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Reincarnation, Karma and the Purpose of Life

After reading an e-mail from a devotee about a dream of Gurudeva, Bodhinatha tells us about a movie based on reincarnation called Audrey Rose, made in 1977, which the monks just watched as research for a Hinduism Today article on Hindu concepts in the movies. Bodhinatha then reads some recent Master Course lessons about reincarnation and brings in the very interrelated concept of karma. We reincarnate because of our karma, and we keep reincarnating until all our karmas are resolved. Bodhinatha talks about action, reaction, creating and resolving karma and how it relates to how we face what comes to us, as well as the broader concept of Hindu view of life, which is that its purpose is to make spiritual progress.

Unedited Transcript:

Good Morning, everyone! Special welcome to our guests from Honolulu. Nice to have you with us again. A short talk this morning.

I thought you would all enjoy an e-mail I got. A few times each week I get a few e-mails about dreams, seeing Gurudeva in dreams or seeing the monks in dreams. I thought you would like to hear one, this just came in yesterday from Malaysia.

"I had a very beautiful dream of Gurudeva yesterday. I met Gurudeva at Satsang. It looked like a big hall, there were a lot of devotees. I was actually outside the hall. As I was looking from outside, Gurudeva turned to my side and pulled me towards Him. I went near Gurudeva and told Gurudeva that my wife and I have become arulsishya. Gurudeva congratulated me. Gurudeva looked so beautiful and He looked at me full of love. I was holding the 'Lemurian Scrolls' in my hand. Gurudeva asked me whether I had finished reading the book. Later Gurudeva instructed me to read chapter 16 and 18. I prostrated to Gurudeva and got His blessings. Later Gurudeva met all the other devotees. My wife and our daughters were there too. Then Gurudeva left. I can even feel Gurudeva's scent."

Isn't that sweet? He certainly had a good memory for a dream!

The monks are working on an article for the next issue of 'Hinduism Today', on 'Hinduism in the Movies'. As part of our research last night, we were watching the movie from 1977 titled 'Audrey Rose', which is about reincarnation and how the events of one life carry over into the next. The story was that a girl died in a car accident at age five on October 3rd at 8:20 a.m. and was born a few minutes later, reborn a few minutes later. Now she was having powerful nightmares about the accident, particularly around the time of her birthday every year. The movie has some great explanations about Hinduism and the concept of reincarnation.

I open our Daily Lesson this morning and it was interesting that it was Gurudeva's explanation of reincarnation from 'Dancing with Siva'.

"What is the process of reincarnation?" asks Gurudeva.

"Reincarnation, punarjanma, is a natural process of birth, death and rebirth. At death we drop off the physical body and continue evolving in the inner worlds in our subtle bodies until we again enter into birth. Aum.


Through the ages, reincarnation has been the great consoling element within Hinduism, A point made in the movie also! eliminating the fear of death, explaining why one person is born a genius and another an idiot. We are not the body in which we live but the immortal soul which inhabits many bodies in its evolutionary journey through samsara. After death, we continue to exist in unseen worlds, enjoying or suffering the harvest of earthly deeds until it comes time for yet another physical birth. Because certain karmas can be resolved only in the physical world, we must enter another physical body to continue our evolution. After soaring into the causal plane, we enter a new womb. Subsequently the old manomaya kosa, astral body, is slowly sloughed off and a new one created. The actions set in motion in previous lives form the tendencies and conditions of the next. Reincarnation ceases when karma is resolved, God is realized and moksha attained. The Vedas say, "After death, the soul goes to the next world bearing in mind the subtle impressions of its deeds, and after reaping their harvest returns again to this world of action. Thus he who has desires continues subject to rebirth." Aum Namah Sivaya."

Some thoughts from me.

As we can see from Gurudeva's explanation in presenting reincarnation, it is also natural to bring in the concept of karma as they are quite interrelated. We keep reincarnating because of our karma. More specifically, we keep reincarnating until all karma is resolved. To resolve a karma means that when reaction to a past action comes back to us, we face it without creating a new karma. However, if we react and retaliate, then we have created a new karma that needs to be faced in the future.

We can also see from Gurudeva's explanation that in presenting reincarnation and karma, we can not really do so without mentioning the broader concept of the Hindu view of life. The Hindu view of life, of course, is the purpose of life is to make spiritual progress. Progress means to deepen our spiritual consciousness, to become ever more aware of God's presence within us and all things.

Gurudeva explains the spiritual purpose of life in the second Sloka in 'Dancing with Siva'.

"We are all growing toward God, and experience is the path. Through experience we mature out of fear into fearlessness, out of anger into love, out of conflict into peace, out of darkness into light and union in God. Aum.


We have taken birth in a physical body to grow and evolve into our divine potential. We are inwardly already one with God. Our religion contains the knowledge of how to realize this oneness and not create unwanted experiences along the way. The peerless path is following the way of our spiritual forefathers, discovering the mystical meaning of the scriptures. The peerless path is commitment, study, discipline, practice and the maturing of yoga into wisdom. In the beginning stages, we suffer until we learn. Learning leads us to service; and selfless service is the beginning of spiritual striving. Service leads us to understanding. Understanding leads us to meditate deeply and without distractions. Finally, meditation leads us to surrender in God. This is the straight and certain path, the San Marga, leading to Self Realization, the inmost purpose of life, and subsequently to moksha, freedom from rebirth. The Vedas wisely affirm, "By austerity, goodness is obtained. From goodness, understanding is reached. From understanding, the Self is obtained, and he who obtains the Self is freed from the cycle of birth and death." Aum Namah Sivaya."

Some comments from me.

There is a quote from Paramaguru Yogaswami which captures the essence of the Hindu view of life, "All work must be done with the aim of reaching God." So simple. That is so true. All work must be done with the aim of reaching God. This is quite the opposite of a purely secular view that all work is done simply for the purpose of making money. How we view our home is an interesting measure of how we view life. The secular attitude is, "This is my home and in it I can do whatever I want. It is my home."

However, if there is a shrine in the home at which daily pujas are conducted, then you certainly won't find that attitude present. The shrine turns the home into a mini temple and when the shrine becomes strong enough and central enough to the home, the attitude would naturally be, "We don't want to do anything in the home that would disturb the spiritual vibration of the shrine."

In other words, the home is no longer a place you can do anything you want. It has become God's home.

Aum Namah Sivaya.

Photo of  Gurudeva
Siva's devotees cultivate a contemplative nature by meditating daily, seeking the light, drawing the lesson from each experience and identifying with infinite intelligence, not with body, emotion or intellect. Aum.