We Are Not These Bodies
Liquid Beauty:
The Soul and Reincarnation - Letter to a Christian
Evidence Of Life After Death
Changing Bodies:
The Main thing is: I'M NOT THIS BODY

Reincarnation pages and links:

You Know You're Not That Body... (excerpt from The Life & Legacy of Srtpad Ananda Tirtha Madhwacarya by JTCd)

Links to related pages; reincarnation, evolution, Darwin's theory:

We Are Not These Bodies

I am not this body but am spirit soul is an essential realization for anyone who wants to transcend death and enter into the spiritual world beyond. It is not simply a matter of saying I am not this body, but of actually realizing it. This is not as simple as it may seem at first.His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

dehi nityam avadhyo 'yam
dehe sarvasya bharata
tasmat sarvani bhutani
na tvam socitum arhasi

"O descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body is eternal and can never be slain. Therefore you need not grieve for any creature." (Bhagavad-gita2.30)
The very first step in self-realization is realizing one's identity as separate from the body. "I am not this body but am spirit soul" is an essential realization for anyone who wants to transcend death and enter into the spiritual world beyond. It is not simply a matter of saying "I am not this body," but of actually realizing it. This is not as simple as it may seem at first. Although we are not these bodies but are pure consciousness, somehow or other we have become encased within the bodily dress. If we actually want the happiness and independence that transcend death, we have to establish ourselves and remain in our constitutional position as pure consciousness.
Living in the bodily conception, our idea of happiness is like that of a man in delirium. Some philosophers claim that this delirious condition of bodily identification should be cured by abstaining from all action. Because these material activities have been a source of distress for us, they claim that we should actually stop these activities. Their culmination of perfection is in a kind of Buddhistic nirvana,in which no activities are performed. Buddha maintained that due to a combination of material elements, this body has come into existence, and that somehow or other if these material elements are separated or dismantled, the cause of suffering is removed. If the tax collectors give us too much difficulty because we happen to possess a large house, one simple solution is to destroy the house. However, Bhagavad-gitaindicates that this material body is not all in all. Beyond this combination of material elements, there is spirit, and the symptom of that spirit is consciousness.
Consciousness cannot be denied. A body without consciousness is a dead body. As soon as consciousness is removed from the body, the mouth will not speak, the eye will not see, nor the ears hear. A child can understand that. It is a fact that consciousness is absolutely necessary for the animation of the body. What is this consciousness? Just as heat or smoke are symptoms of fire, so consciousness is the symptom of the soul. The energy of the soul, or self, is produced in the shape of consciousness. Indeed, consciousness proves that the soul is present. This is not only the philosophy of Bhagavad-gitabut the conclusion of all Vedic literature.
The impersonalist followers of Sankaracarya, as well as the Vaisnavas following in the disciplic succession from Lord Sri Krsna, acknowledge the factual existence of the soul, but the Buddhist philosophers do not. The Buddhists contend that at a certain stage the combination of matter produces consciousness, but this argument is refuted by the fact that although we may have all the constituents of matter at our disposal, we cannot produce consciousness from them. All the material elements may be present in a dead man, but we cannot revive that man to consciousness. This body is not like a machine. When a part of a machine breaks down, it can be replaced, and the machine will work again, but when the body breaks down and consciousness leaves the body, there is no possibility of our replacing the broken part and rejuvenating the consciousness. The soul is different from the body, and as long as the soul is there, the body is animate. But there is no possibility of making the body animate in the absence of the soul.
Because we cannot perceive the soul by our gross senses, we deny it. Actually there are so many things that are there which we cannot see. We cannot see air, radio waves, or sound, nor can we perceive minute bacteria with our blunt senses, but this does not mean they are not there. By the aid of the microscope and other instruments, many things can be perceived which had previously been denied by the imperfect senses. Just because the soul, which is atomic in size, has not been perceived yet by senses or instruments, we should not conclude that it is not there. It can, however, be perceived by its symptoms and effects.
In Bhagavad-gitaSri Krsna points out that all of our miseries are due to false identification with the body.

matra-sparsas tu kaunteya
agamapayino 'nityas
tams titiksasva bharata

"O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of heat and cold, happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed." (Bg. 2.14) In the summertime we may feel pleasure from contact with water, but in the winter we may shun that very water because it is too cold. In either case, the water is the same, but we perceive it as pleasant or painful due to its contact with the body.
All feelings of distress and happiness are due to the body. Under certain conditions the body and mind feel happiness and distress. Factually we are hankering after happiness, for the soul's constitutional position is that of happiness. The soul is part and parcel of the Supreme Being, who is sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah--the embodiment of knowledge, bliss, and eternity. Indeed, the very name Krsna,which is nonsectarian, means "the greatest pleasure." Krsmeans "greatest," and nameans "pleasure." Krsna is the epitome of pleasure, and being part and parcel of Him, we hanker for pleasure. A drop of ocean water has all the properties of the ocean itself, and we, although minute particles of the Supreme Whole, have the same energetic properties as the Supreme.
The atomic soul, although so small, is moving the entire body to act in so many wonderful ways. In the world we see so many cities, highways, bridges, great buildings, monuments, and great civilizations, but who has done all this? It is all done by the minute spirit spark within the body. If such wonderful things can be performed by the minute spirit spark, we cannot begin to imagine what can be accomplished by the Supreme Spirit Whole. The natural hankering of the minute spirit spark is for the qualities of the whole--knowledge, bliss, and eternality--but these hankerings are being frustrated due to the material body. The information on how to attain the soul's desire is given in Bhagavad-gita.
At present we are trying to attain eternity, bliss, and knowledge by means of an imperfect instrument. Actually, our progress toward these goals is being blocked by the material body; therefore we have to come to the realization of our existence beyond the body. Theoretical knowledge that we are not these bodies will not do. We have to keep ourselves always separate as masters of the body, not as servants. If we know how to drive a car well, it will give us good service; but if we do not know how, we will be in danger.

The body is composed of senses, and the senses are always hungry after their objects. The eyes see a beautiful person and tell us, "Oh, there is a beautiful girl, a beautiful boy. Let's go see." The ears are telling us, "Oh, there is very nice music. Let us go hear it." The tongue is saying, "Oh, there is a very nice restaurant with palatable dishes. Let us go." In this way the senses are dragging us from one place to another, and because of this we are perplexed.

indriyanam hi caratam
yan mano 'nuvidhiyate
tad asya harati prajnam
vayur navam ivambhasi

"As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, even one of the senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man's intelligence." (Bg. 2.67)
It is imperative that we learn how to control the senses. The name gosvamiis given to someone who has learned how to master the senses. Gomeans "senses," and svamimeans "controller"; so one who can control the senses is to be considered a gosvami.Krsna indicates that one who identifies with the illusory material body cannot establish himself in his proper identity as spirit soul. Bodily pleasure is flickering and intoxicating, and we cannot actually enjoy it, because of its momentary nature. Actual pleasure is of the soul, not the body. We have to mold our lives in such a way that we will not be diverted by bodily pleasure. If somehow we are diverted, it is not possible for us to establish our consciousness in its true identity beyond the body.

vyavasayatmika buddhih
samadhau na vidhiyate

traigunya-visaya veda
nistraigunyo bhavarjuna
nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho
niryoga-ksema atmavan

"In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination for devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place. The Vedasdeal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the Self." (Bg. 2.44-45)

The word vedameans "book of knowledge." There are many books of knowledge, which vary according to the country, population, environment, etc. In India the books of knowledge are referred to as the Vedas.In the West they are called the Old Testament and New Testament. The Muhammadans accept the Koran. What is the purpose for all these books of knowledge? They are to train us to understand our position as pure soul. Their purpose is to restrict bodily activities by certain rules and regulations, and these rules and regulations are known as codes of morality. The Bible, for instance, has ten commandments intended to regulate our lives. The body must be controlled in order for us to reach the highest perfection, and without regulative principles, it is not possible to perfect our lives. The regulative principles may differ from country to country or from scripture to scripture, but that doesn't matter, for they are made according to the time and circumstances and the mentality of the people. But the principle of regulated control is the same. Similarly, the government sets down certain regulations to be obeyed by its citizens. There is no possibility of making advancement in government or civilization without some regulations. In the previous verse, Sri Krsna tells Arjuna that the regulative principles of the Vedasare meant to control the three modes of material nature--goodness, passion, and ignorance (traigunya-visaya vedah). However, Krsna is advising Arjuna to establish himself in his pure constitutional position as spirit soul, beyond the dualities of material nature.
As we have already pointed out, these dualities--such as heat and cold, pleasure and pain--arise due to the contact of the senses with their objects. In other words, they are born of identification with the body. Krsna indicates that those who are devoted to enjoyment and power are carried away by the words of the Vedas,which promise heavenly enjoyment by sacrifice and regulated activity. Enjoyment is our birthright, for it is the characteristic of the spirit soul, but the spirit soul tries to enjoy materially, and this is the mistake.
Everyone is turning to material subjects for enjoyment and is compiling as much knowledge as possible. Someone is becoming a chemist, physicist, politician, artist, or whatever. Everyone knows something of everything or everything of something, and this is generally known as knowledge. But as soon as we leave the body, all of this knowledge is vanquished. In a previous life one may have been a great man of knowledge, but in this life he has to start again by going to school and learning how to read and write from the beginning. Whatever knowledge was acquired in the previous life is forgotten. The situation is that we are actually seeking eternal knowledge, but this cannot be acquired by this material body. We are all seeking enjoyment through these bodies, but bodily enjoyment is not our actual enjoyment. It is artificial. We have to understand that if we want to continue in this artificial enjoyment, we will not be able to attain our position of eternal enjoyment.
The body must be considered a diseased condition. A diseased man cannot enjoy himself properly; a man with jaundice, for instance, will taste sugar candy as bitter, but a healthy man can taste its sweetness. In either case, the sugar candy is the same, but according to our condition it tastes different. Unless we are cured of this diseased conception of bodily life, we cannot taste the sweetness of spiritual life. Indeed, it will taste bitter to us. At the same time, by increasing our enjoyment of material life, we are further complicating our diseased condition. A typhoid patient cannot eat solid food, and if someone gives it to him to enjoy, and he eats it, he is further complicating his malady and is endangering his life. If we really want freedom from the miseries of material existence, we must minimize our bodily demands and pleasures.
Actually, material enjoyment is not enjoyment at all. Real enjoyment does not cease. In the Mahabharatathere is a verse--ramante yogino 'nante--to the effect that the yogis(yogino), those who are endeavoring to elevate themselves to the spiritual platform, are actually enjoying (ramante), but their enjoyment is anante,endless. This is because their enjoyment is in relation to the supreme enjoyer (Rama), Sri Krsna. Bhagavan Sri Krsna is the real enjoyer, and Bhagavad-gita(5.29) confirms this:

bhoktaram yajna-tapasam
suhrdam sarva-bhutanam
jnatva mam santim rcchati

"The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate enjoyer of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries." Bhogameans "enjoyment," and our enjoyment comes from understanding our position as the enjoyed. The real enjoyer is the Supreme Lord, and we are enjoyed by Him.

An example of this relationship can be found in the material world between the husband and the wife: the husband is the enjoyer (purusa), and the wife is the enjoyed (prakrti). The word primeans "woman." Purusa,or spirit, is the subject, and prakrti,or nature, is the object. The enjoyment, however, is participated in both by the husband and the wife. When actual enjoyment is there, there is no distinction that the husband is enjoying more or the wife is enjoying less. Although the male is the predominator and the female is the predominated, there is no division when it comes to enjoyment. On a larger scale, no living entity is the enjoyer.
God expanded into many, and we constitute those expansions. God is one without a second, but He willed to become many in order to enjoy. We have experience that there is little or no enjoyment in sitting alone in a room talking to oneself. However, if there are five people present, our enjoyment is enhanced, and if we can discuss Krsna before many, many people, the enjoyment is all the greater. Enjoyment means variety. God became many for His enjoyment, and thus our position is that of the enjoyed. That is our constitutional position and the purpose for our creation. Both enjoyer and enjoyed have consciousness, but the consciousness of the enjoyed is subordinate to the consciousness of the enjoyer. Although Krsna is the enjoyer and we the enjoyed, the enjoyment can be participated in equally by everyone. Our enjoyment can be perfected when we participate in the enjoyment of God. There is no possibility of our enjoying separately on the bodily platform. Material enjoyment on the gross bodily platform is discouraged throughout Bhagavad-gita.

matra-sparsas tu kaunteya
agamapayino 'nityas
tams titiksasva bharata

"O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of heat and cold, happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed." (Bg. 2.14)
The gross material body is a result of the interaction of the modes of material nature, and it is doomed to destruction.

antavanta ime deha
nityasyoktah saririnah
anasino 'prameyasya
tasmad yudhyasva bharata

"Only the material body of the indestructible, immeasurable, and eternal living entity is subject to destruction; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata." (Bg. 2.18) Sri Krsna therefore encourages us to transcend the bodily conception of existence and attain to our actual spiritual life.

gunan etan atitya trin
dehi deha-samudbhavan
janma-mrtyu jara-duhkhair
vimukto 'mrtam asnute

"When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes [goodness, passion, and ignorance], he can become free from birth, death, old age, and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life." (Bg. 14.20)

To establish ourselves on the pure brahma-bhutaspiritual platform, above the three modes, we must take up the method of Krsna consciousness. The gift of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the chanting of the names of Krsna--Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare--facilitates this process. This method is called bhakti-yogaor mantra-yoga,and it is employed by the highest transcendentalists. How the transcendentalists realize their identity beyond birth and death, beyond the material body, and transfer themselves from the material universe to the spiritual universes are the subjects of the following chapters.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada from Beyond Birth and Death.

Liquid Beauty

Once upon a time a prince met very beautiful young girl. He visited her house to see her but she was very chaste. The prince wanted to marry this beautiful girl but she didn't want to marry him. So she said to him, You want to marry me, you are attracted by my beauty, so I will distill my beauty in the next ten days, I will distill my beauty into Madhudvisa dasa

So the prince agreed. Then the beautiful girl said, "If you still want to take me as your wife then you can take me." The prince replied, "All right, that's fine, I'll come back in ten days and certainly I'll take you as my wife my beautiful young maiden."
As soon he left the beautiful young girl started to take very strong purgatives [medicine which would cause her to vomit and pass stool]. She kept all the vomit and stool in a big pot. She didn't eat anything, she was simply passing stool and vomiting, so within ten days her whole beautiful body was destroyed. She was a gray color, she was very skinny, very weak, you couldn't recognize her as the same person.
After ten days the prince came back to visit the beautiful young girl. She opened the door for him. When the prince saw her he said, "I have come to see one very beautiful lady who I am about to marry." So the girl said, "I am that beautiful young lady." He replied, "No it isn't true. How could it be possible?" She said, "Yes I am that beautiful young lady, I have distilled my beauty, come and see it." She took the prince to the place where she was keeping the big pot containing all of her stool, vomit and urine and she said, "Here is my beauty."
This is the story of liquid beauty. In reality the material body is simply a bag of pus, stool, urine, blood, mucus, so many horrible things. And we are simply attracted to the beautiful skin and as soon as the skin is no longer beautiful we are not attracted any more.
Our society is simply going on the basis of this "skin disease." So we see so many divorces and so many marriages. A man is being attracted to a woman on the basis of the skin. He thinks, "Oh, here is a very nice woman. She has very nice hair, a very beautiful complexion, a very nice bodily structure. She is a very beautiful woman." The woman is thinking in the same way, "This is a very handsome man, he is very strong, very beautiful, a very attractive man." Then they come together and for a short time enjoy sex life and soon there is some problem with the sex life, some difficulty, so they say, "I'm sorry it's just not working any more, the magic has gone from our relationship. I have to find somebody else." Then there is a divorce.
Everything is based on the skin, and the skin is temporary. We can never be satisfied, we can never be happy with a relationship based on the skin because our skin is a very temporary thing.
A beautiful girl is beautiful for a few years only, it is a fleeting moment only. Every bodygets old, every bodygets sick, every body dies. But we are not the bodywe are the spirit, the soul. The soul is eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss (sat cit ananda). But currently the soul is covered by the material body and we are misidentifying the body with the self. We think if we satisfy the body we will become satisfied. But, no matter how hard we try to satisfy the body, the soul, the spirit is never satisfied by any amount of material so-called "pleasure."
If we are attracted by the skin only, the beauty of the skin, we're bound to be dissatisfied because the person, I, the self, is different from the body. Krishna describes in the Bhagavad-gita (2.13):
dehino 'smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati
Here Krishna says the soul, even in this life, is changing bodies. In the beginning we have a child's body, then we get a boy's body, then a man's body then we get an old man's body, so the time of death is simply another change of body. A self-realized soul can understand this, he can see this.
Our bodies are always changing. You can see. No one can argue with this. It's a statement of a very plain fact. I have this man's body now, previously I had a boy's body, prior to that I had a child's body and before that a babies body. They are all different bodies.
I can see, my parents have the pictures and they can show you I had these different bodies. Now those bodies have gone. Now I have this man's body and in due course it will also be finished and I'll have an old man's body and ultimately that old mans body will be gone and I will be taken away to another body at the time of death.
This is the process of life and death in the material world. The bodies are changing but the soul is not changing. I the person am the same person I was in the babies body, I'm the same person I was in the child's body, I'm the same person I was in the boys body. I can remember things, I can remember my childhood body, I can remember my boys body. I can remember the activities I performed in these bodies. These activities are performed by me, but the body I had then is gone. So we can understand that I, the self, the person, I am permanent, I am eternal, but the body is always changing. I am not this body, I am the occupier of this body, I am the driver of this body, I am the controller of this body, but I am not the body. The body is a machine.

Hare Krishna.

The Soul and Reincarnation. Letter to a Christian

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. Madhudvisa dasa

Dear John,
Hello, Hare Krishna. Thanks for the letter and this time I can understand what you are saying better. I just want to say that I was brought up as a Christian by very good Christian parents and I always believed in God, the Bible and Lord Jesus Christ. And I still do. I never considered that I gave up being a Christian as when I studied the philosophy of Krishna consciousness I found it was the same philosophy Jesus was preaching, only in a different language and presented in a different cultural background.
I very much appreciate the idea that man is made in the image of God. We completely agree with that. Our form is made in the image of God's form. So God has two hands, two legs, etc. The difference between His form and our form in the material world is He is eternally youthful, full of knowledge and full of bliss, whereas in the material world our material bodies are temporary [getting old and dying], full of ignorance and full of anxiety. But we do have an original spiritual body, which is currently covered by this material body. And that spiritual body has the same qualities as God's body [eternally youthful, full of knowledge and full of pleasure]
(p>Although your letter is easier for me to understand than before you have introduced another aspect of the Christian philosophy that always made me uncomfortable--That some of your Christian friends think the animals have souls, but not human souls, but you don't think so, because it is confusing, but if I like I can think like that... It's not nice to my logical brain. I used to work as a computer systems analyst and was trained up in "logical" thinking where everything is neatly explained. But this explanation is not at all 'neat.' I was greatly relieved when I read the Bhagavad-gitaand other Vedic scriptures and found a very 'neat' and logical philosophy that was not at all in conflict with what Jesus teaches in the Bible. As in Christianity where there are many different groups, also in India there are many different groups of followers of the Vedas, and they have slightly differing understandings on certain philosophical points also. But they all completely agree on all the basic points like the nature of the soul, karma, reincarnation, etc. It is because these things are so very clearly explained in the Bhagavad-gita by Krishna that no one disagrees with His explanations. I can give you quotes from the Vedic scriptures to back up every point:
"O son of Bharata, as the Sun alone illuminates this universe, so does the living entity [the soul], one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness." [Bg. 13.34]
There are hundreds of verses so I will not put them all here, but the point is the science of the soul, reincarnation, karma, etc is clearly described in the Bhagavad-gita and other scriptures so there is no disagreement about the understanding of these points among ANY of the different spiritual groups in India. Even the Buddhists, although the conclusion of their philosophy is vastly different from what Jesus taught or what Krishna taught, their understanding of the soul, reincarnation, karma, etc is IDENTICAL with ours.
So while Christians really can't agree on the nature of the soul, etc, ALL Eastern spiritual groups completely agree on these points. Although there is disagreement on some more subtle points, these basic principles are accepted by absolutely everyone.
I have sometimes thought about why this is so and I studied the development of the Christian philosophy at one time. It seems that most of the Christian philosophy and doctrines do not come from the Bible directly. There is a long string of philosophers who gradually developed the Christian philosophy starting with the Greeks before Christ: Socrates [who believed in reincarnation], Plato and Aristotle, then after Christ Plotinus then Origen who is considered the founder of formal Christian philosophy, then Augustine then Thomas Aquinas who compiled the entire church doctrine in "Summa Theologiae" which is the official philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church...
So all these philosophers [and others] gradually developed the Christian doctrine. Therefore it is largely "man-made" and as a result contains many faults and illogical contradictions.
The Vedic philosophy, however, was not constructed by philosophers. It comes straight from the Bhagavad-gitawhich was spoken personally by Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead when He was physically present on this planet 5,000 years ago in India. It is standard, completely logical and perfect and EVERYONE in any field of Eastern spiritualism accepts it as the standard.
As for your question about souls in bacteria, etc. Yes there are souls in bacteria. It becomes a bit mind-blowing when you start to realize how many souls there are and therefore how fortunate we are to actually have the human form of life which we can use to reestablish our relationship with God and after leaving this body go back home, back to Godhead. That opportunity is only available in the human form of life. That is why the human form of life is so valuable and special.
So we, the person, are only one soul. Each body is occupied by one soul who is conscious of the entire body and generally the soul is present in the heart. But, as you have hinted at, the body contains many other living entities. Maybe every cell has a soul even. Things do get a little unclear [at least to me at the present moment] when one tries to determine exactly at what point there are souls. But certainly there is a soul in every bacteria...
And the quality of the soul in the bacteria and the quality of your soul and my soul is identical... It may seem hard to believe. But what differentiates you and me from the bacteria is only our consciousness. According to our consciousness we are awarded a particular type of body. That is the basic principle of reincarnation:
"Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will atain without fail." [Bhagavad-gita 8.6]
So we are creating our own future. You find the same idea in the Bible, "What you sow, so shall you reap." If we elevate our consciousness to God consciousness and think of God at the time of death we will go to God. However if we degrade our consciousness and at the time of death are thinking just like an animal our next body will be an animals body. And the same soul can go down so low as the bacteria and so high as Lord Brahma who is the first living entity born in the universe and who supervises the running of the whole universe. The quality of the soul is always identical, it is only the consciousness of the particular living entity that determines whether he will be born as a worm or as a very well-placed human being.
The whole thing is probably a bit difficult to grasp and accept if you have not ever contemplated it before, but the more you find out about the Vedic philosophy the more you see how beautiful and perfect it is and how it so nicely explains everything in such a wonderfully logical and consistent way.
I would very much encourage you to read the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. It is a very famous book and has always been a great source of inspiration for thinkers, scholars, philosophers and anyone who reads it. You can read it at http://www.asitis.comand you can also download it there to read off-line as well. I guarantee you will get a lot of inspiration and strength from it. You don't have to give up being a Christian, you can understand God as a Christian, but if you read Bhagavad-gita you will get a better, more complete understanding of God.
You have been telling me that we are made in the form of God, but usually when I ask Christians what God looks like they tend to become confused. Do you know what God looks like?
As for your question, "How do you explain that your concept of the soul is not only immortal, but also able to reincarnate?" It is nicely described in Bhagavad Gita:
"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." (Bg 2.13)
"That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul." (Bg. 2.17)
"For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain. (Bg. 2.20)
"As a person puts on new garments, giving up the old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones." (Bg. 2.22)
"The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas. Thus he takes one kind of body and again quits it to take another." (Bg. 2.18)
So you can see that the soul is eternal, therefore he existed before this body and will continue to exist after this body. His next body is determined by his consciousness at the time of leaving this body.
"Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will atain without fail." [Bhagavad-gita 8.6]
So it is very logical. If one is God conscious at the time of death, he goes to God, if he is in animal consciousness he gets an animal's body, if he is in human consciousness he gets a human body, etc.
"Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods, those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me [Krishna, God] will live with Me." (Bg. 9.25)
So I would encourage you to read the Bhagavad-gita As It Isby the Founder-Acarya of the Hare Krishna movement, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupadaand I am sure you will find it very interesting and enlivening. The second chapter describes the soul very well so if you are particularly interested in the soul that is the place to look.
Thanks for the letter. Looking forward to hear what you think and please check out the Bhagavad-gita as http://www.asitis.com
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

Madhudvisa dasa

Evidence Of Life After Death

Scientists investigating 'near-death' experiences say they have found evidence to suggest that consciousness can continue to exist after the brain has ceased to function. BBC NEWS

However, the claim has been challenged by neurological experts.

The researchers interviewed 63 patients who had survived heart attacks within a week of the experience.

Of these 56 had no recollection of the period of unconsciousness they experienced whilst, effectively, clinically dead.

However, seven had memories, four of which counted as near-death experiences.

They told of feelings of peace and joy, time speeded up, heightened senses, lost awareness of body, seeing a bright light, entering another world, encountering a mystical being and coming to "a point of no return".

Oxygen levels
None of the patients were found to be receiving low oxygen levels - which some scientists believe may be responsible for so-called "near-death" experiences.
Lead researcher Dr Sam Parnia, of Southampton General Hospital, said nobody fully understands how brain cells generate thoughts.
He said it might be that the mind or consciousness is independent of the brain.
He said: "When we examine brain cells we see that brain cells are like any other cells, they can produce proteins and chemicals, but they are not really capable of producing the subjective phenomenon of thought that we have.

"The brain is definitely needed to manifest the mind, a bit like how a television set can take what essentially are waves in the air and translate them into picture and sound."

Full story at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_986000/986177.stm

Changing Bodies

We are not these material bodies, we are the spiritual force, the spiritual spark, the soul within. These bodies are simply an outward dress only. As I change my clothes yet still remain the same person so I also change my bodies but I am still the same person. Madhudvisa dasa

I am not an Australian, an Indian, a man, a woman, a human being or an animal, I am eternally a part and parcel of the Supreme Person, Krishna, so I have the same qualities as Him, although He has the qualities in fullness whereas I have the qualities in minute quantity. These original pure spiritual qualities are now covered because I have accepted this material body and I am falsely identifying with it.

There is a spiritual evolution of consciousness. We get a particular type of body out of the 8,400,000 different species of life according to our karma. Every living entity is a spirit soul and that spirit soul takes shelter within a material body in this world according to its karma. The living entity who has taken shelter in the dog's body is no different to the living entity in the human body. Only the consciousness is different. Each type of body is provided according to superior arrangement to allow a living entity to suffer or enjoy in a particular way according to what he deserves and desires.

This material world has been created by Krishna to allow us to fulfil our desires to enjoy separately from Him and to simultaneously frustrate us so ultimately we come again to our original pure consciousness of serving Krishna in the spiritual world. But while we have material desires to fulfil we have to remain within the material world and take birth again, and again, and again... This cycle of birth and death has been going on since time immoral and it is very difficult to trace out the beginning of our material life.

We are more or less stuck here perpetually, sometimes with a human body, sometimes with a dogs body, sometimes with a trees body and so on according to our karma. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krishna Himself in the mood of a devotee, while instructing His principal disciple, Rupa Gosvami, said:

brahmanda brahmite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-krpaya paya bhakti-lata-bija

"According to their karma,all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, one such person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 19.151)

This is a scientific process, we are travelling from one body to another, not only on this planet but on innumerable others as well. This earth planet is situated in the middle of the universe and above this planet there are seven levels of heavenly planets each progressively better than the previous one, similarly, below this planet there are seven levels of hellish planets and we, the spirit souls, are travelling throughout all these planets. Bhagavad-gitastates(14.18):

urdhvam gacchanti sattva-stha
madhye tisthanti rajasah
adho gacchanti tamasah

"Those situated in the mode of goodness gradually go upward to the higher planets; those in the mode of passion live on the earthly planets; and those in the mode of ignorance go down to the hellish worlds."

So according to our actions in this life our next body is determined. We have some control over our future. If we act sinfully we will be degraded in the next life to animal bodies or to the hellish planets to suffer, if we act in the mode of goodness we will be elevated with a birth in a wealthy family or a pious family or we may be transferred to the heavenly planets for a higher standard of life there. We are responsible for our actions in the human form of life, this is the difference between a human being and an animal. The animals are simply eating, sleeping, mating and defending. These are the basic animal instincts. The human body, however, provides us with developed consciousness and a degree of independence. The tiger in the jungle has no choice as to his eatables, by his bodily constitution he has to eat flesh, he is forced to do so by nature. Therefore for the tiger or any other animal there is no question of sin because the animals don't have any choice, they are simply working according to their nature to fulfil their base desires. But human life is different. We have a certain amount of freedom to chose our activities and we have developed consciousness to ponder on the more subtle questions which should interest any sane person. Questions like: Who am I? Why am I suffering? What is the purpose of life?

It is the primary purpose of human life to find the answers to these questions, the animal demands of eating, sleeping, mating and defending have to be met also, of course, but these demands are secondary. The real purpose of human life is to make a solution to the problem of repeated birth and death in the 8,400,000 species of life and to become liberated and enter into the spiritual world to re-establish our original lost relationship with Krishna.
If, in the human form, we concentrate only on the animal needs of eating, sleeping, mating and defending then we are no better than the animals, we are two-legged animals, and our next birth will be within the animal kingdom. If we fall again into the animal species of life it is the greatest loss. This human life is a great opportunity to make an end to the cycle of birth and death and it is a very rare opportunity. If you look at the total number of living entities on this planet compared to the number of human beings you will see that human life is very rare. If we loose the human form who knows how many thousands or millions of births we may have to suffer before again getting the chance of human life.

There are four primary causes of suffering in material life: birth, old age, disease and death. These sufferings are inevitable for all of us. We don't like to be sick, we don't want to get old, and we certainly don't want to die. These suffering conditions are unnatural to us because the nature of the soul is to be sat-cit-ananda,to be eternally youthful, to be full of knowledge, and to experience full pleasure. This is our natural position, but here, in the material world, we are forced to identify with a body which is mortal, full of ignorance and full of suffering. We can never actually be happy if we identify with the body, if we think, "I am an Australian man, I am a women, etc." So human life is meant for eradicating this bodily concept and coming to the point of understanding that "I am an eternal servant of Krishna and my business is to serve Krishna." This is the perfect conclusion and if one is convinced of this and acts as a servant of Krishna, this will be the last body he has to take in the material world. At the end of this body he will be transferred to the spiritual world never to return to this miserable place of suffering.

na tad bhasayate suryo
na sasanko na pavakah
yad gatva na nivartante
tad dhama paramam mama

"That abode of Mine is not illuminated by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world."(Bhagavad-gita 15.6)
(An article by Madhudvisa dasa)

The Main thing is: I'M NOT THIS BODY

The main thing is we understand we are not the body so no matter what we do to the body it will not give us satisfaction in the long term. Madhudvisa dasa

The body is a machine, like a motor car is a machine. I am within this body as the driver is within the motor car. Now the motor car has many needs. It needs gas, it needs oil, it needs to have it's tires pumped up and so on. But if one forgets the driver in the car and simply concentrates on the machine and the needs of the machine the driver will not be satisfied.

He will be sitting in the car starving. Because the food of the driver is different from the food of the car. You can not feed the driver gas. His food is different.
So we are the driver of this body. This body has so many needs, but these bodily needs are different from our needs, we are the driver of the body, the soul within the body, "the ghost in the machine..."

So our idea is to satisfy the bodily needs only as much as necessary to maintain the body in a healthy condition and spend the rest of our time and energy in spiritual activities which help us to reawaken our original spiritual consciousness, these are our real needs, the needs of the soul.

It is not that we do not eat, or sleep, or have sex or defend, but these things are done in a regulated way to maintain the body in a healthy condition. But as the motor car is simply a vehicle which is meant to transport the driver to his destination, we see this material body as a vehicle which can be used to transport the driver--the soul--to his ultimate destination: back home, back to Godhead.

If we spend all our time trying to satisfy the senses of our body we will waste all our time and energy in this way and become completely distracted from the real purpose of life which is to get out of this material world and get back home to the spiritual world where we will get an eternally youthful spiritual body full of knowledge and full of pleasure... Then we will really be happy...

Please let me know what you think.
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!
Madhudvisa dasa


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