Paramhansa Yogananda — On Reincarnation

Reincarnation represents the unceasing law of spiritual evolution, granting each being the opportunity to resolve its karma – the law of action. It serves as the dynamic force, propelling creation towards ultimate liberation in Spirit, breaking free from the natural clutches of death.

In the pursuit of perfection and freedom, one embarks on a journey through the grades of physical, mental, and spiritual development. This path remains incomplete until a diploma of true perfection and freedom is earned, transcending the limitations of societal status or the renunciation of material wealth.

Unquenched desires stand as the root cause of this eternal cycle of rebirth. Fulfillment is not the exclusive privilege of the elite, nor does renouncing material possessions guarantee the end of desires. Each individual bears a self-created destiny, a unique role to play in the grand theater of existence. Harmony and cooperation among all actors are vital for the success of this cosmic drama, orchestrated by the Creator with the hope of a magnificent spectacle.

The sum of our consciousness, accumulated over countless incarnations, shapes the guiding force behind our actions and thoughts. This consciousness reigns supreme, governing both voluntary and involuntary aspects of our multifaceted existence within these earthly vessels.

Reincarnation’s passage takes the soul through diverse forms of life – mineral, plant, animal, and human. This diverse journey through races and bodies teaches the crucial lesson of non-attachment, paving the way for the ultimate realization of one’s true essence as a divine offspring, intricately woven into the fabric of everything.

Recollections of past lives occasionally surface with certainty. These memories become vividly evident, revealing fragments of history unnoticed by present caretakers. The echoes of these lives remind us that we traverse an endless dream world, with each incarnation acting as a role in a cosmic play, constantly changing, yet the eternal self remains unaltered.

In this game of life, often seemingly cruel, we must embrace the understanding that it’s a fleeting dream. The vast tapestry of human experiences, whether rich or poor, healthy or sick, merely comprises chapters in the larger narrative. Every individual is a divine traveler, passing through this earthly realm for a brief moment before embarking on new adventures in astral worlds.

We are like movie actors on the grand stage of existence, each assigned diverse roles to play, be they tragic or comic. The key is to play these roles well, knowing that we are not the characters we portray but the immortal souls behind the scenes. The experiences we gather during this lifetime determine our future incarnations, urging us to make the most of our current role for the growth of our true Self.

As we transition from one life to the next, our thoughts during the final moments can either lead to salvation or rebirth. These thoughts carry the residue of past actions and desires, shaping the framework of the next incarnation. However, the yogi, steeped in wisdom, transmutes desires, breaking free from the cycle of reincarnation. Such a being meets life’s ups and downs with equanimity, seeing them as mere scenes in the larger cosmic drama.

It’s a journey of learning and growth, life after life until all lessons are absorbed. Our experiences in marriage, love, success, meditation, and self-discipline serve as necessary steps in the gradual realization of the Self. This ever-evolving process, while bound by the constraints of earthly existence, ultimately leads us back to the Source, the vast Spirit dwelling within.

While the physical appearance transforms from life to life, the eyes reveal the essence of our past selves, as the inner being leaves an indelible mark on the outer form. This significance underscores the journey of the soul, wearing diverse bodies until it transcends the cycle of reincarnation, ascending back to its divine origin.

Reincarnation, a series of dreams within a dream, encapsulates individual dreams woven into the greater cosmic dream of God. Liberation from this cycle is the destination for those who have fulfilled their desires in God, rendering reincarnation redundant.

The true lesson lies in recognizing our essence as souls, created in the image of God. To realize our true Self and transcend ignorance is the ultimate purpose. The more we meditate, the stronger this realization becomes, leading us toward a consciousness that recognizes God as the sole Reality.

Reincarnation is the canvas for a magnificent play, with each being contributing its unique part, allowing the grand cosmic narrative to unfold, revealing the profound interconnectedness of all existence.

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