“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)
न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्
नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतो ऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
Friend1: When you turn on the news, you can’t help but notice the turmoil. Disarray. Chaos. Unhappiness. Dissatisfaction.
Friend2: Heartache. Tumult. Misery. Just thought I would add to the list.
Friend1: Some of the stuff has me scratching my head.
Friend2: Such as?
Friend1: Well, recently while travelling on the underground train system in a major city, I noticed several large signs warning against jumping the turnstiles.
Friend2: Oh, to avoid paying the fare?
Friend1: Yes. You have to swipe a card to get in. That then allows you to pass through the gates. These are not like the above-ground trains where you can still pay the fare after you have boarded.
Friend2: Okay. And these signs were warning against just jumping over?
Friend1: There are other ways, too. People exiting could leave the emergency door open, allowing new travellers to enter without paying.
Friend2: I see.
Friend1: Anyway, not to get overly political here, but it dawned on me that the same city officials which felt the need to warn against crossing a border within the train system illegally have absolutely no problem if people do the same with the border of the country.
Friend2: Are you referencing illegal immigration?
Friend1: Whatever you want to call it, it’s breaking the law. Lo and behold, this past weekend there was a mass protest inside one of these train stations. People were criticizing the police for enforcing the law regarding fare abatement.
Friend2: You mean the people who are in favor of illegal crossings at the border are now also in favor of the same within the train system?
Friend1: Yes. Exactly. I don’t want to get into an argument on the merits of either side, but it just left me flabbergasted. I mean, of course society will be in turmoil if people can’t even follow the law. Of course so many bad things will happen if you don’t respect other people. If you steal, how can you expect other people to respect you?
Friend1: I also realized that the belief in the afterlife is key. It is everything, in fact.
Friend2: Why do you say that?
Friend1: Because then you know that there are consequences to action. You understand that placement in a particular situation at the time of birth is not accidental. It is not random, though we can’t remember having an influence.
Friend1: If you believe in the afterlife, then at least there is some respect for others going through the same life experience. You will protect innocent life. You will try to be honest and trustworthy. You won’t want to steal.
Friend2: Many people say that nowadays. That society’s ills can’t be solved through legislation alone. You have to remove the godlessness. I was reading an article where a person was saying that his grandparents from fifty or sixty years ago would never think of attacking teachers in school. People had much easier access to guns back then and yet there weren’t any mass shootings resembling today’s tragedies.
Friend1: How do you get people to believe, though?
Friend2: In the afterlife?
Friend2: You have to present it as a science. It already is, in fact. Shri Krishna covers the main points in the opening chapters of the Bhagavad-gita. The soul is never killed. The individual follows an evolutionary pattern through an ever-changing body. Like putting on clothes and taking them off. That is birth and death.
Friend1: The skeptic will argue that this is just faith, like the other religions and their threat of condemnation to eternal hell.
Friend2: Everything is faith on some level. Denial of the afterlife has the same flaw of lack of tangible proof. In truth, we know from past testimony and the authority of realized souls that there is an afterlife. I’m trying to say that there is more evidence on Krishna’s side, supporting Vedanta, than there is for the challengers.
Friend1: Say I do believe in the afterlife. Where will I go? How should I behave today?
Friend2: Whatever state of being a person remembers at the time of death. That determines the next destination. The best place to go is where one never has to return.
Friend1: The spiritual world?
Friend2: Vaikuntha, the place free of anxieties. Think of Krishna today and you will likely remember Him tomorrow. The more you stay connected to Him, the more the truth about eternal life will be revealed to you.