We are constantly 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.
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-gita states(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)