PR for People Monthly December 2014 - Page 31

In the Arctic, where animals are critical to survival, the Inuit people believe that animals, as well as humans, have souls that are reborn. Hunters must perform ceremonies for the creatures they kill so that the animal spirits can be reborn and hunted in the future. When a person dies, part of his or her soul will be incarnated in the next baby born into the community. Giving the newborn the dead person’s name ensures that the child will have some of the ancestor’s qualities.

Renewal in modern religions

Reincarnation also plays a central role in Buddhism and Hinduism. According to Jayaram V, a soul reincarnates again and again on earth until it becomes perfect and reunites with the source or “godhead.” During this process, the soul enters into many bodies, assumes many forms and passes through many births and deaths.

This concept is described in the Bhagavad Gita: "Just as man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discard worn out bodies and wears new ones" (2.22).

Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism all share this belief in samsara (The Wheel of Birth and Rebirth) and karma, the idea that an individual's future incarnation depends on the way he or she lived. People who have done good deeds and led moral lives are reborn into higher social classes, while those who have not are doomed to return as members of the lower classes, or as animals. Only by achieving the highest state of spiritual development can a person escape samsara altogether, a condition often referred to as Nirvana.

And, of course, most Westerners are familiar with the Christian belief that Jesus, who was crucified by the Romans, came back to life, ascended to heaven and who is bound to return to earth to create a just and happy world.

I guess everybody wants to live forever. I only hope that, with the most recent iteration of climate change, I come back in a more heat-tolerant form. I was thinking that, perhaps, either a saltwater crocodile or great white shark might work quite well. The legend of the Phoenix has great appeal to me as well.

Dave Bresler is the founder of NetworkNetwork!, a New York City-based professional networking business.