“If you’re a really mean person you’re going to come back as a fly and eat poop.” Kurt Cobain said this very matter-of-factly during an interview with Monk Magazine in 1992. He was joking, well, sort of. Really, he was really hinting at his unwavering belief in reincarnation and the overwhelming possibility of an afterlife. The mystical concept of life after death may just be the most pondered question in the world. What happens when we die? This thought provoking topic has been thoroughly explored in books, films, on television, and even in scientific research, theorised and studied in an attempt to try and unlock some elusive piece of knowledge. It has fascinated us since we first began to intelligently think and question the world around us. Yet, all we have appeared to discover is that death is an inevitable part of human life, something that cannot be escaped, no matter how much we wish otherwise. Generally, most people know about the biological process of death and what happens to our physical bodies, but what interests most people is what happens to our soul. Is there even such a thing as a soul? Most of us would like to think so. When faced with our own mortality, we all need something to believe in and to hold onto. An interesting recent Reddit thread openly asked members of the public, who had been clinically dead then revived, what it felt like to experience death. Surprisingly, most of the answers were not the generic ‘I saw a bright white light’ kind of response. One person said my world became soft and foggy and everything faded to black… It was really a peaceful feeling more than anything. Another Redditor, who overdosed on heroin, said they didn’t see anything, it was just like sleeping with no dreams. And one reported that they saw nothingness. Black, long, empty, but I had a feeling like everything was great and nothing was wrong at all. Most of the accounts on the thread don’t seem scary, in fact they almost seem hopeful. But they offer little reassurance about the possibility of a life after death. Again, we all need something to believe in, to carry us through this life and into the next without feeling overwhelming fear and dread. That could be why there has been a growing rise of interest in the theory of reincarnation during recent years, particularly in the West. In this modern, technological age, there is a growing feeling that life is unfulfilling and unsatisfactory. The most common grievances are that it’s filled with disappointments, it’s exceedingly superficial and there’s a lack of connection between human beings. The theory of reincarnation can be said to be the answer to the depressiveness of the modern era. Greater numbers of people, especially young folk, are turning towards Eastern philosophies to try and find some new meaning. But, the very idea of life after death contradicts itself. How can there be life after something or someone has died? That’s where reincarnation seems to satisfy us. It is much easier to understand and believe in. Essentially, the foundation of reincarnation asserts that after our current bodies have grown old and died, the soul begins a new life in a new body. It is the central belief of many Indian religions, like Hinduism and Buddhism, and seems to be more substantial than Christianity or Catholicism. The word reincarnation derives from Latin and literally means “entering the flesh again”. Simple and accessible. Most religions believe in a Heaven or Hell which can prove problematic for people to understand. But with the idea of reincarnation, the way in which you’ve lived your current life determines what your next reincarnation will be. When plainly set out like this, it seems that people find the concept of an afterlife much easier to reconcile with. Like Kurt Cobain said, if you do bad things in this life, then you’ll most likely come back as something repulsive, like a fly, and be forced to eat faeces. Whatever there is awaiting us after death, it certainly gives us comfort to believe that there is not just an endless black void that stretches on, eternally. The thought of an afterlife or reincarnation gives us the hopeful underlying promise that we have a chance to redo our life and make it right. Perhaps this is the only way that we can get through this life with our sanities relatively intact? But what if there isn’t an afterlife? After all, there are very few people who claim to remember their pre-existence at all. We seriously need to consider the possibility that once we die, we just die. There are no second chances. As Quentin R. Bufogle said “Life on this Earth isn’t just a dress rehearsal for something better. It’s the only shot we get.” Doesn’t that make you realise that we should treasure this life we’ve been given?