Everything I thought I knew. Many of the spiritual traditions I've steeped myself in consider reincarnation a fact of life, the working out of the law of karma. I'd never thought highly of reincarnation. It seemed like wishful thinking, another way of denying death. Leela insisted I think more of it by giving me a koan to chew on: Death is never a bad thing. She loves to torture me with koans; this was one of many. This one took me aback. Death? Leela insisted I stay with that koan. Carry it around with me. Grapple with it. Where is it pointing? Grappling with that koan made me reevaluate everything I thought I knew. It led me to consider the possibility of reincarnation in a specific form: exact repetition. Being stuck in an infinite rut, the Wheel of Samsara, a fate far worse than any particular death could ever be. Reliving this exact life forever, never making any progress with love. Never becoming a new and better version of myself.
Reset. The picture that emerged centered on the idea that death was nothing but a reset button: I would simply start the exact same life all over. That makes death neutral, neither good nor bad. If anything, death would be a good thing, giving me a fresh start. Theoretically, a chance to make better choices, live a better life. But why would I, if everything were exactly the same? Wouldn't that mean everything works out exactly the same as it did before?
5d. If death is simply a reset button, my time becomes infinite. I can't ever run out of time if I simply live through the same period of time over and over. This one life, however long or short it is, is utterly inexaustible. I get to live this life forever and ever amen. So I have all the time in the world but my life never changes. A koan Leela had given me previously came back to haunt me as I pondered reincarnation: Time is not what you think it is. She gave me another koan: Nothing goes away. I soon realized these two were really the same. Everything and everyone I thought was gone forever will be there waiting for me when I come round again. Pondering time led me into paradoxical thinking: what's outside time? What would it mean for time to be irrelevant or infinite? I wrote a couple of websites about my internal struggle with the idea of inexaustible time and a theoretical fifth dimension. It was a wild ride. I was trippin', man.
She reminds me of Suzy.
I can't think outside time because thinking is sequential. Like any other activity it exists only in time. Everything that exists exists only in time. Except Leela, who is all of this. All of this includes all of time; Leela is outside time because she contains time along with everything else. Leela's qualities are also outside time: love, wisdom, meaning, satisfaction, happiness. Those qualities are outside both time and space. They can't be objectively measured. They have no existence as we understand that word in our little scientific thought bubble. None of the good stuff exists in the physical universe. But I digress. Leela can see through time the way we see through space because she contains all of time, including my future. Knowing what happens makes it easy for her to be wise, to give me the right guidance. But that couldn't happen until I surrendered to her.
Getting what I really want. Creating the life I really want takes a huge amount of hard work. But all the hard work in the world is useless if it's not the right work. I need guidance. I can't guide myself because what I want is something I've never done before, someone I've never been before. Leela will guide me, making sure I do the right work, take the right path, but she can't do that until I fully surrender to her. And even then I have to content myself with not knowing why I'm doing any particular task or what effect it will have. There's a boundary that must not be crossed: I can't know the future. It's critically important that I not know what's going to happen. Knowing that would destroy my relationship with the world. I have to surrender, follow Leela's guidance, do the work, and trust. Surrendering to Leela doesn't put her on my side. I don't get special treatment because I surrendered. She doesn't help me win the lottery or get any of the other absurd things I thought I wanted. Surrendering puts me on her side. It makes me stop wanting things I thought I wanted. Now I want what she wants for me. I want what's right, what's good for me, what's healthy. Leela wants me to make progress with love. She has guided me to a life where that's all I do full time.
Stages of life. In the late 2010s I started looking at my life as a whole for the first time. It turns out that was preparation for this work of telling my life story so I can reclaim my past. As I started contemplating my life I stumbled onto the Hindu teaching of the four ashramas or stages of life. The Hindu stages are student, householder, retiree, and renunciate/hermit. Pondering the stages of life helped me understand and accept my status as a retiree moving into my love Leela's version of renunciation, which is a beautiful thing, not at all lonely or deprived.
Making sense of it all. As I grappled with the possibility of reincarnation I slowly came to realize that the world makes more sense if I factor in the possible effect of past lives than it does if I don't. The world's a tangle of outrageous inequities. They seem to have no rhyme or reason. What if they're not meaningless? What if birth is not an accident but something I earn from one life to another, moving in the direction of a life that gives me more opportunity to make progress with love? It's painfully obvious that riches do not make for happier or better adjusted people. Making progress is grindingly difficult and often extremely uncomfortable, in my experience. Someone born to luxury and idleness hasn't got a chance. Fame also has a negative effect, strongly cultivating self absorption. A really favorable life for making progress is in between, neither wealthy nor poor. I slowly came to see people's situations as reflections of previous progress or the lack thereof. I'm responsible for making my own progress. No one else can do that for me. No one can even direct or advise me about making progress because my inspiration and direction have to come from my own internal authority, my body, which is Leela. If I want a better start in life I have to earn it by brilliantly playing the hand I was dealt this time. The answer is always the same: make progress with love. Become a little more enlightened. Put my energy into improving my inner state, particularly in the later stages of life, when there's more time for inner work. All the elements of life that seem unchangeable, faits accomplis, might change entirely next life if I do this one as well as I can: nationality, race, genetic makeup, the social and financial situation of my parents, the quality of home life as a child, all the givens. If I play the cards I was dealt this time in a way that helps me realize my human potential, Leela will up my potential with more and better cards next time. That's winning the game.
Reincarnation and paying attention. The only way I can change my life is by making progress with love. I make progress every time I pay attention. Every time I'm present and silent, free of mental noise. I make no progress when I'm absent, sleepwalking through my life, going through the motions, simply allowing my attention to be drawn. Paying attention changes me at the deepest level: I become a wiser person as I make progress with love. Any progress I make adds to wisdom. As I gain wisdom, I become less limited by time, more willing to rely on Leela to guide me through events to the outcome I want, the outcome Leela wants for me, which is what I really want. Given infinite repetition, I could transform my life into anything I wanted it to be.