THE last act of Empedocles, the fifth century Greek philosopher, was pure Monty Python.
Empedocles so desired to be thought of as a god he threw himself into the crater of Mt Etna so he might vanish from the world and thus lead men to believe he had achieved immortality.
The volcano defeated this wish by spitting out one of his sandals.
People do strange things in the quest for immortality
Julia Roberts, who has converted to Hinduism, said she believed that in a past life she was a revolutionary, while pop princess Ke$ha apparently thinks she’s the reincarnation of John F. Kennedy.
Celebrities hardly ever believe they are the reincarnations of common folk.
Saddam Hussein believed he had been an ancient Babylonian king, while US General George Patton thought he was Julius Caesar’s reincarnation.
Stephen Prothero, author and religion professor at Boston University, suggests our ludicrous western fascination with reincarnation is related to our relative prosperity. Modern westerners, in their optimism and material success, see reincarnation as a chance to postpone eternity.
“Reincarnation means never having to say you’re dead,” Prothero wrote.
It sounds like a doctrine of hope, but it’s the philosophy of despair, an impossible concept of trying to achieve perfection by going through life over and over.
If there is reincarnation, man has no compelling need to make peace with God in this life. No compelling reason for anything really.
The sea goddess Calypso in Homer’s Odyssey envies humans because they are mortal and perform courageous acts knowing they could lose their lives. If we could be reincarnated, our choices would not matter much.
Christians, Muslims and Jews will tell you we are on this planet once. There are no perfect reincarnated people and no perfect societies without hunger, greed or envy.