This is the modern world. Rarely does anyone go to scripture to find the truth in life. But we do readily accept the conclusion of the scientists. We like the scientists because they prove things.
Uniquely enough in this case the scientists have proven in the laboratory that we are not our material bodies. They discovered that there is no cell in the human body that lives more than five years. And some cells live a very short life. The lining of the stomach – those cells live five days, our skin cells – one month, liver cells – six weeks, etc. But in five years everything is changed. If I am looking at a photograph of myself taken ten years ago, the eyes in the photograph are different than the eyes I look at the photograph with. They are not the same eyes.
According to this scientific formula if I am thirty-five years old I have had seven bodies. Of course, we all know we are not seven different people. Everybody knows: I am still me.
The changing factor is the material body, the constant factor is ourselves. We are not these material bodies. At this point some people become introspective, meditative, they begin to look inside to find out who they really are.
And when we do look inside what do we find? Emotion, desire, feeling, will. This is very real and it is easy to conclude: this is who I really am. But we must confirm this with scripture, especially the Vedic Scriptures, 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; it is called the subtle mental body. Sometimes it is called the astral body. I know some of you have heard about the astral body.
So really we have two bodies: physical body and the mental body. It is like having on two layers of clothes: an outer layer and under layer. But the question remains: who am I?
Once again we go to the Vedas and there we learn we are in a different category of energy. Everything is energy, our bodies are material energy. But we learn that we are spiritual energy, a tiny little spark of spiritual energy. We learn that material energy is temporary. It is very easy to see, we know all too well that our bodies are very temporary. So much so, we don’t even want to talk about it, “Hey, don’t talk about that.” But even more permanent things, like maybe this building. Come back here in one thousand years. “Gee, where was that lecture again?” Temporary.
But 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. That is also very easy to see. You see, this chair or this microphone – there is no life.
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 inside 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. That becomes very obvious at the time of death. At the time of death we leave the body. At that moment the body shows its true nature. It can’t even sit on a chair, it falls on the floor.
We are the life force in the body. Therefore our true identity is spirit soul. “Spirit” meaning we are spiritual in essence. “Soul” meaning this individual spiritual spark that we eternally are. We never become someone else, we never cease to exist.
For some people this is very depressing news. “What, I will always be me? Gee, I thought it is going to be over soon.” Sorry, it is never over. However when we learn the truth in life, this becomes very wonderful news. So once again we are spirit souls.
We further learn that we are part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. There is a Supreme Soul from which we all come. We are known as the atma, and the Supreme Soul is the Paramatma. When we understand this truth we can begin to discuss and understand reincarnation.