When I think about reincarnation, crazy stories usually pop into my head. Those people on bad daytime TV that believe they used to be a cow, or they were a rainbow trout and remember being caught. On the surface, it seems a ridiculous concept.
Although I was raised Catholic, and do not believe in reincarnation, I do believe in it as a integral part of Hinduism. I believe that everyone has their own beliefs and when the end comes, whatever they believe will happen to them will happen. Catholics go to heaven or hell for eternal life, and as outlined in the chapter, Hindus are reincarnated.
When you insert karma into the situation, reincarnation is very interesting. The belief is that if you live a life of lust, greed, or hatred and then die, you will be reincarnated into a lower animal. Us westerners (and justin timberlake) put it as 'what goes around, comes around'. On the flip side, if you live a fufilling and just life, you break the wheel of karma and achieve nirvana, the last step.
I think such beliefs is more incentive than heaven and hell. Not to be blasphemous but it almost seems as if it's an easier concept than heaven and hell. If you live badly, you drop down the chain and have to work harder to live a better life until you achieve nirvana. If you behave properly in life from the get-go, you achieve nirvana sooner. This part of Hinduism is very interesting. And there has been cases of people able to describe details of a place they've never been to. Do you chalk it up to psychics or reincarnation?
A Side Note::Karma, outside of the realm of reincarnation, has become a sort of more recognizable Western term. I do believe in it, even if I don't believe in reincarnation. It hearkens back to the golden rule:treat others how you would like to be treated.