Edited by Marco Ferrini
From the Book: Karma and Reincarnation
Our actions and the subconscious motives that prompt us to act have a very strong influence on us and on the environment where we live: the world is not unchanging, but rather it is constantly transforming. Thus it is important to realize how each thought, each word and each action are extremely relevant to our life, as they shape the circumstances where we will find ourselves in the future, especially after leaving our present body.
The choices that we make every day are directly shaping our future, and in turn they are the result of previous thoughts, imagination, instincts, impulses and desires. Among all these important psychic functions, will power has a special role1. How can we structure it? Is will power totally under our control? Are we able to manage it fully, and to use it properly to express desires, emotions and feelings? We must admit that it is not always possible to have this direct control, because sometimes our will power clashes with the surrounding environment, with the people who live with us, with the responsibilities we have taken. We are not always able to implement the plans of our mind, but in any case our determination, expressed or non-expressed, will manifest the circumstances we face in this life and in the next. As I often say the two opposites, the two sides of the coin, are not life and death but rather birth and death – because life is always existing, has always existed and can never cease to exist in any circumstance.For the soul there is neither birth nor death. His existence never had a beginning in the past, has no beginning in the present and will not have a beginning in the future. He is unborn, eternal, always existing and primeval. He does not die when the body dies. (B.g. II.20)
As clearly explained by the ancient texts of Hindo-Vedic wisdom, death is not an interruption or a cessation of life, but simply one of the innumerable stages in the journey of life – an endless and fascinating journey especially for one who has become an expert traveler. Transmigration becomes necessary because at some point the individual can become so identified and fossilized in his mind patterns, in his beliefs and conditionings, that he absolutely needs to go through fresh psycho-physical experiences that will renew his impetus to evolution. Within the cycle of lifetimes, individuals transform their existence. This cycle of repeated births and deaths (samsara) involves painful aspects but it is useful and necessary to the development of the individual. Every person has a series of potential qualities, desires and karmic debts, and generally these cannot be completely exhausted in only one brief human life. The unexpressed desires lying in the deep mind in the form of seeds will be manifested in the subsequent lives. The effects of disharmonies and imbalances, too, will be found in the bodies that the individual will wear in the future, in one of the many species of life.
This supreme model of karmic intelligence constitutes a kind of higher justice for everything that happens in the world and that would be otherwise incomprehensible if observed from a relative point of view that is limited to the individual conditioned by historical personalities and contaminated consciousness. Time quickly burns away the fleeing seasons of embodied life. Just like dawn is followed by day and then by sunset and night, and then again to dawn, in the same way childhood is consumed and we find ourselves in adulthood, and then we pass into that stage we call old age, and from there we sail towards a next birth after the atman has left the body.Like the embodies soul passes, in this body, from childhood to youth and then to old age, similarly the soul passes into another body at the time of death. A wise person is not disturbed by this change. (B.g. II.13)