Friday, February 28, 2014


MathMan, in the comments here, is surprised to discover my Hindu/Buddhist leanings. Let me share a story with you.

I have read a fair amount of Hindu and even more Buddhist literature. Besides my less structured readings, I once taught a comparative religions course, and as part of my prep work, I went through a semester long course on Buddhism on CD, and a semester long course on Hinduism on CD. I always considered reincarnation as a quite plausible hypothesis, and I have thought that it could fit in with the Christian concept of purgatory quite nicely. (In this synthesis, reincarnation would be the way purgatory is "implemented.")

But an experience with one of my children profoundly influenced me on this topic. This particular child was very angry for the first couple of years of his/her life. (We will just go with "his" henceforth, to avoid awkward exposition.)

While puzzling over this, at one point, rather unbidden, an image came to me: it was of him living a previous life as a high roller, having a good time, and then suddenly having had this life cut short in an accident right at its peak. (I actually saw a sports-car crash in my mind.) I never said a word of this to him, of course, as he was only two-and-a-half. Nor had I discussed religion with him in any depth, and, in particular, I don't recall any discussions of the concept of "God."

Then one day he had particularly acted up. I pulled him aside, and said, "What are you so angry about?"

He offered an explanation relating to the particular events that preceded that incident.

"No," I said, "I don't mean right now: I mean what are you angry about in general?"

He looked at me quite seriously for a moment, and then responded, "I am angry about what God did to me."

Again: he was two-and-a-half. This really happened.

We report, you decide.


  1. Hi,

    Forgive my curiosity, but could you perhaps share more details, please? Did the child explain what he meant any further? Did the child suggest anything that confirmed your vision/intuition?

    All the best,

  2. I had a similar experience once, about 7 years ago. But imagine if the boy in your story had also told you specific details corroborating the sports-car crash that you had privately visualized. What happened to me was comparable to that in impact; it absolutely bowled me over. At the time I was largely a materialist and highly skeptical of anything that had the slightest whiff of the supernatural about it, but the experience was enough to persuade me that reincarnation was at least plausible and worthy of serious investigation.

    re: comparative religions, I find it interesting that the transmigration of souls / reincarnation actually plays a role in most major religions, despite being widely regarded as a distinctly Hindu/Buddhist concept. For example, while reincarnation is not an important part of mainstream Judaism or Islam, it plays a prominent role in certain streams of Kabbalah and Sufism, respectively. I find it interesting, in general, how the esoteric teachings of the various religions are essentially similar, if not identical, to one another, notwithstanding the differences in exoteric doctrine. Put a group of mystics of Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, etc. persuasions in a room together, and they're likely to agree on the essentials. I think this forms part of a very good answer to the "one god further" objection that many atheists have.

  3. It must be humbling to learn what the Almighty thinks of your parenting. The rich shall not enter the Kingdom, rather they will be sent to the Callahan residence...


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