I was born this time around with very distinct memories of my most recent life. This is very common in small children – see http://www.childpastlives.org and its moderated discussion forum if you’re interested. Most kids are encouraged by their families to dismiss their memories as ‘make believe.’ A recent case is highlighted here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1209795/Reincarnated-Our-son-World-War-II-pilot-come-life.html – and there is extensive and impressive research available for review in books by Dr. Ian Stevenson and a few other serious scientists.
My view is that everything and everyone is a small fragment of the Cosmos (all that is). We are each, in other words, tiny pieces of God. Not the “God” imagined by primitive men in the bible, but God as represented by infinite energy, and nature, and universal laws… a non-judgmental, non-intervening God whom we, collectively, all are.
We all began as blank canvases without personalities and knowledge, but by incarnating into temporal forms and interacting with one another in a corporeal environment we develop distinct consciousnesses, which evolve into individual identities.
The purpose of reincarnation is to experience free will (not just our own but also the free will of others with whom we have contact) and to experience the consequences of that free will. Not everything “bad” that happens to us is karma, but what *is* karma will always teach us something and is always constructive. We’re here to learn, and to a large extent we design our own lives, the challenges we want to meet, the obstacles we want to overcome. The idea of a punishing spiteful deity is nonsense.
We are on a wondrous, amazing journey toward enlightenment and perfection.
We all reincarnate, whether we are aware of it or not and whether we believe in it or not.