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What exactly carries over lifetimes?

What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/24/15 10:33 AM
In my own understanding, everything that makes me who I am as a person is gathered in this world. The body, ideas, beliefs, understanding etc. And there is this silent presence that is aware of it all. But all that made me be the person I am, cannot be all random? "Something" has to be carried over, the progress we made, our insight and understanding that somehow is manifested at least to some degree in the next incarnation. Even in buddhism there are ideas like: after stream entry, it is guaranteed to achieve total enlightenment in 7 births. So what exactly carries over death? Any ideas/experiences you guys have?


P.S. If you are about to post something like "what's the point of thinking about it? What will happen will happen, focus on this life" etc. then please don't. I enjoy playing with these ideas hence this thread.

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/24/15 11:44 AM as a reply to Michał G..
This is a good question.  I've wondered about it too.  If the sense of  'I' or identity is a conglomerate of current circumstances and influences that shift and change, then seems to me, after death, circumstances change and then so likely must the sense of identity change at least some.  But to know more specifically, does someone know?  I suspect many have experienced various altered states, dream states, etc. in which you feel different than normal.  Will it be anything like that?  Good question..
-Eva 

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/24/15 11:50 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Hi Eva and Michal,

Why do you think you'll be reborn?

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/24/15 2:57 PM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk,

I am not really sure I will be reborn, especially that I do not really know what this "I" would be. This is just an assumption I made, here is why. Let's consider two scenarios:

Scenario A - Atheists are right, there is nothing after death for us, as we die we cease to exist. All ideas about life after death are created by wishful thinking, fear, and mind's abstract thinking ability. If that's the case, there is no problem. There is nothing left to be aware of anything, end of story.

Scenario B - There is much more to life than meets the eye (and other senses). The amount of individuals throughout the world and history claiming this is so high, that it is at least worth to consider.

In this thread we play with scenario B, and here is why I think reincarnation would make a lot of sense: life is evolution and this is clearly seen in nature. It's all about growth, progress, improving interaction with other life forms and generally being better adjusted to the reality. IF life was all random, it wouldn't make sense and would be a mess. But our known universe is definetely not a random mess: there is order.

So seeing how the life forms are about growth and evolution, in the bigger picture, it just wouldn't make sense for individuals to be random. A human is born, with random traits, skills, level of understanding and intelligence, lives for a while, dies and that's it? What would be the point? Evolution seems to be the point of life. And in this case, reincarnation makes great sense. Birth and death are not pointless and random, there is growth and progress.

If I was totally convinced with scenario A I would either end up a shallow materialist, or most likely kill myself. Scenario A would be fine for animals and ignorant people, but eventually person gets to a point where they are bored with mundane, see the futility of it, and start to wonder: what's the point? Who am I? Is there more to life than meets the eye? When these questions come, if I was somehow convinced in this scenario, I would've just killed myself because why struggle with pointless life when you can skip to the end right now.

But since I'm here I'm obviously more into scenario B.


tl;dr: reincarnation just makes sense to me, considering bigger picture of reality.

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/24/15 6:16 PM as a reply to Michał G..

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/25/15 2:32 AM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
Hi Eva and Michal,

Why do you think you'll be reborn?
I always find it ironic when meditators question life after death.  I think it's because from my own perspective, life after death seems less strange than the idea that repeatedly sitting on a pillow with legs in a pretzel shape while contemplating breath would somehow lead to neverending ecstatic happiness!  That second belief always seemed far more weird to me than the first!  ;-P  And in fact you REALLY have to believe in the pillow belief to spend countless jillions of hours sitting on that thing!  OK, obviously, that was an oversimplification, but you get the idea.  It actually continually amazes me that many people devote that much time on power of their belief often not having much evidence or even promise that it will work for sure.  

Whereas for life after death, I think there are more clues that it might be so.  First, there is the fact that scientists can't figure out awareness or how it develops and can't localize it.  But there are many instances of psi research that shows somehow the mind can learn things it should not be able to know, ie somehow it has access to nonlocal information.  To me it makes the most sense that if awareness can do that, then it is not locked inside the body.  If it is free to wander from the body, then I would logically expect it could live without the body.  That's from a logical perspective.

From a personal perspective, I have had enough weird experiences in my life to lend credence to life after death.  There was a period of time when I would fairly regulary dream I was someone else with an entirely different personality and living situation.  The experiences were hyper real and detailed.  I actually learned a ton about what other people think in their heads that I didn't know before.  I learned about about other peoples' perspectives, both bad and good and their individual mental traps that they create for themselves.  At the time, I did not assume they were past lives though, and I still don't know, they could have just been random people that had something for me to learn from.  One interpretation is that I have a super amazing imagination, but if that were the case, I have to say that level of imaginative still would seem more amazing to me than just regular out of body travel.  But sure, people could assume that if they wanted, it's just not what I think is the most logical  answer from my own perspective.  Back in those days, there was no internet and I had not even heard of anything like it yet, so it was just something I mostly kept to myself . 

Plus in my sleep, in recent years I sometimes talk to my parents who have passed on.   At first when I saw them, I would be like all, "Wait, aren't you dead?!?" but after a while I got over the weirdness and we could talk a bit.   My mother has tried to tell me a bit of what it is like there but to be honest, I don't seem to be able to understand it that well.  Of course, I am sure many would say it's all just wishful thinking to make myself feel better and who is to know for sure!  But you'd think I would at least have the common sense if I was making it all up to have her say things that I like more often or that I can understand better even!

Anyway, it could be all just that I am a delusional nut job, or maybe someone with an overactive self agrandizing imaginative ego problem, but the third option is that IMO, there is a fair amount of evidence to lend weight that awareness survives after death.  I am not as sure about the multiple lifetimes because I have no special evidence that the other lives I experienced where actually mine, but last time I spoke to my dead mother, which was ironically just recently, she was saying how she did NOT want to go back there (ie here to life) and there was a strong feeling of dislike for here and preference for there where she is now,  Interestingly, i found myself arguing that wouldn't it getting boring after a long time like say 50 years?  To have it so easy and not have many challenges?  Wouldn't easy get boring?  But she was pretty adamant that the answer would still be no!   Anyway, her saying she didn't want to go here again makes it sound like that is at least an option.  Since her body has been cremated, if she comes back, I don't think she will be in that sanme one anymore!  ;-P 

I have read with other sources that the dead supposedly often try to talk to the living friends and relatives in dreams but usually the living will freak out, are scared, or just cry and are too sad to have conversations with.  Of course that is just hearsay and could be total baloney just like anything else, but I suspect one of the main criteria for being able to do it, besides just basic dream recall and a modicrum of lucidity skills, is just the ability to accept the concept and the contact and content without freaking out over it too much.  The times when I did freak out, even just a tiny tad, the contact dream immediately ended.   Which is in stark contrast to my regular negative dreams like the one where there are 100s of rattlesnakes everwhere ready to bite me, or the one where there is a 6 foot long bee chasing me and trying to sting me, of course those kinds of dreams do not seem to end easily despite copious amounts of freaking out on my part, which is just so not fair!  ;-P
-Eva 

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/25/15 4:41 AM as a reply to Michał G..
Michał G.:


svmonk,

I am not really sure I will be reborn, especially that I do not really know what this "I" would be. This is just an assumption I made, here is why. Let's consider two scenarios:

Scenario A - Atheists are right, there is nothing after death for us, as we die we cease to exist. All ideas about life after death are created by wishful thinking, fear, and mind's abstract thinking ability. If that's the case, there is no problem. There is nothing left to be aware of anything, end of story.

Scenario B - There is much more to life than meets the eye (and other senses). The amount of individuals throughout the world and history claiming this is so high, that it is at least worth to consider.

In this thread we play with scenario B, and here is why I think reincarnation would make a lot of sense: life is evolution and this is clearly seen in nature. It's all about growth, progress, improving interaction with other life forms and generally being better adjusted to the reality. IF life was all random, it wouldn't make sense and would be a mess. But our known universe is definetely not a random mess: there is order.

So seeing how the life forms are about growth and evolution, in the bigger picture, it just wouldn't make sense for individuals to be random. A human is born, with random traits, skills, level of understanding and intelligence, lives for a while, dies and that's it? What would be the point? Evolution seems to be the point of life. And in this case, reincarnation makes great sense. Birth and death are not pointless and random, there is growth and progress.

If I was totally convinced with scenario A I would either end up a shallow materialist, or most likely kill myself. Scenario A would be fine for animals and ignorant people, but eventually person gets to a point where they are bored with mundane, see the futility of it, and start to wonder: what's the point? Who am I? Is there more to life than meets the eye? When these questions come, if I was somehow convinced in this scenario, I would've just killed myself because why struggle with pointless life when you can skip to the end right now.

But since I'm here I'm obviously more into scenario B.


tl;dr: reincarnation just makes sense to me, considering bigger picture of reality.


Hi Michal,

An interesting point about evolution is the contradiction between what we might consider growth, progress, improvement and what evolution implies.  You might like the wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devolution_(biology)
Current non-technical application of the concept of "devolution" is based largely on the fallacies that:
  • in biology there is a preferred hierarchy of structure and function, and that
  • evolution must mean "progress" to "more advanced" organisms with more complex structure and function.
Those errors in turn are related to two misconceptions: that:
  • evolution is supposed to make species more "advanced", as opposed to "primitive"; and that
  • modern species that have lost some of the functions or complexity of their ancestors must accordingly be degenerate forms.
Most of us have a basic notion of what evolution is based on high school science. This leads to views that can be in opposition to what evolution implies in the bigger picture.

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/25/15 9:27 AM as a reply to Michał G..
@ Mark- remind's me of Vonnegut's 'Galapagos'. Great book!

@ OP-
good question. Traditionally it's taught along the lines of different levels of mind/body with a very subtle level carrying information from multiple lifetimes. Thoughts and feelings that come up in daily life may be in response to current sensory inputs, or may be from a subtler level of mind/energry from this life (like early childhood, or last year, or yesterday) or an even subtler level of mind/energy/body from other lifetimes.

We can see clearly through begginer meditation that our coarse mind/energy/body complex is empty and impermanent-- no fixed 'being', no 'essence', just a flow of thoughts feelings and sensations which are mutually interacting. The same is said to be true of the subtler levels of mind/energy/body including the subtlest levels which are said to continue from life to life. That seems to be the traditional idea. Notice how this model can be tied to progressive degrees of awakening. Initial awakening is debunking coarse solidity/permanence in a lasting way. Deeper awakening/liberation is debunking subtler and subtler layers of mind/energy/body as a solid separate self.

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/25/15 12:39 PM as a reply to Michał G..
Michał G.:
In my own understanding, everything that makes me who I am as a person is gathered in this world. The body, ideas, beliefs, understanding etc. And there is this silent presence that is aware of it all. But all that made me be the person I am, cannot be all random? "Something" has to be carried over, the progress we made, our insight and understanding that somehow is manifested at least to some degree in the next incarnation. Even in buddhism there are ideas like: after stream entry, it is guaranteed to achieve total enlightenment in 7 births. So what exactly carries over death? Any ideas/experiences you guys have?


P.S. If you are about to post something like "what's the point of thinking about it? What will happen will happen, focus on this life" etc. then please don't. I enjoy playing with these ideas hence this thread.

You wont find the "something that is carried over" in this reality simulation. Would you look within the world of warcraft game for the link between characters? Or would you have to step out of experience of the game to find the answers?

Buddhist terms to explore - bhavanga citta Yogacara and alaya-vijnana

Here are some youtubes of my favorite author on this subject. reincarnation thomas campbell
~D

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/25/15 3:43 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Michał G.:
In my own understanding, everything that makes me who I am as a person is gathered in this world. The body, ideas, beliefs, understanding etc. And there is this silent presence that is aware of it all. But all that made me be the person I am, cannot be all random? "Something" has to be carried over, the progress we made, our insight and understanding that somehow is manifested at least to some degree in the next incarnation. Even in buddhism there are ideas like: after stream entry, it is guaranteed to achieve total enlightenment in 7 births. So what exactly carries over death? Any ideas/experiences you guys have?


P.S. If you are about to post something like "what's the point of thinking about it? What will happen will happen, focus on this life" etc. then please don't. I enjoy playing with these ideas hence this thread.

You wont find the "something that is carried over" in this reality simulation. Would you look within the world of warcraft game for the link between characters? Or would you have to step out of experience of the game to find the answers?

Buddhist terms to explore - bhavanga citta Yogacara and alaya-vijnana

Here are some youtubes of my favorite author on this subject. reincarnation thomas campbell
~D
The player would be the link, and he would do better with every new character.

I read Tom's Big TOE years ago, and watched some of his videos, great stuff. My longterm memory is not that great, but as far as I remember he says that everyone is an individuated unit of consciousness and point of existence of everything is to lower System's entropy, and physical reality is one of the best enviroments for individuals to grow and lower entropy/grow in love. Which implies that something IS carried other between lives, otherwise there would be no progress/growth, and wouldn't be effective neither for individuated unit of consciousness nor for the System.


Paweł K.:
I believe I already wrote this but here it goes:
You are projected onto universe and as a universe you experience every single perspective, one at a time, thus if you stab someone then in the same moment you also experience that other person, which is not nice experience as you can easily imagine. But its not that you experience only things you caused, you also experience other things like all the matter in universe, all the life in universe including conscious and sentient life.
Well, maybe that is your experience but to me it doesn't make any sense. I am not omnipresent universe, I am this individual. I understand how everything is related but you make it sound like you are omnipresent and experience every matter in the universe at once


RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/25/15 7:58 PM as a reply to Michał G..
Pawel, is your assertion then that we do not carry any of our individuality with us past death but instead blend back into something like the universal consciousness? 

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/26/15 2:30 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
I don't think you answered the question I asked, but I don't think I asked it very clearly either.  I am thinking you are saying we are already a part of the universal consciousness sometimes called 'all that is.'  I suspect many would agree with you.  Then it is not much of a stretch from there to go from we are a part of it all to all of it is a part of us, like we are all one big entity with many various appendages, like cells in a body or fingers on a foot.  But despite being a part of it all, we are not fully aware at all times of the rest of us.  Most of us seem to have an awareness that is kind of segregated or cut off (for whatever reason), to some extent from the whole such that we are not easily aware of the rest of everything.  So I think the question is, assuming I am in the ballpark with your concepts, what happens with the segregated awareness and sense of 'I'ness if an average person's body dies.  How much, if any, of that persons sense of individuality and awareness remains.  

Kind of like a slime mold.  Slime molds are really cool in that they exist as single celled organisms but some kinds of them under certain conditions can also choose to combine with others of their kind and become a bigger creature.  The cells can even morph themselves to make specialized appendages, olfactory areas, etc, when in larger creature form and function like an animal.  Studies show the combined creature has increased powers of smell and learning ability similar to as if it had a brain, even though it doesn't.  Basically, the consciousness of the cells appears to change when it is the combined creature.  But that creature can also be broken up and the cells can go back to being individuals.  The combining into a bigger whole does not seem to remove an ability to still be an individual.  The sense of being an individual is still preserved, even apparently knowing it was/is also part of a larger creature.

So perhaps the question is, does the sense of individual personality continue on after a person's death and, if so, what parts of it do that? 
-Eva

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/26/15 4:58 AM as a reply to Michał G..
Paweł K:
You are not this individual, it only feel like it at this specific place in this specific time, this is an illusion. In reality you are whole universe at once at all times. It make more sense than you being an individual. How would that even work? Where did you begin? Why assuming such form? Like come on...

First define what you are now then think about what you will become after death.

Using the ocean-wave analogy: I think myself to be a wave in an ocean, and you say that actually I am the ocean. Obviously both are water and  a wave is the ocean just as the ocean is a wave. But how can I really claim to be the ocean? If the witness is clearly placed in the middle of a specific wave, and experience only stuff surrounding that specific wave, how can I claim to be the ocean? Even if it makes sense to me, because wave clearly is the ocean as well, I can't say that I am the ocean and NOT just the wave because in order to say that, I would have to be able to exprerience EVERYTHING at once. Are we just playing with words here, or you have gained some insight/experiences of this nature first hand?

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/26/15 8:56 AM as a reply to Michał G..
OK, this is fun: I have no idea what these reflections imply for rebirth but here's my best stab at a poetic metaphysics that seems consistent with personal experience and science:

We ARE experiencing everything at once, but from a limited perspective. Perspective is defined as a unique ratio of implicit/explicit. Each perspective (each moment of experience) literally contains everything but with a unique ratio of explicit (what we are finitely cognizing) and implicit (the rest of everything).

With the ocean/wave analogy the movements that are explicitly known by an individual wave-- those of itself and the waves that surround it-- also collectively imply the totality of the ocean. At any given moment only a slice of all possible information is explicit, but that slice implies the rest of what is.

We are perspectives that the totality is taking on itself. (We are collections of perspectives even). In each moment we are the complete (un)thing completely present as a unique perspective (unique ratio of implicit to explicit information). Like a holographic fractal spiral wave. Each moment of experiencing is open-ended, empty and impermanent, so 'perspective' is no more a fixed entity than the totality is, as 'fixed entity' is merely a way of re-presenting explicit content; it's useful but not accurate for objects and it's usefulness breaks down completely for perspective and for Universe.

emoticon

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/26/15 9:21 AM as a reply to Michał G..
Let me preface by saying that my knowledge is that "I" don't exist, there is no "self", so from that perspective I don't know what would be "carried over" to another "lifetime". The "I" was just a silly belief that didn't stand up to reality. That being said...

It seems that consciousness/awareness is definetely not limited to the human brain, or any brain for that matter. From my perspective the brains (or rather nervous systems) are more like antennas, allowing consciousness to play in the material world. I almost daily have experiences that prove that consciousness is not limited by physical means or distance, which tends to indicate that consciousness itself is the underlying "fabric" of the universe. Looking at it from this perspective, it seems meaningless to inquire what incarnates, since a body is just a "thing" that comes, goes and allows for certain experiences. Assuming the consciousness itself is unmoved by this appearance/disappearance. At this end of the spectrum there is no need for reincarnation and nothing to reincarnate, since everything essentially is this one undivided consciousness experiencing itself endlessly in the every present moment.

If we on the other hand buy into the idea of there also co-existing some individuated form of consciousness (ie: a soul) then we're back in the re-incarnation business, not to mention the business of spiritualism. This in a way, makes sense. Even though there's no technical need for a soul, there's definetely room for one, and who says that consciousness itself runs on the theory of efficiency, it seems more likely to run towards something akin to creativity, expression and novelty. This way the souls could be seen as the "you" that re-incarnates (not to be confused with the fake "you" that is just a bundle of thoughts etc). The dynamic would be over-soul and soul, just like the ocean/waves analogy.

I like the analogy of the video game, where the soul would be the player and this body/mind system would be the character that is temporarily being played. I have some evidence both for and against it however, which makes it a bir hard to land somewhere concrete. Here's my two perspectives:

1. I have no evidence that there is a "soul" operating this vehicle. My investigation has shown that it all seems to happen spontaneously by itself. As a disclaimer I have in recent investigations actually found something subtle that *could* be this soul thingy... and now that this was brought to awareness there's some interesting tingling and a bit of laughter happening... might be on to something here...

Anyway...

2. I've had plenty (well a few) experiences where it seems as my "dead" wife have been interacting with me, both through internal means and in the "external" world. Many of these happenings are of the "super natural" kind meaning there is no way they could have happened without something with access to much more information that this limited body/mind system interfering. As a small example I was in a new store shopping and the thought came up how much I missed going shopping with her. Then the body suddenly veered off (out of my control) into the detergent section of the store, and went up and put it's nose right next to a box of detergent that had her name (Lina) on it. I had never been in this store before and didn't know there was a detergent with her name, and the whole thing was out of my sight when the body was "taken over". This sort of stuff happening does seem to indicate both that there is something personal/individual that could be deemed a "soul" that is not dependent on a physical form, and that it's intelligent and capable of action (at least through a nervous system).

A current view that I think is pretty valid is to look at this existence as a dream, and "death" as waking up from that dream. The "player/soul" is finally unplugged from this "matrix" and then either goes on to play again, sit out, or do what my wife seems to be doing which is occasionally interfer with the current story-line (being a bit cold here, sorry honey, the interference is appreciated ;)).

Well anyway... the main thing I guess is to not take death seriously. At worst it's just the end (in which case there won't be any more experiencing, so nothing to worry about) and more likely it's the beginning of something else. I do however feel like there should be some serious research invested into this, after all the fear of death is like one of the worlds largest neurosis and the cause of immense suffering. It's also a very interesting subject. Why not induce some NDE's or use some combination of meditation, shamanism and DMT to investigate? Surely cracking the "What happens after death?" question is more interesting than finding another version of Viagra or localising yet another meteor.

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/26/15 11:32 AM as a reply to Michał G..
Well now I'm kind of hoping that re-incarnation is real and that I get to come back as a slime mold.

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/26/15 11:38 AM as a reply to Mattias Wilhelm Stenberg.
lol-- I was hoping for something like Star Trek or The Culture... a post scarcity society with FTL travel ;)

We'll probably get something more like The Windup Girl but whatever...

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/26/15 11:55 AM as a reply to Michał G..
Paweł K:

Yes I experience everything at once. I do not need to prove it to you and I do not need to prove it to myself, it is there. Either absolute truth or absolute delusion, nothing in between. And while it sounds delusional it does make much more sense than any notion of reincarnation or soul or whatever.

If so, then science may want to interview you, like what causes Parkinson's disease, is there a planet X outside the orbit of Pluto, and how did my dog hurt her paw last week?  ;-P
-Eva

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/28/15 12:30 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
There's a cool ancient Dzogchen text which explains that 'omnicience' of a buddha is not knowing every 'fact' of Universe but rather, knwoing each phenomena both in terms of how it interacts with other phenomena and in its true nature-- the true nature of each phenomenon being the same as allothers-- the function being relative to the perspective in which it is disclosed. So it's knowing a 'chair' is for sitting on and also a 'chair' is empty. Something like that ;)

They actually go into this via the famous five wisdoms/elements.

RE: What exactly carries over lifetimes?
Answer
6/28/15 1:01 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Paweł K:
But you are slime mold right now too =)

Shit… you’re right. Boundaries are kind of dissolving a bit here… oops… I am everything, but the experience seems very… localized… It seems as if the perspective is somewhat limited to this body/mind system and its senses at the moment...