Ideals and Values/Jnana Spiritual Knowledge

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia


What is our Relationship with Bhagavān?

This world is like an ocean and the endless air filled sky above it is like Brahman. We are like bubbles of air that is identical in properties to the air in the sky, but separated from the sky because we are located close to the sea bed. When at the bottom of the ocean, the bubble is in great darkness and pressure. But nothing can stop it from rising from the murky depths of the ocean to become one with the atmosphere above the ocean.

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Hindu Dharma says that we human beings are souls that are like a small part of the Divine. We are separated from Brahman only temporarily and will definitely become one with the Divine at the end. Because we are Divine, we are not weak. Rather, we are strong. We are not sinners, we are pure. We are not evil, we are virtuous. Therefore, we must always think of ourselves in positive terms. Whenever we are in a sad or a difficult situation (e.g., before a mid-term), let us remember that we are not weak, we are not evil and we are not sinners. With our efforts, we will surely come out of it and succeed.

Nothing in this World is Permanent, except our soul and Bhagavān

Ups and Downs in our Life: The only thing constant in our life is change! We all go through good and bad times. Sometimes, we may become very rich, only to lose all our wealth later. Sometimes we are poor and become wealthy after some time. We get excellent grades in a mid-term because we studied well and poor grades in the next one. We may come across a wonderful person in our life who becomes our best friend in a short time. We get betrayed by someone we thought to be our friend and this causes us a lot of grief. We may even see our dear one die. But do any of these feelings of happiness, sadness, pain, pleasure etc. last forever? No! If we look carefully around us, we will conclude that no one, including ourselves, is always in a terrible situation or always in a good situation.

The lesson to learn from this truth of life is that we should not get depressed or disheartened when we are passing through a bad time in our life. We should show patience. We should keep our spirits high. We should keep trying for a better tomorrow. We must not give up hope. Why? Because bad times will definitely pass away sometime and we will see good days again.

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But there are two things that are permanent in this world which are your own soul and Bhagavān. In the Gitā, Krishna says, "The soul is never born and it does not ever die. The soul is not something that exists at one time and then vanishes the next. The soul is not something that did not exist at one time and then took birth and came into being subsequently. It is unchanging, eternal and primeval and it is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.[1] Weapons cannot cleave the soul, fire cannot burn it. Water does not wet or drown it not does wind dry it. [2]

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We Never Die! When we die, it is only our body that dies, not our soul. Then where does the soul go. Krishna replies, "Just as a human casts off worn out clothing and puts on new, the soul too casts off old bodies and enters into new ones.[3] Just as the soul dwelling in the body passes through childhood, youth and old age, in a similar manner, it travels from one body to another. Therefore, the wise do not get deluded over these changes.[4] When the soul enters a body, it becomes the master of that body and when it leaves the body on death, it takes the mind and senses along with it, just as the wind takes fragrances from their sources, the flowers.[5]

Rebirth or Resurrection?

Followers of Abrahamic religions believe that we live only one life. After we die, we go to a permanent heaven or hell on the basis of our karma. It is immaterial whether we believed in the dogmas of the religion or not. However, Hindu Dharma and Buddhism teach the doctrine of rebirth. Hindu Sages say that we are a Divine soul which has taken millions of births in the past and will be reborn in another body after the death of the present one, till that soul becomes one with Brahman. Our bodies are just like a temporary garment that we wear and differences of race, gender etc. are just superficial. In reality, we are very similar because we all have the same type of soul.

Evidence from modern science, medicine and parapsychology proves that the Hindu-Buddhist belief is the correct one. Many people have had "Near-Death Experiences" (NDE), "Out of Body Experiences", they have recalled their past life under deep hypnosis,[6] or even spontaneously. Children remember things that they could not have been told and people have spoken languages that are extinct for centuries. Due to this overwhelming evidence, more and more Abrahamic religion followers have started believing in the Hindu doctrine of rebirth.

Do not get perturbed by Momentary Things

When someone is able learn about his past lives, their entire perspective of their own current life changes. They are no longer shaken by temporary ups and downs in their lives. They no longer run after trivial pursuits like getting the latest cell phone or the latest car or the latest video game all the time. This is because they understand that all these things are temporary. "They did not exist in the past and they will be super-ceded by newer things soon in the future. Instead, they start living their lives with a purpose", a higher purpose that involves being good to others and being devoted to Bhagavān.

Go after the Permanent Thing: Your soul and Bhagavān

This world keeps changing always but there is one thing that is permanent is our soul, because it is a part of the Divine. And yet, don't all of us spend 99% of our time running after temporary things like cars, electronics, good clothing, fame, wealth, a lofty mansion and so on. How much time do we spend to understand our soul, which alone is permanent and which alone stays with us from one lifetime to another? Hardly any!

Therefore, we need to set our priorities right. We should make a greater effort to lead a spiritual life devoted to knowing and understanding our spiritual nature and Bhagavān. There will come a time when all that we ran after throughout our life is left behind in this world. Only the good deeds we had done, and the spiritual wisdom we had acquired will accompany us. Therefore, let us resolve that as students, we will always, in addition to our school and college education, acquire a spiritual education and understanding. Yes, you must work hard to be successful financially in your life, but not at the cost of losing the most precious things that you have your character and your soul.

Story: Sage Jaigishavya Recalls his Past Lives Through intense meditation, Sage Jaigishavya came to see all of his past lives, across billions of years. He saw that in some lives, he was human, in others, he was animal, and yet in others, he lived in heaven. But, nothing seemed permanent. He discovered that he had lived in multiple universes and had been born again and had died millions of times. Sometimes, he had been happy, at other times, he was sad. But none of these states was permanent. However, his soul stayed the same in all these lives. Therefore, he realized that there was not much gain in getting excited over little things, or in getting upset over temporary setbacks. Instead, one must continue to make progress in their entire life despite temporary setbacks.

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Another Sage named Avtāya asked him, "So what will you consider the greatest source of happiness in all your lives?" Jaigishavya replied, "True happiness results not from indulging in all kinds of temporary pleasures, but by being a balanced person and being contented. And even greater happiness is being one with Brahman, because that alone brings complete and eternal joy."

Benefits of Understanding that we have an Eternal Soul

  1. We start treating our body as the temple of our soul. Therefore, we take greater care of our body, and do not abuse it with bad habits like smoking and drinking.
  2. We no longer fear or grieve over the death whether of ourselves or of others.
  3. We acquire greater understanding of the purpose and nature of our life like Who am I? Where did I come from? Is there a God?
  4. We have a greater strength to withstand and accept unfortunate situations in our life. We have a greater understanding and appreciation of the ups and downs in life.
  5. We acquire great self-confidence in fulfilling the purpose of our life. We are no longer scared by criticism and ridicule of others who are more materialistic people because we know that we are a soul that has a higher purpose.
  6. We become more inclined towards eternal virtues like love, compassion, peace and service. Conversely, we are not easily overpowered by evils like anger, jealousy and hatred and so on.
  7. We are at peace with ourselves because no longer does everything appear to be "chance" or "luck" but a result of what we did and what we can change in our future ourselves.
  8. We become less enamored of trivial pursuits and become more inclined towards the more substantial aspects of life like spirituality and Dharmic living.

Notes & References

  1. Gitā 2.20
  2. Gitā 2.23
  3. Gitā 2.22
  4. Gitā 2.13
  5. Gitā 15.8
  6. It is called as Past Life Regression.