Why We Experience Physical Death and Not the Eternal Soul
Bahram R. Shahmardaan, PhD
Bahram R. Shahmardaan
We all take a physical birth and experience physical death but not everyone is aware that our physical life is part of a Journey of Life Eternal. Among those who are aware of it, few know what the Journey is. Among the few who do know what the Journey of Life Eternal is all about, hardly any embark upon the Journey of Life Eternal. Among those who do begin the Journey of Life Eternal, few proceed along the Spiritual path in the right way. Of those that do, fewer still complete the Journey which merges in the Source that is God.
All Spiritual Masters have stated in one way or another that the soul is a spark or seed of the Divine within us. They have stated that the soul is eternal and have promised to help those who follow them to achieve and realize the Eternal Life of the soul which is Divine. It is only when we become conscious of our soul that we realize who we are and experience the Eternal Life of the Divine within us. To accomplish this we have to break down the barriers that separate our human consciousness from the Divine within us.
So why is it that even though the Divine is within us, most human beings do not experience the spiritual life of the Eternal Soul but experience instead, the life and death of the limited physical human personality?
To understand why human beings experience physical death and not Eternal Life, we have to recognize that most human beings do not know who or what they really are. Throughout our lives most of us identify with our human personality which comprises the conscious human mind, the human ego and the body associated with the mind and ego. We identify with our human personality so completely that instead of making a concerted effort to get in touch with the Eternal Being encapsulated within the human personality and then using the body and mind to express what the Eternal Being, who we really are, wishes to do, most of us spend our entire life merely expressing our human mind and ego. We identify with our mind, ego and body to such an extent that when our mind is happy, we think that we are happy and when our mind is upset, we think that we are upset. So throughout our lives most of us strive to satisfy our mind, ego and bodily senses…all of which are physical and temporary.
So because most human beings spend their entire life expressing their minds and ego, and remain unaware of the Spiritual Being within, they experience death of the physical personality and not the Eternal Life of the Divine Soul.
The human mind and ego are the source of desires. Because of the laws of Karma unfulfilled desires bind the Eternal Being i.e. the soul to this Earth plane. The result is that the soul has to incarnate in a new body and mind each time in order to grow to realize its true nature. Just as a seed which sprouts and becomes a plant out which new seeds emerge, similarly each time a soul incarnates to work out karmas created by past desires, it generally creates new desires. Thus the soul is bound to fairly perpetual rounds of life, birth and death. The Lord Jesus Christ referred to the law of Karma when He said words to the effect ",As you sow, so shall you reap."
To experience the soul, one has to grow through a process in which one’s ego consciousness dies when one is alive. With the death of the human ego and not the physical body, one experiences a spiritual birth. This is what is described as being “Born Again”. Observe the important role death plays as part of the process of Life Eternal when it comes to Spiritual birth. As far as its relationship to the Soul is concerned, the human mind/ego is like the shell of a seed. Before it can grow, a seed has to first establish contact with its source the earth. When it remains in contact with its source, life within the seed stirs. Then as a consequence of the movement of life within the seed, matter within the seed grows. As a result of the growth of the matter within the seed, the shell which confines life within the seed breaks open. Once it breaks through the shell, life and the matter within the seed can take root within its Source the earth and grows into a sapling. It can then proceed to fulfill its purpose as a tree. Even when it is in contact with its source, if the matter within a seed does not break through its shell, the seed will eventually rot and die.
Similarly for the Divine spark within us to take birth as a Spiritual Being, we have to break through the shell of our human personality i.e. the human mind/ego. To accomplish this we need to be seized in the Mind of a Spiritual Master. Unfortunately many of us who have been fortunate in coming in contact with a Spiritual Master, do not take advantage of the opportunity and remain confined within the trap created by our human mind/ego. This trap becomes stronger and impenetrable as we strengthen the human/mind ego by pursuing various desires that originate within it.
In order to free us from the shackles of Karma and the cycles of physical birth, life and death from time to time, Spiritual Masters descend. Few benefit from their efforts. Frequently the Master is ignored and remains unknown and charlatans mislead the people at large. Sometimes the Living Master is persecuted, condemned and at times put to death.
Many human beings who are religious claim that they love the Spiritual Master and/or Masters through whom the religion got started. Such Masters are called Sat Gurus. Sat means Truth and Guru means teacher. Sat Gurus have taken birth in human form through personalities such as Zarathushtra, Ram, Krishna, Moses and the prophets of Israel which includes Jesus Christ, Buddha, Masters of the Jain religion, Prophet Mohammed, Guru Nanak and others. There are many Gurus in the Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Muslim and other religions. Many people claim to follow a living Guru. Most of them do so only till the Guru satisfies their needs which in most cases includes satisfying their mind and ego. Yet if a real Guru were to appear before them and tell them that in order to experience Eternal Life, they should give up their business, their wealth, their family and go with Him, how many people will follow the real Sat Guru? Hardly anyone.
Now compare their response to a real Sat Guru with their response to the Grim Reaper i.e. the god of death. When the Grim Reaper, who in the Vedas is called Yama Raja, approaches them and tells them that they have to give up their business, wealth and family, everyone follows Yama Raja.
Why is that? This is because of the nature of the mind. When given a choice, the human mind will invariably try to escape. It will take the easy way out and generally make the wrong choice i.e. it will choose a course of action that will satisfy it. So why is it that we follow Yama Raja and do not try to escape death when the grim reaper appears? We follow Yama Raja unto death, because we have no choice. If we were given a choice, we would try to escape from the Grim Reaper as well. But when death comes, we are not given a choice. No matter what our circumstances are, we have to go with the Grim Reaper. We cannot and do not use the excuse that we have to tend to our business or we are expecting a new born child etc. We drop everything and leave.
However in matters of life, we are given a choice. Because of the principle of free will that we have been endowed with, the Spiritual Master gives us a choice. He does not force us to follow Him. So in our folly and to our own detriment, we choose to ignore
So what we can see from the above is that we human beings give more value to the agent of death than to the Master who can show us how to grow unto Eternal Life. Therefore we miss the opportunity to take a Spiritual birth and grow to experience Eternal Life while alive. As a result of our own choice we experience death of the human personality. This is the tragedy of life.
What does it mean to be "Born Again"?
A true Spiritual Master or Sat Guru not only shows us the way, but He is the Way. When such a Master accepts an individual as a disciple and establishes a Spiritual connection with them, the Soul is literally seized within the Mind of the Master. When the soul is seized by the Mind of the Master, the soul is spiritually conceived within the Consciousness and Being of the Master. Thus the soul takes a Spiritual birth and is born again within the Master. This is reflected in some of the expressions used by modern day Christians when they say that they are born again in Jesus Christ and that they are brothers/sisters in Christ.
To help human beings break this cycle, Spiritual Masters have revealed various Spiritual principles we need to live by and have shown us the spiritual exercises we need to practice in order to empty the conscious human mind and thus get in touch with the Spiritual Being that is behind the mind.
The Ten Commandments given through Moses are some of the Laws that have been given to us to live by. The names of some of the spiritual in other religions are also well known. They are the various disciplines of Yoga such as Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Gyana Yoga, Raj Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Tantric Yoga, Patanjali Yoga, Vasishtha Yoga etc. Spiritual prayer and Meditation etc. Unless there is the right type of teacher one has to be careful not to practice these yogas particularly Tantric Yoga and Kundalini Yoga. Why? Because if one practices these yogas a stage will come when one will experience emotional, psychological and physical imbalances. When these imbalances manifest they have to be managed in the right way from a spiritual, psychological, emotional and physical point of view. Therefore unless one comes across a right teacher one should stay away from such practices.
Should one go in search of a Master? Absolutely not. If one does so, more than likely one will fall prey to charlatans. Spiritual literature is replete with advice that when the disciple is ready, the Master will create conditions whereby the disciple will meet the Master. Till that time one should go about living ones daily life and live according to spiritual principles as one understands them.