Last week I went to visit my friend Frances in the stunning Mount Shasta. The trip spurred many a dropped jaw at the wonder of nature, and — surprise, surprise– a new appreciation of reincarnation, which I’m going to tell you now.
On the second morning of the trip, after the previous day’s intensive hike in the mountains, I wanted something softer and gentler on both feet and spirit. So I headed South alone to the little lake tugged in between mountain peaks, made entirely of pristine snow water. The lake looked indeed soft and gentle (ref. picture above). But as it turned out, you should never judge a lake by its picture.
I called it the “little” lake, as that was how it looked on the map compared to the sprawling range of Mount Shasta. But when you stand right next to it, you realize it’s actually much bigger than your back-yard pool. Still, taking a walk around the entire lake seemed a very much doable idea to me, that is, before I spent 45 minutes on the trail looping around it. By then, my GPS showed that I hadn’t covered even a quarter of the loop, which was not exciting news given that my legs were starting to complain and gravel was seeping into my thin tennis shoes. Besides, the sun was heating up and most part of the trail wasn’t in the shades. Yet my ego found the idea of turning back both distasteful and humiliating. And the lake itself was quite a feast to the eyes. So onward I marched. Another hour went by. My toes were bleeding. I stumbled into a large camp ground and didn’t know how to get out. The GPS on my smartphone couldn’t show the detailed trail map. All I knew was that I was drifting farther and farther away from the right path. I could only comfort myself by thinking that as in life, detours happen. But in the end we always get back on the trail. Indeed, after still more exhausting digressions, a friendly ranger pointed me towards the right route. It turned out I wasn’t all that far from it this entire time. There were moments when I was so tired to walk even one more inch. But after a short rest and some silent negotiation with my body (of course I promised a lavish lunch and coconut ice cream after the ordeal), I trekked on again. By the time I finally got to my car, it was mid afternoon already. I was hungry and sweaty and sore, barely having the strength to turn on the air conditioning. But as I collapsed into the car, I felt a sense of quiet satisfaction, which was further enhanced later when, in the comfort of my room, I sorted through the amazing pictures I took at the lake, while remembering the white swans and a yellow poppy flower I said hello to at a wooden bridge. Even the hellish parts of the walk now felt preciously sweet. And if you ask me whether I would do it again, I’d say yes before you blink!
Then it occurred to me, maybe this is how a soul feels after leaving the earth plane. True, life here is hard. But once you are out of the sweat and tears for good, you look back from the vintage point of (hopefully air-conditioned) heaven and realize what a magnificent adventure you’ve had. Even the most stupid and difficult parts— of course that was how they felt like when you were in the midst of it all — have now become the fondest memories, let alone all the beautiful creatures, mountains, lakes, and poppy flowers you encountered on your way. So when you are given the chance to come back to the earth again, you say yes immediately. Of course you do! Who wouldn’t? And you playfully laugh at the dignified pundits on the planet who earnestly believe that souls come back because they messed up last time, that they have to repent for some awful “karma” they carelessly created for themselves. Because you, now equipped with the omniscience of the Universe, know that the only reason you choose to come back is because it was too much fun last time and you simply can’t resist the opportunity to pick up right where you left!
Since we live in a world of duality made of stories and how one tells a story is essentially one’s subjective creation, I’m pretty sure that my account of reincarnation is just as true as the depressing version made popular by mass-market Buddhism and whatnot. And because as children of the Universe we are all equal, I guarantee you that this explanation of reincarnation is just as God-approved as any other.
So next time you find your life on earth difficult, or get stuck on a hiking trail for no reason, maybe think about why you came here.
Think about how your soul, your bigger self will see the event when the veil of your separation is finally lifted.
It certainly helped me when I hit my head on the bathroom door this morning.
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