“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
“I love my job. I get to work on something new every day. Sure, things don’t always function properly right away. Each morning I’m greeted by an email inbox full of complaints about different bugs, aspects of my programs malfunctioning. Still, these applications are mine. I build them. The job is not easy, but it’s a lot of fun. The day goes by quickly. Since I’m in the field of technology, things are always changing. I’m never bored.”
“I love my car. I’ve had it for so long. I’m one of those handy people. Unless it’s a major repair, I do the maintenance myself. If you take care of your car, it will take care of you. I’ve had this longer than most people keep a car. Why buy a new one when the one I’ve got treats me so well? It runs almost like new. I could never imagine driving another one.”
“I love this restaurant near my home. We go there as a family at least once a week. When I was younger, it was almost like a local hangout. There’s two sections to it: one for quick orders and another for fancier dining. They have a bar area too, so sometimes I go there to watch a game with my friends. I can’t imagine living without this place. The food is great, the people are wonderful, and I’ve had so many special moments there. If I ever have to move, I’d miss this place the most.”
“I love my friends and family. I think most people do. It’s only natural. They care for me so much. I never have to ask. My friends are sometimes jealous, but then so am I. If I tell them about something good happening to me, they’re not as happy as when I fail at something. Still, I don’t care. It’s the support. It’s the association. What wonderful gifts I have in life.”
To the individual in each of these situations the object of attention is very important. Life is a difficult journey, after all. Especially once reaching adulthood, there is the issue of direction. Where is my life going? What should I be doing? What is the objective of living? How do I avoid repeating the same activities day after day? It is no wonder that people take to intoxication to forget their troubles. Who wants to think about everything ending at some point? Why not keep your mind occupied on something else?
From Vedic philosophy we learn that there is no reason to fear. The wise person takes the situation at hand and assesses the options. Basically, the more informed you are, the better off you will be. What does it mean to be informed? In the spiritual science the first instruction is on the distinction between body and spirit. I am spirit soul. My body does not identify me. Even modern science has done research into this. They say that the cells in the body get completely replaced after a certain number of years. Yet the individual remains the same. This is one example of how reincarnation works.
dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
The Bhagavad-gita says that after death, we get another body. The whole things shifts at one time, instead of a gradual change. Also, the subtle elements move on. In addition to the body that we can see, there are elements inside that we can’t. These are mind, intelligence and ego. The different tendencies in the human being are due to the subtle body carrying over from the previous life. We see that someone is naturally intelligent, while someone else is not. We see that some are inclined towards athletics, while others are interested in philosophy.
The subtle elements determine consciousness. The symptom of a living being is consciousness. Since we are spirit and not matter, we exist perpetually. The soul can never be killed. Through aggression a person can try to remove another person from the world. No matter how hard they try, the worst they can do is force the living being to exit their body and take a new one at the time of the next birth.
ya enam ajam avyayam
kathaṁ sa puruṣaḥ pārtha
kaṁ ghātayati hanti kam
“O Partha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, unborn, eternal and immutable, kill anyone or cause anyone to kill?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.21)
Since spirit lives on, so does consciousness. The consciousness carries over from birth to birth. Shri Krishna compares the transfer to the air carrying aromas. A person is cooking something downstairs in the kitchen, but through the power of air the aroma reaches all the way upstairs to the bedroom. If there’s enough food cooking, the air can carry outside as well. Think of the smell of a pizza parlor or an establishment that cooks fried food.
The things we typically consider to be so important don’t come with us after death. The computer program, despite requiring intelligence and time to make, does not carry over. The same goes for the car, the house, and even the association of friends and family. Consciousness comes along, so the wise try to shape the best consciousness while living.
What is the best consciousness? Is there a way to judge? Consciousness determines the nature of the next birth. It also plays an important role in the way the present life is lived. If the consciousness is right, a person can be happy in any situation. Through mental speculation, a philosopher will say that the secret of life is love. Love others as much as you can. Don’t ruin your life through hate.
The best consciousness does come through love. The key is to find the real kind of love, one that is free of impediments. Find someone you can love for lifetime after lifetime. Find someone who will always accept your service, no matter how much you offer. Find someone who will appreciate even the smallest effort. Find someone who will provide for you no matter what.
That someone already rests within us. He is the Supreme Lord. He is known as Krishna since He is all-attractive. He appreciates every effort made towards connecting with Him. He shows this by living inside of us as the Supersoul. Even though we have forgotten Him, He does not hold the transgression against us. He provides for us in every species, in every lifetime. The material elements sustain life, and they are not the property of any person or governing body. A person may plant the flag of their nation on a particular piece of land, but the earth was there before. No one can say they own the sun, the moon, the ocean or the air.
Consciousness of Krishna is the best because it remains lifetime after lifetime. As the individual spirit lives forever, so does the Supreme Lord. He can be served forever. People have made a test of this service, known as bhakti-yoga, and found that the pleasure only increases with time. Rather than getting bored and moving on to something else, the devotees keep thinking of more ways to serve and please the Lord. He reciprocates by remaining in their consciousness.
At the time of death, the yogi who has reached the pinnacle of consciousness has a seamless transfer to the next destination, where that devotion will thrive and flourish even more. The one thing that the individual saves, the consciousness, is the most valuable possession, something that can prevent the cycle of birth and death in a temporary world from continuing.
My computer program working on,
Beauty of possessions to dwell upon.
Relations and of friends so fond,
Yet none to accompany to the beyond.
Like aromas carrying through the air,
Into next life, consciousness to be there.
So of Shri Krishna, the best person make,
Devotional life into eternity with you take.