All the information that I will be presenting comes from the Vedic scriptures. The Vedas are very ancient scriptures that were written down 5 000 years ago. However, this knowledge is eternal. So, prior to being written down this knowledge was passed down orally from one perfect master to the next. Such a line of perfect teachers is known as a disciplic succession or parampara. A parampara is necessary for the truth to descent in its pure form. We are in the parampara known as Brahma Sampradaya. We feel very fortunate to receive our knowledge through this parampara. So, having said this it becomes like this is not my opinion. I am just passing on this eternal science.
So, to discuss this idea of destiny, basically we will be talking about karma. To understand this karma subject we must understand who we are. To understand life in any way we must understand who we are. But it is not known really. You would think so.
The Vedas actually tell us we should all ask yourself a question: who am I? We almost never ask this question because we think we already know the answer. Certainly, we all have our identities. We have had them the whole life. We have got them in our minds, we have them on our lips, and we have them in our pockets. Anyway, this is who I think I am, this is who I tell others I am and I prove it with my passport, driving license. We accept this and so does everyone else.
But is this our true identity? And upon close examination we discover this is only a compilation of many labels. And the labeling process begins at birth. So, all of us here right now as soon as we took birth received one of two labels: male or female. We still identify like that: I am a man or I am a woman. At the same time we get another label according to our race: Caucasian, Negroid. And, of course, our family identity: we belong to this family. And our national identity: I am Russian, I am American. Actually, this identity is so strong that every day on this planet one person kills another person just because they got different labels.
This is just the beginning. Many labels come and go throughout our entire life. Once again, at birth persons are known as babies, then kids. We start school, now we are students. A few more years go by, now we are teenagers and finally adults. We take up profession in life and we are known accordingly: doctors, lawyers, secretaries, nurses. Then we get married, we have our husband or a wife. Then we have a child, now we are parents: fathers, mothers. A few more years go by – grandfathers, grandmothers. And this is how we see ourselves: this is me. And this continues on and on until we finally get the last label: the dead.
When we look closely we can see that this is all in relation to our material bodies. It is true the body is male or female, black or white, big or little, young or old. Whatever the body is, it is. That is true. The question is if this is who we are.
Every day we all take our pilgrimage to the mirror to see how “we” look. Sometimes we are quite disappointed, but we always come back on the next day, “Oh, maybe there is some improvement.” But do we really see ourselves? So, the question is: am I this material body?
If we want the most authoritative answer we should come to the revealed scriptures of the world: the Holy Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita. They all tell us the same truth and there we learn: “No, we are not the material body.”
But this is the modern world. Very rarely there is anyone who goes to scripture to find the truth in life. However, we do readily accept the conclusions of the scientists. We like the scientists, they prove things. Uniquely enough, in this case, the scientists proved in the laboratories that we are not the material body. They have discovered there is no cell in the human body that lives more than five years. Some cells have a very short life. For instance, the lining of our stomach. Those cells live five days. Our skin cells – one month. Liver cells – six weeks, etc. But in five years everything has changed.
So, if I look at the photograph of myself taken ten years ago, the eyes in the photograph are different from the eyes I am looking at the photograph now. Not the same eyes. According to the scientific formula if I am 35 years old I have had seven bodies. But, of course, we all know we are not seven different people. Everybody knows I am still me. So, the changing factor is the material body, the constant factor is ourself. We are not this material body.
At this point some people become introspective or meditative. They look inside to find out who they really are. When we look inside what do we find? These emotions, desires, sentiment, will. It is all very real. And it is easy to conclude, “This is who I really am.” But we must confirm this with scripture and especially with Vedic scripture because they are very detailed in this knowledge. When we do, we find we have made another mistake. This is not who we are either. This is actually another material body. And it is called the subtle mental body. Sometimes it is called the austral body. I think some of you’ve heard about austral body. So, really we have two bodies: our gross physical body and our subtle mental body. Like two layers of clothing: an outer layer and an under layer.
But the question remains: who am I? Again, we go to the Vedas and we learn that we are in a different category of energy. Everything is energy. Our bodies are material energy, but we learn that we are spiritual energy. Therefore, we learn we are tiny sparks of spiritual energy. We learn that material energy is temporary. It is very easy to see. We know all too well our bodies are very temporary. So much so we do not want to talk about it, “Do not talk about it!” But even more permanent things like this building; come back in one thousand years, “Where was that lecture?” Very temporary.
We learn that spirit is eternal. Eternal means no beginning and no end. We are eternal. We also learn that material energy is non-living. Again, easy to see. This table or this microphone, there is no life. But we learn that spirit is life itself. There is no such thing as live matter, there is no such thing as dead spirit. We are the life force in the body. As long as we are present in the body the body is called alive. But actually this is not true. The body is dead. We are alive. And that becomes obvious at the time of death. At the time of death we leave the body. At that exact moment the body reveals its true nature: it cannot sit in a chair, falls on the floor. We are the life force in the body.
Therefore, our true identity is spirit soul. Spirit means we are spiritual in essence. Soul means the individual spiritual spark that we eternally are. We never become someone else, we never cease to exist. And, for some people this is very depressing news, “What? I will always be me? I thought it will be over soon!” Sorry, it is never over. When we learn the truth in life, this is very wonderful news.
So, once again, we are spirit souls. We further learn we are parts and parcels of the Supreme Soul. That is the Supreme Soul from which we all come. We are known as the atma, the Supreme Soul is the Paramatma.
Now, understanding this we can again discuss destiny, karma and grasp the concept.