Spiritual Message for the Day – Transmigration by Swami Krishnananda

Baba Times Digest© | 23 April 2014 17:25 EST | New York Edition


Divine Life Society Publication:  - Hinduism and Vedanta by Swami Krishnananda

Understanding Transmigration

At the time of death, the individuality does not get dissolved, though the physical constituents may be separated and dissolved. What is it that takes rebirth? It cannot be the body, because it is discarded and it is dissolved into the physical elements of which it is composed. It cannot also be the essential Self, the Atman, because the Atman is a Universal Presence which cannot be said to be subject to transformation of any kind, such as transmigration. What else transmigrates?

The peculiar thing called the individual is neither the body nor the Atman. It is a strange admixture of localized self-affirmation in terms of space and time, and this principle of self-affirmation is impossible to define except as a peculiar pressure-point or force which is generated by the influence of space-time upon consciousness which by itself is indivisible. This point of pressure spatio-temporally occasioned is in fact the center of what is known as the psyche, often called the mind, sometimes known as the Chitta or the Antahkarana in the Sanskrit language.

Desire and Rebirth

This pressure of consciousness causing the individual self-sense has three levels of empirical expression, viz., the conscious, the subconscious and the unconscious. Only the conscious level operates when a person is awake, the sub-conscious operates in dream, and the unconscious in deep sleep. The conscious impulses and activities of the individual are limited expressions of the desires which seek to fulfil themselves by way of contact with sense-objects. When the pressure of desires is too much and they cannot be easily fulfilled under conditions prevailing in the waking state, they operate as reveries in dream. But the desires of an individual are so immense and complicated that their satisfaction cannot be really achieved in a single life. Such unfulfilled longings get wound up in unconscious states, a specimen of which is deep sleep. It is the power of unfulfilled desires that manufactures a new apparatus for their fulfilment, under expected conditions, called the newly formed body. Here is the interesting background of what is known as rebirth.

As a realized soul has no desires, it has no rebirth. They merge into Universal Being. Hence the passing of an ordinary person and the disappearance of a person like Lord Krishna have nothing in common. A mysterious admixture of consciousness and desire, acts as the link between the here and the hereafter, which is the causative factor behind rebirth or reincarnation. It is neither the physical body formed of the five elements, nor the Atman which is all-pervading. It is not true that in death the apparatus through which thinking and feeling act is destroyed; it continues in spite of the body being destroyed. The screen of the television which projects the picture of individuality is the point of consciousness-desire, explained above, and it is not destroyed when the body is destroyed. In a way, our waking life is also a reflection of some anterior existence, which we do not remember now, since we are  now in this world in a different space-time continuum, totally different from the space-time complex of the previous life. It has to be reiterated that death does not destroy the link between this life and the other life, because death is only of the physical body, and everyone knows well that a person is not exhausted by the physical frame only. There is something more in man than what appears to the eyes or to any sense-organ.

Evolution and The Principle of Karma

The modern theory of evolution from matter to plant, plant to life, life to mind and from mind to intellect is nothing but a corroboration of there being a continuous link from one state of life to another. Else, there would be no evolution and there would be no meaning in any form of ‘related’ life at all. All this requires deep study, and a mere cursory reading of one or two textbooks may not be adequate.

The principle of karma, or the principle of reaction which conditions the notions of good and bad etc., is not supposed to apply to the sub-human species since they do not have the self-consciousness of personal agency in action and are just guided by the natural forces of evolution. Nemesis cannot be attributed to an individual as long as it is free from personal agency in action. The sub-human species evolve in the same way as there is rise of life from matter to the vegetable kingdom, etc., as mentioned. This is not caused by karma, but by the very pressure of universal evolution.

If there is no transcendent meaning of the human being beyond the present life, no one would lift a finger or do anything in this life, knowing well that the next moment death may overtake anyone and no one can be sure that one can be alive after a few minutes more. Who, on earth, will try to do anything in this world if the next moment is uncertain, unless it is to be accounted for by an unconscious pull of the transcendent ‘Beyond’ which speaks in a language of ‘Eternity’ that there is life further to this medley of uncertainties, anxieties and insecurities here on earth? The point that man is to be restrained from undesirable behavior and action can have meaning only if there is something more than the meaning seen in earthly life. Else, what is the point of being good or exhibiting good behavior? Why should there be morality, why should there be anything at all, since everything is going to be devoured by death the next moment?

Excerpts from:

Transmigration - Hinduism and Vedanta by Swami Krishnananda


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