What is Reincarnation?

Path to Siva Commentary, Lesson 33


The destiny of all souls without exception is moksha. To achieve moksha we need to engage in the world positively, fulfill dharma well, resolve karma and realize God not just once but fully in a profound way. That's why we are reborn and have reincarnation. Realization, liberation, evolvement on the inner plane, and then merger-vishvagrasa in Siva. Siva's point of view: He is everyone, doing everything. "Each lifetime is but one stride on the great journey of your soul."

Path To Siva, Lesson 33.

Master Course, Dancing With Siva, Sloka 30.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone. Nice to see you all.

This morning we're looking at Path To Siva, Lesson 33

"What Is Reincarnation?

"Reincarnation is the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Each soul has many lifetimes on Earth. In each life, we drop off our physical body at death, but our inner self, our soul, never dies. We just leave our physical body and go on thinking, feeling and acting in our astral body. We also do this when we sleep, but we return to our body each time we wake up. (Just good at that. Very impressive.) At death we don't come back into our physical body. We leave the physical plane and remain conscious in the inner worlds. After some time, we are born again as a baby in a new physical body, with a new mother and father, a new name and a new future. This return to the physical plane in a new body is called reincarnation. Memories of our previous lifetimes fade away during childhood, though some adults can remember them. We eventually die again, because of illness, old age or an accident. Again we step out of the physical body and go on living in our astral body. This happens repeatedly. Sometimes we are born as a boy, sometimes as a girl . The way we live in this life determines what our next life will be like. Reincarnation is like a great school, and each life is a classroom. Who is learning and growing in the school of life? You, your immortal soul. You have lived many lives. Each lifetime is but one stride on the great journey of your soul. When all the needed lessons have been learned, your soul has matured, all karmas have been resolved and you have realized God, you will not need to be born again. This is called liberation or moksha, the destiny of all souls, without exception."

And we have Gurudeva's quote:

"Through the ages, reincarnation has been the great consoling element within Hinduism, eliminating the fear of death. We are not the body in which we live but the immortal soul which inhabits many bodies in its evolutionary journey through samsara. After death, we continue to exist in unseen worlds, enjoying or suffering the harvest of earthly deeds until it comes time for yet another physical birth."

Certainly one of the important points in Hindu philosophy is this idea, "...moksha, the destiny of all souls, without exception."

So you've heard me joke about that before. We have the story of the boy in Texas. The boy is about ten years old and father comes to a satsang and says that at school the Evangelical Christian kids in this boy's class are telling his son he's going to go to hell because he doesn't believe a certain way. But he was upset about that which he should be because it's not proper for proselytization to take place in school. It's not where it's supposed to happen.

But I thought about it and responded. The basic situation was the boy didn't know what to say. Here he is approached like that: You're going to go to hell because you believe a certain way. The boy needs an answer, which is appropriate for a ten year old to tell another ten year old. So, I thought a good answer was: "Well in our religion everyone goes to heaven." Obviously you know which religion is better, right? Everyone's going to end up in heaven or one which there's a good chance you're going to go to hell. I thought that was a ten year old answer. Works. And that's the point is, not in this life, but eventually everyone achieves moksha. That's the Hindu viewpoint. Everyone's a divine being. Everyone will eventually achieve moksha. And that's a nice way of looking at it.

The idea here in this last part: "When all the needed lessons have been learned, your soul has matured, all karmas have been resolved and you have realized God, you will not need to be born again."

Well that's a very comprehensive list. There's a bhashya in "Dancing With Siva" which presents it using some Sanskrit terms. "Path To Siva" is trying to avoid a lot of Sanskrit. But it's easier to remember with the Sanskrit.

The question it's answering is: Well, why don't we feel we achieve moksha? When do we break through the cycle of reincarnation? The most common answer is one idea which is: Oh, we have to realize God. God Realization, we have to realize the Self. When we realize the Self, that's it. We're not born again. And well that's certainly part of it. As the "Path to Siva" answer gave.

A second part which would probably come to mind, less frequently would come to mind to many people is: Well, we have to resolve all our karma. Obviously if there's karma, if there's something we have to resolve here on Earth, we have to come back to Earth to resolve it. This is the place we created it, this is the place we need to resolve it.

But there's a third one which Gurudeva points out which sometimes gets forgotten. "Moksha comes when earthly karma has been resolved, dharma well performed..." That's the one that we tend to forget. "...and God fully realized."

So three points. Karma's resolved, dharma's well performed, and God is not just realized but fully realized. Not just once.

Then Gurudeva explains: "Each soul must have performed well through many lives the varna dharmas, or four castes, and lived through life's varied experiences in order to not be pulled back to physical birth by a deed left undone."

That's the explanation for fulfilling dharma well. Or we need to fulfill dharma well and not just avoid the world or withdraw from the world. That's not the point unless you're a monk. Don't want to live like a monk and be in the world, that's missing the opportunity to fulfill dharma well. And not fulfilling dharma well, it happens, we learn and we mature. The soul learns things and it matures more than it was when it was born in the first place. We need to engage in the world positively, (unless we're a monk) fulfill dharma well, resolve karma and realize God fully. Quite a lesson. Can take a while. That's why we have reincarnation.

There's a related point that relates to moksha and there's a useful terminology that Gurudeva provides us. Three for: Realization, liberation and merger. Nice clarity there. Three separate events in that order. When we have realization, God fully realized, we need to experience God in a profound way, this takes time and repetition. That's realization. Because we've done that then we achieve liberation. Or liberation occurs at the point of leaving the physical body. We don't have to come back. That's moksha. And then there's one more which is merger. Sanskrit term vishvagrasa, right? Remember that? Visvagrasa--merger.

So after realization we achieve liberation but after liberation we're still an individual soul. There we are in the inner worlds. In our tradition we don't automatically merge into Siva or something because, because we're achieving moksha, there's more to do. As "Dancing With Siva" says: You continue to evolve on the inner plane. That's because we have learned all our lessons the Earth Plane has to offer doesn't mean we learned everything there is know. There's some more subtle planes there to be learning. And after that takes place then with the final merger.

And, the image I use is when you start out, when the soul is created it's like, since we're in we're in Hawaii I use the ocean and the bucket. We have a bucket, God's the Ocean of Consciousness. So you get some water in the bucket. So now we have separated a part of God from all of God. That's the human soul. And then at the right point we can see what will will happen, right? The bucket gets poured back in the ocean. So once the bucket is poured back in the ocean, it's gone, right? Jiva has merged with Siva. Can't reclaim that. We have to go water anymore.

Sometimes individuals feel: Well, why would I want to become Siva? I'm happy as I am right? I'm kind of fond of, well there to become Siva. Well you have to, it has to grow on you shall we say. Have to get used to it. One of the ways I like to think of getting used to it is to decide to look at life from Siva's point of view. Well from my point of view I'm here doing something, they're there doing something, everything's going on. But from Siva's point of view, He is everyone, doing everything. That's Siva's point of view. Well you can hold Siva's point of view right now if you want to try, so it's to get used to holding Siva's point of view which is being everything and being everyone, doing everything. Then after a while you get comfortable with it, grows on you.

It's a nice quote on the idea of the water, going back to water. "Paingala Upanishad." I looked it up. It's in Dancing with Siva Sloka 5. It's a quote at the bottom. "As water poured into water, milk poured into milk, ghee into ghee become one without differentiation, even so the individual soul and the Supreme Self become one." So that's the vishvagrasa. Merger. So three steps: Realization, liberation and merger. Three distinct events in our philosophy. Each need to be experienced in that order.

Have a wonderful day.

Aum Namah Sivaya

Photo of  Gurudeva
I have seen myself, in a certain state of samadhi, as pure life force flowing through a jungle, through trees, through plants, through water, through air. That is superconsciousness. It is so permanent. It is so real.
—Gurudeva