I do believe in reincarnation, but it is a different kind of reincarnation from the one Buddhists and Hindus believe in. It preserves nothing of the present ME, except the impersonal physical components that made me. Those molecules of my transient form, that maintained my Peter-ness while it lasted, will upon my death morph into some other form, perhaps a blade of grass, perhaps a drop of water, but no part of my temporary illusion of self will survive, none of the thoughts or experiences that came into being as a result of my transient consciousness will be present in that drop of water, because they were an integral part of the Peter who is gone.
This is not depressing!! It is glorious and real. It reaffirms the only true identity I ever had as an Earthling, being a part of this magnificent closed system, a finite set of components which keeps taking on a myriad forms, like a never ending kaleidoscope. It gets me in touch with every cell, with every atom in my body. It gives a tangible meaning to my oneness with the trees and the ocean and the clouds and the animals and the other people I love so much. And while I am in this temporary body, the experiences and thoughts are NOT an illusion. They are as real as my body, and just as transient.
But once I am dead, all these thoughts and experiences die with me, and just like a blade of grass I generously return everything to that big nourishing soup to create another something.
This relieves me of the need to invent fairytales like souls and spirits and past lives and many other illusions that we humans invent merely because we are so terrified of dying. Perhaps being OK with not leaving anything behind except the building blocks for something else is what the sages of yore meant by non-separateness.
The Kvetching Factory
"Start every day with a smile and get it over with" (W.C. Fields)