevitable about human nature: the desire to understand life and what happens after death.
The concept of reincarnation brings both comfort and profound questions. It suggests that our souls are not just passing through this world but are on a grander journey through many lives.
Introduction to Reincarnation
The Concept of Rebirth in Human Consciousness
Reincarnation, or the rebirth of the soul, is a foundational belief for several of the world’s major religions and various indigenous traditions. It’s the idea that the soul, upon death, comes back to the earth in a new body or form. This belief highlights a universal question that transcends geography, culture, and time: “What happens after we die?”
Despite the variations in the specifics, the notion of a soul being reborn follows a universal theme of renewal, transformation, and an eternal continuity of consciousness. Reincarnation challenges the linear perception of existence – birth, life, death – and reimagines it as a cyclical process, offering a uniquely comforting take on the mortality of the human body.
Why Reincarnation Captures the Human Imagination
The belief in reincarnation also speaks to our collective consciousness and the human condition. It reflects our innate desire to connect events and experiences, the need for justice (the balancing of the scales), and the pursuit of a higher, more profound understanding of our existence.
Furthermore, it provides meaningful answers to some of life’s most challenging questions. Why do bad things happen to good people, and vice versa? How can someone possess extraordinary talents or profound wisdom seemingly beyond their experience? Reincarnation offers an explanation: past lives. These lives, with their accumulated experiences and lessons, contribute to the essence of the individual soul, shaping a person’s character, preferences, and even phobias in their present life.
In a world rife with materialism and disconnection, the idea of reincarnation invites us to view life as deeply interconnected. It encourages us to consider each action and thought as not merely transient or isolated events but as influential aspects of our journey through multiple existences.
This conversation becomes particularly fascinating and complex when we delve into the specifics of how different cultures and religions perceive reincarnation. From the rigorous karma system of Hindu belief to more relaxed, philosophical interpretations elsewhere, the concept is versatile enough to allow for broad, universal application.
After all, who hasn’t wondered about the possibility of having lived before? This question alone opens up an exploration of the self, urging us to consider that we are more than the sum of our current memories and experiences.
Reincarnation in Major Religions
When we explore the concept of reincarnation, we find ourselves traversing the boundaries of diverse traditions and beliefs. It’s a journey that takes us into the heart of numerous religions, revealing core similarities and intriguing differences.
Diverse Traditions: A Comparative Analysis
Reincarnation is not exclusive to a single belief system. Instead, it’s a spiritual concept that spans across various major religions and cultural traditions around the world. Each interpretation of reincarnation carries unique nuances that reflect the broader philosophies of the culture from which it originates.
In Hinduism, for example, the immortal soul (or ‘atman’) undergoes cycles of birth, death, and rebirth, an experience shaped by karma. This belief system suggests that the soul evolves over many lifetimes until it achieves moksha, the ultimate release from the cycle.
Contrastingly, in Buddhism, the concept focuses less on the individual soul and more on a ‘consciousness’ that is reborn. This subtle yet significant difference from the Hindu view highlights Buddhism’s fundamental doctrine of ‘anatta’ or ‘non-self,’ the idea that there is no unchanging, permanent self.
And then we have other religious systems—like certain sects of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that have mystic traditions which, while not overtly acknowledging reincarnation, hint at themes of rebirth or spiritual continuation, though these ideas are often more metaphorical than literal.
Biblical Passages and Reincarnation: A Controversy
The relationship between Christianity and reincarnation is complex. The idea of reincarnation seems conspicuously absent from modern Christian doctrine, and many theologians outright reject it. However, historical and scriptural analyses suggest that early Christianity might have included some belief in reincarnation.
Several biblical passages spark debate among scholars, pointing to potential references to reincarnation. For instance, Jesus’ discussion with his disciples about the return of Elijah, and whether John the Baptist was the embodiment of this returned prophet, has been a point of intense theological debate. These and other scriptural moments are subject to interpretation, and while some individuals see hints of reincarnation, others argue these references symbolize spiritual rebirth or renewal, central themes in Christian doctrine.
The Hindu Belief System: Eternal Souls and Karma
Central to the Hindu belief system is the idea of an eternal soul undergoing a process of rebirth, a concept deeply intertwined with karma. The actions taken in past and present lives influence future rebirths, with each lifetime serving as a stage for the soul to experience, learn, and evolve.
Karma in Hinduism acts as a kind of moral compass, guiding the soul through its many lives. It is neither punishment nor retribution but rather a natural consequence of actions, thoughts, and desires. Through karma, individuals carry forward their spiritual lessons, mistakes, and achievements, which subsequently shape their future experiences and rebirths.
This process continues until the soul achieves moksha, or liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth. Moksha is attained by realizing the true nature of reality, an understanding that one’s individual consciousness is fundamentally united with the ultimate reality, often identified as Brahman, the supreme existence.
The Journey of the Soul: Understanding the Immortal Soul
Delving deeper into the metaphysical, the journey of the soul becomes a central narrative in understanding reincarnation. It’s this immortal aspect of our being that traverses the realms of existence, carrying the essence of self from one life to the next.
What is the Soul? Defining the Indefinable
In discussions about reincarnation, understanding the concept of the soul is paramount. While various religions and philosophies offer different definitions, there’s a common thread: the soul is the immortal essence, an incorporeal element that represents our true self, distinct from our physical body.
The soul isn’t confined by the human body’s limitations and doesn’t perish with it. Instead, it transcends death, carrying forward a person’s consciousness, memories, or some form of identity, ready to begin a new chapter in a different physical form. This belief provides a foundation for the reincarnation concept, where the soul’s journey is an eternal one, punctuated by different lives and experiences in the physical world.
Karma Influences and the Journey Through Lives
Karma is a crucial principle in understanding the soul’s journey. It’s the universal law of cause and effect: every action, thought, and desire creates ripples, affecting our souls’ paths. These consequences could manifest in the current life or subsequent ones, influencing our circumstances, relationships, and even physical health in various lives.
In the context of reincarnation, karma provides a moral framework for the soul’s journey. It’s not just about reward or punishment; it’s an opportunity for growth and enlightenment. By facing the effects of past actions, individuals can learn life’s essential lessons, purify their consciousness, and move closer to spiritual awakening or liberation.
How Souls Choose New Bodies: The Selection Process
One of the most intriguing aspects of reincarnation is how a soul chooses its new body or life circumstances. While some belief systems suggest this process is influenced by karma, others believe in a more active selection process.
For instance, some traditions hold that souls are drawn to parents and families that match their energetic frequencies or life lessons they need to learn. Others suggest that higher beings or a divine force guide this process, placing the soul in the right circumstances for its growth.
There are also beliefs in a “life review” phase, where souls reflect on their past life, learning from their experiences before moving onto the next existence. This phase helps a soul understand its past struggles and triumphs, shaping its future path and the choices leading to its next physical incarnation.
Regardless of the specifics, this phase emphasizes that physical life is a learning arena for the soul. Each incarnation, with its challenges and joys, is an opportunity for the soul to evolve, to learn love, compassion, forgiveness, and wisdom, ultimately leading toward complete spiritual enlightenment or unity with the divine source.
Past Lives and Present Revelations
The belief in past lives isn’t just a mystical theory but a source of profound insight for many. It suggests that aspects of our personalities, talents, even our fears, and challenges, are not newly acquired in this life but have been shaped by numerous previous existences.
Recognizing Past Life Memories: Signs and Experiences
Identifying memories from past lives can be an elusive experience. These recollections often surface as déjà vu, inexplicable fears, or an immediate affinity or aversion to certain people and places. For some, specific details—like names, dates, and geographic locations from another epoch—might spontaneously emerge, typically during childhood or in dreams.
Some individuals also report vivid, often recurring dreams that seem to reflect experiences from another time and place. Others may have spontaneous flashbacks, especially when visiting a new location or encountering specific objects or settings that seem oddly familiar. These experiences can feel more real and intense than mere imagination or daydreaming.
Past Lives Impacting the Present: Talents and Phobias
One fascinating aspect of past lives is how they might influence our current abilities, preferences, and emotional responses. Some people find they are naturally gifted with a talent they’ve never formally learned, suggesting the skill was developed in a previous life. These can range from artistic or musical abilities to intellectual pursuits or even fluency in a foreign language.
Similarly, unexplained phobias or emotional triggers may also stem from past life experiences. For instance, someone might have an intense fear of water despite no traumatic incidents in their current life, potentially pointing to a past life experience. Recognizing these influences provides a richer understanding of one’s self and can be a pathway to healing longstanding fears.
Regression Therapy: Exploring Past Lives
Regression therapy is a technique used to retrieve memories from past lives. This therapeutic practice often involves hypnosis to access the subconscious mind, revealing potential past life experiences. It’s usually undertaken by individuals seeking to understand mysterious aspects of their current lives or heal from unexplained traumas, fears, or patterns.
While not recognized by all mainstream psychologists, those specializing in or open to spiritual practices view regression therapy as a tool for deep healing. By confronting and understanding traumas from past lives, individuals can find closure, leading to emotional and psychological healing. It’s an adventure into one’s past existences, providing insights that can be profoundly transformative.
Scientific Perspectives: Research and Skepticism
The scientific community remains largely skeptical about reincarnation and past life memories. Researchers argue that these memories could be false, constructed based on fantasy, wishful thinking, or bits of information gathered throughout life. However, there are academics and researchers, often in the minority, who explore this phenomenon, aiming to provide empirical evidence supporting the case for past lives.
Some academic psychiatrists and psychologists have studied children’s spontaneous past life memories, providing compelling cases that challenge the conventional scientific worldview. These cases often include verifiable accuracy about people, places, and events from the past, which the child could not have known about in their current life context.
Unveiling Family Karma: Bonds Beyond One Lifetime
The concept of family karma explores the intricate web of spiritual, emotional, and mental connections that span across generations, suggesting our familial bonds might be more profound and eternal than we perceive.
Family Tradition vs. New Family Tradition: A Soul’s Evolution
In many cultures, family tradition is sacred, holding significant influence over individual choices and paths in life. However, when viewed through the lens of reincarnation, every soul’s journey is a tapestry woven from experiences across lifetimes, potentially across various families, cultures, and eras.
This perspective introduces the concept of ‘new family tradition,’ where souls reincarnate within soul groups to address collective karma and grow together spiritually. It’s not uncommon, under this belief, for souls to switch roles in subsequent lives, offering a diverse range of experiences and lessons. For instance, a father in one life could be reborn as the son of his daughter in a subsequent life.
The Greatest Martial Family: Legend of the Samion Family
To illustrate, let’s delve into a narrative. Consider the legend of the ‘Samion’ family, believed to have been the greatest martial family of an ancient civilization. They were known not just for their combat skills, but for their wisdom, leadership, and spiritual strength. Legend has it that the Samion warriors were reincarnations of souls from various backgrounds, brought together by a shared purpose and destiny.
One such tale within the Samion lore is of a one-armed martial soldier, unmatched in skill and valor. Despite losing an arm in battle, he trained relentlessly, mastering the art of one-armed combat. His determination, courage, and wisdom were said to be the result of experiences accumulated over past lives, contributing to the family’s legacy.
These stories, while legendary, underscore the belief that family bonds and traditions can transcend bloodlines and lifetimes, as souls seek mutual growth and fulfillment of karmic debts.
Direct Line: How Souls Traverse Through Bloodlines
Another intriguing aspect is the belief in a ‘direct line’ or the idea that souls reincarnate along specific family lines. Some suggest this occurs to keep certain soul groups intact, allowing for the resolution of collective karma and enabling souls to support one another’s spiritual evolution over several lifetimes.
This belief also touches upon the idea that physical, emotional, and mental traits can recur across generations, not just through genetic inheritance but as a result of soul-level continuities. It’s a concept that enriches the understanding of family dynamics and personal traits, providing a deeper, more spiritual layer to the nature versus nurture debate.
Healing Family Karma: Breaking the Chains
For those who embrace the concept of family karma, healing unresolved issues—be they relationships, recurrent patterns, or inexplicable family dynamics—is a crucial aspect of spiritual growth. It involves recognizing patterns, understanding their origins (potentially from past lives), and consciously working toward resolution and growth, freeing the soul from repetitive cycles.
This healing can be individual or involve multiple family members and is often believed to have a ripple effect, benefiting current and future generations. It’s about breaking cycles of negative behavior, resolving outstanding emotional debts, and creating a more positive and conscious environment for the soul’s evolution.
Major Religions and Their Interpretations of Reincarnation
Reincarnation is a concept that spans numerous belief systems. While it’s a core tenet in some religions, it’s a periphery idea in others, and some don’t entertain the idea at all. The interpretation of reincarnation can vary dramatically, shaping followers’ views on life, death, and spiritual evolution.
Hindu Belief: The Eternal Cycle of Samsara
In Hinduism, reincarnation is a fundamental principle. The soul, or ‘atman,’ is eternal, passing through cycles of birth, death, and rebirth, known as ‘samsara.’ The nature of each rebirth is influenced by karma, the law of action and reaction, where the soul reaps consequences from past actions.
Hinduism also introduces the concept of ‘moksha’ – liberation from the cycle of samsara. It’s achieved when a soul realizes its true, divine nature, freeing itself from the physical world’s bondage and the illusion of individuality. This ultimate goal encourages followers to live righteous lives, contributing to their spiritual progress and the collective good.
Buddhism: The Concept of Non-Self and Rebirth
While Buddhism derives from Hindu tradition, it has unique interpretations of reincarnation. Most Buddhists do not believe in the ‘self’ or ‘soul’ as an eternal entity. Instead, they emphasize ‘anatta’ (non-self), where individuals are instead a collection of changing physical and mental elements.
Reincarnation in Buddhism is often referred to as ‘rebirth.’ Since there’s no permanent soul, what continues is a stream of consciousness, influenced by one’s actions (karma). The ultimate goal isn’t just liberation from the cycle of rebirth, known as ‘nirvana,’ but also the attainment of complete enlightenment or ‘Buddhahood.’
Abrahamic Religions: A Different Stance on Afterlife
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – the major Abrahamic religions – predominantly believe in resurrection rather than reincarnation. The concept of ‘only one life’ followed by an eternal afterlife in heaven or hell is a central belief. Resurrection is the re-creation of a person’s same body, reuniting with the soul on Judgment Day.
Certain sects and mystical schools within these religions have interpreted biblical passages and religious texts to suggest a belief in reincarnation. For instance, Kabbalah, a mystical Jewish tradition, and the Druze, an esoteric Arabic tradition, entertain reincarnation ideas. However, these beliefs are not mainstream.
Diverse Traditions: Reincarnation in Other Cultures
Reincarnation isn’t exclusive to major world religions. Various indigenous cultures and new religious movements around the world hold beliefs in reincarnation. These traditions often integrate ancestral worship and a deep connection with nature, where the reincarnation cycle plays a crucial role in maintaining cosmic order.
These diverse beliefs often share common themes of cyclical existence, moral cause and effect (karma), and an ultimate goal of liberation or ascension to higher spiritual planes. They contribute to a rich, global tapestry of understanding regarding the soul’s journey through multiple existences.
The Journey of the Soul: From One Life to Another
Understanding the journey of the soul through different lives involves grasping more than the concept of physical death and rebirth. It’s about the soul’s evolution, the lessons learned, the experiences gathered, and how all these aspects contribute to its journey towards enlightenment or higher consciousness.
The Space Between Lives: Where Do We Go?
The journey doesn’t pause with death; rather, it transitions. Many reincarnation proponents believe in an interim stage between death and rebirth. This phase, often referred to as the “spirit world,” is said to be a realm where souls rest, review the lessons from their past life, and prepare for the next.
It’s a place of reflection, learning, and even healing. Souls confront the consequences of their past actions, understand their achievements, and carry forward the lessons to the next life. This space is often described as timeless, a state of existence differing vastly from earthly life, not bounded by our familiar dimensions.
Choosing Our Next Life: Is It Predetermined?
A common question arises: Do we choose our next life? The theories vary. Some believe that higher forces or entities (like a council of elders) guide the decision, considering the soul’s past experiences and future learning needs. Others suggest souls have the freedom to choose based on their preferences, lessons they wish to learn, or karmic debts they need to settle.
The circumstances of your birth—your parents, your body, the socio-economic environment—are thus often believed to be aligned with the learning your soul seeks to undertake. For some, this offers a perspective that explains the diversity of human experience and the challenges individuals face in life.
Karma’s Role in Our Journey: The Cosmic Law of Balance
Karma is a fundamental principle tied to the belief in reincarnation. It’s the spiritual principle of cause and effect, where the intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual. Good intent contributes to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent leads to future suffering.
Karma influences the conditions of the next life, such as the quality of health, intelligence, physical appearance, and even the nature of individual experiences. It serves as a teacher, a path to create a balance, learn, and grow spiritually across various lifetimes until the soul achieves enlightenment or reunification with the divine source.
Life Lessons and Soul’s Growth: The Purpose of Reincarnation
If life is a school, reincarnation is an immersive learning program. It’s not merely about coming back; it’s about evolution and progress. Souls return to learn compassion, patience, courage, wisdom, love, and forgiveness—the lessons are endless, as varied as human experience.
The challenges faced in life are seen as lessons, and opportunities for growth. Even suffering is often viewed not as random or cruel, but as purposeful, guiding souls toward their ultimate enlightenment and the fulfillment of their spiritual journey. This broader perspective offers a profound sense of purpose in navigating life’s complexities.
Unraveling the Mysteries: Exceptional Cases and Stories
Beyond theoretical understanding, reincarnation intrigues through personal anecdotes and narratives that seem to defy simple explanations. These stories, some ancient and others from modern times, contribute to the larger tapestry of what we comprehend about soul journeys.
The Tale of the One-Armed Martial Soldier
Among the myriad stories, the tale of the one-armed martial soldier stands out. Born into the greatest martial family known, the Samion family, he was a formidable figure whose skills were unmatched despite losing an arm in battle. The twist in the tale comes with his rebirth in a new family tradition, where he purportedly regained his prowess, becoming naturally gifted in martial arts, particularly favoring his right arm, the same side he lost in his past life.
This account, while anecdotal, resonates with the notion that physical traits, talents, or injuries can follow from one life to another. It suggests that our past lives could indeed influence our present capabilities or predilections, a concept that, while contentious, is a fascinating aspect of reincarnation beliefs.
Children’s Spontaneous Past Life Memories
Children, with their unfiltered view of the world, often become the center of some of the most compelling reincarnation stories. There are numerous documented cases where children purportedly recall details from their past lives, which they could not have otherwise known. These range from knowing intricate details of far-off places, speaking languages they were never taught, to recognizing people from their alleged past lives.
Such cases are often investigated by academic psychiatrists and researchers in the field. While critics argue these could be attributed to cryptomnesia (unconsciously recalling forgotten information) or false memories, the sheer volume of verified information in certain cases suggests that there might be more to these stories, reigniting the debates around the phenomenon of reincarnation.
Reincarnation and Family: The Bonds That Tie
Stories often surface of individuals being reborn within the same familial lines, suggesting a preference of souls to reincarnate within familiar settings or perhaps to fulfill unresolved obligations. These narratives often strengthen the idea of family tradition in the context of reincarnation, where souls evolve alongside one another through various lifetimes.
Whether it’s about settling karmic debt, protecting lineage, or nurturing long-standing relationships, these stories offer a comforting narrative that the bonds of love and duty transcend physical existence, resonating deeply with our innate human desire for connection and continuity.
Famous Historical Figures and Reincarnation Claims
There are also claims of past lives involving historical figures. These are often met with skepticism, given the possibility of these claims being driven by a desire for fame or a sense of grandeur. However, they offer an interesting dimension to reincarnation — the idea that souls evolve through vastly different experiences, sometimes even influencing the course of history.
While difficult to verify, these stories serve as a reminder of the human penchant for storytelling and our eternal quest for identity and significance, transcending the mundanities of our current existence.
The Immortal Soul: Eternal, Unchanging, Ever-Evolving
At the heart of discussions about reincarnation is the concept of the immortal soul, a facet of existence that is both eternal and subject to change through experiences and lifetimes.
Understanding the Immortal Soul
In many religious and philosophical doctrines, the soul represents the essence of a human being. It’s considered immortal because, unlike the physical body, it doesn’t succumb to death. This soul is what continues on, experiences the consequences of karma, and learns life’s lessons through multiple bodily experiences.
The nature of the soul is often debated. Is it eternal and unchanging, reflecting a pure essence that experiences human life? Or does it evolve, growing and developing through its various lives and experiences? The belief in an evolving soul aligns with the concept of reincarnation, where each subsequent life is a step on the ladder of spiritual evolution, moving towards enlightenment, self-realization, or an ultimate return to a source, often identified as a reunion with the divine.
Artistic Expressions: Reincarnation in Literature and Films
Reincarnation has been a fascinating concept for artists, writers, and filmmakers, often used as a narrative device to explore themes of eternal love, redemption, and the consequences of actions across different lifetimes. From literature with characters remembering or reliving past lives, to movies where protagonists grapple with flashbacks from another time, these stories make for compelling tales.
These artistic expressions contribute to popular understandings of reincarnation, often romanticizing the concept, and can influence how people perceive their own experiences and the idea of past and future lives. They also reflect cultural differences in how reincarnation is understood, providing a lens through which to view and compare diverse traditions and beliefs about the afterlife and the soul’s journey.
Cultural Impact: How Reincarnation Shapes Societies
Belief in reincarnation also has practical implications, influencing how societies understand death and afterlife, moral conduct, and justice. In cultures where reincarnation is widely accepted, it can affect everything from daily behavior to life-altering decisions, often guided by the desire to accumulate good karma for subsequent lives.
This belief system can bring comfort, a sense of accountability, and a profound understanding that this life is part of a more extensive, more significant process of spiritual development. However, it also poses complex questions about social inequality and justice — if one’s circumstances are seen as a result of past-life actions, how does this perspective influence societal attitudes toward suffering and injustice?
The concept of reincarnation can even impact environmental attitudes, where the earth is viewed as a sacred, nurturing mother, a giver of life through countless rebirths. This can foster attitudes of respect and care for the environment, seeing it as a partner in the cyclical journey of life and death.
Embracing the Journey: Reflections on Reincarnation
As we’ve traversed the concept of reincarnation, from understanding its roots in major religions to personal anecdotes and cultural influences, it’s evident that the belief in past lives and rebirth is more than a spiritual concept. It’s a reflection of our innate desire to understand the human experience, the immortal soul, and the continuum of life and death.
Reincarnation: A Personal Journey
For many, the belief in reincarnation presents a deeply personal journey. It’s a comforting, purposeful view of existence that doesn’t end with death but continues, allowing the soul to learn, evolve, and resolve its karma. Whether through meditation, spiritual regression, or introspection, individuals can explore this path, seeking insights into their past lives, understanding their current challenges, and making choices that influence their spiritual journey.
The Ultimate Goal: Liberation and Enlightenment
The ultimate goal in the belief system surrounding reincarnation is often the soul’s liberation from the cycle of birth and death. This moksha, nirvana, or enlightenment — the terms vary across religions — is viewed as the pinnacle of spiritual evolution. It’s achieving a state of eternal peace, understanding, and unity with the divine, the universe, or the ultimate reality.
Achieving this goal is often believed to require multiple lifetimes of experience and learning. It’s a journey toward pure consciousness, where the soul has fully realized its true nature, transcending all desires, suffering, and the need for physical rebirth.
Reincarnation: An Ongoing Dialogue
In the modern world, reincarnation remains a vibrant, evolving topic. New research, emerging technologies, and a growing interest in spiritual exploration continue to shape our understanding of this ancient belief. Dialogues about past life memories, the impact of karma, and soul growth contribute to a diverse, global conversation that bridges religious, philosophical, and cultural divides.
Moreover, the stories of past lives and the prospect of future ones inspire a narrative of hope, resilience, and continuity. They encourage a view of life as an intricate tapestry of human experience, where each thread, each life, is a vital part of a larger, grander pattern.
Concluding Reflections: Life, Death, and Rebirth
As we reflect on the concept of reincarnation — past lives, the journey of the immortal soul, and the influence of karma — we find ourselves contemplating the very nature of existence. Whether one believes in reincarnation or adheres to the concept of only one life, the discussions around it encourage a deeper exploration of life’s purpose and the values guiding our choices.
Ultimately, the belief in reincarnation offers a perspective that extends beyond a single lifetime, promoting a holistic view of each individual’s journey. It provides a framework that values growth, accountability, and the pursuit of wisdom and compassion. It’s a reminder that every life, with its joys and struggles, is a step in the journey — an intricate dance of the soul through time, seeking enlightenment, peace, and ultimate union with the cosmos.
In this grand cosmic play, we are all participants, journeying together, each playing our part in the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth.