“A person in Krishna consciousness certainly sees Lord Krishna everywhere, and he sees everything in Krishna. Such a person may appear to see all separate manifestations of the material nature, but in each and every instance he is conscious of Krishna, knowing that everything is the manifestation of Krishna’s energy. Nothing can exist without Krishna, and Krishna is the Lord of everything—this is the basic principle of Krishna consciousness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.30 Purport)
The emphasis from the acharya is that this life is preparation for the next. There will be an afterlife. It is real. Though we cannot directly communicate with someone who has recently departed, the same was true prior to their arrival.
It is an interesting idea to consider. We lament greatly at the forced separation from loved ones. The actual cause is kala, which is the Sanskrit word for time. The same word applies to death. Kala is debilitating. It is devouring. It is the most formidable foe, as it has yet to meet defeat, at least within its area of jurisdiction.
I am sad that I will one day finally submit to the final blow of kala, but why not an equal level of sadness for the near-infinite amount of recorded history prior to my arrival? A year prior to my birth, my parents were in this world. My older siblings were, as well. They got along just fine. They did not know me. I was not even a thought to anyone.
Shastra reveals that I was someplace. As confirmed by Shri Krishna in Bhagavad-gita, never was there a time that I did not exist. The same applies to others, both visible and beyond the range of perception.
न त्व् एवाहं जातु नासं
न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः
न चैव न भविष्यामः
सर्वे वयम् अतः परम्
na tv evāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ
na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ
sarve vayam ataḥ param
“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)
Contemplating this truth of the spiritual science might lead to lamentation resembling the following:
“I can’t believe I screwed up. That is the cause for my birth in this world, as I’ve been made aware. I was not fully conscious of the Almighty during the last trip on the merry-go-round. The rotation stopped for a second, and then I jumped right back on the ride. It is so sad that we have to keep spinning on this wheel of reincarnation, with no end in sight.”
The optimistic viewpoint sees the past lives as a prologue to a wonderful story of success. Overcoming obstacles, persevering through difficulties, emerging victorious at the end. Finally climbing that mountain, everything in the past was worth it. Without those struggles, the achievement of liberation would not taste nearly as sweet.
Also from Bhagavad-gita we learn that for a person who always sees Krishna everywhere, He is never lost to them. Neither is that person ever forgotten by the Almighty, whose eyes are in every corner and every space.
This does not mean the self-realized soul has a kind of morphed vision that no longer sees distinctions. They still correctly identify planes, trains, automobiles, rivers, oceans, mountains, clouds, sunshine, and the like. They can identify different individuals by name and also interact according to the species with whom they are surrounded.
The distinction is that there is an additional layer of perception. They see the influence of Shri Krishna, the all-attractive one. They know that each individual has God inside of them. The consciousness that carries awareness of the presence may not have manifested yet, but the Divine is there all the same.
So wonderful is He,
And everywhere to see.
Even inside of me,
And that tall standing tree.
The past so much to lament,
That wasted the time went.
But now on path to liberation winning,
Where no more reincarnation spinning.