Friday, March 17, 2006

Oh no! Not again

So much for being bio-degradable. Veena informs me that the soul, far from melting back into the Supreme Unconsciousness (or at least the Supreme Sedentariness) when you die, keeps coming back again and again, like a piece of cheap plastic or a Canadian coin inserted into a Quarters Only laundromat. She has this, apparently, on good authority.

Right then. In order to restrict this post to manageable lengths, let's skip the standard could-I-end-up-dating-my-mother-as-a-teenager type stuff out of Oedipus Rex (or Back to the Future - whichever you prefer), as well as the political ramifications of such foresight (would you still vote for Dubya if you knew you were being reborn in Baghdad? [2]) and cut to the two things we really need to figure out about this whole phenomenon:

a) Does your credit history transfer across lives? (aka 'so you can't take it with you, but do you have to pay it back'?) and
b) If you know you're going to be a waiter in your next life, should you give more generous tips now?

Personally, I think this reincarnation business is just an excuse for extended procrastination. I mean, forget about putting things off till tomorrow or next month or next year. You can now put them off till your next incarnation! I could go through some four avatars before I find a topic for my dissertation. What more could a guy ask out of life? (Or lives?)

The thing that's always worried me about this reincarnation / karma thing, though, is whether it's not subject to a kind of Matthew Effect. Think about it. Say you really screw up your current life. Presumably this means that you come back as more of a loser, so that it's even less likely that you're going to do well this time around. So essentially, once the downslide starts it's pretty much a vicious cycle all the way- you just keep moving further and further away from Nirvana. After a point it's not even worth making the effort to rescue your soul - you might as well be hanged as a sheep as a lamb. Plus, once you slip out of the human race you're truly done for. I mean, let's face it, once you're a cockroach the only way you're going to get back to the human form is by agreeing to vote Republican in your next life. And even an eternity of being squished messily to death as your karma is better than that. Personally, I'd be happier with the one-time only Christian deal. Sure, you end up in Hell, but at least it's the same Hell for all eternity, it's not like you get points taken off for thinking bad thoughts about the guy who's shoving brimstone up your ass. So that next time you could end up being the brimstone that gets shoved up someone else's ass.

The other thing with foreseeing your next life, of course, is the question of reliability. How sure can you be that the powers that be will get this right? Do you get a Fed-Ex tracking number so you can figure out exactly where your soul is at any point of time? Is it like Pizza Delivery, where if they don't reincarnate you in half an hour you get to keep your old life for free [3]? Is the whole process Six Sigma? Can you trust it? Say you figure out who you're going to be in your next life and leave all your money to yourself, except the storks get the houses mixed up and next thing you know you're living next to Upchuck Smarmypants who is getting fat on your millions? It's a worrying thought, isn't it?

Also, do crime statutes apply across lives? Could you murder all your irritating grand-aunts in advance and get away with it? If you die and come back to life in the same city, do you still have to pay your old parking tickets?

The only good thing about this whole foreseeing your next life business, as far as I can tell, is the opportunity it gives you to buy an appropriate wardrobe. I mean let's face it - the last thing you want is that you die and it turns out there's an afterlife and you have nothing to wear.

Then again, who ever heard of a well-dressed bowl of petunias?

P.S. Veena, about the skirt - you don't think I'm pretty enough already?

P.P.S. Quote of the day: "Reincarnation? Over my dead body!"


[1] If you didn't get the title of this post, I'm not going to bother to explain. Some of us are flowers. The rest are whale blubber.

[2] Q: If you come back as a suicide bomber, does that count as missing a turn?

[3] And if that's true, does this mean the next life almost always comes with the wrong toppings?



Arthur Quiller Couch said...

The question you didn't address. What if the RTA - Reincarnation Transport Authority - is like the British rail system? In which case my soul may start out for preppie paradise and end up as Archie serenading Mehitabel.

On the whole, rather good. With distinct overtones of Woody Allen.

Patient Portnoy said...

"You can now put them off till your next incarnation!"

Loved that. Delicious if we could do that

ozymandiaz said...

I've always been a believer in reincarnation but never found any religion that had a sensible version. I don't buy that we exchange souls with animals but I believe all souls are inexorably tied together as though there were ethereal spider webs between us all. Same with Karma, I believe we carry something with us to our next life, grand events that affect the soul, traumas and exaltations, which leave an indelible effect of the soul. Believe it or not I've come to these conclusions thru a type of existential logic (if there is such a thing).
Wow, I take this shit way to seriously.
So is it better to be the whale and blissful or the bowl of petunias and aware?

mk said...

Funny..loved the Republican dig..
But to get into the technicalities..
I dont know about the Karma deal..Like somoone said, expecting life (or the powers that be) to treat you fair just because you did good is like expecting a charging bull not to gore you just cos you are a vegetarian...
I mean its all rather random, who HE decides to train that gun on next..
We can ponder the imponderables till kingdom come, the fact remains that we just dont know what we dont know...
meanwhile yes,it can be some good self-delusionary therapy(the only kind actually.)

Falstaff said...

AQC: Come now, I think you're unfair to the British Rail System. I'm sure you'd get to your preppie paradise eventually. There might be the odd eternity of a delay in between, and you might end up missing the connection to your next life, but they'd get you there.

Portnoy: Yes, it would be nice, wouldn't it. Of course, on the flip side, this means that people would be able to nag you about stuff you didn't do in your past life...

Oz: Hmmm...good question. As a former consultant, I have to pick the whale - after all being clueless and still managing to have impact is what we were all about.

mk: Couldn't agree more. The right thing to do with a charging bull, of course, is to call the waiter over and point out that you asked for your steak well done, and this one is definitely rare.

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