over the past several days, i have been thinking of the concept of "oneness." i am becoming more intrigued by the idea of reincarnation. the possibility that another was our mother, father, brother, sister, or child in a past life changes how we view others and our relationships to them. does the possibility that the person who treats me unkindly was, in some other life, a close relative cause me to react in a very different way to that unkindness? might i repay unkindness with patience and understanding rather than repaying unkindness with more unkindness?
if we are all one, if "there is neither jew nor gentile, neither slave nor free, [neither] . . . male and female," as st. paul says in galatians 3:28, treating another in the wrong way harms oneself. st. paul goes on to say that we "are all one in christ jesus." in matthew 25:40 jesus says, " inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me." these teachings suggest to me that as a follower of jesus, one must see the unity of all people and in so doing treat others with kindness and respect, just as one should treat oneself with kindness and respect.
the idea that one soul can inhabit many bodies over extended periods of time increases the obligation to extend loving kindness to every person as much as we possibly can. the belief in the power of God to transform something old into something new is a profound one that we see expressed in nature over and over. the caterpillar become the butterfly, the tadpole becomes the frog, the embryo become the new creature, organic matter decays and becomes part of new life. isn't in possible then that God intends for us to see the interconnectedness of all life and wishes us to treat each life with love and respect, since the life of that "other" is intimately connected with our own.
this line of thinking is very foreign to what most christians have been taught to believe. we are focused on the uniqueness of each individual soul and the idea that, once this life is over, the soul is transformed and is either eternally in God's presence or eternally excluded from God's presence. as i age, i increasingly question that line of thinking and am drawn to the possibility that God's mercy will allow us to correct the mistakes we've made in this life and have other chances to "get it right."
my prayers for each of us today is that we'll entertain the possibility that we are indeed one and that we'll treat each other as if that were a fact rather than a mere possibility. shalom.