I was recently targeted for an ad from a new company called Karmastry. In the same way that DNA testing maps out your genes, Karmastry provides a detailed karma analysis that maps out your past lives, shedding considerable light on otherwise unexplainable peculiarities. Naturally, I was intrigued. Karmastry sent me a surprisingly thorough questionnaire that took several hours to complete, but provided a nice opportunity for introspection. I returned the questionnaire, along with a strand of hair, a sliver of nail, and a sentimental memento of my choosing. Two months later I received my full karma bio, detailing my previous births and rebirths. It answered questions I didn’t even know I had! For example:
Why am I allergic to radishes?
In a past rebirth I was a water buffalo. One day, while bathing in a mud puddle, I was stung by a bee. In a fit of rage I stormed out of the puddle into a nearby field of radishes, trampling most of them. The karmic effect of this destruction was my current radish allergy. But to this day I still love mud puddles.
Why can’t I appreciate jazz?
My first human birth occurred around the turn of the 20th century, and so I was coming of age during the jazz age in New York. You would think this would result in a predisposition for enjoying jazz, but unfortunately my fiance fell in love with a brilliant trumpeter and promptly dumped me. Now, every time I hear jazz I simultaneously get heartburn and crave a gin rickey.
Why do I like the smell of gasoline?
Natural gas is odorless, but in order to detect gas leaks and prevent us from exploding, gas companies add mercaptan, a chemical that smells rotten, thanks to the sulfur within it. Well, it turns out a couple millenia ago I used to be a rhinoceros that lived in close proximity to the sulfuric volcanoes of Java! I was super horny (rhino humor)! Indonesia truly is gorgeous and back in those days was not overrun with surfers. Every time I fill up my tank I’m subtly reminded of this delightful previous existence.
Why am I afraid of the ocean?
One brief and terrifying rebirth ended in the jaws of a dragonfish.
Why do I love sushi so much?
Naturally, I now exact my revenge on sea creatures by washing them down with hot sake.
Why am I always hungry while meditating?
I once spent an existence as a fly. While on the hunt for a crumb of food, I landed on the robe of a monk, who was busy circumambulating a holy stupa. I accidentally accrued a lot of merit while circumambulating with him and finishing a lovely morsel of rice, and this in turn helped propel me up the karmic ladder. But since I was eating at the time I can’t seem to shake the association between contemplation and consumption.
Why is my body odor so acrid?
I was always embarrassed by the acute power of my body odor. Middle school gym, prior to the discovery of deodorant, was a tough time. It probably would’ve been a small consolation to know that my odor is the lingering result of being the baddest skunk east of the Appalachian Mountains. I was unrivaled in both spray capacity, and scent concentration! I roamed the hills with reckless abandon, poised and pungent, going where I pleased and eating whatever I wanted. Thanks to this prowess I had no shortage of skunk suitors. A couple years of alienating the opposite sex in middle school is a small price to pay for a previous lifetime of phenomenal pheromones.
Why am I always plagued by self-doubt?
My prideful existence as a skunk also resulted in my current, anxious predisposition. Karma is kind of like an equilibrium corrective. I had so much skunk swag, was such a prancing, preening, Pepe Le Pew, that I’ve suffered several lifetimes of doubt in response. I was an eagle that was afraid of heights, a peacock mortified by my ostentatious feathers, and a lion that wasn’t super into meat. Now I’m a human who often feels inadequate, especially in group social settings. It is nice to know, however, that this is not due to my mother’s withholding of maternal love, as my psychiatrist claims, but to my behavior as a skunk. Freud was so present-life biased.
Why do I love German accents?
German is usually pretty far down the list of lovable accents. To most people it’s a harsh sounding tongue. To me, it’s the language of Hans, the lovable baker who took me in when I was an abandoned street dog. Thanks to Hans’ care and compassion, I went from mongrel to mascot, beloved by all the neighborhood kids. I even saved one kid from a gang of bullies, accruing the karma that resulted in my first human rebirth. Thanks Hans!
Why do I have a gluten allergy?
Unfortunately, Hans only fed me leftover stale bread from the bakery. I’ve eaten enough carbs to last several lifetimes. This reasoning is hard to comprehend for waiters when they ask if I’m actually allergic to gluten or just on a diet. Most people are so unfairly biased towards this lifetime.
Why don’t I like cilantro?
Because cilantro is gross.
Why am I a late sleeper?
The animal I spent the most rebirths as was a koala bear. Koalas sleep an average of 22 hours a day. If I have trouble getting up in the morning or am late for work it’s because I’m still shaking off the residue of several delightfully sleepy lifetimes. Cut me some slack!
The self-awareness I’ve gained from Karmastry was worth every penny. As a bonus, Karmastry also provides a Future Life Trajectory for only $29.99 more! The FLT gives you your likeliest ensuing rebirths. Due to my incredible track record in this existence (I volunteer sometimes and have never trolled anyone on social media) I have a high chance of being reborn as a human in New Zealand next time around! Of course, should my late-sleeping and addiction to seafood and sake overtake me, I might be downgraded to giraffe, which would be troublesome, as giraffes sleep no more than two hours a day. In any case, Karmastry has inspired me to try and live my best possible life, because you really do reap what you sow, and I’ve been sowing for a long, long time.
Alex Tzelnic is a writer and Zen practitioner living in Cambridge, MA. He is infinitely grateful for this precious human rebirth though he wouldn’t have minded being four inches taller and having a 46″ vertical leap.