I've been doing past life readings for a few years now. It began because of a demand - a number of people were asking for them, so I jumped in. It was interesting becuase my own attitude twoards 'pastlives' was something between skeptical and a downright 'no way'.
Always my stance as a reader has been that it's not me who reads, and that my opinions and views have no place in a reading. It has been a good discipline, and has allowed me to be of use to people in a way I could not have been, had I allowed myself to have views or judgments about their lives or their questions. This extended to past life readings, and I went in, wherever it is one goes, to find the information.
Recently I was invited to attend a group where everyone wanted past life readings. Doing work in a group is always exciting, because the pool of available energy is so strong - like running on a nuclear reactor instead of a triple-A battery. The results were very strong, and people, including myself, were excited, impacted, or shaken by what happened.
As a result of all this I've had to do some serious thinking about incarnation altogether. I do believe that we incarnate (forget about the re- for now). Maybe a little like Carolyn Myss' "sacred contracts". We come in with agreements to do, heal, complete, transform, certain conditions arising in a specific lifetime. My own blindness is one of these. From the beginning it has felt in some wasy 'karmically correct'. I don't like it, and as it continues, and the world continues to shut down, it is not a simple equation, but all along it's felt like it belonged to me. There are other examples in my life, but one's enough for now.
A perfect being incarnates into a life, with a commitment to aid and support that life, be there for the suffering that is at some point inevitable, be there to heal the injuries inflicted by history, and to transform pain and regret into love. Nothing else finally matters.
A perfect being is perfectly innocent. I don't think incarnation can be seen as a punishment. If a holy soul has incarnated into a life where great evil is done, I don't think it follows that the holy soul will be punished for incarnating there. History is a terrible tangle, and some injuries take generations to heal, and sometimes get worse before they get better. To have, for instance, inhabited the life of a serial killer, is to have lived in hell. Surely that doesn't require punishment. Having been there would be punishment enough, if the word punishment had any place in our spiritual vocabulary.
And when we look over at lives of great privilege, ease, and comfort, these may only be apparent. Who can say what the quota of suffering is that each soul receives? It would be wise, I think, to drop the reward and punishment paradigm right out of the story. They don't serve, don't heal, and certainly cause as much suffering as anything else does.