I believe in reincarnation, not because I grew up with the belief or because I have proof that people’s souls live life after life, but because my earliest memory is of dying. Sometime in the 1800s, I was badly injured as a young man while on an expedition in a land far from my home. I remember laying down in the thick grass on a hillside, too weak to continue, and wondering how I was ever going finish this trek when there were thousands of miles left, let alone get back home to family and friends. Then I closed my eyes and died.
To my surprise, within moments of dying I found myself home, not the home of my family I had been yearning for while dying, but the greater home between lives. I was greeted by people I hadn’t seen in ages, some were even from other lifetimes, and I was amazed I could travel such an unexplainable distance with no effort at all. But then understanding came to me and I recognized the natural transition from the world where I had died to where I now found myself. I was flooded with relief, that somehow the journey was over. At least for now.
Some believe we work our way through living the lives of insects and animals and eventually get to be human. This seems a rather narcissistic, species centric point of view, that being human is the pinnacle of spiritual existence on earth. Everything isn’t here to serve us, but on the other hand it makes sense that we would work our way through greater and greater challenges, from slug, to household pet, to human, though without any memory of being a slug I can’t say if it is any less challenging than it is now being a man. Some might say the two are interchangeable, but this progression appeals to my logic and I need existence to have some form of order so I don’t completely lose any sense of purpose, even if I’m entirely wrong.
Reincarnation is consistently applied to people, but gets vague when it comes to animals. The concept that animals share a group soul is one I’ve come across several times, though again this seems narcissistic in that it’s a way to differentiate us from animals because of our insecurity as a species. The premise of a recent read of mine was that for dogs–pet dogs in particular–the next step on the ladder of reincarnation, if they are given enough love, is to be reborn in the next life as a person. That our love is the key to their evolution is a red flag, but I have to admit that being part of their evolution as a soul appeals to me, maybe even enough to overlook the red flag.
When looking into my dogs’ eyes, it’s clear they have just as much spirit or soul as I do, maybe even more, and I feel that raising and training them with love and patience is something like preparing them for their next incarnation, whether it’s as a companion, therapy dog, or person. I don’t know if they’ll be happier as people, the odds are against that because dogs are pretty joyful, but it’s the progression of life to learn and move forward. At least I hope so. When I encounter someone who seems exceptionally frustrated with life, I wonder if they’re new to being human and unconsciously wish they were still a dog. I know I do at times.