The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

How Many Lives Have You Lived?

By: for on Aug. 26, 2014
Photo Credits:

Davood Roostaei: Reincarnation II - painting.

Most people have a hard time wrapping their head around the idea that this isn’t their first life and that they may continue to live after the demise of this body.

In the West, we have been trained to see things from a linear perspective so that everything has one beginning and one end. We feel this way not only about our lives, but also the Universe.

The East looks at the world from a cyclical perspective. Reincarnation suggests this is not our first life on Earth and it’s most likely not our last. The Hindu perspective suggests we have been around for millions of lifetimes and that there may be millions ahead. In that sense, we are all “old souls.”

What is it that reincarnates and how exactly does it happen?

The Bhagavad Gita, the ancient text of India suggests that the soul leaves when the body dies. The type of body and psychological disposition—likes, dislikes, phobias, etc., one receives upon rebirth is dependent on the actions (karma) within that one life combined with the actions from previous lives. By some inconceivable system, all of one’s positive and negative deeds are recorded.

This means that no one gets away with anything.

Moreover, all positive and negative actions create within the individual a psychological disposition to continue performing that action. For example, if one starts stealing or gets in the habit of lying and doesn’t try to change these tendencies, then in the next life, one will pick up where they left off. The same goes for positive actions.

The mind propels us into action based on its conditioning which is based on past actions. So, when the body dies, the mind and soul get transferred into, hopefully, another human womb. Even while in the womb,
the mind remains active and is recalling events from the previous life. In a New York Times article “Do Babies Dream,” Charles P. Pollack, director of Center for Sleep Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Weill explains, “Most dreaming occurs during a type of sleep called REM sleep…which ‘…occurs at all life stages, including infancy, and even before infancy, in fetal life.’” 

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