Sunday, March 12, 2006

We are not this body

“Stay hopeful and be patient in your attempt to serve”

“At the time of death the soul passes to another physical body along with its mental and intellectual identifications. The individual acquires different types of body, but the person is the same one.”

“As a person changes old clothes, putting on new ones, in the same way the soul accepts a new material body, giving up the old, useless one.”

(Bhagavad Gita 2. 22)

“Human life is too short to be wasted in doing nonsense things. Always try to be intelligent: give the best of yourself with love.”

“By growing up, a child becomes a young boy, who later becomes an adult and then an old man. During this time of life, even though the child’s body becomes that of an old man, the person feels that he is the same person with the same identity. The body is changing, but he who is inside the body, the soul, remains the same. As the soul is separate from the body, we can logically conclude that when our body dies, we will receive another one. This is called reincarnation or transmigration of the soul”.

In reality, the body is a bag of bone, meat and skin, and the self is to be found within it. But is the body our real identity when nowadays it is almost possible to replace each part? What makes us think we are the body, or the heart, the brain tissues, or any other bodily part? What, or who, is it that we really are?

Those who have sought self-realization have, on direct perception, stated that we, the conscious individual, are beyond the gross and subtle elements of the body and mind. They have concluded that we are the finite eternal conscious soul, the jivatma, which is part of the infinite Supersoul, the Paramatma; our Eternal Father. Our consciousness is our greatest treasure, for only through consciousness can we relate to the Supreme Conscious Being.

The body is a very interesting object to study; it is a bag of bone, meat and skin, and we inside of it are connected to the outside world through the holes within the body. In the Vedic paradigm, the body is called “The City of Nine Gates”. These gates, or holes, connect us with the external world. There are two holes that see, two that listen, two nostrils that breathe, a multi-use organ that eats and talks, another multi-use organ is the genitals, and the last gate is the evacuating organ, the anus.

According to those with spiritual vision, the individual consciousness, the soul, keeps the body alive for a period of time. But the body and soul is a seemingly incompatible unit. The proof is that sooner or later everyone has to leave the body, as nobody can remain forever in this physical body.

We need to take advantage of this knowledge to understand that our body is not our true self. In order to understand and realise this knowledge of our real spiritual identity, we need the guide of the sacred scriptures and a spiritual master, for they are able to directly perceive the spiritual identity as fact, not just theory. Upon discovering our eternal spiritual identity a person must fully practice those teachings in life and upon death. One must be able to face the moment of passing away with spiritual maturity, receiving death as a wonderful chance of transformation, being able to welcome the Divine Will. In life and in death, we must cultivate the full desire to relate to and serve God and the people around us in this very life. This is a truly meaningful realisation.

As well as the physical body, our self is also covered by a subtle body: mind, intelligence and false ego. Even more essential and subtle is the eternal soul, the self. When a person dies the soul carries with its subtle body a conscious imprint, its generated karma of gross and subtle past actions and desires that need to be fulfilled. Our next birth is in accordance with this subtle imprint. There are many cases of people remembering their past lives.

To advance spiritually, we need to understand that we are spiritual souls, dependant on God. It is our true, higher nature that leads us towards spiritual progress; we are seekers of the truth. We have a body and mind, but our spiritual identity is eternal and divine. Any deviation from our true spiritual identity will only entangle us in temporary mental and bodily sensations. The essential function of the Self is Divine Service to the common central cause of God. This is the correct way to live.

Teachings of Sripad Paramadvaiti Swami

Editor Gopananda dasa


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