na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ’yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.
Krishna is summarizing each one of us in this verse. We have been existing since eternity. Scriptures describe eternity as that whose history can’t be tracked within the “time” frame of our world or that of any other world. We are souls who change bodies according to our karmic charge sheet. Until we have gone back to Godhead, our excursions to this world and to many others, continue.
Our bodies pass through these stages: creation, growth, reproduction, deterioration, and destruction. As scriptures reveal to us, the purpose of our existence is not switching bodies or wandering from one planet to another. Rather, we are here to experience and realize that if we don’t become aware of our eternal purpose, these unending trips and varied roles tire us up and throw us in the dark well of meaninglessness. Our suffering here begins with mistaking our minds and bodies for ourselves. Since we identify with our bodies, a feeling of possessiveness develops about all that which we produce through the bodies. Any relationship with the body causes bondage of the mind and ego. People, possessions, countries, almost everything becomes a cause of bondage. The never ending drama of life hinges on the bags of stool, mucus, bile, blood, and so on in which we live.
Just for a day, let’s try to remain aware of our eternal selves: that we are eternal and beyond any temporary pleasure or suffering, and that we are living in our bodies. We’re not these bodies.
Let’s bring our attention to the seat of the soul which is toward the right of the physical heart. The symptom of the soul’s presence in the body is the consciousness. The consciousness pervades everywhere in our body. Every activity we do, the soul experiences this activity through the coordination of mind, senses, and ego. For instance, drinking water, talking to a friend, driving a car, and so on. Let’s be aware how I, the soul, is experiencing thinking through the mind. How I, the soul, is feeling joy at some achievement, through the mind, senses, and ego. How I, the soul, is feeling hurt through the mind, senses, and ego.
Let’s make this awareness granular. Choose an incident that happened recently and play it all over again in the mind. Be aware that I, the soul, experienced it through the mind, senses, and ego. Try to remain in this awareness throughout the day and watch how through the trio of mind, senses, and ego I, the soul, experiences the karmas we perform. Before falling asleep, let’s be aware how I, the soul, remains awake in the body while the conscious mind and senses experience sleep.
The moment-to-moment awareness of we being the souls that experience this world through the mind, senses, and ego helps us realize how we are separate from our bodies and minds. In the continuous state of this awareness of separateness, we become closer to ourselves. In the moments of closeness, a thought arises: who am I? Why am I here? Let these questions persist. Let them coerce us to begin the journey to find answers.
While I was doing this exercise, I ended up thinking about someone i don’t like. He’s my father’s age. This soul in an old man’s body has been performing karmas that bring out bad reactions in others. This man has pedophilic tendencies. He doesn’t pay his bills for months and months. He sold his son’s house to another son for a few lacs so that he could keep buying liquor and flesh to satisfy his senses. I look away whenever I see this man because I don’t want to say hello to someone who I don’t like. This man appeared on the screen of my mind when I was practicing the awareness of separateness of the soul from the body. And then, something unexpected happened! I began to see my father in this man’s place. I wondered what if my father had been doing the things that bring out negative reactions in me. Who is my father, I thought, the body of my father or the soul of my father? The soul who has been acting as my father is pure. This soul is as dear to Krishna as any other soul. His subtle (ego, mind) and gross (body) body is temporary, just like mine is. As souls, that man, my father, and I are connected at an equal level. We are all part and parcel of Krishna. Hating a soul means hating the Supersoul, Krishna. Do I hate Krishna? I can’t hate Him. The soul can’t hate Krishna. It can only love Him. By default, we are designed to love Krishna and its parts and parcels. So, how should I be reacting to the negative traits of this old man? I saw my father’s face again on the screen of my mind. What would I do if it was my father in place of this man? My eyes closed involuntarily. And I prayed to Krishna for cleansing this soul’s consciousness and polishing it with pure love. So, now whenever I think of this old man, I try to pray for him. Srila Bhaktisidhant maharaj says that when you don’t want to pray, pray that you can pray. And keep praying like this, intensity and genuine desire to pray will come with sincerity and Krishna’s mercy.
Let’s pray to Krishna that every moment of our lives we remain aware of our true selves, that we are souls and that we are His parts and parcels.