What is Reincarnation?
Sri Ramakrishna has taught that whatever you have done, whatever you are doing and whatever you will do that is not for peace is a 0. You have accumulated 0 and the future will be no different. Sri Ramakrishna’s emphasis is Be Peaceful. Fill yourself with peace, set up and establish the 1 that 1 Aspiration, Oneness. Then, whatever you do even if 0 will come after that 1; it will become 10, 100, 1000 and you keep growing from there. Prince Arjuna felt this. That his life thus far he has accumulated 0s and wants to establish that 1. We also feel this. This is the reason for our relationship with Vedanta. We can see what Prince Arjuna did in hindsight. This is to be our foresight. By studying how he changed, we can change too.
The Bhagavad Gita generally has 2 messages. There are many commentaries. One of the messages is towards Abhyudaya. This is how to act. What to do. What this creates in life is prosperity. The 2nd message is known as Nihshreyasa. Nihshreyasa is how to think. It is not what to do but rather what to be. What to be is inside and leads one to Peace. Whatever you want in your life and whatever message you can relate to, you will practice at that level. For those who are deeper, to tune in to Nihshreyasa you must study the Gita in multiple directions.
The trajectory prescribed is as follows:
(i) Study the theme of A chapter (doesn’t matter which chapter).
(ii) Then go deeper and study all the chapters.
(iii) Next direction of study is to look into your own framework w/in Bhagavad Gita. Explored this in the Applied Gita course on parenting, on deciding, our own framework.
(iv) Next direction is to take up a framework from a personality or intrinsic to Bhagavad Gita. That is what we are doing in this course. We are taking up Prince Arjuna’s framework, not our own. These are his questions.
(v) Fifth direction is to study the theme of every verse. Learning is everlasting. Those who want more than prosperity, this the trajectory of your study
Theme of Chapter 1 is Fear. Prince Arjuna asks the basics of What to do. Bhagavan Krishna responds as sin and merit is within you. It is not outside; it is in your own mind space. 4 questions from Chapter 1:
- What is Peace? Quietude
- What is Sin? Agitation
- What is righteousness? Responsibility
- What prioritization? Clarity
Theme of Chapter 2 is Fearlessness. Prince Arjuna’s questions revolve around ‘How does a confident person live?’ “How do they think?” “How do they speak?” Bhagavan Krishna’s answer is that they are deep. They are not tuned into prosperity. They are tuned into peace.
- What is grief? Confusion
- What is efficiency? Simplicity
- What is sacrifice? Dedication
- What is independence? Understanding
- What is silence? Evolving
- What is focus? Efficiency
- What is discipline? Purpose.
Dynamics was Minute to Mind management. Bring purpose into our lives.
Theme of chapter 3 is selflessness. Why selflessness? We need a path from fear to fearlessness. Prince Arjuna asks ‘What is my path?. I know I am afraid. You have shown me how to not be afraid.” Bhagavan Krishna’s answer is Serve. Right now you are serving yourself. You fear because you are selfish. If you serve, you will grow out of the fear
- What is responsibility? Living
- What is attachment? Dependency
- What is desire? Extroversion. Being an extrovert is a sign of one who has desires.
Dynamics we engaged in was unitasking. Those who are distracted tend to be selfish and nothing is bringing them direction. Those who are focused have a direction. Serving yourself, you will always be distracted as that is not fulfilling. Serving community, you will be more focused as it is more fulfilling
Theme of chapter 4 is ‘deservershiplessness’. Selfishness is expressed in 2 ways
- Doership — Kartritvam.
- Deservership — Bhoktritvam
Bhagavan Krishna has told Prince Arjuna if he wants to grow out of fear — be selfless. Prince Arjuna’s question is how do I systematically be selfless? I know that is my intention. As you engage in your serving, let go of deservership. This is a Game changer. A force that destroys one’s own peace of mind is the thought of I deserve recognition, inclusion, appreciation. Maybe you do but you do not control others. This is how you become more selfless, more fearless. Bhagavan Krishna tells Prince Arjuna to grow out of a sense of deserving.
Question 15: What is Reincarnation
Prince Arjuna’s Question: Chapter 4, Verse 4 :
Later was your birth, and prior was the birth of Vivasvan (Sun); how am I to understand that You taught this YOGA in the beginning?
Prince Arjuna asks ‘Your birth was after the birth of the Sun’. Yet you have shared that you taught the Sun what you are teaching me. Bhagavan Krishna teaching in chapter 2 and 3 have been taught to the Sun for two reasons (i) in theology, the sun is the center of the Universe and (2) Bhagavan Rama’s name is associated with the Sun. On Prince Arjuna’s flag is Hanuman-ji. Bhagavan Krishna is secretly sharing that he is Bhagavan Rama. This question shows that Prince Arjuna’s mind is still small. He is looking at technicality. Prince Arjuna wants to have faith in Bhagavan Krishna. When someone is exaggerating, you may call them out. Here, Prince Arjuna wants clarity. Chapter 4 is the most important section for Sanatana Dharma. Many pillars of Sanata Dharma are in this chapter. This chapter is like Purana. Pura means Pura eva Nama. Pura means old yet new.
Bhagvan Krishna’s answer: Chapter 4 Verse 5:
Many births of Mine have passed as well as yours, O Arjuna; I know them all but you know them not, O Parantapa (scorcher of foes).
Bhagavan Krishna says ‘I have been born again and again and again’. Bhagavan Krishna doesn’t reincarnate; He incarnates. Incarnate is by choice and is not a birth. It is a manifestation. Bhagavan Krishna and Bhagavan Rama are not born in a mother’s womb. Two beautiful implications of this.
- This is like Cause manifesting as an Effect. What that shows is that there is no Effect. The Cause is sometimes present and sometimes is not present. But there is only the Cause. The Cause is always present. Hence there is no Effect.
- More devotional perspective. Bhagavan is always looking at you. Therefore, stop acting selfishly. Bhagavan is seeing you. Helps you to act in a more disciplined way and in a more faithful way. Bhagavan is looking at us and after us.
As many times as Bhagavan has manifested, so has Prince Arjuna been reborn again and again and again. This shows the difference of incarnation and reincarnation. Incarnation is by choice and Reincarnation is not by choice. This is why Prince Arjuna is asking the question because he feels he is reincarnated. He feels Bhagavan Krishna is reincarnated as well but there is a difference. Reincarnation for us is simply changing this body so that our antahkarana (Mind, Intellect, Ego) realises it is not the body rather is Infinity/Brahman. So we will keep reincarnating till we are realised. So when we die, it is a graduation. We have learnt all we could in this body and now our Mind, Intellect and Ego needs to learn more about peace. So it needs a new body, a new field. There is much practicality to this. Don’t be afraid, Bhagavan is watching over you; Don’t be afraid; Only the body dies! The body is always dying.
Bhagavan Krishna says that he knows all the manifestations and remembers and knows all of it. He is showing Prince Arjuna openly that he is not Prince Arjuna’s cousin. I am Awareness!. I am Chit in Sat-Chit-Ananda; Existence, Awareness, Joy. That’s the only way of knowing. Because of your awareness you know everything. I am the Creator and know all about creation. This is Vidya. Remembering your creator, remembering your nature is Vidya. This is Brahma Vidya — to know Bhagavan; to know your nature.
I remember all of this change and we don’t, which is Avidya. There is no difference between Bhagavan and Prince Arjuna except for Vidya and Avidya. That is the magic of Advaita where there is no ‘ism’. We are all One and some remember that and most have forgotten that. You simply have to remember to rediscover who you are.
Summary: Bhagavan Krishna is asked by Prince Arjuna ‘Who are You’? Bhagavan Krishna answers He is God
Practical Question: What is reincarnation?
Practical Answer: Opportunity.
Reincarnation is an opportunity to reach the position of not being reincarnated rather only incarnation.
Reflection: If the present is the product of the past and the future is a product of the present, how should you approach each of these specific aspects of time?
We should learn from the past and we should plan for the future. If we don’t plan, we will be anxious and if we don’t learn from the past, we will have regrets. Learn, plan and in the present, be intentional. Be as intentional as possible that this is our opportunity to remember that the Effect is the cause; that I am the same as Awareness.
Dynamics: Active listening self test. Rate 1–10 (10 being highest)
- You focus on and identify with the other perso
- You pause and suspend your own thought and feelings
- You enter into the other’s world
- You become completely present to the person
- You suspend judgment and criticism
- You don’t belittle or deride the person
- You listen without getting defensive
- You are present without withdrawing
- You keep an open mind
- You understand another person’s feelings
- You accept that other’s feelings are valid
- You look for attitudes and feelings behind the message
- You suspend looking for solutions
- Other’s treasure their confidence in you
- You are sensitive to another’s feelings and you let them know this
The point of active listening is when you care for another, you don’t have the sense of reciprocity. Just because someone doesn’t listen to you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to them, You should always listen actively.
Dynamics 2: Think about 5 people who are alive today that are serving. And 1 quality from each of these people that is most moving.
You should become this new personality with all these qualities. Start to invoke these qualities
How do you care if you are not attached?
Answer: One who is more content and relatively happy, they don’t need as much and identify with more. Prince Arjuna is an example of that. Going into the war he was identified with dharma. Then he brought it down to Pandavas and then to himself. He identified less because he was less happy. The more happy you are, the more you identify. And the way you identify with yourself and care for yourself, you do so with others. Attachment is smallness; love is bigness. We are confused that love is touchy, feely. Love is tough love. That tough love makes you tough and which makes you independent of the person who gives you love. If you care for someone you do what is best for them and can do so if you know what is the best. The mitra dharma is one who challenges another friend. Challenges them to be better. You have to be first.
How to act in a detached way but still be focused?
- If you are focused on an aspiration, you can realise it by acting on it in the present. Action is in your control and in the present. Results are out of control. If you are living in the present, there is nothing to be attached to.
- Signs of attachment are you want to receive or get recognition (gross); appreciation and inclusion (subtler). As you find your mind drifts towards these, pull yourself back. You are not doing this for what you can get rather this is your contribution.
- Likes and dislikes. When an outcome comes; you will like or dislike if you are attached to it. An outcome is an outcome but the joy coming from acting in the present is your outcome. Whatever comes after that is a bonus. Shouldn’t have likes and dislikes towards that.
Learning how to think will make you peaceful.
Longevity of life and how it relates to learning and reincarnation. When someone dies young, does it mean that they will incarnate?
When one dies young they have learnt all that they could in that body and the opportunity around them. The learning of each is different and takes different years to learn that. Cannot be thought in a linear way. It is not just their learning but for everyone around them to learn as well. You cannot understand the Law of Karma. So you should focus on your karma. You have to have faith.