Freedom from Birth & Death 

The birth of a child is a celebration, a welcoming of a newcomer into a family. But with every birth must come death. We all know this to be true, although we prefer not to think about it. However, we may not be aware that every death is followed by a birth. The Bhagavad-Gita describes this truth:  

For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain.

Bhagavad-Gita 2:27

Who is the one, referred to here, whose birth and death is certain? The answer is the living being, or spirit soul. The soul itself does not actually die, so the birth and death being described are only the birth and death of the body. 

For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying, and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.  

Bhagavad-Gita 2:20  

Even though I experience the birth and death of the body I am in, I never die, and I am never born. I am the living being within the body. My body is born, but I existed before that birth. In fact, there has never been a time when I did not exist. I came into the body at conception, and I will leave it at death. I am eternal and always a person, whether or not I am in a material body

As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.  

Bhagavad-Gita 2:22 

This cycle of repeated birth, death and reincarnation, is recognized in many traditions and is understood as being a painful experience, not something to celebrate.  

The soul changes bodies as a person changes garments.

Can I become free from the cycle of birth and death? According to Vedic literature, this is not only possible but is the goal of human life. Indeed, it is only while I am in a human body that I can inquire into these subjects and can learn how to end the cycle of birth and death. 

What happens when I am freed from having to accept and give up material bodies? Some people think that if I don’t have a material body, then I must be some kind of formless spirit. Their idea is that there is no form, variety, or activity in the spiritual world. But, according to the Vedas, this is not the case.  

The spiritual world is not void, and I have an eternal spiritual form, even though I am currently unaware of it. I am meant to live in the spiritual world experiencing spiritual activities, spiritual happiness, spiritual emotions, and spiritual relationships. 

There is a practice called Bhakti Yoga which is the most effective and efficient means of ending the cycle of birth and death. The Vedas are full of histories of people who became self-realized and free from birth and death by following the path of Bhakti Yoga.  

That is the way of the spiritual and godly life, after attaining which a man is not bewildered. Being so situated, even at the hour of death, one can enter into the kingdom of God.  

Bhagavad-Gita 2:72 

About the Author: 

Sahadeva Das is an initiated disciple of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa who comes in a long line of bona fide yoga spiritual masters. Sahadeva Das considers it his great fortune in life to have heard and learned from a self-realized soul and is humbly attempting to pass on what he has received. 

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Law Of Karma

Karma refers to action. I am always engaging in some form of mental or physical action under the rules of the law of karma:                 

  1. What influences me to act? 
  2. What are the unseen results of my actions? 

I always prefer and desire good results, but do I achieve them? Do I always make the right decision and act in such a way to achieve my desired goal? Do I fail and suffer even when I try so hard not to? Have I ever experienced unexpected happiness or good fortune or success which I could not see coming or explain? 

I was thrown into the material world and placed within a material body when envy caused my eternal existence to be forgotten, covered by ignorance. Because of enviousness of God, I desire to become a controller and the material world is my destiny for acting out this fantasy. Each decision I make, each action I take, prolongs my stay in the illusory material dimension within a body made of matter. 

Each body I am placed into is the result of my karma or actions in previous lives. This body is a reaction or result of my accumulated karma (actions). Those actions include creating attachments and desires which form my consciousness. If I act like an animal, I receive an animal body. If I use my body in higher pursuits, I may receive another human form or perhaps a demigod body in a higher planet. 

Reincarnation is the result of karma, my actions determine my consciousness, and my consciousness determines the species I am born into. 

Each and every action (karma) that I engage in, results in a good or bad reaction in my future life (karmic reaction). I am the cause of all things good or bad that I experience in my life. I have utilized my body and senses, including my mind, to initiate and carry out action. All responsibility for what happens to me is mine alone, it is not God’s fault. My actions destine my life.  

I cannot claim that God has decided to make me suffer or enjoy. God is impartial and destines my actions, caused by my desires, and the results of those actions. He is simply the witness and facilitator of every action I take and the resulting reaction.  

To obtain fulfillment of my desires, I must act. To act within the material world, the laws of material nature and the illusory energy of the Supreme Controller are employed to create the situation in which I can act to fulfill my desires in conjunction with the desires of all other conditioned living beings. My current action may be the reaction to a previous life’s action or the result of a new desire I created. 

By using my mind’s actions of thinking, feeling, and willing, I create a vast network of desires which are fulfilled by the permission and will of the Supreme Controller who sanctions all the actions necessary to attain the goals of those desires. 

The attainment of my mind’s desires involves sinful and pious activities which yield future pain or pleasure. In other words, whatever I do forces me to accept future pain or pleasure as a result. The action is called karma and the future result is karmic reaction. I have no control over karmic reactions which I am forced to suffer or enjoy. I have no desire to suffer, and yet, I suffer in so many different ways. I may desire to be wealthy, beautiful, or famous, but I am not.  

The law of karma is perfect, exact, and just, administered by the infallible energy of the Supreme Lord

Karmic reaction forms the web of material life, trapping and controlling me eternally, as I transmigrate from body to body. This cycle of birth and death continues without end and cannot be broken or defeated by material means. All materially motivated actions and reaction ends in suffering within the material dimension.  

I believe I am free and independent even though I am forced to accept pain and pleasure, forced to accept birth and death, forced to be punished and rewarded by the law of karma

The law of karma is the law of material action and the subsequent reaction within the material dimension and forces me to journey throughout the universe, turning on the infinite wheel of birth and death. There is no possibility that I can stop this wheel of samskara on my own.  

The path of Bhakti-yoga pardons me from the law of karma and relieves me from all the different forces completely shackling me within the material world of duality. Bhakti -yoga is the pinnacle of yoga processes and directly links me with the spiritual, transcendental world. 

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About Author: 

Sahadeva Das is an initiated disciple of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa who comes in a long line of bona fide yoga spiritual masters. Sahadeva Das considers it his great fortune in life to have heard and learned from a self-realized soul and is humbly attempting to pass on what he has received.  

What Is a Conditioned Living Being? 

All bodies of all living species within the universe have life due to the eternal living being present within that particular body. From the controlling administrators of the universe down to the smallest germ, all are eternal living beings trapped within that material body. 

Life after life, the false ego, the modes of material nature, and the control of the illusory energy or Maya, relentlessly condition the living being. This conditioning forces one to accept the material body as himself. I forget my true identity as an eternal person, while temporarily incarcerated within a material body, within a material universe. 

Consider this situation. I am an eternal person from the eternal spiritual world, full of knowledge and happiness. Transgressing the singular law of spiritual love due to envy, I have been thrown into the material universe with absolute amnesia of my eternal identity and life.

I am now covered with the conditioning or ignorance that whatever body I am forced to enter I fully accept as “myself.” My underlying desire or motivation is to be lord and controller. I have been placed in the material universe to imitate the Supreme Lord and Controller who I have turned my back on.

From this point, being completely illusioned and under the control of ignorance, I accept body after body, life after life. Driven by my conditioned consciousness, I am struggling for existence and the pursuit of happiness in a place where invincible laws and energies have been enacted to perpetually defeat me.

Endlessly searching for this illusory happiness within the world of matter, I am cheated because I can only be satisfied by spiritual happiness which exists outside of the material universe. Material energy or the material world is masquerading as my original spiritual home.

I am an eternal spiritual person with a spiritual body and a spiritual home complete with loving spiritual relationships. I do not need a fake material body, fake material relationships, fake material enjoyments, and the fake carnival of material existence.

Everyone is simply being lied to and cheated, and in turn, lying to and cheating others.

If I accept a lie as the truth, not realizing it is a lie, then I have no problem passing that lie onto others. All cultures and societies within the material universe accept the underlying lie “I am this material body.” 

Covered and impelled in all activities by this untruth, the embodied living being wanders throughout the material universe from body to body, planet to planet. There was a song that defines this fruitless wandering: “I still haven’t found what I am looking for,” and another “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

“I am this material body” is the first lie covering the living being’s awareness or consciousness as he descends into the material universe. This lie is referred to as false ego and makes it possible for the living being to repeatedly cycle through the wheel of birth and death because material life seems to be the purpose of existence. It most definitely is not.  

In the condition of being dominated by false ego, the living being is also manipulated and controlled by the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord known as Maya.

Each conditioned living being is further handicapped by four defects: I make mistakes. I am illusioned. I have imperfect senses. I have a tendency to cheat. 

I am also forced to accept suffering caused by other living beings, my own mind and body, and natural disturbances and disasters.  

The path of destruction of the conditioned soul’s intelligence due to dictation of the senses and mind is portrayed.
[Image Credit:]

Maya presents endless, irresistible, alluring, material attachments, and seductive plans for enjoyment that promise fulfillment, satisfaction, and happiness. Attracted, attached, and bewildered, the living being is again and again betrayed and ends up lonely, frustrated, angry, and helpless against this onslaught of Maya.  

After countless lifetimes cheated by Maya, the fortunate living being will begin to question why happiness is so elusive and suffering so pervasive, and then will seek help. If he is most fortunate, he will be led to the truth which begins with the realization that I am not this material mind or body.

Dissolving the conditioning of millions of lifetimes of false ego, material habits, attachments, and the abusive illusion from Maya is only possible by sincerely embracing and following the transcendentally purifying path of Bhakti Yoga.  

On this path, I receive the mercy and the unconditional love of the Supreme Lord as soon as I open my heart to Him. The control of Maya is gradually withdrawn as I surrender to and follow the instructions of the Lord and I taste spiritual love which I have always been craving and searching for.  

Further progress dissolves the false ego and I become immune to and free from all material conditioning. Ultimately, I am given the realization of my original identity and form and am reinstated to the perfection of my eternal position of loving devotional service to the Supreme Lord. 

I have returned to the spiritual world, and whether or not I am still temporarily within a physical body, I will never again be covered by false ego and be forced to assume another material body.  

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About Author: 

Sahadeva Das is an initiated disciple of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa who comes in a long line of bona fide yoga spiritual masters. Sahadeva Das considers it his great fortune in life to have heard and learned from a self-realized soul and is humbly attempting to pass on what he has received.  

Living in the Material World  

I am a spiritual person living in this material universe on planet earth. Everything that I touch, see, hear, smell, think, and otherwise experience here is made of material energy. The Vedic yoga literature describes this material energy as consisting of five basic gross elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether, or space, and three subtle elements: mind, intelligence, and false ego. I am not made of material energy, but my body is. It is a combination of the gross and subtle elements. 

Scientists have identified many different atomic elements and particles in their attempts to explain the universe, but they are still scratching the surface in developing a full understanding of material energy. The general view of the scientific community is that matter is the only energy that exists. However, the Vedic understanding is that there is another energy, the energy of life, and that is the life-force in all bodies that animates and brings life to matter. Beyond the universe of matter is the universe made of spiritual energy. I am a spiritual being who belongs in that spiritual universe. 

What do I experience here in the material world? I am an eternal spiritual being, but I experience death. I am full of knowledge, but I experience ignorance. I am joyful by nature, but I suffer misery. I crave loving relationships and friendship, but they always end in sadness. I am frustrated in so many ways. 

One major example of this frustration is time, which measures out my life in this body, and ultimately destroys it, along with everything in the material world. Even the most apparently strong constructions are broken down by time. An enormous ocean-going liner or a powerful locomotive last only thirty something years before they must be scrapped. Time is a mysterious thing. When I need more time, it seems to speed up, when I am bored or waiting in anticipation it seems to slow down. Time frustrates and then ends all my experiences. 

I remember sitting in a classroom when I was 10, just looking at my classmates and wondering what we all were. I was looking at their bodies but feeling that there was more to the person than that. Earlier in my life, my stepsister had drowned in the community pool, and we went to the funeral home to see her body in the casket. When I touched her body, it was cold. I knew she was gone, and that the body lying there was not her. When she was present in her body it was attractive, but her dead body was not. What had made it attractive in the past was her presence as a living being, animating her body.  It is the presence of a living being that animates the bodies of all creatures in this world. 

According to the Vedas this animating force, the living being, is eternal, never dying. 

Only the material body of the indestructible, immeasurable, and eternal living entity is subject to destruction; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata.  

Bhagavad-Gita 2:18  

For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying, and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.  

Bhagavad-Gita 2:20

Know that which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul.  

Bhagavad-Gita 2:17

Although I am eternal, I am covered by illusion that blocks any recollection of my eternal existence. This illusion also makes me believe I am this body, and that I can find happiness by making my body happy. This illusion masks the suffering of life in a temporary body; it cheats me into imagining the material world exists for my pleasure. Like a master magician, an illusionist, it hides the truth from me. I have amnesia and do not even know who I am or why I am here. 

But I can come out from under the darkness of illusion. Enlightenment is attainable. I can come to know and experience my true, eternal nature, even while living within a material body in the material world. I can come to realize that the temporary pleasures of the body are not truly fulfilling. And I can begin to inquire about the higher purpose of my existence. 

If I understand that I am only temporarily in this body, then I will see that attaining wealth, fame, high position, friendships, and wonderful family do not give me any lasting happiness or fulfillment. When my time runs out, I must leave everything material behind. But there is a world beyond the decaying world of time, birth, disease, old age, and death. My essence is spiritual, and my ultimate eternal home is in the world of spiritual energy. 

How do I travel there? There is a process described in the Vedas as being both the easiest and the most sublime method to transcend this world of matter.  It is the process of meditation on transcendental sound, mantra, and this allows me to enter that spiritual world even while still in a physical body. 


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About Author: 

Sahadeva das is an initiated disciple of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa who comes in a long line of bona fide yoga spiritual masters. Sahadeva das considers it his great fortune in life to have heard and learned from a self-realized soul and is humbly attempting to pass on what he has received.