Reincarnation (from Latin carnis "flesh"), also called rebirth: the belief that after death human ►souls are born (incarnated) in new bodies over and over again, perhaps eternally.
The Buddhist wheel of life
Reincarnation is a component of some religions (Hinduism, Buddhism) as well as of many variations of contemporary ►esoterics; it is often accompanied by the notion that one's own way of life (Karma) will affect one's next rebirth. Buddhism defines an individual's state of salvation, Nirvana, in terms of her exit from the cycle of reincarnation. Only by overcoming all material desires, and indeed all egoism, can an individual gradually reach this state; then and only then does her soul enter the Great Nothingness and gain release from the cycle of life.
It is not uncommon for followers of esoteric views to recollect their earlier (and usually more interesting) lives with the help of meditation, hypnosis, or the consumption of certain substances. Despite this, contemporary reincarnation theory does experience some difficulty when it comes to reconciling the view that a fixed or dwindling number of souls is and will be reborn over and over eternally with the population increase on Earth and with the planet's limited life span. Regarding the latter problem, reincarnation believers can take comfort in the thought that reincarnation can also take place on other planets, in ►parallel worlds, or in other dimensions of existence. And regarding the former, some more recent theories hold that one soul can be incarnated in several bodies or vice versa, thus rendering population changes in either direction irrelevant. To make sure your reincarnation goes according to plan, you can even purchase a reincarnation certificate on the Internet.