Karmic Benefits and Social Neuroscience

I’ve been thinking some about reincarnation and karma recently. The older I get, and the more social neuroscience I study, the more open and hopeful I become. Being aware of previous incarnations may simply be a function of how powerfully connected and integrated our brains (and hearts?) have become during this current lifetime. Those of us with no memories of previous lives may simply lack the processing power necessary to be consciously aware of them (which would be most of us, apparently). It’s a lot of information to be expected to retain, especially when what happened last Tuesday is currently a challenge for me to accurately recall.

karma1But concern over whether or not I’ll be returning carrying much of the karmic Samsonite I’ve been hauling around during this lifetime, seems mostly to miss the point. Better to bet like Pascal, I think: If reincarnation and karma are true, and I’ve led a depraved and low-minded life in this incarnation, then things most likely won’t be so good for me, my family and friends next time around. If reincarnation and karma are not true and I’ve led a depraved and low-minded life, then things probably aren’t so good for me and those same people in this life. If karma and reincarnation are true however, and I’ve led a saintly life filled with great merit and good works, then most likely things are quite good for me in this life. And the life I have coming up on-deck is probably looking pretty good as well. So, it’s this subsequent life that I want to begin planning right now.

My Next First Three Years

In preparation, as a safeguard, I’m putting my order in for how I want the first three years of my next life to go. Attachment, neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology research suggests that these years are crucial – I will carry their imprint with me –  appended to whatever traits and qualities I beam in with – through every day of every year that follows. So, in the best of all possible worlds, I will be conceived by young, wealthy people, since old sperm seems to be suspect in the development of autism, and there are many studies that suggest that poverty is extremely damaging to neural development. These young, wealthy people should live in Hawaii where people experience the lowest rates of Frequent Mental Distress (FMD); and they can be gay or straight, it doesn’t really matter to me. My leanings are more toward a gay female couple, since the suffering many gay people have been forced to endure frequently manages to inspire them to deal creatively with a complex world, and often provides them with the necessary sense of humor to do so. At least in my experience.

joan-osborne1My brain begins unfolding shortly after the first month post-conception. Apparently, its development is primarily driven by sound – the first sense to appear – and I will quickly learn to discriminate mother’s voice from all other sounds in the womb. And numerous studies suggest that I will recognize her voice immediately, post-partum. Given this research, I want my birth mother to have the singing voice of a Diva – a combination of Tori Amos, Joan Osborne and Susan Boyle. And I want her to sing and coo to me from the first post-conception month forward. I also want her to talk to me the way she will when I’m outside in the world while I’m still in utero. When I’m finally born, I want it to be a natural, drug-free birth, and I want to have two siblings already arrived and practiced on by my parents for two and five years prior. I don’t want to be their beta-baby.

The Years Have It

There will be a lot of smiling, soothing physical contact, loving eye-gazing and breast feeding during these first three years. Breast feeding is great for me and significantly reduces my mother’s risk of heart attack for her whole life. And in addition to being wealthy, I want my parents to have very high intellectual, emotional and social IQ’s. I also want them to head their own nonprofit charitable foundations. We know that altruism works powerfully to positively affect health and well-being and neural growth and integration, and I want to have as much of that going for me as I possibly can. Altruism is also great for continuing the good karma I’ll already be beaming in with.

I want my mother to spend a lot of time socializing, learning and hanging out with other mothers, while I spend quality, supervised time with their kids. And when the language window is open at 18-24 months, I want my parents to expose me to one or two different non-native languages, using the Super-Memo method if they think I might benefit from it. Taking specific advantage of the open language window appears to generally strengthen the overall neural network. No reason not to start early with that regimen.

Finally, I want both my parents, as well as every caregiver I come in contact with, to be experts in stress recognition and management. I want them to be expert soothers, creative rapid restorers of allostatic nirvana. Their actions as external stress-reducing agents will quickly help me to learn to recognize, manage and reduce my own elevated stress levels at a very early age. This will serve me well for the whole remaining 200 years of what average life-expectancy will most likely be for my next life.

And that’s pretty much it. I don’t think that’s asking for all that much, actually. My request is only for the first three years, after all.  If I don’t bother to ask, how’s The Re-Birth Fairy going to know this is what I want?


6 Responses

  1. your final question to the re-birth fairy is the one that interests me too. your mother sounds like mary poppins, practically perfect!

  2. Hi Mark,
    This was both informative and fun to read, thanks for the morning smile.
    P.S. I think I’d like to put the same order in, but not Hawaii, too much sun and I like being Canadian, so maybe Vancouver Island!

  3. Hi Mark, Interesting thoughts. In a thoughtful conversation, I like a well rounded dose of possibilities, especially when the latest research from quantum phyisics claims that reincarnation is a distinct possibility. May as well have a plan. I have one too….kinda looks like yours but I like San Francisco. Toni

  4. Mark, Your sense of humor drives home a very good point!

  5. Hi Mark, about the ifs from the beggining of post, what if reincarnation and karma are not true but a great Judgment Throne awaits you at the end of only this life, do you have a plan?

  6. Another wise and whimsical post…. Reincarnation is, of course, incompatible with the orthodox expressions of my Christian faith, but I’ve never been very orthodox. So much of Christianity, as well as other religions, get reduced to narcissistic concern for “What will happen to me?” “Will I go to heaven or hell?” “Will I be humiliated at the Judgment Seat?” When I read the mystics in all the great world traditions, include Christianity, the message is so clear… the truly spiritually mature person has stopped framing things in terms of “me.” Which brings me back around to reincarnation. I’ve long thought that the concept would be an interesting expression of the Christian idea that “God is reconciling all of creation back to Godself in Christ.” That idea is heresy within my community, but then the idea of little unseen “animals” passing on disease was heresy in the medical community at one time. (So wash your hands for heaven’s sake!)

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