Thoughts and Stories about Rebirth


As someone who practices Buddhist teachings as best I can, thoughts of rebirth and past lives come into mind. The last time I wrote about anything like this was when I explored the writings of Marilynn Hughes back in 2013.

Recent musings on rebirth

Thoughts about the cycle of birth and death have come into my consciousness again lately. Fleeting thoughts come to mind as I go on my daily walks wondering if I will have the things I want in my next life if I don’t happen to get them in this life: A nice house in a good neighborhood, my own Japanese garden, a spacious art studio. Will I have enough money to take lots of trips… you know, stuff we all dream about could have if we had the money. A tiny, itty bitty part of me wished this life would hurry up so I could move on to the next one. Ah, that monkey mind… where will it go next?

But then today the thought came to me, “Well, what if my next life is far more challenging than the life I have now?” I already have so much to be thankful for that all the money in the world cannot buy, like excellent health and solid, beautiful relationships with people who matter a great deal to me. Love plays a huge role in my life that I am so grateful for every day. And I’ve chosen to be an artist! I get to paint! What a lucky individual I am.

I also volunteer with another mom as an art docent for my son’s class and she is a hospice nurse. Her stories fascinate me to no end. Part of me would love to be in that line of work, helping people transition from this plane of existence into the next. Ah, if only to be able to do life again, huh? I swear I need to be cloned about five different ways to explore all the life’s paths one could take.

Stories about reincarnation, rebirth or redoing life

Life After Life

I’ve been listening to an audiobook called Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, where the main character relives her same life again and again. She dies in various ways and begins again, this time making different choices, sometimes through a gut feeling or a sense of deja-vu.

The story reminds me a little of that Tom Cruise movie, “Edge of Tomorrow” where the character has to relive his life. While in Edge of Tomorrow, the “relife” starts at a certain point, in Life after Life, the “relife” begins at the main character’s birth. But in the book, after the same decisions are made, we are led to a certain point beyond her birth. First childhood, then after her death we are led to her teen years until mistakes are ironed out and then into her adult years. I’m about 3/4 of the way done, so I’m still not sure of how it will end. Or why this character is in such a rebirth predicament.
Update: I finished the book. Didn’t give much closure. The ending was disappointing, but still the overall story was good and I’ll keep it at 4 stars.

The Years of Rice and Salt

Another book I read a few years ago was astoundingly good. It’s called The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Years of Rice and Salt is not only a reincarnation book, but an alternative history book, which I LOVE.

In this book, the Black Plague wipes out all of Europe to the point of near total eradication. The result is a rise in Asian and Islamic empires. China discovers the Americas and Islam reaches westward and north into what was Europe. I won’t say anything else in case you’d like to explore it, but over the course of centuries, the same characters emerge as they are reborn into different proceeding lives. A place called the Bardo is a setting where the souls find themselves in between lives, and it turns out to be a place in Tibetan Buddhism, which I thought was pretty smart of the author to include.

The Fountain

A movie I’ve enjoyed in the past is called The Fountain with Hugh Jackman and Rachael Weisz. As a modern-day scientist, Tommy is struggling with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi. The movie jumps through time and it is hard for me to decipher whether or not the characters are reborn as themselves, or if the main character actually lives on for hundreds of years. It’s pretty good, a 4 out of 5 stars, and while it may not have to do exactly with rebirth, it does face our discomfort with death and a desire to live with creativity. Here’s the trailer, though many say it does not do the actual film justice.

A really good interpretation of the movie is explained here.

Yesterday’s Children

Here’s another movie, based on a real-life story, that you can see here on YouTube. It’s called Yesterday’s Children, with Jane Seymour. She’s an American woman, middle-aged, and she’s struck with feelings and memories of her previous life as an Irish woman. She travels back to the town to get all the information she can on the woman and her family, and ends up meeting the children she had who are elderly now. It’s a remarkable tale!
(Don’t let the foreign language title sway you, the movie is in English.) Save it or stream it on your TV, it’s worth it.

I Origins

This is a recent movie I’d been wanting to see for month. I Origins,  is about a scientist who studies ocular bio-metrics, which is basically the unique print on your iris in your eye. He and his lab partner Karen, are about to discover the origin of the eye, disproving the argument on the intelligent design debate.

The scientist, Ian Hill is involved romantically with a French model who is eccentric with deep spiritual notions of rebirth. Ian thinks of her as an immature child in many ways.

Fast forward years later, Karen and Ian are married and have a baby son. They get a call from a doctor who says she thinks the baby might have autism, could they come in to test him? The test is bogus, they are actually looking at his iris metrics, for they match exactly a deceased man’s metrics who died shortly before the baby was conceived.

This discovery puts Ian on his own personal journey with his previous lover, the French model Sofie. And the ending is fabulous, though I wanted more – a what’s next to the story.

I like the scientific and spiritual intertwining. What I relate to so much with Buddhist and Yogic philosophy is that science and spirituality are unopposed to each other. I Origins explores the struggle the facts-driven scientists encounters when he comes up against a situation he cannot explain.

Here’s the trailer:

I want more!

I love stories like these, especially ones like The Years of Rice and Salt. So help me out a little. Do you know of any good books or movies like these? Please recommend them in the comments or on your favorite social media.


Creative Commons image by Scottish Dream Photography. Some rights reserved.


3 Responses to Thoughts and Stories about Rebirth

  1. Damien December 24, 2014 at 6:14 am #

    Hi Amy,

    Great post, thank you! In response to your ending question, I am reminded of the book ‘The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion’ by Ken Wilber. Although it does not directly cover the subject of re-birth, it popped into my mind upon reading your post, so thought I’d comment.


    • Amy Tanathorn December 25, 2014 at 1:19 am #

      Hi Damien,
      Thanks for your comment. I’ve heard of Ken Wilber and his influence on Eastern philosophy in the West. I’ve yet to read any of his works, but your recommendation will be my first. Thank you!


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