I would assume that the human souls sent to Soul Society stay there to await another incarnation. But the memories and spirit body they have after their death is identical to that of their old physical body. Surely they can't incarnate in a new physical body with a spirit body from a previous incarnation. There must be a way of shedding the old spirit body and transforming into one that fits a fresh life. 
Even though Soul Society is the spirit world and sanctuary for the dead, we know that death exists there. But what does that mean? How can a soul die? <<< Read from RIGHT to LEFT <<<

Chapter 98
The first mention of something resembling reincarnation within Soul Society (that I can recall) is by Zaraki. While it is arguable whether Zaraki knows anything about the metaphysics of death, he is still confident in the continuation of his existence beyond it. The way I see it, he is a Shinigami Captain, and has been around death enough to have some instinctive knowledge of it. <<< Read from RIGHT to LEFT <<<

Chapter 149
Many, many chapters later, we finally have a more direct, credible source on death in the spirit world courtesy of Kaien.

In the human world, physical bodies capable of interacting with the physical plane serve as containers for non-physical souls. When the physical body dies, it decays and returns to the earth where its elements are broken down and recycled into future bodies. The soul it housed moves on to the spirit world, where spirit is the medium for interaction.

Shinigami, being denizens of the spirit world from birth, have no physical bodies. They are pure spirit. When the spirit body dies it, like a physical body, disintegrates into the building blocks of that world. Is this the death of the soul, the essence, the consciousness of that person? Or is the spirit body just another container for something even less tangible?

Kaien believes something does survive the death of the spirit body, and he calls it "heart."

<<< Read from RIGHT to LEFT <<<

Chapter 268
The word used for "heart" here is kokoro. It is the innermost thoughts and feelings that we hold dear and, though not quite as distinct as a "soul," can be seen as the essence of a person and what they stood for.

Kaien is very vague on whether an individual's consciousness exists in its own right after the death of their spirit body, but he does believe an individual's kokoro lives on through their nakama, their closest friends.

<<< Read from RIGHT to LEFT <<<

Chapter 268
Indeed, Kaien doesn't believe our kokoro was ever exclusively ours. He sees it as something that is created through the interaction of two or more beings. If we had nobody around to care about, protect, and share our experiences with, our self would be empty and our life lack purpose. But when we connect with other beings, we create memories, trigger feelings, discuss ideas, find direction, and better understand ourselves.

Kaien's explanation of kokoro as an external entity that exists between and binds two beings is a lot like the concept of karma in its purest form: cause and effect. Karma is the web of meaning we attribute to memories and the lessons we learn from shared experiences. These can be joyous or painful, but in either case tie us to that other person.

For instance, Aizen designing a mutant Hollow that merged with Kaien created karma between them that was not resolved within the lifetime of Kaien's spirit body.

<<< Read from RIGHT to LEFT <<<

Chapter 268
The karma of friendship shared between Kaien and Rukia resulted in him passing his kokoro to her when his spirit body died. <<< Read from RIGHT to LEFT <<<

Chapter 136
Rukia here plainly differentiates between the spirit body and the kokoro/heart: "within you, Kaien-dono's spirit body really does exist, but Kaien-dono himself does not." Although Aaroniro has Kaien's memories and spirit body, these are not what determine a person's core self. It is the kokoro. <<< Read from RIGHT to LEFT <<<

Chapter 268
Is there such a thing as reincarnation in the Bleach universe? And if so, what part of a person reincarnates? If the kokoro is left after a spirit body disintegrates, is it the kokoro that reincarnates? How can it do so if it resides in the person's friends?

Are there differences between the souls of humans, Shinigami, and the residents of Seireitei and Rukongai? We know that humans and Shinigami have different color reiratsu, but Shinigami have been known to become humans, and even mate with humans. Likewise, humans have been known to become Shinigami. Even if it is only through a Shinigami transferring power to them, there still exist commonly-recognizable Shinigami-substitute badges in Soul Society so Ichigo can not be an isolated case. Although natives of Seireitei make a big deal of their proclaimed superiority to the natives of Rukongai, souls from Rukongai have been known to become high-ranking members of Seireitei and have even been married and adopted into Seireitei nobility. It would seem that all souls are just at varying degrees of awakening to their potential.

There are many, many unanswered questions about how/if reincarnation works in Bleach, and whenever new things come up, I will post them here!

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