A churchgoing colleague explained to me once that his personal rule of faith is to believe whatever doctrine is the most “uplifting.”  He tells me that he finds it more uplifting to believe in reincarnation than in death, judgment, and resurrection, because it “gives us as many chances as we need to get it right.”

Though I’m told they are legion, I don’t happen know many other people who share his belief in reincarnation.  But I frequently encounter his underlying attitude, which has two main features.

Its first feature is not to think clearly.  His attitude is not just wishful thinking; it is thoughtless wishing.  Historically, millions have found the prospect of rebirth after rebirth a better reason for despair than rejoicing.  Buddhism was founded to provide an escape from the Wheel of Becoming.

Its second feature is to separate the question of whether to believe something from the question of whether it is true.  This can’t even be done without doublethink, for isn’t regarding something as true what it means to believe it?