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February 8th, 2011

21.  Do you believe in reincarnation?  I don't think much about reincarnation or life after death in general, but thanks for asking?  I am impressed with the tradition in Tibet that searches for the reincarnated souls of deceased great lamas in the bodies of babies to be trained for politico-religious leadership .  It seems to have worked out pretty well in the case of the current Dahlia Lama and many worse leaders have been chosen by more supposedly rational means.  I am also impressed by the many stories of children who have memories of previous lives and seem to be able to go into great detail about these lives which common sense tells me they could not know anything about unless they had lived them.
According to the Human Relations Area Files, beliefs in reincarnation are highly correlated with with certain specific social and cultural conditions.  Advanced horticultural societies are most likely to have reincarnation beliefs and most societies which believe in reincarnation acquired those beliefs when they were that stage of development.  Just as i admire many aspects of Christianity without being able to accept the Christian belief in physical resurrection and indestructibility  of the Soul, so i find great truth in Buddhism without taking any interest in their belief in reincarnation.

22. If reincarnation exists, what would you like to come back as?  If this is a serious question, you've got to be kidding!  Unless i am a Bodhisatva (fat chance!) who chooses a lower status than she is entitled to in order to serve sentient beings, i don't get to make that choice under any theory of reincarnation i know of.  If this is a fun question, lets see.....Being a person without autism might be interesting for one go round provided i would have a way to compare it with my present life.  Being female might be interesting with the same provision.  Also, i wouldn't mind being a genius (same provision), or a different mammal species (Ape, dolphin, or dog, same provision).

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