Reincarnation and Resting on Your Laurels


I'm reading the Old Sod, which is a biography of William Gray. One of the themes that comes up in the biography is reincarnation. Apparently Gray's mother believed that she was the reincarnation of a lover of Eliphas Levi and and one of the initial teachers of Gray believed he was a reincarnation of Eliphas Levi. For that matter I seem to recall that Crowley believed he was a reincarnation of Eliphas Levi. I've never really understood the fascination with reincarnation or why people feel compelled to claim they are the reincarnation of famous person x, but nonetheless it seems that it's been quite fashionable to claim you're the reincarnation of someone, as if that somehow passes on legitimacy. The problem I have with reincarnation, as it applies here, is that even if you are the reincarnation of person x, it doesn't matter because you aren't that person anymore, and an investiture in a past incarnation is an attachment that could be quite unhealthy.

For example, lets say you believe you're the reincarnation of Aleister Crowley. How will you ever measure up to that previous incarnation? I think that such an identification can lead to a resting on the laurels of someone else, without really challenging yourself. I was this person in a previous life and now I don't really need to apply myself because of that. It's ridiculous, because even if you are the reincarnation of such a person, you aren't that person now...and it shouldn't really matter.

I've never been interested in figuring out who or what I might have been in a past life. It's the past and right now I'm Taylor Ellwood and that's all that matters. I'm here to have experiences, learn and share and live for as long as I have life. And when I inevitably slip the mortal coil and go onto wherever I go to, that which is Taylor Ellwood will be subsumed to the primal essence that underlies it all and be returned to the universe...and should that essence be reincarnated it will be as someone else with new experiences to have, new things to learn, and new things to share. I hope that future person won't have the hubris to claim it used to be me or feel a need to return to this life.

I suspect that reincarnation matters to some people because they want to feel that some aspect of their personality lives on in later lives, but your personality is temporary and holding on to it as a form of attachment, brings with it all the foibles and faults that person had, without any guarantee that you'll necessarily have the skills and gifts the person had. It should be enough to be who you are, and let that being speak to the experience you are having now. Whoever you were is is your moment...embrace it as an opportunity to be in this moment, to learn and to let go of false attachments that do no good and will ultimately only hold you back.