Recently I read an article about reincarnation – the belief that after we die, we are reborn at another time and place and live another lifetime.
Buddhists believe these lifetimes continue until we eventually reach enlightenment which is oneness with the universe or nirvana.
Some believe we can be reborn as other species and there are numerous other beliefs, some more irrational than others, unless of course you are a true believer in which case none of it is irrational.
What bothered me most is that I don’t want to come back. The thought of having to go through life all again frightens me. Why? Because I have had a wonderful life and any new life might not be as wonderful.
What if I was born a female in India, a Moslem in some backward country in Africa, or with autism or one of the other ailments that steals one’s life? What if …. I think you get the idea.
Psychologist, Erik Erikson, one of my favourites, posited a theory of psychosocial development in 1959 that he said has eight distinct stages. It became known as the Eight Ages of Man.
Since then, other psychologists have added to the theory, criticised it and discussed it, but it still has value as a work of considerable substance.
According to the theory, each of us passes through the eight stages and the last stage, when we are about 65 or older, is the stage of “Ego integrity versus Despair.”
In Erikson’s words: “It is during this time that we contemplate our accomplishments and are able to develop integrity if we see ourselves as leading a successful life. If we see our lives as unproductive, feel guilt about our past, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness. Success in this stage leads to the virtue of wisdom. Wisdom enables a person to look back on their life with a sense of closure and completeness, and also accept death without fear.”
I believe I have attained the Eighth Stage and although I have had a wonderful life, for which I am grateful, I don’t want to come back.