My belief in the reality of the world of spirits (human souls) supports what I was taught to believe in my youth, enhanced by my recent understanding of Hinduism. This understanding was obtained late in life through my reading of the Upanishads. These writings represent, to me, the highest level of metaphysics of any religion. A succinct summary of my beliefs follows. I have been reading about religion and society since I was about 24.
At death, I would join the souls of my predecessors (except those who have been reincarnated). After a period of learning in whatever dimension I find myself, I would be reincarnated on Earth. Let me make clear that I was never taught to believe in a spirit domain from which the soul of a former relative or, for that matter, the soul of perhaps a guru, could enter my life and offer me advice. Or that those in this spirit domain might be able to influence the direction of my life at some significant point – as has apparently happened more than once!
Moving on – each Earthly life would involve me paying for the sins of my past lives while being offered opportunities to learn to better myself morally, possibly spiritually. After many, many rebirths, I might be permitted to return to that Ocean of Consciousness from which, it is said, we had originally arisen.
The ultimate objective of this extended process? To improve the stock of human souls? So, is there meaning and purpose in human existence? The above belief would give meaning where none exists for the unbeliever. It would give more meaning than the claim that human existence has meaning but only for each Earthly existence. A concept embodying continuity through lifetimes, of opportunities to move up some moral scale life by life, of exercising free will rather than being carried blindly through time on Earth, is enticing, because it offers a path of purpose, and of hope – with free will.
What need can there be for an authoritarian priesthood with a controlling theology? Were we not born to breathe freely?