IN SEARCH OF A THEME.

                  In my previous blog , I had discussed my transition from a first person narrative to a third person narrative. One of the necessities for such a third person narrative is that it looks at the story from outside. Therefore , by definition , it eliminates an individual perspective of the story. The conflict , therefore, doesn’t exist in the narrator’s mind , but it exists in the story itself. Therefore , the story told in such a novel becomes more important than the mindset of any of the characters. It is in this context , I would discuss my problems with selecting a theme of my next novel.

                 In my both the previous novels , I had sought to describe the mindsets of a  protagonist by depicting the distortion in his perception of reality. In such an approach , the plot of a novel plays a secondary role because no matter what happens in the story , what is illuminating is the protagonist’s perception of it. The distorted perception of the protagonist is a tool for depicting the human angst. However , in a novel based on a third person narrative , the plot itself becomes the tool for depicting the human angst. Therefore , the selection of the theme of a novel becomes critical for a novelist.

               As a novelist , I am averse to pick up a theme which is socially and politically sensitive. It is not that I do not have such views , but these views are my personal views and they are outside the public domain. Moreover , there is an inherent risk for a novelist while choosing such a theme. The factors that are extraneous to the literature , dominate appreciation of such a novel. It is not that I don’t believe in social equity and the need to reform our society to achieve such a social equity. It is just that I don’t think it is a novelist’s job to do it. I think that a novelist’s primary concern should be to make readers more introspective. If such an introspection leads to social equity,  it would be ideal. However , a novelist can not write a novel to bring about social equity. A novelist can only write to force readers to reflect on their own value system. I am not saying that a novelist can not be or should not be a social reformer. All I am  saying is that to become a social reformer , one doesn’t need to write a novel.

                 Returning to my search for a theme of my next novel , after finishing both these novels , I realized that I was more concerned with the nature of reality and our perception of it. I was convinced , more so after writing these novels , that our perception of reality is distorted by our subconscious emotional state. In that sense , both these novels tried to depict this distorted perceptions to highlight the underlying emotional state of the protagonists. However , during the process of writing these novels , I have found another aspect of this distorted perception. Our biggest problem arises not from the fact that our perception of reality is distorted , but it arises from the fact that we act in accordance with our distorted perception of reality. More importantly , our actions seem to crystallise our subconscious emotions. Therefore , our actions must be seen as expressions of our subconscious mind. It is as if our subconscious mind forces our conscious mind to express itself through our actions. Let me add that , in this context , our conscious thoughts too must be considered as our actions. In other words , our conscious mind is nothing but awareness of what is crystallised out from our subconscious mind. These include our conscious thoughts and our deeds. In fact , that is the reason why our religions equate bad thoughts with sins. In the Indian context , an evil thought is considered as bad karma.

                I am convinced that if this is a correct picture of how a human mind works , it is possible to simplify our moral values to two simple concepts. Firstly  , there is a sense of guilt that we experience and seek to compensate with atonement. Secondly , there is a sense of sacrifice and our need to feel nobility that arises from such a sacrifice. In fact , in literature , the notion of catharsis embodies both these senses. Therefore , I have decided to write my next novel based on the plot that embodies these senses of guilt and sacrifice. Surprisingly , some of the most memorable literary characters are personifications of simultaneous senses of guilt and sacrifice. However , I would not deal with the emotions that a protagonist would experience while undergoing the catharsis , but I would focus on the circumstances which force the protagonist to experience the catharsis. Therefore , I need a third person narrative which would tell readers what happened in the protagonist’s life. As to what the protagonist feels and how he achieves his redemption via catharsis , I would want readers to experience it themselves through identification.

                  I would end this blog with a hint that the protagonist would be forced to commit what he consciously knows to be wrong.  In  spite of his belief , he is forced by his subconscious mind to commit something wrong. The novel deals with how the protagonist achieves his redemption without being aware of what brought about this redemption. It is only in the climax that he would find the explanation of his guilt , his catharsis and therefore his deliverance.

             In my next blog , I would discuss we cope with our ambiguous moral sense.







             I have been writing a series of blogs on the reasons why I am writing my second novel on the theme of reincarnation. In my previous blog I had discussed the theory of karma as a behavioural paradigm. I had suggested that the theory of karma is too complex for our mind to comprehend. Therefore our sages have fictionalized it in the form of reincarnation. I had written that whether the theory of karma is true or not is not important because due its emotional appeal , we would anyway believe it. Therefore the theory of karma is true in psychological sense. This results in a situation where the theory of karma becomes a behavioural paradigm. It is possible to evaluate our behavior in the context of the meaning of the theory of karma and values embedded in it. In order to understand how our belief in the theory of karma shapes our behavior , it is necessary to evaluate our behavior patterns with respect to general consequences of the theory of karma. In my last blog I had selected three most widely held  beliefs about karmic theory. They were accepting the inevitability of consequences of one’s karma , absolving oneself from the responsibility of that karma and fatalism. In this blog I would discuss these beliefs in some details.

                 The cornerstone of karmic theory is that each and every action of an individual creates consequences. More importantly , these consequences  are inevitable. The theory of karma , in its purest form , does not provide any method of annulling these consequences. Though , some religious interpretations do provide various forms of atonements , the theory of karma does not. The theory of karma , in that sense, transcends religious beliefs. However ,  the theory of karma is still a deeply moral  theory because it holds sanctity of truth in its core. 

         This inevitability of the consequences of one’s actions is most widely held belief. Let us see how  it shapes our behavior. At a superficial level , this inevitability of consequences of one’s karma makes us defensive in handling challenges of our lives. One is always subconsciously wary of doing something that might have some unfavorable consequences. Thus this belief acts as a moral compass. While this creates some kind social constraint on how we choose to behave , it also discourages any radical course of action that we could have thought of otherwise.  As a result , we tend to behave in manner that is harmless in one sense and timid in another sense.  It is natural that our civilization has been , by and large , a conformist civilization.

        The second most widely held belief in theory of karma is that individual responsibility  can be rationalized and that individual concerned can be absolved from such a responsibility. There are two types of reasonings involved in this belief . Firstly ,as mentioned above , the religious interpretations of the theory of karma have articulated a doctrine that one’s bad karma can be annulled by some kind of atonements. Of course what constitutes a bad karma and how it can be atoned , varies from one religious sect to another. The details may vary but the principle does not. If you were to think about it minutely , you would realize that this notion of bad karma and it’s atonement is not logically consistent. Ideally , if you were to commit a good karma as an atonement of a bad karma , you would set in two sets of consequences by your actions. One chain of consequences arising from bad karma and another chain of consequences arising from good karma. It is not necessary that one chain of consequences would nullify the second chain of consequences. The key insight in this dilemma is that the idea of annulling of bad karma by atonement works not because it is logical. The idea works because it appeals to our emotions. It is our psychological compulsion to feel guilty and seek catharsis that  makes this idea of atonements so popular.

          The second reasoning behind the popularity of absolving oneself from responsibility for the consequences of bad karma is based on inevitability of karmic cycle. The logic behind this is labeled as determinism in philosophy. The argument is that if the theory of karma  is true , then consequences would follow no matter what we do. Since the bad karma could have been performed in one’s past incarnation and therefore it can not be changed. Thus we can always console and condone ourselves simply by pointing out our inability to change our karmic past.  Strangely , this form of karmic determinism  provides us with an escape route from blaming ourselves. In turn , we tend to condone most of the bad things that we do in our lives and what others do to us.

           The fallacy of this logic lies in the fact that the theory of karma is not about individual egos but about the universe at large. Therefore our attempts at an individual level to rationalize our bad karmas is a subjective interpretation. It has beneficial effects on our psyche. It soothes our our sense of guilt. Therefore it is , like our belief in theory of karma , is a psychological truth.

          This brings me to third belief of fatalism. The karmic determinism that I mentioned above is a form of fatalism.  Fatalism is a belief that our past , present and future are already decided. Fatalism denies any possibility of changing the our own fate.It helps us to accommodate conflicting consequences of two other beliefs. If consequences of karma are inevitable then there is no way individual can absolve herself/ himself. However the fatalism , in the form of karmic determinism , enables us to believe in these two contradictory  beliefs simultaneously.

          This brings me to the topic of my next blog. I mentioned above that the theory of karma is not about individuals but it is about the universe at large. What does this assertion really mean ? To understand that , I would discuss the complexities of karmic theory and the extent of individual ownership of bad karmas in this theory in my next blog.

       For readers interested in knowing more about my writing my website is now available. This website is created and managed by my publisher CinnamonTeal Publishing. You can visit the website at this link.



        .                    REINCARNATION AND
                           THE THEORY OF KARMA.

                  This is my eighth blog on my forthcoming novel. I have discussed various reasons why an author would find the theme of reincarnation as a rich source of weaving a good story. I have also discussed earlier in this series why the theme of reincarnation appeals to readers. One of reasons , mentioned in my earlier blogs , was that the idea of reincarnation also expresses our religious beliefs. In a pluralistic society like ours , it is difficult to confine oneself to any particular denomination of religious beliefs and deconstruct the theme of reincarnation. However , there is one religious belief that is almost universally accepted across the religious spectrum. Moreover , this belief is the foundation of our idea of reincarnation. I am referring to the belief that fate of each one of us is defined by  the theory of karma. Therefore , in this blog and next few blogs , I would discuss variety of facets of this theory of karma. Since the theory of karma is universally believed , I think it would be easier to understand why we believe in reincarnation as well.

            I would like to admit ,at the outset , that I do not claim to have any new insights into either reincarnation or into the theory of karma. Both these topics have been commented upon in great length in religious and psychological literature.  I am going to focus only on two aspects in my blogs. Firstly , I am going to talk about the possibility that the idea of reincarnation itself maybe a fictionalization of the theory of karma. It is my belief that sages who scripted our vedic texts were conscious of the need to reach out to laity in the simplest way. Therefore they created our mythological stories as  fictionalization of fundamental philosophy described in our holy books. Similarly , I believe , the theory of karma is difficult to understand and to explain it in simplest form to laity.Therefore it was fictionalized into an idea of reincarnation.

         The second aspect that I am going to focus is that the theory of karma , by itself  i . e. without its fictionalized form , is very intricate and detailed scheme. These details deserve to be investigated  for their own sake. I am not suggesting that the theory of karma is right or wrong. I do not think I have wherewithal to prove it either way. All I am interested in is whether these details , by themselves, are created to fulfill our subconscious needs. There is a distinct psychological perspective behind the details of the theory of karma. I would focus on these aspects in my next few blogs.

           Let me begin by looking at the relationship between the theory of karma and the idea of reincarnation. One of the central assumptions about the theory of karma is that there are always some consequences of every action that you perform. This , by itself , is a logical and intuitive assertion. In fact , it is almost scientific. It is comparable to law of physics that asserts that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When viewed in this perspective , this basis of the theory of karma appears to be axiomatically true. The reason why this perspective is not scientific is that it doesn’t tell us how this is accomplished. While it may  be reasonable to say that there are always some consequences of every action that we perform , it is equally important that the theory of karma must explain how these consequences come about.

             The solution offered by the theory of karma is that these consequences come about through reincarnation. An individual can not be immortal. Therefore there is not enough time for all the consequences of each of hers/ his karma to come into effect. For instance , what if an individual were to perform some karma just before her/ his death ? Obviously , the consequences of such an act can not be experienced by that individual because there is not enough time. In order to accommodate this problem , the theory of karma has to postulate that it is the soul of that individual that would have to bear the consequences of the karma that that individual performs just before death. Since the soul is immortal , the problem of shortage of time does not arise. The soul would , according to the theory of karma , would bear the consequences in its next birth. One can see that reincarnation solves the basic dilemma of death intervening in the process of facing consequences of our karmas.

                 While there is no basis to support such an assumption of soul being the entity that performs and faces the consequences of karma , this assumption fulfills our emotional requirements. On one hand ,  it individualizes impersonal notion of action to personalized karma since individual soul is responsible for its karma. In Scienve we talk of impersonal notion of action whereas this theory ascribes individual authorship to it  and calls it a karma.  This transformation from impersonal action to personalized karma enables us to identify ourselves with all the karmas that we perform as our own. On the other hand , it also fulfills our natural sense of justice and redemption. This is precisely what fiction does. It gives us a chance to identify with what characters in fiction are doing and through that identification , the fiction enables us to redeem ourselves. Therefore it is correct to say that reincarnation is a fictionalization of the theory of karma. This theory appeals to us because it makes us believe that we too can redeem ourselves by patiently undergoing the consequences of our past karmas.

           Once we accept this interpretation of the theory of karma, the questions that  arise are of two types. Firstly , how our belief in the theory of karma changes our behavior? Secondly , does the theory of karma stand up to logical analysis ? In my next blog , I would discuss how our emotional acceptance of the theory of karma has shaped our behavior. In later blogs I would discuss how does the theory of karma stand up to rigorous analysis of logic.



            This is second part of my blog on the theme of continuity. In the first part , I had discussed the problem of maintaining emotional continuity while writing a novel based on the theme of reincarnation. Since such a novel essentially uses reincarnation as a metaphor , the emotional continuity of main characters serves the purpose of creating a narrative. The emotional interactions between the main characters provide the narrative with necessary literary tensions. It is this internal emotional conflicts and synergies that provide a platform for readers to identify themselves with such a narrative. Thus , as mentioned in part one , it is this process of identification which allows the metaphor of reincarnation to work on reader’s subconscious mind.

                   In this second part I would focus on the problem of continuity of time while writing a novel based on reincarnation. When a novelist places her/ his characters in a particular period of time and in particular geographical location , the writer is , in effect , creating characters of time and place as well.  Let us see how it happens. When a protagonist is placed in a time frame which is say twenty years earlier than the year of publication of that novel, the writer needs to incorporate social beliefs and collective psyche of that time. Most intuitive way of doing it is incorporating these beliefs in the character of the protagonist. In addition , the protagonist must also have beliefs that are consistent with her/ his intended character. Thus the protagonist has to be created with two sets of beliefs. One representing the ethos of the time she/ he is shown to be living and a second set of beliefs representing her/ his own character as intended by the writer. One can judge the quality of a novel by assessing how these two sets of beliefs have been integrated into an internally consistent characterization of the protagonist.

                 This process of characterization of main characters of the novel also works for geographical location . Each town , each region and each country has certain traits. These get reflected in the characterizations of main characters shown to be living in that location. Sometimes , a writer might choose to present the geographical location as a character itself.

                       This is normally a routine protocol for writing a novel. In case of writing a novel based on the theme of reincarnation , the problem of characterization of main characters becomes more complicated. In case of reincarnation of the protagonist , the next birth would be in a different geographical location and in different eras. Therefore continuity  in the sense of time lapse would have to be in the form of changes in collective psyche.  For instance , if a character is born earlier in pre independent India , then it’s collective psyche would  be dominated by a sense of patriotism and freedom struggle on the principles of Gandhi’s non violence. If that character is born in its next birth in contemporary India , then the collective psyche of modern India would be dominated by internet and information technology. The problem for the novelist in that case is how to create a character which blends both these dominant themes into an internally consistent characterization. A novelist may then create a character , who was a freedom fighter in an earlier birth ,  is now reincarnated as a character of a whistleblower who uses internet to expose corrupt politicians. I must admit  that there is no such character in my novel that shares this type of characterization. I am simply giving an example to explain the detailing that goes into creating a believable character with whom the readers can relate emotionally.

         Similar detailing is required for geographical location.  For instance a character born in Mumbai in one birth may have born in some remote town in Bihar in previous birth say in the time of Ashoka the great . In that case the collective psyche of both the locations would be so different that the novelist would have to strive to create continuity of characterization.

       Of course , readers  might wonder why such detailing is required. There are two reasons for this. Firstly , such a continuity is what makes narrative believable. The human mind is built on narrative intelligence. Therefore only some types of narratives emotionally connect with the readers. Therefore a novelist must create such intuitive narratives. At a deeper level , one can see that continuity of time in the social context refers to transformation of collective psyche. The key insight is that  though our collective psyche changes with time , the fundamental nature of this psyche remains unchanged. It is as if the contours of our collective psyche changes with time but it’s contents do not change. It is this constancy of our collective psyche that is at the heart of the metaphor for reincarnation. Just as souls remain the same while their bodies change in different incarnations , the collective psyche remains same over millennia , it’s expressions change with time. It this relationship between changes and constancy of our collective psyche that finds its literary expression in the theme of reincarnation. The second reason for such detailing is that this detailing represents our intricate theory of Karma.

                    In my next blog , I would discuss how the theme of reincarnation represents the theory of Karma and how intricate this theory is supposed to be.


                    THE PROBLEM OF CONTINUITY IN    
              .               REINCARNATION.PART 1.

                 In my previous blogs , I had suggested that my next novel would be on the theme of reincarnation. I had discussed in those blogs why the theme of reincarnation is a rich source for fiction. It was suggested that the theme of reincarnation has an inherent metaphorical depth for creative writing. In this blog , I would deal with difficulties that theme of reincarnation presents to a novelist. I would share my own problems in devising various characters passing through several births.

                When I began writing this novel , I had no fixed plan. My idea was to use reincarnation as a metaphor. I was also aware of the fact that people believe in reincarnation not because they are convinced about its logic , but they believed in that idea because it offered them some solace in their difficult times. Therefore ,  I was hoping to use the idea of reincarnation as a tool for analyzing human mind. After having written few chapters , I have realized that my approach was based on intellectual arrogance. When the plot started unraveling, I realized that the inherent psychological and metaphorical depth of this idea is so immense that mere cleverly crafted narrative would not be able to do justice to the idea of reincarnation. Therefore I have decided to let the plot unravel itself without any shallow cleverness on my part. However , the problem of detailing the characters still demands lot of planning. Therefore I was forced to think of several clever strategies. Thus my writing tries to strike a balance between my subconscious impulses and careful planning. In my next few blogs , I would discuss several problems that arise in maintaining a balance between these two contradictory requirements.. In this and the next blog , I would focus on continuity.

                    When I began writing this novel , my idea of continuity was the emotional continuity of a character going through several births. I was thinking about a protagonist who would feel vindicated after fulfilling his own desires after several births. Therefore  I thought of using unrequited love as a constant emotion which would run through several births of the protagonist. I also thought that the novel could end with the protagonist finally reuniting with his lady love. My choice was based on the fact that this theme has enjoyed immense popularity in pulp fiction and commercial cinema. I was thinking that I could take intellectually superior stance and try to deconstruct its popularity. The trouble with this storyline is that it really requires emotional continuity not only of the protagonist but also of his lady love and perhaps of several other characters.

             The emotional continuity of several characters in a single novel is not easy to achieve. Not only various emotions of all such characters in  a single birth must compliment one another , but it must remain congruent for every character through its several births. Thus , for instance , the emotional interaction between the protagonist and his lady love must be matched to create a credible love story. After having done that, the novelist must ensure that both these characters must have consistent emotional growths spanning several births. One can imagine how difficult it would be , if the novel involves say five characters. As my writing progressed , I realized the enormity of the task. More importantly, I also realized my own inadequacies of handling such  a enormous task. At that point, I decided to hand over these intricacies to my subconscious mind. I have, since then, restricted my conscious mind to remove logical inconsistencies in the plot. I can confess that barring first chapter, which was planned , the entire novel is a product of my subconscious mind. My critical faculties have played a role of a moderator.

                After having finished few chapters , I can see the wisdom of allowing writer’s subconscious mind to shape the creative output. I realized that the very insistence of emotional continuity is , in itself , a requirement of our subconscious mind. In that sense ,a novelist is really communicating with the subconscious minds of readers. Therefore it is imperative that writer’s subconscious mind sends the message to the reader’s subconscious mind directly. Art may be analyzed by our critical faculties , but it must be acknowledged that art is created and understood by our subconscious minds.

            In my next blog , I would deal with continuity of time while writing a novel on reincarnation.

(To be continued.)



           In my previous blog , I had discussed the psychological reasons for the popularity of the notion of reincarnation. I had suggested that our belief in reincarnation is a projection of our own emotional needs. Our belief in reincarnation does not require a logical or a rational arguments. In that blog , I had also mentioned that apart from individual emotional needs , our belief in reincarnation also arises from our cultural and religious belief. In this blog , I would try to analyze the reasons why our religious doctrines and cultural ethos reinforce our belief in the notion of reincarnation.

             At the outset , I would like to clarify that my views on religion, any religion for that matter , are not based on some assumed intellectual superiority. I do not think that religions and intellectual attitudes are incompatible. My own view of the religion is that it plays a significant role in shaping individual sensibilities. There are quite a few scientists who had strong religious beliefs and yet they could excel in their professions. In my opinion , the religion also plays an important role in uniting it’s followers on the basis of common sensibilities. This society building role of a religion is a historical fact. Of course , this notion of common religious identity also leads to isolationist tendencies. However , I would refrain from sociological aspects of religion and instead focus on psychological and moral dimensions of religion and its role in reinforcing our belief in reincarnation.

               I think that the principal claim of all religions is the existence of an absolute entity. This entity is variously described , in different religions , as a personification of that absolute entity. This personification has different attributes depending on the sensibilities of that particular religion. The main task of all religions is to connect that absolute personified entity with mundane lives of its followers. However , the problem with this task is that the day to day life of religious followers is in absolute contrast with the attributes of the personified deity. While the deity may be a personification of piety and virtuousness, the life of a religious follower would be exactly opposite of that. Similarly , the deity would be a personification of tranquility and peace , whereas a follower’s life would be anything but that.

                Therefore the task of all religions is two fold. Firstly , they make you aware that you are separate from the deity. Therefore you must practice certain rituals to connect with the deity.  On the other hand , religions also profess that the deity is always present in each one of us in the form of certain absolute entity. This entity , being a part and parcel of the deity , is absolute and therefore indestructible. Therefore , our religious practices are of two types. Either one can practice religious rituals and  try to connect with the deity, or one can search oneself by introspection to connect with the deity. In fact , Sanskrit word for religion ‘dharma’ has two connotations. Dharma means a code of conduct as well as a direct relationship between the individual and the deity.

         Let us see how our religious beliefs shape our belief in reincarnation. To the extent the deity is part of an  individual, the deity can not simply perish when that  individual dies. At the same time, an individual has hardly any attributes that are ascribed to the deity. Therefore the attributes possessed by that individual must have arisen from somewhere else. Therefore an individual must be made up of several parts. One part represents the divine and other parts represent mundane aspects of reality. The divine part is always pure ànd absolute. The mundane parts are always imperfect and constantly changing. Thus it is necessary for most of the religions to propose an internal dichotomy of human beings. An individual is thus blend of divine and mundane. This dichotomy is inevitable once you accept a notion of absolute deity. However , the most important aspect of religions is not just to offer this type of logical explanation. The religions are also fundamental to human beings because they offer a moral dimension to us. This is where this dichotomy plays an important role.

                      In my opinion , human beings ,as a species , are a  moral species. Our need for moral justification is an inborn need. I also believe that articulation of this moral dimension has led us to the organized religions. If this is true , then it is easy to see that the notion of reincarnation would fullfil the conflicting requirements of our psyche. The absolute and divine part of ourselves can not perish therefore it must continue to exist even after our death. On the other hand , the mundane part of ourselves keeps on changing and is perishable.  Thus the notion of reincarnation enables us to accommodate this contradictory requirements of different parts of our psyche. Now ,add a moral dimension to this notion of reincarnation and you have a theory of Karma. The activities of mundane part of human beings , that can not be reconciled within a single life time  , can always be reconciled with the help of divine part of an individual. The notion of soul as the absolute and divine part of an individual , being imperishable , can be born again . Moreover , this part can reconcile the actions of the mundane and imperfect part of that individual.

Thus the notion of reincarnation accommodates the requirements of an absolute deity ,human beings made of several parts and more importantly , the moral sense of human beings. It is therefore natural that the notion of reincarnation is supported by our religious beliefs.             

           In my next blog , I would discuss the literary aspect of reincarnation. I think it is necessary to know that the notion of  reincarnation  has inherent metaphorical template. In my next blog I would discuss the notion of reincarnation as a metaphor.



                            THE MYTH OF REINCARNATION.

           In my earlier blog , I had written about my intention of writing my second novel on the theme of reincarnation. I had mentioned that , in my forthcoming blogs , I would be discussing various aspects of the idea of reincarnation. In this blog , I would try to deconstruct reasons for the popularity of this idea. I think there are two different aspects to this popularity. First aspect is that there is something inherently appealing about this idea. This intuitive appeal needs to be looked into. The second aspect of this popularity is that this idea somehow  reinforces our religious beliefs. This compatibility between religions and reincarnation also needs to be looked into.

               In this blog , I would discuss the psychological implications of our  acceptance of idea of reincarnation. In my next blog , I would discuss religious implications of this idea of reincarnation. Ever since , I decided to write a novel on reincarnation , I have been thinking about it. As mentioned in my earlier blog , I was surprised to realize that , at some subconscious level , even I wanted to believe in this idea. Considering the fact that I profess to be a rationalist , I was rather taken aback by this realization. The only explanation that I can think of this internal contradiction in my thinking is that the idea of reincarnation appeals to me because it , in some sense , embodies in itself , some of my subconscious beliefs. I am going to take up these beliefs and try to understand , how they get transformed into this idea of reincarnation.

               First belief that  tempts me to believe in this idea , is that of notion of self. I am sure that readers would agree with my observation that each one us have this notion of permanent self. All our thinking revolves around the belief that self is permanent. We can not think about anything without any reference to our own selves. All our concepts and all our thoughts are defined in the context of our own selves. If we , each one of us , did not have this notion of self , we would not be able to formulate any thoughts. A thought exists because a  self exists. To our subconscious mind , self is always present. It is this permanence of psychological self  that is responsible for the appeal of the idea of reincarnation. To our subconscious mind , self is permanent and therefore eternal. It is this misguided notion of eternal nature of our psychological self that finds its expression in this idea of reincarnation. If self can not die then it must persist in some indestructible form. Therefore our subconscious mind weaves this narrative of soul and it’s reincarnation.

           The second reason , why the idea of reincarnation appeals to me , is that it offers some escape route to my unfulfilled wishes. A human mind can be rightly described as collection of all kinds of wishes. In terms of psychology , one can say that the self expresses itself in the form of wishes. A fulfillment of our wishes is the engine which drives our life. In view of this primacy of wishes in defining self , it is natural that unfulfilled wishes could play havoc with our mental health. Therefore a human mind has to create some explanation which can make its  unfulfilled wishes bearable. This , I think , is the reason why the idea of reincarnation appeals to all of us. Through the the belief in reincarnation , our subconscious mind finds solace that all our unfulfilled wishes may be fulfilled in some unspecified future of reincarnated self.

               The third reason ,why the idea of reincarnation appeals to me , is that it fulfills our sense of justice. All of us have an  inbuilt sense of justice. Though , it’s articulation and it’s practice varies from person to person and culture to culture, the fact is that we ,as a species , have an  inborn sense of justice. However , this instinct is in direct conflict with not only the way this  world runs ,  but it is also in direct conflict with our own wish fulfillment driven behavior. Each one of us comes across all kinds of inequities and inequalities. Of course , each one of us has a simple way of allowing our inborn sense of justice to find its expression. That way consists of fighting all these inequities and inequalities. However , our mind seeks an easier way to deal with this. It justifies its inaction and acceptance of these inequities and inequalities by invoking this comforting idea of reincarnation. This operates at two levels. Firstly ,it allows us to focus instead on our attempts to fulfill our wishes. Secondly , it absolves us from responsibility of letting justice prevail. If the reincarnation is really true then law of Karma would prevail eventually. Justice delayed , according to this philosophy , is not justice denied. Rather justice delayed , according to this philosophy , is a poetic justice.

        Thus there are three very deep rooted reasons why the idea of reincarnation finds itself so popular. I would like to clarify that I am not suggesting that the idea of reincarnation is wrong. Our scientific knowledge has not reached a level where it can either prove or disprove the notion of immortal soul and it’s reincarnation. All I am suggesting is that all of us , including myself , would want to believe in this idea and that too for wrong reasons. How do I reconcile my rational mind with my subconscious mind ? I think I will find the answer only after I finish this  novel.

        In my next blog , I would discuss how our religious beliefs have influenced this idea of reincarnation.