Metempsychosis: A Pondering

At the end of the brilliant film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the star child of Jupiter and Earth was born.  The star child represented a cosmic connection between life forms from the primitive to the evolved consciousness of a super race.

Metempsychosis (μετεμψύχωσις) was a belief advocated by Pythagoras, a Greek mathematician who lived 2500 years ago and was an ardent vegetarian. He believed, based on Egyptian religion, that when the person died the soul which occupied the physical shell would be reborn into another animal or human.

Therefore, life never perishes.  It just transmigrates.

The basis of this belief is rooted in the acceptance of the immortality of the soul.  Most mainline religions reject the transmigration of the soul.  It is found primarily in Eastern religions.

However, a number of people believe in a heaven and hell to a greater or lesser degree. When the immortal part of the person survives the physical death, they pass into light or darkness.

Immortality has been a quest of humans since they first experienced death. Death would become an unwelcome spectre as humans migrated across this planet traversing the cosmos.

It is logical to assume that there must be more to life than to be born and eventually to die.  It is natural for people to accept belief in the world to come to help explain the surcease of life.

However, as the cosmos has demonstrated to us, via our tools to peer deeply into its mysteries, death precedes creation.  Creation in this instance is rearranging the atoms of what was into what will be. Natural processes of birth and death are displayed above us each night.

When we die our atoms are released from our physical shell to rejoin the cosmic ocean.  Are we destined to be reborn on this earth?  Perhaps, on the atomic level, we are.

What we were here in our journey on the road of life, we can never be again.  Once our journey ends, it comes to those who come after us to remember who and what we were.

For those who embrace a religious tradition which has a final destination, a better world, they have a hope of what is to come.  For those who view life as a transitory stroll on the cosmic shore of time, death just becomes an uninterrupted sleep, dreamless and painless.

Do you believe there is a somewhere out there prepared for you? Is there a heaven to gain and a hell to shun like my Baptist grandfather used to say?  Is there music embedded in the human genome which reaches out to the cosmic orchestra where the morning stars sang?   Do you possess a spark of cosmic immortality which will refuse to die when your physical shell can no longer sustain the essence of who and what you were?

Since we began with Arthur C. Clarke, let’s consider for a moment that the Star Child which appeared as a human fetus in the embryonic sac is the next cosmic stage after the physical shell is discarded.  Perhaps, Clarke’s concept is worth pondering on for a while.

In our next post we will consider the Star Child and its relationship to the cosmos.

G. D. Williams       © 2013




Mike Pinder’s – Among the Stars

Catholic Encyclopedia


Cloud Atlas

Whispers of Immortality On The Road To The Cosmic Ocean