Reincarnation in a Nutshell by Paramhansa Yogananda
There was a man who loved God and had achieved a little spiritual advancement, but who also had a few worldly desires left to fulfill. At the end of his life an angel appeared to him and asked, “Is there anything you still want?” “Yes,” the man said. “All my life I’ve been weak, thin, and unwell. I would like in my next life to have a strong, healthy body. In his next life he was given a strong, large, and healthy body. He was poor, however, and found it difficult to keep that robust body properly fed. At last, still hungry, he lay dying. The angel appeared to him again and asked, “Is there anything more you desire?” “Yes,” he replied. “For my next life, I would like a strong, healthy body, and also a healthy bank account!” Well, the next time he had a strong, healthy body, and was also wealthy. In time, however, he began to grieve that he had no one with whom to share his good fortune. When death came, the angel asked, “Is there anything else?” “Yes, please. Next time, I would like to be strong, healthy, and wealthy, and also to have a good woman for a wife.” Well, in his next life he was given all those blessings. His wife, too, was a good woman. Unfortunately, she died in her youth. For the rest of his days, he grieved at that loss. He worshiped her gloves, her shoes, and other memorabilia that were precious to him. As he lay dying of grief, the angel appeared to him again and said, “What now?” “Next time,” said the man, “I would like to be strong, healthy, and wealthy, and also to have a good wife who lives a long time.” “Are you sure you’ve covered everything?” demanded the angel. “Yes, I’m certain that’s everything this time.” Well, in his next life he had all those things, including a good wife who lived a long time. The trouble was, she lived too long! As he grew older, he became infatuated with his beautiful young secretary, to the point where, finally, he left his good wife for that girl. As for the girl, all she wanted was his money. When she got her hands on it, she ran away with a much younger man. At last, as the man lay dying, the angel again appeared to him and demanded, “Well, what is it this time?” “Nothing!” The man cried. “Nothing ever again! I’ve learned my lesson. I see that, in every fulfillment, there is a catch. From now on, whether I’m rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, married or single, whether here on this earth or in the astral plane, I want only my Divine Beloved.
Wherever God is, there alone lies perfection!”
From: Karma and Reincarnation, by Paramhansa Yogananda