An example of this is found within Hinduism in the concept of samsara. (the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, mandated by karma from which one is only released upon attainment of true knowledge.)

Also found in the Ancient Greek tradition, with Pythagoras, and Empedocles being the main proponents and defenders of the idea.

“You said before that you found yourself imprisoned—in a well or silo of some sort...”
“No, this wasn't like that at all. The place was round, but the entire surface was smooth and shiny, like it was made of aluminum or something. The whole thing. And seamless—floor, walls, everything. And big as a hangar.”
“And you found yourself locked inside?”
“Well... not locked. There wasn't any door to lock.”
“Was there a window?”
“No. Nothing like that. Just a smooth, unbroken surface.”
“I see. What did—”
“—The ceiling, too—”
“—I beg your pardon?”
“I’m sorry. The ceiling was aluminum, too.”
“Oh. The ceiling, too?”
“Uh huh. Really high. Concave. And there was a seam all along the edge. But otherwise perfectly smooth.”
“A high ceiling, you say?”
“Towering. Almost as high as the room was wide.”
“I see. So—”
“Oh, and—I’m sorry—”
“No, no. Go ahead.”
“I was gonna say, there was a hole in the ceiling.”
“Oh, there was?”
“Yeah. Not very a very big one, though.”
“Yeah. I mean... relatively speaking. Actually, it was probably pretty big—big enough to notice, anyway—from way down where I was standing... but small compared to the size of the ceiling—if you know what I mean?”
“Relatively small.”
“Yeah. Exactly. It was sort of off to the side.”
“Oh. Not in the centre of the ceiling then.”
“No, no. Off to the side. Maybe three-quarters of the way from the centre to the edge. Maybe more. Pretty far off to the side.”
“I see. Was there just the one? Opening, I mean.”
“Yeah, just the one up there. Had sort of a keyhole shape—“
“Oh? You mean like for a lock?”
“No, like for a key. Kind of a teardrop shape, you know? There wasn't a lock or anything up there, if that’s what you're thinking. Well—maybe there was. I don't know. I’m just talking about the shape.”
“Oh, that’s fine. I didn't mean—”
“—I never heard of a lock on a fifty foot ceiling before...”
“No, no, of course not, it’s just—you mentioned a keyhole and—“
“I was describing the shape.”
“Yes. I understand. Just because something is shaped like a keyhole, doesn't mean it—”
“—Are you baiting me?”
“Oh come on. Shall we take a break?”
“—It was more like a teardrop anyway. Okay? Why don't you ask if it was like for a tear.”
“Alright, that’s enough. If you don't wanna continue, let’s just call it a day, and we can meet again next week. It’s up to you.”
“No that’s fine, I wanna tell you the rest. It was like I was living there. Everything I owned was inside. Even my car. The only light was what came through the hole in the ceiling, but there wasn't a shadow anywhere. ”
“Could you see anything through the hole?”
“Still fixated on the keyhole, huh? You got something you wanna tell me?”
“I'm sure you wouldn't wanna hear any of my stories.”
“No. You're right. Haha. That’s so funny... anyhow, listen—I was standing in front of this massive vat on the floor. Like you could imagine headhunters roasting missionaries in. Big. Almost shoulder high. It's just sitting there on the floor. But it’s starting to bubble because the floor is so hot. And the heat’s coming up through the metal.” He gestured with his hands. “You know. Up through the bottom of the vat. Heating it up.”
“Uh huh. And was it difficult to stand on such a hot floor?”
“No.” He pointed to his feet. “I'm in a pair of... elevator—platform?—platform shoes. With wooden soles.” He held two fingers apart. “Gotta be... eight inches thick. So I really don't feel the heat. The room is baking though. I can tell you that. And I got on these thick—oven mitts and overalls. Like—I don't know. Like something a steelworker might wear to shovel coal. So I'm sweating and I can barely move my arms. But I’m half afraid to take the bloody mitts off because the floor is so hot—and it’s conducting up through the walls—and heating just about anything metal. And with those crazy shoes—well—it took a while before I could go anywhere without tripping over myself. You know what I mean? The mitts helped cushion the impact a bit.”
“And kept you from burning yourself.”
“Tell me about the vat. Were you cooking something in it? Or were you heating bathwater? Or...?”
“I was making frog’s legs.”
“Yeah. It was strange. I was standing there watching them swim around while I waited for the water to heat up. And I remember thinking, maybe I should’ve waited for the water to boil first—before putting them in.”
“And why was that strange?”
“Because it never occurred to me that frogs’ legs shouldn't be swimming around on their own like that.”
“I'm sorry, I don't quite follow...”
“The frog’s legs don't usually work unless the rest of the frog is attached.”
“Oh. I see. Ha ha. You mean it was just the legs swimming around.”
“Yeah. The back legs. But I didn't think anything of it. And actually, when I saw the water was finally starting to bubble a little bit, I thought, well maybe I oughta just throw the rest in and be done with it—”
“The rest of the frogs, you mean?”
“Yeah... No—I mean—I don't have the rest of the frogs. Is that what you're asking me? I just got the legs. I told you. I don't know where the rest of the frogs are.
“Oh, okay, I see now. Ha ha. I thought you meant you were gonna throw the other bits into the pot as well...”
“How much sense does that make? I said I was making frog’s legs.”
“Yes. I understand. Do you wanna tell me your story or not?”
“Are those my only options?”
“No. You can go home, and come back when you're ready to communicate—”
“—Or not come back at all.”
“Well, it’s up to you.”
“Yeah. But I’ll tell you the rest anyway. Because I can see how curious you are...”
“Okay, go on then.”
“You are curious, aren’t you?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yeah. It does. Because it's pretty curious—it’s a pretty curious story and if you weren't curious I’d have to think you weren't listening very carefully.”
“Well, for what it’s worth, I am curious. Alright? Why don't you go on?”
“Okay. Thank you. I will. The boxes are on my bed, and they’re already leaking from their corners and spilling out... fat...” He gestured expressively with cupped hands. “...indolent... green, thigh-high... hip waders. Just lounging there—in clusters. On my bed and pillows—”
“Hip waders?”
“Yeah. Little tiny ones. That's what they looked like. Pretty disgusting, really, when I think about it now. But at the time, all I could think about was whether there were enough left in those boxes or whether I was gonna have to scoop the linty ones off the bed as well. You know?”
“And did you have enough for—your... purposes?”
“Well it turned into one of those situations where I was almost able to get what I wanted—and then—almost—achieved the rest... of what needed to be done—before I could declare it all a success—and I realized I couldn't do it—there was no way I could complete everything that still needed to be done even after all that work—Or what, you know—“ He waved his hand for inspiration. “You know—everything. Everything that was still left—still—after all that. And—”
“—I don't mean to interrupt—“
“And I’d already gone to all that effort—“
“And the pay off was just that far away.” He held up a thumb and a forefinger about an inch apart.
“Okay. Wow. So. You calm now? You know there’s no point in getting worked up. Alright? Yeah? Okay. Just so we’re on the same page—if I understand you—you were trying to fill the vat with frogs’ legs?”
“I guess. Yeah—at the end. Yeah—But not at first.”
“Oh. Not at first? No—don't—don't let me tell you what you were doing. I just thought you said you wanted to fill it with something else at first...”
“No. No. I wanted to make frogs’ legs. And I just felt like it would be such a waste if I went to all the effort and then didn't make enough.”
“Oh. Uh—so why did you say you didn't want to make them at first...?”
“No, I said I wanted to make them.”
“Oh. Okay... Really? I must have misheard you then...”
“Anyways. The water still isn’t anywhere near boiling. And I'm thinking maybe I should hold off a little before I dump the rest of the legs in. But I just don't feel like waiting around. I want to get it over with so I can have... I don't know a—” He shook his head and let his eyes roll around a little. “—a cold shower and...”
“So you didn't wait for the water to boil...?”
No. I said fuck it and dumped a big handful in. The ones already swimming around—the first batch, from before—all dove to the bottom like that.” He snapped his fingers. “Startled. And down they went. But the ones I just tossed in all jumped right back out and started bouncing around on the floor until they died—or ended up on a counter or the couch or something. And I was thinking that now I had to go back to the bed and get another handful—and I was hoping they hadn’t all crawled out the holes in the bottom of the boxes—and then I dumped the other handful in. And they jumped out just as quick.”
“Didn't wanna stay in the pot.”
“No. It was funny. Even when they bounced off the floor and managed to land back in the pot again—you know—that happened more often than you would expect—out they jumped right back—right back to the floor. It didn't matter that the floor was certain death—“
“Well they probably didn't realize—”
“I said they probably didn't realize the floor was—”
“—Oh, come on—are you trying to tell me a handful of amputated frogs’ legs doesn't have the brains to choose the lesser of the two evils?
“Is that what you're saying?”
“Well, they could swim—at least the first batch could. And they knew enough to get out of the way when I dumped the second batch in. So—I'm not ruling anything out.”
“Maybe we should just doubt the whole episode.”
“Well. It’s difficult to know where to draw the line...”
“It’s all or none you mean?”
“It's just—when you don't know where to draw the line—”
“But that’s just how it was with the frogs.”
“It was. Exactly the same.”
“Really? How? In being all or none? Not knowing where to draw the line?”
“Yeah. Well... kinda. Yeah. No. Yeah, it was. It was. I think it was, anyway.”
“Are you sure?”
“You don't sound sure.”
“No. The thing is—I’m sure. But I'm not sure I can make you sure—”
“Oh, I see.”
“—that I’m sure...”
“You see?”
“Yeah. I see. Well. I do see. I really do. Uh, well... after all that... maybe you can refresh my memory as to...”
“—what? What I was talking about?”
“No, no. You were talking about the frog’s legs. I know—”
“And I just kept adding more and more to the vat. And they kept jumping out and jumping out. And the place was filling up with them. And I knew I just had to throw a few more in —and then I just hoped—and even when I realized it was a long shot that I could ever put enough in I kept it up. And I knew I would keep doing it after any doubt had passed that it was hopeless. Had been from the start—”
“—Oh? From the start?”
“Maybe not from the very start. But I don't know. Maybe. Soon after anyway—and between the vat on the floor and the bed—that space—was treacherous with steaming frog’s legs.”
“And in my elevator shoes? Now you see, right? Why I kept the oven mitts on?”
“I can imagine.”
“Yeah. It was pretty unpleasant. Some were just ready to fall off the bone. And the grease—and that was hot grease—hot frog grease. I tell you—I really hit my head going down one time. I slipped and—the whole floor is metal—and its got a layer—its got a path of crushed frog—paste—and bones and skin—trampled into the floor. Grease everywhere—and legs still crawling and squirming. And I’m flailing in that. And I whack my head.” He rubbed his hand along the back of his scalp. “And I still have—I bet you—a scar... back there.”
“And did you finally collect all the legs you needed—in the end?”
“Huh? Were you even listening?”
“Of course I was.”
“I'm going home.”
“Well, it's up to you. But we still have some time if—”
“Alright. Well—like I say—it’s up to you—but I'm still trying to get my head around this business about frog’s legs...”
“Oh yeah, it shouldn't be much longer now."

Me*temp`sy*cho"sis (?), n. [NL., fr. Gr. ; beyond, over + to animate; in + soul. See Psychology.]

The passage of the soul, as an immortal essence, at the death of the animal body it had inhabited, into another living body, whether of a brute or a human being; transmigration of souls.

Sir T. Browne.


© Webster 1913.

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