iTunes (or any other library-based media player) is great, right? All of my playable content instantly available, wherever I go. What if we could collect a library of lives, if birth is simply selecting “play” for a particular life from our library? Angels and demons might be just those who choose to collect lives of goodness or badness respectively.
Part of us would have to carry over between lives for this to be true, and that part would have to have a decision-making ability – it would have to be able to think in some way. Some of us might see this as a soul, an element of ourselves that endures forever.
Historical Yoga texts talk about re-incarnation. My understanding however is that these texts do not imply the existence of a soul. Rather, the thinking is that whenever we don’t follow our true nature, we create little twist of energy – like a knot in a piece of wood. These twists can be straightened out, and Yoga offers methods for their resolution. However, if we die before all are straightened, then another human life will inherit them. That person will have their own twists to undo, and all the ones they were born with. It’s the reason given why some people can remember previous lives. It is, I believe, is what “karma” really refers to. It’s not that we are reborn; it’s more that our experiences outside our own truth insist on being worked through.
In that sense, we could imagine a “library” of lives that collectively define all of these attempts to resolve the times people just totally miss the point and do things they are just not comfortable with. The difference to a media player is that the characters these stories can “wake up” during the play. They can realise that they’re effectively on shuffle, constantly switching between different sidebands of sometimes happy-sometimes unhappy experience, but never quite aligning with the main broadband signal.
Some people will see the parallel between this and lucid dreaming. Indeed there is a branch of Yoga called Dream Yoga. I know nothing about this, except that it is an advanced practice. On a more everyday level, we can work with the Yoga techniques (already referred to) that seek to undo the karmic knots we create for ourselves. The outcome (we are told) will be this awakening in life.
Of course, the only way to find out for sure is to try it out.