Last week I was reviewing the book Life After Life: A Novel by Kate Atkinson. A fascinating take on the idea of reincarnation, it follows the lives of Ursula, who keeps getting reborn into the same life "until she finally gets it right." I would just like to compare my understanding of reincarnation and the version presented in this book.
In this book, Ursula must make decisions in her life (avoiding certain people or situations, choosing to live in one flat versus another in order to avoid getting bombed during the Blitz, studying one subject in college versus another subject, going to Europe for a year or not, and so on) in order to finally achieve a place where she can be in a situation that affects the fate of Europe and her world. In this view, reincarnation is for making external choices in order to achieve something that affects the world.
In my understanding of reincarnation, however, the emphasis is more on learning from our actions and their consequences in order to become something more pure, more wise. The focus is on internal growth. External actions are not the goal, but the result of spiritual maturity. We don't go from one life to the next in order to get it right, but to become purified. That is, in my mind, the essential difference.
Still, this book is worth a read if you want to expand your mind a bit. Recommended.