There are generally two schools of thought concerning reincarnation. One school, the most popular, teaches that vast changes can occur rapidly, depending mostly on our particular thoughts and vibrations at the time of death. The other school teaches that changes occur very slowly and reincarnation is decided on a very deep character which is only changed very slowly over many lifetimes.
The Hindu and Buddhist school of thought is the former. If you are sexing around like a monkey, then you get in an accident and die, you could very well be reincarnated as a monkey. Women who like posing and standing for those to admire – women absorbed in vanity – could become trees (go here to see a visual demonstration, or here to see a story of a real woman who is growing bark on herself). Rabid meat eaters can become tigers in the next life. Goths and emos can become spiders. Lazy people who use drugs could become koalas. Nice provider types who love eating and sexing could become pigs. Provider types afraid to discuss serious issues could become cows or sheep. And finally, what Hinduism and Buddhism teach is that many people have worse behavior during their lives and go straight to hell.
One guess concerning hell of the first theory is that the souls there are actually nearly inanimate and very subtle vibration material objects like pools of water and rocks. They may be subject to use and reuse, like water used for a heat pack, boiled, then reboiled…or stone cut into rocks, made into a house, crumbled up, washed into water, and slowly turned into tiny pieces of sand. The process for the tiny amount of consciousness in these essentially dead objects to become more enlightened and accrue more consciousness could take thousands of years. This could be why scripture tells us that after going to hell, there is nearly an eternity of education to be had.
The other school of thought is that character is very deep within a soul, far within the mind, and things happening simply in this lifetime on a conscious, sub-conscious, or mind level don’t have much effect. According to this theory, we get reincarnated often into our own families. Our family can attain varying levels of enlightenment. This would explain why people think their families are so important and why we often care very deeply about what our family members think. It also explains deeply-rooted family systems of populations who don’t care much about death, but more about family honor, like those in Japan or in Italy. A Japanese friend of mine has a family in Miazaki Japan of the name Takeda, a name and family which has lived in a valley in Miazaki for 500 years. The Manfrin family in Padova and Vicenza, Italy has been here also for 500 years, and very few of us are outside of this small region. In times of war, it seems obvious that Japanese think little of their own lives. Also during the nuclear accident, there were hundreds of Japanese men working in deadly conditions, as if this life doesn’t matter much…but the character formed through honor and bravery, and the positive qualities added to the family name are very important. They seem to think, “Oh well, I’ll die now. In my next life as a member of my family, I’ll be more fortunate as the honor and quality of my family grows.” You never hear of Japanese or Italians complaining of “war crimes” or “massacres” of their people in the past. There is a sense of honor and a positive work ethic (Japan and Italy are the world’s third and fourth largest economies, respectively). The slow reincarnation theory says that not only do we stick to our families and care about them simply for temporary profit and assurance, but because in a greater sense we ARE our families, and our own existences will most likely simply change form into our own progeny.
I’ve meditated for probably three years since hearing of both of these theories, and to me it is still difficult to decide which one is correct. I can at least say that for women, it is very likely they will have little change in their next lives, and that they are often reincarnated as other women. I can say this with assurance because I see that most women lead average lives, a mix of good and bad, with an almost guaranteed result of mediocrity. And so for many of them the direction is neither up or down. Also their biology contributes to this, as they can only have a limited number of babies in a lifetime from a birthing process which taxes them heavily. If they were to have a similar problem as we do, they could give birth, for example, to small bowling balls (or anything dead and inert) every day.
Men on the other hand have a great gamble on their hands. The birthing process for men is mostly a spiritual problem, as the procreative act for us is physically much smaller. The contribution of men to birthing is equal to that of women, yet we can do it several times a day, and are not limited to once a year. This incredible force can be kept within and utilized to become the greatest geniuses and mystics in history, or it can be wasted constantly to become far lower than women and descended into the world of criminality and prisons. This is why in society women occupy the middle, while men work on either extremes as leaders, inventors and geniuses or criminals and murderers. Wives tend to criticize their husbands for either being too criminal or too exceptionally good. Their force is to pull into the center, to the ground level.
This is why the celibacy teaching is so critical for men. It is 1. literally your ticket to long-lasting liberation, enlightenment, and escape from the cycle of birth and death* and 2. your ticket to great success right now in this life.
The biological difference between the sexes makes it difficult for women to understand our battle. As women cannot give birth to small bowling balls everyday for entertainment, drama and lust, they will not understand that neither can men be ripping out from their bodies a million of which could be called pre-humans on a constant basis.
We can agree that no matter what our specific circumstances will be after death, all of us in the brotherhood will achieve either emancipation or a birth of much better quality. For us, this is the FAITH in our path. Trust is for other brothers, but faith is a trust in God and that God will provide for us as we serve Him and put our energies into the education and elevation of all consciousness on earth.
Amen and OM