What is Reincarnation? The Vedic Perspective

“Reincarnation is for the ignorant.”

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Episode Summary

The subject of reincarnation arouses a lot of curiosity and debate. Those who ‘believe’ in reincarnation seek to understand the mechanisms behind it, they seek reincarnation stories and verification that reincarnation is real. Those who don’t, look for ‘proof’ before they consider it a possibility, asking grand questions about how many times we reincarnate, or questions about how long reincarnation takes.

We are frequently asked if the Vedic religion believes in reincarnation and if reincarnation is a thing that is a part of the Vedic worldview.

In this episode, Thom explains the Vedic worldview on reincarnation, putting forward a case to satisfy both the believers and the ‘scienticians.’

He explains that the process of reincarnation doesn’t just happen between lifetimes, but that it happens countless times within each lifetime. Thinking about more than “reincarnation after death,” and “rebirth,” Thom explores reincarnation’s meaning as a process of growth and becoming.

He challenges the notion that reincarnation must be proven and measurable, while at the same time offering sufficient proof to even make the most hard-nosed skeptics think deeper on the subject.

He explores the process of enlightenment and describes the impact of ‘punya,’ your cosmic credit rating, on the choices available to you when the time comes to reincarnate.

Importantly, he also reminds us that the belief in Vedic wisdom, and reincarnation, is by definition an optional philosophy when it comes to one’s practice of Vedic Meditation. Vedic Meditation can be practiced with great effect regardless of one’s philosophical or even religious beliefs.

No matter what your current beliefs are, this is one episode you’ll want to listen to again, and again, and again.

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Episode Highlights


Belief in Reincarnation is Optional



Reincarnation is For the Ignorant



What is Reincarnation?



Heaven on Earth



Maya Koshas and the In-Between State



Immeasurable Love and The Scienticians



Unheard Of! Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony



The Body of the Senses



Brain Dead



Near-Death Experiences



Differing Points of View



The World is a Model of Your Consciousness State



Kitten Consciousness



The Brain that Changes Itself



The Body is a Reflective State



Your World of Assumptions



The Field of Being



The Vedic Meditator’s Advantage



Enlightenment – Cosmic Consciousness



Consciousness Seeks Birth



Punya – The Cosmic Credit Rating



The Quickening



Science-Based Reincarnation



Consciousness Surviving Body Death



The Constant Reality of Reincarnation



A Highly-Populated World



The Attraction of Wisdom



Optional Philosophy



E = MC2  – Whether You Are Jewish or Not



A Brilliant Toaster



Keep on Meditating


Jai Guru Deva


What is Reincarnation? The Vedic Perspective

[00:46 ] Belief in Reincarnation is Optional

Today, following on from our previous conversation about death being not real, I’ve been asked to speak for a little while on the subject of reincarnation.  It’s a very interesting concept, reincarnation and one that has really become a little bit too over explained.  One of the things I’d like to do is to give it a context, a historic context.  My own master, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi did talk about reincarnation quite a lot, but he always prefaced it by saying that reincarnation is not something that anyone who practices Vedic Meditation has to believe in or to accept as an idea in order to get benefits from meditating.

It’s very important to understand before launching into such a subject that Vedic Meditation itself is not the acceptance of a philosophy, or the acceptance of what some would call a religious belief.  It is a practice, a technique that you do twice a day, and what you get from it is very evident.  You close your eyes.  You settle down into that inner quiet state.  Your body rests deeply.  You’re able to release stress and then when you come out of meditation, you feel great and you feel better.

[02:11] Reincarnation is For the Ignorant

But obviously people are fascinated about what more the ancient tradition says, that is the tradition which brought this technique to the present day, because, as it turns out, some of the things that are said about the meditation technique itself turn out to be so reliable and so verifiable that people want to know, “Well, what else is there that the master said about this technique?” And so I’m going to give you a little bit of context for that.  The first time I asked my teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi about reincarnation, he was holding a bunch of flowers and he pulled one of the flowers out, and it happened to be a carnation.  He said, “It’s better if you just asked me about carnations.”  He said, “I like carnations better than incarnations, reincarnation.”  On another occasion, when a member of the press asked him in a public interview on the BBC to make a comment about reincarnation, he made a statement, “Reincarnation is for the ignorant.”

I found that a beautiful double entendre because reincarnation is for you if you remain ignorant.  In other words, the Vedic worldview is that you come into this life, you live the life, and you practice your spiritual technique, meaning to establish your true identity experientially, to not just develop an intellectual idea about what your true nature is, but to go beyond, to step beyond, in other words to transcend the thought process and have an experience, a direct experience of an unbounded consciousness field, which turns out to be your true inner nature, that part of you that doesn’t change.  If that consciousness field really is your true, inner nature, and it is a field of non-change, then it begs the question about its immortality.

[04:25] What is Reincarnation?

That means it begs the question about your immortality.  “If that is my own inner identity, if it’s truly my inner identity, then surely, an aspect of me is immortal, an aspect of me is not ruled by the physiological realities of a human body which must come to a conclusion, come to an end.”  

What is reincarnation?  Reincarnation is an idea about what happens when the body drops.  The body drops and consciousness survives body death because consciousness is not body dependent.  We talked about that in our previous recording that consciousness is not a body-dependent phenomenon.  On the other hand, bodies are consciousness dependent.  So let’s look into the Vedic worldview about what reincarnation is all about.

The idea is that you as an individual are on a quest, and that quest is a quest that takes you through a large number of nervous systems, that starting off as a relatively less conscious, less sophisticated nervous system, our consciousness grows and when that body drops away, since the total reality hasn’t yet been realized, one acquires another body, and that next body allows for consciousness to become more and more sophisticated.  The idea is that nervous systems become more and more sophisticated.  Nervous systems – one makes one’s way through the lower conscious species, the less sophisticated species until one arrives at the human species.

[06:16] Heaven on Earth

I once asked Maharishi, “If it’s true that people are arriving in the human level all the time from the lower species, that might explain one of the reasons why there’s such a population bomb going on right now on the earth with the 7.3 billion people right now and tens of thousands of new human babies being born every few minutes, what is it that can explain this?” He said, “Well, again when people live a life and in their lifetime, they don’t gain cosmic consciousness, they don’t gain in that lifetime that realization of their true inner nature, then when their body dies, the individuality naturally begins to seek another birth to have if you like another shot at it.”

In other words, to live another life in order to have that realization.  And again, within the Vedic worldview through our readings of the Upanishads and the Vedas themselves, through our readings of many of the ancient texts of India, we can see that the idea that one continues to return into a body, until one has realized that totality consciousness, that I am one with the universe, that my true, inner nature is that I am the cosmos having a human experience.  When that life is lived, that heaven on earth is lived, then no longer is reincarnation necessary.  Thus, the humorous answer that Maharishi gave, the humorous aspect of his answer to me was when he said, “Reincarnation is for the ignorant.”

Those who thought that only ignorant people think about reincarnation were satisfied, and those who considered his answer to be more scholarly than that, that if you are not realized, that is to say if you’re stuck in ignorance, then reincarnation is for you, really comes to the fore and one can understand the double nature of his very witty and quick answer.  

[08:34] Maya Koshas and the In-Between State 

So reincarnation, when one’s body dies, according to the Vedic worldview, one finds oneself in an in-between state.  That in-between state is a state where one has still possession of many of the subtle bodies, we’ve talked about these before, that are sitting inside the gross physical body like a hand fitting into a glove.

These are referred to in Sanskrit as maya koshas, the anga maya kosha, or kaya maya kosha – kaya means body, anga means limbs.  There’s like the outermost glove, the outermost expression, that which consciousness prints out.  Consciousness conceives and constructs and governs, and then becomes a body.  A body is not the source of consciousness.  Consciousness is the source of a body.  We’ll talk about that a bit more in depth in a few minutes.  

So sitting inside this gross physical body is the body of the mind, the manas maya kosha, the body of the intellect, buddhi maya kosha, the body of feeling, the hridaya maya kosha, the body of individual ego that is an individual sense of who I am, ahankar maya kosha, and then ultimately, the Absolute state which is the field of bliss, the ananda maya kosha.  

And all of these sitting like, as I said before using an analogy, the Russian dolls.  You open one of these dolls, it opens at the waist and as you open it, inside of it is another doll identical to it and so on and so forth, until you have the tiniest of the dolls, all inside of one doll.  As we look inside the human condition, there’s the gross physical body, and then inside of it are all the other bodies that are ethereal, that is to say they are not made of a substance that is measurable.  

[10:38] Immeasurable Love and The Scienticians

Sometimes people have said to me, “But surely Thom, you’re not saying… You’re a scientist.  You’re not saying that you believe in things that are not measurable,” and my answer to that is, “Well, when was the last time you measured the love that you feel for people who you say you’re in love with?  Are you going to tell me that love’s not real, unless you can measure it?  Surely not, let’s hope not.”  If we claim to believe in our love experiences, but we haven’t recently measured them to see if they’re scientifically verifiable, then we’re going to live a very dry life.  

So there are many, many things that fall into the category of existing, and it’s good for us to presume that they do exist, even though they’re not necessarily measurable phenomena, and nor should they necessarily be exposed to a measurement.

Imagine if you were to say to your lover that, “According to a test I just did, I love you to 75% value, or according to a test you did the week before that, I loved you to the 85% value, but that was before we had an argument, and now I’m down to 75%, or maybe I’m hoping I’ll go up to 95% by the end of the week.”  

This kind of idea that everything has to be measured is a statement of someone who believes in a religion which I refer to as ‘the scienticians’, meaning, those who expose absolutely everything in every endeavor to the concept that it being measurable is the proof of its existence, or its right to exist.  We actually, none of us, even those who are extremely wed to the materialistic scientific point of view actually believe in that.

[12:27] Unheard Of! Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

So let’s get beyond all of this for a moment and just see what the ancient masters of meditation said.  When the gross physical body drops away, it’s a little bit like a hand leaving a glove.  The glove’s gone, now what’s there?  All the other bodies, the subtle bodies, the body of the mind, the body of the intellect, the body of the senses.  There is a sensory capability that we have that is not body dependent.  

I read recently, and I was always concerned about it being apocryphal because I’d quoted it many times, that Ludwig van Beethoven whose 250th anniversary of his birth just occurred, was somebody who wrote one of his most famous symphonies, his Ninth Symphony while he was stone deaf.

In fact, when first it was performed, he insisted on conducting it himself.  So Beethoven, stone deaf conducted his own Ninth Symphony in his first ever public performance, while he couldn’t hear anything at all.  At the end of his performance, when the final crescendo rang forth, evidently the audience all stood and applauded and cheered loudly, he couldn’t see any of that.  He had his back to the audience, and he was facing his orchestra.  One of the members of the orchestra had to come up and pat him on the shoulder and have him turn around and have a look because he couldn’t hear the audience cheering.  

Was Beethoven capable of “hearing” his Ninth Symphony?  Evidently.  One can “hear” without having a functional ear.

Right now, any one of you can decide to allow a song to play in your head, and you will be hearing it in a sense.  Likewise with sight, inner vision, we can visualize.  We can remember what somebody looks like who is close to us.  We can remember a scene of a beautiful place we went.  We can remember grisly scenes that we don’t wish to remember, but we have them somewhere in our inner vision.  Likewise with smell and taste, likewise with touch.  

[14:39] The Body of the Senses

So our five senses are a body of senses.  They are a subtle body, we call them the indriya maya kosha.  Indriya in Sanskrit means the little indras, the little chiefs.

The five senses, taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound exist as a subtle body, as does intellect, as does mind, as does going subtler, the fine level of feeling, the emotion, as does the individual sense of ‘who I am and what I am’, the Ahankar, the ego structure.  

And so when the gross physical body peels away, one is left with the remaining bodies, and these bodies that we’re talking about, these boundaries that we’re putting on things, are really only just convenient boundaries.  We could probably describe 50 different bodies inside the human condition because there are as many individual statuses and structures as there are considerations of the inner human condition, not considering for a moment the gross physical body of the human.

[15:45] Brain Dead

So the gross physical body peels away.  One finds oneself experiencing, and experiencing with quite a degree of clarity, having a look at, perhaps the gross physical body that just fell away, the people surrounding it if there are any, and feeling as though, “Well, that’s not me.  I’m this other experience.  Why is everyone gathered around that thing?  That’s not me.”  

And then our ability to move beyond that, drawn, as I said in our last conversation about this, towards something akin to light.  It could be light, it could be a fine level of feeling.  It could be some other kind of perceptible phenomenon and, “How is it being perceived,” you might ask, “without a brain, because the brain’s dead?” 

[16:36] Near-Death Experiences

Well, we need to look at the near-death experiences that have been studied in great depth and the way in which it’s been verified and validated that, even when there’s brain death, flat line in the brain, zero respiration, a person’s been pronounced dead by a medical practitioner, they’re able in many cases to come back and describe in quite a bit of detail what they “saw”, what they experienced, things that people said in the room after they were dead and then turning.  

We call these things near-death experiences.  The fact is they’re simply death experiences.  To call them near death is a little bit of a misnomer because to qualify for a true NDE, a near-death experience to use the scientific term for it, one has to have actually been pronounced dead.

One of the greatest books on the subject is by a man by the name of Pim van Lommel, MD, in his book Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience.  This is a book that I strongly recommend that people read and along with that, I recommend my colleague’s book, Deepak Chopra’s book, Life After Death: The Burden of Proof.  I find that a very convincing document that describes the potential for us to continue being conscious after our gross physical bodies die.  

[18:06] differing points of view

So then what happens when the gross physical body dies?  One finds oneself in a state where, as before, one’s reality, one’s consciousness state continues to be reflected back to one.  Let’s just talk about that for a moment.

There are different consciousness states, that is to say there are different states of consciousness that structure a world according to the state of consciousness of the knower.  That all sounds very complicated, let’s simplify it.  

You know people who are in the same room as you have experienced the same situations as you, find themselves in relatively similar circumstances and yet, they’re having an utterly different experience to what you’re having.  Your state of consciousness is creating from that world one reality, which is the product of that state of consciousness.  Somebody else’s state of consciousness is creating from the same world of stimuli, a completely different reality for them.  They’re living in a separate reality to you.  

[19:15] The World is a Model of Your Consciousness State

The world is different according to different states of consciousness.  There’s no real world out there.  What’s “out there” is an infinite mass of potential stimuli, which interacts with your state of consciousness, and your state of consciousness models the world.  The world is a model of your consciousness state.  

This is why you can be so astonished at someone’s conclusions about the situation they find themselves in, or their attitudes about you, or about others when you are in the same situation, same set of circumstances and you’re arriving at a completely different conclusion.

Our consciousness state absolutely determines “the world,” that is to say where we think we are, what we think we’re experiencing.  

Studies have demonstrated that the world that you think you’re in is a model that you’ve built psychophysiologically, to be very specific psychoneurophysiologically.  Your mind uses your brain to form the brain in such a way as to generate those kinds of configurations of the world around you that you think is “out there.”  There’s no real “out there.”  What’s really there is just your consciousness state.  I want to return to an experiment which I’ve mentioned on several other occasions of litter-mate kittens raised in two separate environments.

[20:58] Kitten Consciousness

When a litter of kittens is born, scientists have taken those kittens and divided them into two groups.  Otherwise, healthy kittens, same diet, same everything else, but group one raised for the first six or seven weeks in an environment where all vertical lines have been removed and in a room where there’s only horizontal lines.  You can imagine the way that you would create a room that had no verticality perceptible in it.  

Their littermates were raised in a room that was opposite in the following sense, that only vertical lines were able to be perceived, no horizontal lines, whatsoever.  Kittens develop the interneuronal connections for sight in their brains in the first few weeks after birth.

So, at six weeks later, these two sets of kittens, released from their peculiar environments, were found to have two completely separate realities.  The kittens that were raised in the horizontal lines environment could see a ruler if you held it horizontally in front of them, but if you held it vertically, it didn’t exist.  They would walk straight into it as if it didn’t exist.  

Their siblings would see the vertical, but not the horizontal ruler.  In other words, these two sets of kittens now were living in two completely separate worlds.  

[22:33] The Brain that Changes Itself

The brain is only a print out of this.  Our consciousness is the conceiver and constructor of the brain.  The brain does not on its own start off being hardwired to deliver a universe to us.

If any of you wish to read up on the subject of neuroplasticity, the way that the brain forms itself around our assumptions, then I highly recommend another book, The Brain That Changes Itself, and we’ll find out the author’s name of that.  I’ve forgotten for the moment who it is, but we’ll find out and publish it along with the podcast information [Norman Doidge].  

And so, the principle of neuroplasticity demonstrates that our brains are not actually hardwired to deliver anything in particular to us.  We cause our brains to go into their hardwiring.  Our consciousness conceives and constructs and governs and becomes the body.  Our consciousness creates our chemistry.  Our consciousness creates our neurochemistry.

You have an angry thought, within seconds, we can measure, if we have you in a lab, angry chemistry in the body that wasn’t there before the angry thought.  You have a sad thought, then your chemistry changes and you end up with sad chemistry in your body.  You have a happy thought, then your chemistry will change and you end up with happy chemistry in your body.  

[23:59] The Body is a Reflective State

So let’s go through this declension.  Consciousness conceives the body.  Consciousness constructs the nature and chemical relationships in the body.  Consciousness governs the body.  Consciousness prints itself out, it becomes the body.  Our body is a printout of our consciousness state.  

So what happens when the body drops away?  It was not the source of our emotional states and the world around us.  Our body was simply a means whereby our consciousness state was reflected back to us, our consciousness state was “confirmed” by a material world that our brain learned to select from.  

Our brain learns how to select various kinds of stimuli from the world around us according to the state of consciousness that we’re in, and this is why you could be in an intractable argument with someone about politics, or about any other matter, and their brain is incapable of actually selecting from the same environment that you’re experiencing, the same conclusions that you are arriving at.  Their brain is incapable of seeing and putting together the same sets of stimuli because they’re literally living in a different world.

They’re like the kittens that can only see vertical, and you’re like the kitten that can only see horizontal.  You can argue as much as you like about what’s real.  The fact is the only thing that’s real is whatever consciousness state you’re in.  

[25:42] Your World of Assumptions

The only thing you can actually know is your own consciousness state, your own thoughts and what is it that governs that?  Well, it’s governed by what you’ve been exposed to so far.  What have the regular systematic stimuli been?  What has your consciousness been exposed to?  What is it using to create its model?  

So now, let’s look at what happens in someone who doesn’t know how to meditate.  They grow up in a particular social environment with family, whatever their family may be.

Their parents, the siblings, lack of siblings, lack of parents, but somebody’s around them.  And whoever is around you is providing you with regular stimuli about what the world is saying to you, and then your consciousness begins to form itself.  As it forms itself, your brain begins to create interneuronal connections that confirm and validate the world that you have manifested.  

As the world seems to be reflecting back to you and confirming what it is that you see, that becomes your world of assumptions.  As you grow in your consciousness state, you start to become exposed more consistently, regularly to other stimuli, which might enhance or create a greater explanation for the consciousness state in which you find yourself.

[27:18] The Field of Being

So your consciousness may grow and grow and grow, and begin to accept other realities more readily, provided that you are regularly stimulated, stimulated by the elements of those other realities.  But if you’re not stimulated by those things, they simply do not exist for you.  They just do not exist.  

As you grow and grow in your consciousness, perhaps you have the great good fortune of learning how to transcend.  Vedic Meditation is a technique of transcendence.  It’s a technique of taking your awareness beyond your regular thinking phenomena and experiencing a flat, unmanifest, unbounded field of pure potentiality.  That field of pure potentiality is like the colorless sap in a flower.

It’s colorless, but it can make itself into any color.  The colorless sap in a flower can make itself into a shape, like a flat green leaf.  It can make itself into a petal or into a thorn, but the colorless sap remains colorless and formless, it is unmanifest, the unmanifest aspect of the flower.  

Likewise, when we go into that state of transcendence, our mind doesn’t experience transcendence, our mind becomes that field of Being, identifies with it utterly.  That field of Being as a regular twice-a-day experience is added into the mix of what it is that you are.

[28:57] The Vedic Meditator’s Advantage

“I am not simply a kid who had a particular experience, and I went to school and people said stuff, and I responded with this or that and the environment that I was in was either in some places hostile to the condition of consciousness I was in, or it was accepting of it.  Perhaps I was confirmed and verified and validated in some areas, and rejected and spurned in other areas and that’s what makes me.”  That’s not all there is for a meditator.  

For a meditator, regularly, you experience this layer of you that is always there that is beyond reckoning.  “I am this one, indivisible, whole consciousness field.  I am the unbounded state itself.  The unbounded state is part of my reality.  It’s my deep inner non-changing reality.”  And everything else that you’ve experienced begins to contextualize itself around that one, stable, non-changing, deep inner field of Being.  

As a meditator, you become anchored in that inner consciousness state as your “ultimate reality.”  Other things might be ephemeral realities.  “My body changes, the people around me change, they come, they go, people are born, people die, people live lives, things happen, the world changes, the geography changes, the climate changes, but that deep inner place inside me goes on forever, it doesn’t change.”  

[30:32] Enlightenment – Cosmic Consciousness

When this becomes so solidly realized inside oneself that this is my ultimate identity, we refer to that status as “enlightenment,” cosmic consciousness, meaning, all-inclusive awareness, awareness of all the things that have stimulated you in your lifetime, plus awareness of that which is never changing.  

When that state of consciousness arrives, one finds oneself in a state of complete equanimity.  That means there’s an evenness in the face of losses and gains.  Losses cannot destroy your reality, and gains cannot make you.  You cannot be made by anything, you can’t be broken by anything.  The you, the true you is that place that never changes deep inside you.  

[31:26] Consciousness Seeks Birth

Now when we’ve not yet had that experience, not yet established that reality, and our body dies, then our consciousness state, whatever the consciousness state was when we had a body continues to create a reality for us.

When we don’t have a body, consciousness continues and our consciousness state continues to create the realities that we had prior to our body dying and there’s a bit more freedom.  One doesn’t have the stress of the body anymore so there’s a kind of dreamlike freedom in between body lives.  One is able to, as it were, move around in realms of experience that are not limited by having a body, and there’s quite a greater degree of desire fulfillment that goes on.  

However, since our real goal is to be able to experience heaven on earth and the earth part’s gone now, the body’s gone, there is a natural desire to regain a body and to live that unboundedness, that fulfilled state within a body.  And so, our consciousness seeks birth.

It seeks birth and in the Vedic perspective, according to some of these ancient texts, what happens is our consciousness locates a suitable fetus, and that means there are some choices to be made.  

[33:00] Punya – The Cosmic Credit Rating

One has a certain cosmic, if you like, credit rating.  This is referred to as punya.  In Sanskrit, punya means your spiritual merit.  

Not anybody can just be born to say someone who is a highly enlightened couple.  You have a certain amount of punya, and you also have karma, that means unfinished business., there’s some unfinished business, and that’s going to also determine some of the characteristics by which you make a choice to whom you’re going to be born.

And you also have timing.  You want to be born at a time where you can break free from some of these strictures, and branch out and go and gain your enlightenment.  Perhaps you choose a birth into a family where there’s some adversity, either sociologically or economically or in other ways, because that’s going to give you an environment where you break out and go and seek your freedom independently.  

Perhaps you choose to be born into a family of enlightenment masters.  Perhaps you have that level of punya that you can attain that kind of birth, where you’re just going to be handed knowledge without even asking for it.

[34:22] The Quickening

So many different characteristics may go into what it is that causes us to choose a particular fetus, and then consciousness moves in to that fetus and does what, this is referred to in metaphysical language as “the quickening,” that is to say the awakening of that body as a home for that group of subtle bodies that you are.  Your individuality moves in and then it’s in utero for however many months, and then there is the birthing.  You’re now a neonate and you have quite a good memory of what your mission was, to fulfill certain desires and ultimately to gain enlightenment.  

Then by about the age of six months or so, you begin to find yourself forgetting what your mission was, and you’re at the mercy of, once again, simply being a child or baby, and you live your life accordingly.

There are some stories of great masters who could remember very well what their mission was.  They can remember past lives and so on.  Paramahansa Yogananda in his book, the Autobiography of a Yogi, claims to remember very well and very clearly the several lives that he had prior to the life in which he found himself as a great master, a swami, a master of Vedic philosophy.  

But these people are rare.  Most of us are not given that degree of knowledge, that degree of clarity.  I know this is raising more questions than is perhaps answering, and we could have some question and answer period that we put into a podcast as well at some point.

[36:13] Science-Based Reincarnation

So now I’d like to just use an analogy for the phenomenology of reincarnation that gives at least a degree of comfort to those who have a more scientific analytical bent.

Let’s consider what our body actually is.  The human body arguably consists of somewhere between 50 trillion and 70 trillion cells.  In case you are unfamiliar with the numbers that are often attributed to government spending, a trillion is a thousand billion and a billion is a thousand million.  Somewhere between 50,000 to 70,000 billion cells and, give or take, 200 or 300 million because our body loses about 200 or 300 million, perhaps up to half a million, cells every single day just due to natural attrition.  Skin cells are sloughing off at a phenomenal rate.  Cells in the body, each of them, has a certain lifespan.

Our bone cells are the longest lived of our cells, but even they turn over as cells about once every seven years, whereas our skin, the outer dermal layers of our skin turn over somewhere between two weeks and a month.  The skin cells die and then new layer of fresh skin comes up from underneath it.  

[37:46] Consciousness Surviving Body Death

In between these two realities of two weeks of cell life, all the way up to say seven years of cell life, the body in which you find yourself sitting right now is certainly a lot younger than many things that you’ve collected in your house, or what you have sitting in your closet.  You think that and we think that our bodies are frozen sculptures, but in fact, there’s no evidence of that being true.

Our body is a river of energy and intelligence that is constantly changing over its physical structure.  Its material structure is in constant flux and flow, but, “I am the same me inside here,” you will say.  You are the same you inside there as the you who can remember being 10, or can remember being 15 or 20, or whatever age you choose to consider for the moment.  Naturally as you’ve grown psychologically, as you’ve grown emotionally, as you’ve grown in knowledge, the you inside has become a more knowledgeable you, but the experiencer, the knower, the fundamental idea of the sense of self is the same self.  I’m the same self, but I’ve had many bodies and now I’m speaking about myself at the end now of my seventh decade and moving on.

One can remember way, way back and yet, there’s not one cell in one’s body that was here 10 years ago or 15 years ago.  If the body is constantly different and the consciousness is consistent, it’s static.  Consciousness is surviving body death right now.  

[39:46] The Constant Reality of Reincarnation

There’s a sense in which we can look at the way that a new cell inherits the information of a previous cell.  A previous cell is dying, and it has had a certain amount of experience.  It’s had exposure to a variety of stimuli, and it has a memory of what it did and how it reacted.  And now its task is to get that information from itself, the dying cell, into a new cell which is going to succeed it, not replace it, but succeed it.

And so this succession cell uptakes the information from the previous dying cell, and now we have a model for reincarnation.  At the cellular level, it’s happening by the hundreds of thousands of cells per minute in your life right now.  

Reincarnation is a reality of your body as it is right now.  Your consciousness is being withdrawn from a certain number of hundreds of cells, perhaps hundreds of thousands of cells, today and is now being put into new sets of cells that are succeeding the previous dead cells.  Reincarnation is a constant reality of your body this moment.

[41:16] A Highly-Populated World

“So then why do we have such a populated world?” A question that was asked to my master on many occasions and his way of putting it was like this…  

“You see, the lower species are continuously evolving into more sophisticated nervous systems and arriving at the human level, but the humans are not gaining enlightenment.  They keep coming back as humans, and coming back as humans and coming back as humans because they lack the experience of that underlying transcendence, which would liberate them from the constant need to reincarnate.  

“So the lower species are constantly populating the human level from below, and the humans are in a log jam, going round and round and round reincarnating and reincarnating and reincarnating as humans.”  This from his perspective explained why it is that we have such a populated world.

[42:22] The Attraction of Wisdom

He added one more thing, and that is, “There is knowledge on the earth right now, knowledge about how to gain enlightenment and this is also an attractant to taking birth as a human right now, because it doesn’t matter where you’re born in the world today, you can do some online investigation and find out where the wisdom is, and you can follow those various tracks to a wisdom teaching that will give you the ability perhaps to gain your own enlightenment, cosmic consciousness, in this lifetime.  And because of that being an attractant, it’s a very popular time to be born, rather than waiting around in between bodies for a long time.”

The different jivas, the word jiva, J-I-V-A is the Sanskrit word for your consciousness in between bodies.  The consciousness that is your individuality in a body, and the consciousness that you retain when bodies drop off.  The jivas, plural jiva, plural, are seeking birth right now.  It’s a very popular time to be born because with a minimal amount of investigation and seeking, one can find a suitable wisdom teaching.  

So, from these perspectives of my master, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, it’s a popular time.  

[43:54] Optional Philosophy

Whenever he talked about reincarnation, he also made a point, we don’t wish people to feel put off by this in case they cannot accept this, or get their mind around it that this should be a reason for them not to meditate.  Meditation is a technique that has good scientific reasons for everyone to do it.

Whether or not you accept or participate in the philosophy that has been passed down for thousands of years in the Vedic tradition about reincarnation, it makes no difference.  

[44:32] E = MC2  – Whether You Are Jewish or Not

I’m reminded of a statement made by Professor Brian McCusker who was then the professor of high-energy nuclear physics at the University of Sydney, and he was one of my students and I was one of his students.  I never formally took a degree in physics, but I was allowed by him to sit in on many of his classes when he was teaching PhD level physics at the University of Sydney in Australia.  Brian loved to quote various great physicists when they had quotable quotes.

He put it to me this way, “Maybe you’re a meditator and you get benefits from meditating, but you don’t necessarily want to accept the philosophy of the people who brought meditation into the western world.”  He said, “That’s fine.  It’s a little bit like studying Einstein.”  He said, “You can study the theory of relativity.  You can use the principles of Einsteinian physics.  All of the principles that he came up with work.  They’re functional.  They translate well into applied science, but Einstein was a Jew, and he had very strong Jewish belief.  

“Does it mean that you are becoming a Jew if you begin to use Einsteinian physics, or you understand the mechanics of E equals MC squared?  No, of course not.”

[46:02] A Brilliant Toaster

He said, “What if somebody made a brilliant toaster, but they happened to be a Mormon, and the Mormon created the best toaster ever on earth to make the best crispiest toast and best toasted muffins that you could have your blueberry jam on in the morning?  

“Would you be looking into the philosophy and personal beliefs of the inventor of the toaster, and then refusing to use the toaster because the inventor of the toaster happened to have a different philosophical view to yours?  Of course, you wouldn’t.”  

[46:38] Keep on Meditating

And so I urge meditators who find a little bit of this reincarnation talk to be a bit beyond the pale, to just take it easy and relax and continue practicing your meditation technique.

It is not incumbent on you to buy into reincarnation theory.  However, it is a fascinating explanation for those who wish to look into it and who wish to probe some of the theoretical underpinnings that were passed down through the ages with the technique of Vedic Meditation.  We’ll continue on with another part to this subject at a later date, perhaps with some questions and answers appended, but for the moment, I think it’s probably good for us to conclude this topic now.

Jai Guru Deva.

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