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  AHYMSIN NEWSLETTER, ISSUE - July 2020 
  
   
 
   

Heaven, Hell, Reincarnation?

by Swami Veda

Book Cover: Meditation and the Art of Dying by Dr. Usharbudh Arya (Swami Veda Bharati)[This is an excerpt from Meditation and the Art of Dying by Pandit Usharbudh Arya, who later became Swami Veda Bharati. 1979. Pages 90 – 92.]

Does a soul after death go to heaven or hell, or does it reincarnate? On the surface it would appear to be a controversial question, but it really is not, once the definition of heaven and hell is better understood.

There is also the question about the transition period. How long does one stay in heaven, hell or in the purgatory? How long does it take for one to reincarnate? Different cultures and traditions ascribe different time periods. It should be understood that the question of such temporality is irrelevant to the soul which is not limited to our sense of time. The sense of time for different states and levels of consciousness varies. For example, we must measure our time during a dream in two ways. The time an event seemed to take during the dream is quite real while the dream lasts. Yet it is not to be measured against a clock ticking in the same room where the dreaming person lies in bed. One might be tempted to suggest that, well, of course, the time being told by the clock is real; the time experienced during sleep is merely subjective. Such an assertion is based on the unproved assumption that what is subjective is unreal, which is not the case. Are our unexpressed mental thoughts, memories, feelings unreal?

Excepting the liberated Masters, all the experiences of a soul in transition from death through heaven or hell or a reincarnation occur within the subtle body. Our subtle body is constituted of a very refined level of material energies, such as pranas, powers of the senses and so forth, and serves as an individualized instrument of the universal unconscious. The individualized chitta serves as the repository of all our impressions which become the samskaras, creating latent tendencies which finally mature into karmic fruition. Such karma ripens at a physical level but some only on the mental level and within the subtle body. Just as our mental sicknesses – including milder disturbances – are part of the karmic fruition, so also are the experiences between death and the next life. It is important to note that the philosophical systems of India, including Buddhism, accept reincarnation as well as heaven and hell. The deeper aspects of the teaching make it make it clear that heaven and hell exist only in the subtle world. A number of passages in the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (4.3.8-20) state that the experiences between death and rebirth are in the same category as dreams, a twilight zone. The wakefulness is like being in this body, in this world; the sleep and dream states are as though a transition after death and before rebirth. The life force, the soul wrapped up in the subtle body, sees whatever it has stored in its unconscious chitta and from its own light creates its own worlds, within its own time zone. The experiences of this zone of awareness draw from the previous life, the previous series of experiences and their samskaras.

According to the same Upanishad (4.4.6),

…to whatever one is attached, he goes to that as a result of his actions, to whatever his subtle body and the mind are affixed. Coming to the end of that action whichever he has performed here, from that world he returns again to this world to perform actions. Such is the state of those who desire…

 

   
       

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