What happens after death? People are always searching for answer to their afterlife. There are many answers, and typically, in most religions, (Especially ancient ones.) the answer is an entirely different world. [Underworld, Heaven, Hell, etc.] It’s entirely impossible to measure by science.
In recent times, the idea reincarnation has picked up popularity. While the idea is an ancient one and the breaking of such cycles (Called ‘moksha’ in Sanskrit.) is the goal of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, it has since spread across religions. Across Asia the belief is almost universal due to the spread of Indian traditions such as Buddhism. Even most pagans believe in reincarnation and it’s a doctrine espoused by some traditions of Wicca. Even Christians have taken to the idea of rebirth.
The main differences between the Eastern and Western ideals is that the West has no inclination to break such a cycle. Rather, the goal in more esoteric circles is to keep the cycle. However, since karma plays a role in these cycles, the Eastern traditions consider it a cycle of suffering. (‘Karma’ is another misunderstood thought in the West.) Even the gods are said to reincarnate to fight evil or suffering in all Indian traditions.
Reincarnation is not exclusive to Asia though. Plato and Pythagoras of Ancient Greece toyed with the idea, however, Greece had contact with India. It was also reported that the Gaulish Celts believed that after death, the soul would go into another body. The Zohar, of Kabbalah fame, which is undoubtedly full of Greek influence, has mentioned the idea of reincarnation as well.
Having no contact with India, Pre-Colombian Central Mexico came up with the idea, too. Quetzalcoatl, the famed Aztec god, is thought to have incarnated into Quetzalcoal ce Acatl, the infamous ruler of the Toltecs. (And if you believe the expounded myth, he promised to come again someday.) Likewise, the souls of those who died in battle and in childbirth are said to incarnate as hummingbirds and butterflies.
Out of all possible concepts, reincarnation is at least a more logical (scientific) explanation for an ‘afterlife’ than what some religious espouse. As my friend, Wveth, put it:
Reincarnation is at least somewhat plausible. The energy that makes up the chemical and electric interactions in our body will never disappear. If the universe is cyclical, which is possible, then by sheer probability eventually all of the atoms and energy that created our brain will create a different brain.
What interests me the most here, is people often wonder why, if reincarnated, we lose our memories, which can be a bit like losing one’s self. I think the simplest explanation is we are born, essentially, blank slates in the sphere of memories, ideas, and environmental changes. There is no way for us to ‘know’ entirely. But what happens if we remember?
We have no way of currently measuring this theory on reincarnation, scientifically speaking. If we could, scientists could try to bring someone back on atomic level. Then, later, maybe prove the universe is cyclical. Perhaps someday we will though.