Everything You Wouldn’t Bother to Ask about Reincarnation
Q: Is reincarnation real?
Q: People like to fantasize living a long time ago, or, like 'way in the future, right?
Q: What's the difference between a reincarnational fantasy and a reincarnational reality?
A: None to speak of, if a). You don't believe in reincarnation, or b). You don't know yourself very well.
Q: Are reincarnational experiences fun?
A: Big fun if you know who you are now. If you don't, stay away from hypnotists.
A: They're no fun. Want to hear a case?
Q: I guess.
A: What enthusiasm.
Q: I'm being patient.
A: Fair enough. Here we go: one day I found two pieces of mail in the mailbox.
A: Shh. One was a letter from my brother Victor in Paris. The other was a little box that contained a tape recording.
A: Brother Victor wrote that he had recently visited the palace of Versailles. That night, he dreamed he had once been Louis XIV, who'd built the place.
Q: Uh huh.
A: The tape recording was of a session between a hypnotist, a "past life regressionist," and a man who was looking for money to write a book, then head an institute, based on the fact that the hypnotist had determined he had been the French King Louis XIII in a past life.
A: You mean "hmm." Imagine my amazement at hearing from two whole French Kings in the mail on the very same day!
A: Aren't you listening to me, man? I go out to the mailbox -- me, virtually a hillbilly in the middle of nowhere -- and here are letters from psychic fragments of two dead French Kings! Neither knows the other has reincarnated and both want to talk to me!
Q: Holy Cow.
A: Yes, Holy Cow. Well, here in the annals of the Eternal Soul, my brother Victor had finally mopped up the last dribbles of his eternal lesson about enslaving people. It went "enslaving people can make you feel really bad, so don't enslave people." He learned it by visiting Versailles, then being that famously overindulgent Louis XIV for awhile in a dream. Louis XIV used slave labor to build that staggeringly lush palace. Well, okay, they weren't literally slaves, but French peasants, what snobby modern Americans might call "hillbillies," who were conscripted to work for practically nothing.
Q: Like minimum wage is lately?
A: Yup. I replied to Victor that I remembered it too: I was once Louis Catorce's piss-boy, a humble servant named Poupon. I told him that when he peed in the morning while I held the bucket, he liked to confide in me. I was simple, you see, and it was refreshing to him that I'd forget whatever he'd say. Sometimes he would agonize about using slaves, even though it was for a beautiful lasting monument. Was he wrong to do this? Or that? Or the other? I'd always reply "I don't know, your highness," but in French. Then I would forget about it. The King appreciated my refreshing, frank honesty so much, I got to be piss-boy for all of my days and was not turned out to sleep in a damp haystack in my old age.
Q: Is that true?
A: I don't know, your highness. We were just having fun. Still: where there is no fun, there's probably no truth.
Q: That's too deep for Dick Cheney. So what about Louis XIII and the past life hypnotist?
A: The hypnotist had this really deep unctuous voice; it kept goading his rather unlikable, sleepy-sounding client into telling an unlikable, sleepy-sounding story about himself. "Nobody likes me," said the subject. "Wanna get in touch with that feeling?" intoned the unctuous hypnotist. "They're jealous of me because of my clothes," said the subject. "Wanna get in touch with that feeling?" he'd intone again. That's about all the unctuous hypnotist said throughout the session.
Q: That doesn't sound like goading to me.
A: Well, it is.
A: The hypnotist selected only the negative things his sleepy subject uttered to rhyme with "wanna get in touch with that feeling?" At each negative point, he'd prompt the poor ex-king to create an imaginary time and place in which he saw himself. He was leading Louie around in a state of suggestibility. Just like in that famous session with Aldous Huxley.
Q: I don't know about that.
A: Never mind then. With this kind of goading the subject prompted himself into being somebody nobody liked. “I see… a room. People are looking at me. I know they’re jealous…” Everybody around him, of course, was jealous of his kingly powers. Not to mention his snappy clothing. He was unhappy.
Q: Sounds like a King to me...
A: Sounds like a lot of people working in any given corporate office to me, which is what this particular King did in this life right here. They hate him from their cubicles because he is better than they are and dresses snappier too. The unctuous hypnotist helped him make this business retroactive. Look at these snappy imaginary clothes, I'm Louis XIII, King of France!
Q: Maybe he was.
A: You’re being damnably argumentative. There wasn’t a word in that unctuous and sleepy session that could have been construed as the historical Louie Thirteen. Maybe he was constructing a story by suggestion. Maybe if he really was ol’ Louie, that’s all he ever thought of himself, despite the colorful religious activity. But, what's the point of reincarnation if you're still the same jerk you were 300 years ago, now working in some office?
Q: And I suppose you're not?
A: Ahem. Unlike him, I quit my office job successfully. I'm living on money not spent on unctuous past-life hypnotists. Well, Louis XIII version 2.0 wanted my money now. He needed it to set up a whole new-age kingdom based on the fact he was once a putatively unlikable French king. Victor, on the other hand, had had an edifying dream triggered by a visit to a historical monument. He's now very likable, by all accounts. He hasn't taken unfair advantage of a gullible hillbilly in centuries. In fact, he lately makes his living teaching them American English. Hillbillies are popular in Paris now.
Q: I see.
A: No you don't. Sigh. What if I tell another story?
Q: What if we see what's on TV?
A: Get out of my book. I'll tell it to myself.
Next! How Not to Reincarnate! (It's a few pages back from here.)