We are going to talk a little bit about the subject of reincarnation, it is a very interesting topic.
All the information I will present is based on Vedic teachings which come from the Vedic scriptures. The Vedas are very ancient scriptures. They were written down five thousand years ago. But the knowledge itself is eternal. Prior to being written down it was passed orally from one perfect master to the next. Such a line of perfect teachers is known as a disciplic succession or parampara. We are in the parampara known as the Brahma Sampradaya. We feel very fortunate to receive our knowledge through this lineage. This is not my opinion. I am just passing on this eternal science.
In America in the 1980s they took a survey. They found that at that time 23 percent of the population accepted reincarnation. Recently they took another survey and they found that now 60 percent of the population accepts reincarnation. So there has been a big increase in receptivity.
There have been many lectures given, books written and videos made on this subject. But very few people understand reincarnation. So that is going to be our focus tonight: trying to understand reincarnation. It is more of an educational presentation than something sensational. Therefore we must start at the beginning.
Actually, reincarnation kind of explains itself. The root of the word is “karnal”. “Karnal” means “flesh and blood” or “in a material body”. So “incarnation” means “in a material body”, “reincarnation” means “to reenter into a material body”. But who is this that is entering or leaving, who is reincarnating? You can say, “Well, I am, or we are.” But then the question is, “Okay, but who are we?”
All of us should ask ourselves the question “Who am I?” But unfortunately we almost never ask this question. Because we think we already know the answer. We all have our identities. We have had them our whole life. We have them in our minds, we have them on our lips, we have them in our pockets, meaning this is who I think I am, this is who I tell others I am and I can prove it, here is my passport, my documents. Now, we accept this and so does everybody else. But is this our true identity?
Upon close examination we find this is only a compilation of many labels. The labeling process begins at birth. All of us here now as soon as we took birth received one of two labels: male or female. And we still identify like that today: I am a man or I am a woman. At the same time we get another label according to our race: Caucasian, Negroid, whatever it may be. Our national identity is very strong: I am Ukrainian, I am American and our family identity, we belong to this family.
Unfortunately this identity is so strong that every day on this planet one person kills another person just because he has got a different label.
Many labels come and go throughout our entire life. Once again at birth we are also known as babies, then kids. We start school, now we are students. Then a few more years go by and we become teenagers, and finally adults. We take up some profession in life and we are known accordingly: doctors, lawyers, secretaries, nurses. Then we get married and immediately we are a husband or a wife. We have a child – now we are parents – fathers, mothers. A few more years go by – grandfathers, grandmothers. This goes on and on until finally we get the last label – dead.
But looking closely we see that this is all in connection to our material bodies. Yes, it is true, the body is male or female, black or white, old or young. Whatever it is – it is, that is true. But the question is “Is this who we are?”
Every day we all take our pilgrimage to the mirror to see how we look. Sometimes we are a little disappointed but we always come back the next day, “Gee, maybe there has been some improvement…” Usually not (laughing). But do we really see ourselves? The question is “Am I this material body?”
If we want the most authoritative answer we should go to the revealed scriptures of the world. And there we learn: no, you are not the material body.