What Did We Do Wrong Before Birth

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.19)

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Friend1: I have a variation of the “origin of the jiva” question today.

Friend2: What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Friend1: I guess it’s something like that. I’ve never heard it asked this way before, though.

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: So it starts with the acknowledgment that we need reformation.

Friend2: Who is “we”?

Friend1: The conditioned souls. The people going through birth and death. Not limited to the human beings, either. So much variety in living conditions. So many body types.

Friend2: 8,400,000.

Friend1: Each with a soul inside.

Friend2: And the same kind of soul. No difference between the soul of an animal and the soul of a human being.

Friend1: Right. Just like there is no difference between the soul of a child and the soul of an adult.

Friend2: Body is what accounts for the distinction. I am the same today as when I first emerged from the womb.

Friend1: Even while within the womb.

Friend2: Exactly. People could barely see me back then. They needed special machines. I was still alive, though. I look totally different now, but I have remained the same individual throughout.

Friend1: And so in past and successive lifetimes there is the chance to end up in a different kind of body.

[Different species]Friend2: The wise person sees the spiritual equality. They obviously don’t behave the same way with the tiger and the cow, but they understand what is on the inside.

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)

Friend1: We have to fix ourselves. There are different ways. Elevation through prescribed duties, karma.

Friend2: Which means advancing in terms of personal interest, svartha, and supreme interest, paramartha. This lifetime and the next.

Friend1: We can become enlightened through knowledge, jnana. There is yoga, which allows for extraordinary abilities and possibly merging into the light of nothingness.

Friend2: It seems like nothingness to us, but it is actually complete purity. Brahman is the spiritual light, free of material contaminations.

Friend1: There is also bhakti-yoga. Pure devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Friend2: Wherein typically the result is residence on His planet, the place free of birth and death.

Friend1: Yet in fact bhakti-yoga can flourish anywhere. A replica of the kingdom of Godhead can be created in a closet, even, or just a room.

Friend2: Right.

Friend1: Okay, so there are different paths. There is the staircase and also the elevator. Whatever the option chosen, some type of elevation is required.

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: The question is, “What did we do wrong before?”

Friend2: Before what?

Friend1: Birth.

Friend2: The present birth? Shri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that those who are envious of Him get cast into lower species. Lower here means more ignorance covering up the otherwise spotless spirit soul. Think of it like hot and cold. In a lower species you are further away from liberation, which is known as moksha.

Friend1: And moksha is the release from the cycle of birth and death. No, I get that part. We could have done something wrong before this birth or that, or one hundred lives ago. What about at the beginning? What did we do wrong to get cast into the ocean of birth and death?

Friend2: Ah, so that’s why you compared this to the origin of the jiva issue.

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: The answer is that we don’t know. Nor will we ever know. Perfect knowledge is required, which only Bhagavan can possess. We are similar to God in quality, but at the same time always inferior. One proof of that inferiority is the lack of perfect knowledge.

Friend1: We’ll never know when the first birth took place or where we lived prior to that?

Friend2: Time itself is impossible to understand. It runs infinitely in both directions. You say a beginning, but there was something before that. You say an end, never coming back, but there is always time moving forward.

Friend1: There is the teaching that every one of us was originally with Krishna, in the spiritual world. We became envious for a brief moment and that led to the exit. Another teaching is that we were originally part of the Brahman energy. Situated in the marginal position, by chance we chose the material world instead of the spiritual world.

Friend2: Just look at the solution. It is said that those who are perfectly Krishna conscious while quitting their body go to Krishna.

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

[Krishna's lotus feet]The solution should give a hint into the original cause of the problem. Acharyas, those who teach by example, have said that to trace out the history of the jiva is futile. It is not a valuable usage of time. We know the solution right now, so let’s take it. Chant the holy names and be happy: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Body changing all the time,

In next life different to find.

Before as something else existing,

Many past lives with chain persisting.

What exactly the mistake,

That in samsara’s world to awake?

Since flawed never exactly to know,

Forward now to Vaikuntha go.

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