When I look for reincarnation, or rebirth, in my own experience, here is one thing I find:
Images and thoughts are reborn here. There is an image in my mind of a cat I used to know. It comes up again. And although it’s quite similar in content, it’s a new image. It’s reborn.
The tendency to take certain images and thoughts as true is also reborn. Mind identifies with an image or thought, for instance my father sacrificed for me. It’s gone from conscious awareness. Then the image and identification is back. It’s reborn.
And that’s happening in society as well. Images and thoughts are reborn in different and sometimes new individuals. As a baby learns how to live in society, images and thoughts from parents and others are reborn in her or his mind. And a part of this process is to watch which images and thoughts are typically identified with, and which are not, and then do the same. These tendencies for identification are also reborn in the new human. And this happens not only in childhood, but also when we grow up. It’s an integral part of learning to function as a human being in society.
So rebirth happens in these two ways. First, images and thoughts are reborn here in my mind, as are tendencies to take some images and thoughts as true. And both of these are also reborn throughout society, passed on from human to human.
When it comes to what most people may think of as rebirth, I don’t know. As so often, I may have images of past lives (I do), traditions and teachers may say rebirth happens (as they also do), and there may be anecdotes supporting it (there are many). And yet, if I am honest, I see I really don’t know. And I don’t need to know. It’s an interesting question for science, and it would be fun to see it researched in a serious way, that’s about it for me now.
Also, if something is reborn in the way most people think of it – as tendencies (Buddhism) or a soul (New Age) – then it’s in any case something that comes and goes as experience. What remains, what it – and any experience* – happens within and as, is more truly what “I” am. (And yet, when it’s here, it’s also what I am.)
* Including images of a soul, tendencies, time, rebirth, a me, an I.