How Reincarnation Works


Announcer: Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from Howstuffworks.com.

Josh Clark: Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. With me, as always, is Charles W. Chuck Bryant, as far as I know in his first incarnation as a podcaster at least, right? Possibly, before, you were a dolphin.

Chuck Bryant: No, I was a podcaster in the Ming Dynasty, a little known fact.

Josh Clark: There - really?

Chuck Bryant: Uh-huh.

Josh Clark: When was the Ming Dynasty?

Chuck Bryant: It was when the first podcast was created by me.

Josh Clark: You know who created the first podcast, don't you?

Chuck Bryant: Oh, that guy from MTV?

Josh Clark: Yeah, Adam Curry. Isn't that crazy?

Chuck Bryant: Is he still around?

Josh Clark: He was pioneer in our field, yeah.

Chuck Bryant: We should jump him and beat him up. Give him the old pillowcase treatment.

Josh Clark: No, we should salute him, hats off.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah, that too.

Josh Clark: By the way, Chuck, did you notice in iTunes that you and I are in a special room where we are basically referred to as pioneers.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, podcast turns five, a little awkward to say.

Josh Clark: Yeah, so I guess Adam Curry started, what -

Chuck Bryant: Five years ago.

Josh Clark: Twenty years after ghost busters. No, 21 years.

Chuck Bryant: Very nice. Nice work.

Josh Clark: Let's get to it, shall we? Have you heard of a kid named James Leininger?

Chuck Bryant: No.

Josh Clark: So let's see, he's 11 now, I guess, and he lives in the United States. I don't know what state. I'm sure we could find out.

Chuck Bryant: One of the 50.

Josh Clark: Yes, and he, around the age of two, started having these crazy nightmares. He always had an affinity for airplanes, but around the age of two, things turned a little bit dark. He started waking up screaming things like, plane on fire, plane on fire, or something like that.

Chuck Bryant: Was that the kid sitting next to you when you flew to New York?

Josh Clark: No, that kid was - he was just a punk. This kid was traumatized, you could say. He knew a lot about planes. His parents started noticing that he would do preflight checks when he was playing with his airplanes. He could point to parts of - his mom thought a fuel tank called the drop tank was a bomb attached to the belly of a toy plane and he was like, no, that's a drop tank, and he was just a little kid at the time, right. After a while, the things he was talking about started to get a lot more specific, Chuck. He talked about going down in a Corsair that he used to fly.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, I see where this is headed.

Josh Clark: He talked about how the Corsair he flew, his tires would always go flat, which is kind of a little known fact unless you're a WWII pilot or worked on a flight deck. Then, he finally said that he went down near Iwo Jima in a plane, and that his plane had gone down from taking a direct hit in the engine, and by this time, this kid is five. So he said that he had been flying off of the Natoma. So his father started to get a little bit obsessed with this and started researching the Natoma, and found that there was a Natoma Bay, an aircraft carrier that was off the coast of Iwa Jima during the raid on Iwa Jima in March of 1945. There was, indeed, a guy whose name was James M. Huston Jr., and he was the only one to die in this raid on Iwa Jima from -

Chuck Bryant: A hit in the engine.

Josh Clark: A direct hit in the engine. Went down in his Corsair.

Chuck Bryant: Wow. Is that movie yet?

Josh Clark: Not yet.

Chuck Bryant: Should be.

Josh Clark: So the kid's getting older. His memories are fading. This was 2005, the article, and his memories were already fading. Apparently, they hit their pinnacle at about two to five, something like that.

Chuck Bryant: Crazy.

Josh Clark: A lot of researchers are saying the parents have diluted themselves, they've diluted him, they've really kind of encouraged this, and they're seeing things that aren't there, but obviously, his parents think that this kid is the reincarnation of this other guy named James, the one who went down in 1945 in his Corsair, right.

Chuck Bryant: Sounds plausible to me.

Josh Clark: Yes. There's a lot of people out there that would say it doesn't sound plausible, especially people in the western world, but you go a little further east, a little past the Greenwich dateline, right, and you will find a billion and a half to two billion people who believe in reincarnation.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Well, is that a billion and a half - that's just Hindus and Buddhists, right? Or is that everybody?

Josh Clark: No, no, that's just - there's a billion people in China alone, yeah, but I don't know that all of them are Buddhists.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, but many more people believe in reincarnation than the Hindus and Buddhists, as we have discovered.

Josh Clark: So you cross the international dateline, go a little further east, you're going to find billions of people, billions of people, starting in Central Asia and moving eastward.

Chuck Bryant: And us staugy westerners are always the ones going, I don't know about that folksy remedy, or I don't know about that coming back as someone else.

Josh Clark: Well, one of the reasons why is because we view time in a linear mot ion. There's no going back, there's no coming back to do it again and again, there's no rebirth. Most of the religions over here are monotheistic.

Chuck Bryant: Sure. You go to Heaven after you die, your life on Earth is to sort of gain entry into Heaven or Hell.

Josh Clark: And on the other side of the world, among cultures that believe in reincarnation, time is generally viewed as cyclical, which makes for coming back again and again a lot more plausible, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. I did find a thing about Christianity though. There are some people who think that reincarnation may have been an early tenant of Christianity, but it was misinterpreted and/or just flat out lost over the years.

Josh Clark: Yeah, are you talking about the Cathers?

Chuck Bryant: Well, I mean, none of it can be proven, obviously. And then, parts of Judaism, the Kabala and Hasidic Jews believe in reincarnation.

Josh Clark: Yeah, let's talk about that. First, let's talk about Asian views of reincarnation, all right? There's a lot of really interesting similarities across cultures as far as reincarnation goes. The earliest - well, the oldest active religion right now is Hinduism, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, oldest surviving religion.

Josh Clark: I think you could make a case that Zoroastrianism is older, but I don't know that you could say that that's actually surviving. At least, not surviving like Hinduism is, right? So Chuck, how long is reincarnation been around? It hasn't been around forever like people would think. It's actually fairly new, right?

Chuck Bryant: Uh,

5th and 7th century BCEJosh Clark: BC, sure. We get yelled at every time we use that, don't we?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, sometimes.

Josh Clark: Okay, and they were in the apanoshods, which were these ancient Hindu texts where reincarnation was first really spelled out, right?

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: And they don't think it was around prior to this because there's a lot of evidence that, in burials, people believe that this individual person went on to another life, so they would bury their hunting materials, or Arian societies would burn the wife alive when they cremated the husband so they were together in the next life. So then, reincarnation first pops up around the 5th to 7th century, or the 7th to 5th century BC, right? So what are we talking about when it comes to Hinduism? What's the basis of reincarnation?

Chuck Bryant: Well, I mean, in its original Latin translation, it means entering the flesh again, so that pretty much speaks for itself, I think. Hinduism, it's all about the acceptance of Samsara, which that literally means wandering on. From what I gathered, it's more of an answer to what are we doing. Like, the eternal question is what are we doing?

Josh Clark: No, way.

Chuck Bryant: Not where are we. A lot of people think it's where you are at your station, but it's really what are you doing. So basically, it's - and it's sort of the same in Buddhism, and we'll get into that, but it's not a continual cycle for all of eternity. There is a goal that you eventually want to break the cycle and reach an end point. In Hinduism, it's called Moksha; is that right?

Josh Clark: Yeah, that's how I took it. And that's salvation, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yes, it means release, literally release, so to be released from your cycle is how I took it.

Josh Clark: So with Hinduism you achieve Moksha through karma, right, and karma is this very -

Chuck Bryant: Good old karma.

Josh Clark: It's this very - that's as misused as socialism these days, I think, at least here in the west, right? Karma is basically this impersonal law where if you carry out good actions, you become good. If you carry out evil actions, you become evil, right? So according to how you live your life is the kind of karma you accrue. This karma accumulates from life to life, and ultimately, when I guess enough of the good karma is accrued, if you will, and I don't think it's as black and white as good or bad karma necessarily. But once you accrue this type of favorable karma, you're ultimately loosened from your human form, and you're not going to be reborn again, you're going to go join the Brahman, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yes, and that is the absolute God of the Hindus, the big cheese.

Josh Clark: Right. You become one with it, I guess, a part of it.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, but karma is not controlled by that God. It's not controlled by any God.

Josh Clark: No, right, it's like this universal law, like thermal dynamics or something like that.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, it's not like God says, you've earned this or you haven't earned that.

Josh Clark: Right, he's just like a dealer in Vegas. I've got nothing to do with this, buddy; this is all about you.

Chuck Bryant: That's the second time we've done that in recent -

Josh Clark: It's called clearing your hands.

Chuck Bryant: Clearing your hand, yes.

Josh Clark: Or tapping out. Chuck, I find that really, really interesting and kind of uplifting that there is this God, this almighty powerful God in the Hindu religion, and then there's, of course, tons of other Gods, but this all powerful God can't do anything about this cosmic law of karma. It's up the individual's actions. I just find that endlessly appealing that it's up to you how you live our life, whether or not you're going to achieve Moksha or not. I just think that's super cool.

Chuck Bryant: Absolutely because your actions should reflect how you end up. I think it creates your station in life as well, right?

Josh Clark: Well, yeah, if you do enough - I guess if you accrue enough good karma, you may end up in a higher cast in another incarnation here on Earth, right, But then, there's no Heaven or Hell or anything after you do hit Moksha, right? It's just being a part of the Brahman.

Chuck Bryant: Right, which is the Hindu equivalent of the Buddhist Nirvana.

Josh Clark: Right. So Moksha is one of four primary Hindu goals, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, the final goal.

Josh Clark: That's the final. The first one, it's almost kind of like this transcendence, it starts with this very basic goal of desire where you want to have sex, or you want wealth, or you want fame or something like that. Then, you move to wealth(Artha), which actually is -

Chuck Bryant: Kama was the first one, right?

Josh Clark: Right, I'm sorry, yes.

Chuck Bryant: K-A-M-A. It s ounded like you were saying C-O-M-M-A.

Josh Clark: Right, K-A-M-A, and then Artha, A-R-T-H-A is wealth, and it's not like a bad thing. It's not our concept of wealth. It's you want to accumulate wealth so you can take care of your family, or do good for other people, that kind of thing. So, that, and the western concepts of wealth are not necessarily one in the same. Then, you have dharma, righteousness, right, and then after that, you achieve Moksha. I think there's an inner play. I don't think it's necessarily graduated. There's that linear thought progression again in the west. I think they're all kind of intertwined, right?

Chuck Bryant: I think so too.

Josh Clark: But you led us to Buddhism, and I trampled all over the segway, so let's go back to it, buddy.

Chuck Bryant: That's okay. I believe that we said that Moksha would be the Hindu equivalent of the Buddhist Nirvana.

Josh Clark: Excellent segway, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant: And Buddhism is about 2,500 years old, and it's kind of - their concept of reincarnation is much the same as Hindu. In fact, they got it from the Hindu, so they believe in karma, they believe in good karma and bad karma. They believe in samsara and rebirth, and they also believe in the in-between, which is between the afterlife - after death and before birth.

Josh Clark: Right. That's actually Bardo in the Tibetan tradition.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, okay, is it?

Josh Clark: Yeah. It's basically - yeah, you can't really call it an afterlife, right? You'd call it an in-between life.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And so, Chuck, this thing that exists in between life, and also in life, and what dies as well, Buddhists consider a "germ of consciousness," and I just made air quotes, right?

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: So that starts in the womb. You live, you die, you generate karma based on how you live, but the point of life to Buddhists is suffering.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, that's part of the four noble truths, which is suffering exists, suffering arises from attachment to desires, suffering ceases when attachment to desires cease, and freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path.

Josh Clark: Right, and the Eightfold Path was something that was created by the Buddha Siddhartha, right, who was born around 563 BC, and he was born into a life of opulence, wealth, and privilege. He had it very easy, but he noticed fairly early on - I get the impression he was something of a prodigy, that he wasn't achieving much spiritual progression through this life of wealth, so he went off and he did what, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant: Well, when he was 29 years old he left and said I'm going to practice yogic training, and he basically abandoned all that and sat under a tree.

Josh Clark: He lived the life of a hermit.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: So you know me, Chuck. You know how I feel about Buddhist's going off and living in the cave by themselves and not contributing anything to humanity, right, and this is what Siddhartha tried. Did he gain enlightenment from this?

Chuck Bryant: No, I guess you could say he was in your camp. He didn't - I'm not going to say he didn't get much out of it because I wasn't there, but he ultimately did not gain enlightenment that way, and he thought, you know what, maybe a mix of both is a good thi ng, and maybe we should call that the middle way, and maybe that's the way to be.

Josh Clark: Right, and it's called the Eightfold Path. So he achieves enlightenment and he immediately starts telling other people about it. He said that there's this Eightfold Path that is basically, it's in the middle between excess and self-deprivation, right? So what are the eight parts of the Eightfold Path?

Chuck Bryant: Well, this is broken down into three qualities: Wisdom or penna is right view and right thought. You've got morality, which is right speech, right action, and right livelihood. Then, you have meditation, which is right effort, right mindfulness, and right contemplation.

Josh Clark: Very nice. So basically, you put all those together, you are living the right life that's going to deliver you to Nirvana, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, which is the middle-way. Sounds pretty easy.

Josh Clark: I'll bet it's extremely difficult.

Chuck Bryant: I think so too. Well, it's difficult because there's something called hindrances, and they actually list these out, which it's probably no surprise that one of them is lust. One of them is aversion to ill will. You have sloth and torpor, which you know, who wants to be involved with torpor? Restlessness and worry, and skeptical doubt, and then there are seven factors of enlightenment, which are mindfulness, investigation, energy, rapture, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity. Yeah, so not so easy.

Josh Clark: No, I wouldn't think so. I mean, think about it, just -

Chuck Bryant: When you think about avoid those and do those, it does sound easy, but you know how life is.

Josh Clark: I'm sure if you zig to the left, you zag right into some temptation, or if you close yourself down to the possibility of being exposed to wealth, or whatever, you're missing out on being able to help other people. There's probably a lot of pitfalls to that way of living, which is why I issue the whole thing.

Chuck Bryant: Well, Siddhartha believed - he wandered around India for 45 years teaching this until he died at the age of 80, and do you know what his last words were?

Josh Clark: Tell them I said something cool.

Chuck Bryant: No, he did say something cool. He said, "Impermanent are all created things; strive on with awareness." Party on is basically what he said. Party on, Garth.

Josh Clark: Wow.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, nice last words, huh?

Josh Clark: They are. Have you ever wondered what yours will be?

Chuck Bryant: Oh, I have a feeling mine are gonna be, "Holy [beep]!" That'll be my last two words.

Josh Clark: Mine will probably be, "You got me copper."

Chuck Bryant: Are you going to revert back to your bad boy ways?

Josh Clark: Just for one last -

Chuck Bryant: And die in a shootout.

Josh Clark: Suicide by cop.

Chuck Bryant: That remind s me of the end of Royal Tenenbaums when they shut the race down.

Josh Clark: It said he died heroically saving his family from a sinking ship. All right, Chuck, some of the stuff that we've been talking about may sound kind of familiar if you live the right way, you can stop coming back to this existence that we call Earth, life on this planet, right? It kind of bears a striking resemblance to the Judeo-Christian ethic of, you know, if you live this right life, if you're good to other people, you don't hurt other people or other things, you're not a cruel person, and you don't pursue worldly objects, you're going to have a better afterlife, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, but it's Christianity, so it's a permanent afterlife.

Josh Clark: Right because reincarnation - here's the thing. There's a similarity between the Judeo-Christian outlook and Muslim as well because they believe in the afterlife as well, that the soul is immortal, that there's something in us that lives on after the physical body dies. Where it differs and disagrees, is specifically with reincarnation, where you come back and you inhabit some body on this early again. That's the difference. That's reincarnation right there, right? It has nothing to do with the immortality of the soul. Well, it has everything to do with the immortality of the soul, but as far as comparative religion goes, the difference is you don't keep going straight, you come back because, oh, you screwed up.

Chuck Bryant: I took a comparative religion class in college, and here's a little secret, Josh. Don't tell anybody, but they're all kind of the same.

Josh Clark: I know, and do you want to know why?

Chuck Bryant: I have my theory.

Josh Clark: Let's hear it.

Chuck Bryant: Are we gonna go there? Here's my theory: Man evolved into man from whatever, and man started to - as soon as man could think, man started questioning why they were there on Earth, looking for a purpose. That's where religion sprung up, and that's why they are all very similar when you break down the tenants of world religions is people fractured and split off into different areas and they evolved differently, but at the root of it, I think it began with man walking upright and looking at the sun saying, why the sun there?

Josh Clark: Yeah. I think I subscribe to something very -

Chuck Bryant: Why river run?

Josh Clark: Right. I think it was born though, Chuck, out of the first time somebody witnesses someone else die, and realized that that's going to happen to me one day.

Chuck Bryant: What happen to talk-talk?

Josh Clark: Right. If you look at religious scholar's work, most of them will tell you that reincarnation was born out of watching the seasons change, especially because these were agricultural societies that started giving rise to religion like this.

Chuck Bryant: And the whole cyclical thing, it makes sense. The Earth rotates, the seasons rotate in a cycle. It all makes sense.

Josh Clark: So I guess the commonality, like you said, people started to split up. I don't know that it's necessarily that it happened and then - I see what you're saying with religion in general, but with something like, say, reincarnation, or these really, you know, lead a good life and there's this reward after this, I think it was from cultures having an influence on another by living near one another. Remember we did that podcast on whether the Greeks go their ideas from the Africans?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Well this, apparently, is another example of that, the African Mystery System, the Kemetic Mystery System that we talked about in Egypt, one of the big guys who formed a Mystery system -

Chuck Bryant: The big guys.

Josh Clark: Well, one of the big cult founders, his name was Pythagoras. Remember him, the Pythagorean Theorem?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. So we're gonna get into the Mystery religions a little bit?

Josh Clark: Yeah. He spent several decades in Africa, came back, and the next thing you know he's founding Mystery Cults. Orpheus, the Orphic Mystery Cult's founder, well, he's supposedly a mythical figure, but they also think he may be an actual historical figure -

Chuck Bryant: The music legend.

Josh Clark: Uh-huh, if he was real, part of his legend is that he went and spent 20 years in Memphis studying from the Egyptians, so you kind of get the idea that a lot of the ideas of rebirth and reincarnation went from the Hindus, to the Egyptians, to the Greeks. And then, remember we talked about the Jefferson Bible being written by the Plotonics that Plato was derived from these Mystery cults who believed in reincarnation, and actually, some early Catholic cults believe in reincarnation as well, like the Cathers.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, well Orphism sounds a lot like Heaven and Hell to me because they believed that leading a correct life leads you to Elysium, which is like a paradise, and if you're evil, you'll go to Hell.

Josh Clark: Right, but you can die in the afterlife as well and come back.

Chuck Bryant: Well, yeah, it doesn't stop there. That's the main difference.

Josh Clark: You have to lead three good Orphic lives -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, to stop the cycle.

Josh Clark: To get out of there, and what is leading a good Orphic life, Chuck, this horrible, horrible Orphic life.

Chuck Bryant: Well, no wine, no sex, not meat, vegetarianism is good. So yeah, those are a few of the tenants.

Josh Clark: Which is strange because this Orphic cult was actually an offshoot of the Dienicing cult, and they believed quite the opposite. They would rip a goat to death, a live goat to shreds -

Chuck Bryant: With their teeth.

Josh Clark: As part of their sacrifice. They would get as drunk as they could on wine, they'd have sex and orgies, and they'd just eat everything. Apparently, Orpheus went to Memphis, came back, and said, hey, I know what you guys are trying to do, and that's a good idea, but you're doing the opposite of what you should be doing. Let's start leading this puritanical life, and that led to this kind of idea that denying yourself was a good way toward being a purer person.

Chuck Bryant: Right. I think you were starting to lead us down the road a minute ago about Jainism. There's a couple of other Indian religions, Jainism, and - I always thought it was Sikhism, but I also saw something that's a common mispronunciation, and that it's Sikhism.

Josh Clark: Nice. Way to go the extra mile, Chuckers.

Chuck Bryant: Well, who knows. It's on the internet. It might not be true. But Jainism, they think that your soul accumulates karma as a bad thing. It's an actual substance, physical substance, and that karma is never good, karma is always bad. So your goal is to rid yourself of karma here on Earth.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and if you have these karmic particles, then your soul is always going to bind to a body, right? So if you can get rid of the karmic particles, you're all right.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: I also mentioned the Cathers, right? This was - they were from south France and Spain, I believe, and they're the reason the Spanish Inquisition was founded because they were considered the heretical sect of Catholicism. Basically, they were vegetarians, they believed in reincarnation, they were highly - they followed this highly neo-platonic tradition, and they accused the Roman Catholic church of being the anti-Christ branch of Catholicism. The Roman Catholic branch proved stronger, started setting up stakes, burning Cathers at them, and basically ran them out of existence. But they believe that you shouldn't eat meat, that you could come back as a human or an animal, and they were just kind of a kinder, gentler version of Catholicism. A little less bloodthirsty. So Chuck, we talked about the west being generally incredulous of this kind of thing, right? There's a sterling exception, as far as westerners go, of believing in reincarnation, and that exception took the form of a guy named Dr. Ian Stevenson, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Well, he studied it. He never said that he believed it was true. He just wanted to prove that it was, at least, a possibility. So he spent his life, pretty much, until he died in 2007 trying to do so. He founded the Division of Personality Studies at UVA.

Josh Clark: Right, which became - I guess it was originally called the Division of Perceptual Studies, right?

Chuck Bryant: Well, no, it later became the Perceptual Studies.

Josh Clark: I get confused sometimes.

Chuck Bryant: It was originally personality studies, and he was a Virginia Cavalier?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Is that right?

Josh Clark: Uh-huh.

Chuck Bryant: Okay, go Cavs. He had a lab, basically, where he studied near death experiences. He studied children mainly.

Josh Clark: Two to five.

Chuck Bryant: Young kids who - kind of like your kid that you talked about at the beginning.

Josh Clark: Two to five.

Chuck Bryant: Who had these stories that could not be explained in ways that made sense, other than perhaps they were reincarnated.

Josh Clark: There have been tons and tons and tons of cases. Some are easily explained away, others aren't, but Stevenson apparently investigated about 2,500 of them?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, over four years, but he was pretty much shut down my mainstream - his peers.

Josh Clark: He was, and he was a true fordian. He wanted to apply the scientific method to the supernatural. He just basically believed things that were considered supernatural were just things that couldn't be explained by science right now. But like you said, he was basically pushed to the fringe just because of his studies. But there's a lot of people out there that think he was successful in proving that it is possible for reincarnation. Like the kid who thought he was the WWII pilot, Stevenson would never say whether he believed in reincarnation, or anything like that, but about, I think, 1967, he went out and bought a lock , a combination lock, and set the combination himself, and then used a pneumonic device to remember the combination and he stored the lock away. He always said that the reason why he did this was he wanted to see if he could transmit the information, the pneumonic device to somebody who could then go unlock this lock after he died. So far, nobody's unlocked the lock.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, it's been three years.

Josh Clark: But I don't know that that disproves anything, do you?

Chuck Bryant

No, of course not. It proves that no one's unlocked the lock yet.

Josh Clark: Nice, Chuck, very diplomatic. We're gonna get you a job in the foreign service. Do you got anything else, reincarnation?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, the Chinese government, did you know they banned reincarnation without permission from the Chinese government?

Josh Clark: I think I have heard that, actually. When, was this a few years back?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. China likes to ban things, as we all know, and they banned reincarnation without consent from the Chinese government, and basically, it's a way to keep the Dalai Lama from reincarnating and saying this is the next Dalai Lama. Basically, he won't have permission to do so, so China will be able to choose the next Calai Lama. The current Dalai says, obviously, he said many times, I am not going to come back as long as China is in power over Tibet.

Josh Clark: So he's boycotting reincarnation.

Chuck Bryant: I don't know if he's so much boycotting it, but he's -

Josh Clark: He's gonna end up here?

Chuck Bryant: Well, I guess he is boycotting it. He says he refused to be reborn until that happens, so.

Josh Clark: Yeah, that sounds like a boycott.

Chuck Bryant: We'll see. But what's happening is, when he dies, there's going to be a little hinky because, potentially, there might be two Dalai Lamas, the one China appoints, and the one, you know, the real one, I would call it.

Josh Clark: That would be awkward if they ever meet.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, or if they met Shirley MacLain. Remember that stuff when she claimed that she was reincarnated and she had sex with Sharla Maine?

Josh Clark: I didn't hear about the Sharla Maine part.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Well, she said she actually did have an affair with the Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme, and she said he was Sharla Maine reincarnated.

Josh Clark: Crazy.

Chuck Bryant: So supposedly, she said she got it on with Sharla Maine.

Josh Clark: Well, if you want to know more about Sharla Maine or reincarnation, or the Dalai Lama we've got tons of those articles. Just come up with some good key words and put them in the handy search bar at Howstuffworks.com. Which means it's time for - Chuck, is it listener mail? Are we back to listener mail?

Chuck Bryant: We are.

Josh Clark: All right, it's time for a little listener mail.

Chuck Bryant: Quickly, we want to support our Kiva Team real quick beforehand. We need to mention this because it's been a while.

Josh Clark: Yes, so we're trying to get to $250,000.00 by August -

Chuck Bryant: Oh, I don't know. We'll say the end of August.

Josh Clark: I think it was the 26th.

Chuck Bryant: We can just say the end of August.

Josh Clark: The end of August, right, and we are plugging along. I think we are at about $170,000.00 right now, $170,000.00 raised by The Stuff You Should Know Kiva Team, right? Which is far and away, all stats aside, far and away the greatest Kiva Team every assembled, right?

Chuck Bryant: Agreed.

Josh Clark: So we're trying to get to $250K. This is not an exclusive team, so if you want to join, you can donate in increments of $25.00, you donate as a loan, it's repaid. You don't make any interest back, but I mean, you'll get your $25.00 back. It's pretty addictive isn't it Chuck?

Chuck Bryant: I'm pretty hooked.

Josh Clark: Yes. You can go to www.kiva.org/team/stuffyoushoudknow, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yes, absolutely.

Josh Clark: And join, or check it out, or whatever.

Chuck Bryant: So Josh, I'm just gonna call this one question that has been answered many times, but Shawn doesn't know the answer. It's a great title for this one. Chuck, Josh, and Jerri, I missed the Facebook questionnaire because I was at work and my job prohibits Facebook. Thank God for SYSK, ABC News, and yes, Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast. It helps this 24-year-old newlywed understand his smart, wonderful, beautiful, but very complex wife a little better.

Josh Clark: Those are the best kind.

Chuck Bryant: His question is this: Who the heck is Hippy Rob? I'm pretty sure I've listened to all the podcasts.

Josh Clark: You clearly have not.

Chuck Bryant: Even the ones before Chuck, so which one explains Hippy Rob, and all my cube mates who also listen are wondering the same thing. We need to know.

Josh Clark: Cube mates is not a word.

Chuck Bryant: Otherwise, it's just a boring inside joke that drives us nuts, so -

Josh Clark: Oh, wow, sucks to be you, pal.

Chuck Bryant: P.S., Jerri, at least cough or something. SYSK listener believes you're real, and we wouldn't put it past Chuck and Josh to make you up.

Josh Clark: This guy is really suspicious, one, and demanding, two.

Chuck Bryant: Shawn of Virginia Beach.

Josh Clark: A little bossy, Shawn.

Chuck Bryant: Get with the program, buddy. The answers are out there.

Josh Clark: Yeah. Shawn, we're gonna do a reverse on you. I'm not going to say who Hippy Rob is or where the origin is, so Shawn, actually, instead of telling you who Hippy Rob is, where he came from, et cetera, we're going to put a request out to our listeners. The first person who sends us an email and tells us where Hippy Rob first appears, what episode, and in what capacity that he's described, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: So, if you do have that info, send it to Stuffpodcast@howstuffworks.com.

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