Beyond Birth & Death

Beyond Birth & Death

Chapter 1
We Are Not These Bodies

The very first step in self-realization is realizing one’s identity as separate from the body. 'I am not this body but am spirit soul' is an essential realization for anyone who wants to transcend death and enter into the spiritual world beyond. It is not simply a matter of saying 'I am not this body,' but of actually realizing it. This is not as simple as it may seem at first. Although we are not these bodies but are pure consciousness, somehow or other we have become encased within the bodily dress. If we actually want the happiness and independence that transcend death, we have to establish ourselves and remain in our constitutional position as pure consciousness.

Chapter 2
Elevation at Death

There are different kinds of transcendentalists who are called yogīs–haṭha-yogīs, jñāna-yogīs, dhyāna-yogīs, and bhakti-yogīs–and all of them are eligible to be transferred to the spiritual world. The word yoga means 'to link up,' and the yoga systems are meant to enable us to link with the transcendental world. As mentioned in the previous chapter, originally we are all connected to the Supreme Lord, but now we have been affected by material contamination. The process is that we have to return to the spiritual world, and that process of linking up is called yoga. Another meaning of the word yoga is 'plus.' At the present moment we are minus God, or minus the Supreme. When we add Kṛṣṇa–or God–to our lives, this human form of life becomes perfect.

Chapter 3
Liberation from Material Planets

The jñānīs and yogīs are generally impersonalists, and although they attain the temporary form of liberation by merging into the impersonal effulgence, the spiritual sky, according to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam their knowledge is not considered pure. By penances, austerities, and meditations they can rise up to the platform of the Supreme Absolute, but as has been explained, they again fall down to the material world, because they have not taken Kṛṣṇa's personal features seriously. Unless one worships the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, he again has to descend to the material platform. The ideal attitude should be, 'I am Your eternal servitor. Please let me somehow engage in Your service.'

Chapter 4
The Sky Beyond the Universe

If even the higher planets in this universe are subject to birth and death, why do great yogīs strive for elevation to them? Although they may have many mystic powers, these yogīs still have the tendency to want to enjoy the facilities of material life. On the higher planets, it is possible to live for incredibly long lifetimes. The time calculation on these planets is indicated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa:

Chapter 5
Associating with Kṛṣṇa

If one gets something superior, he naturally gives up all inferior things. We want enjoyment, but impersonalism and voidism have created such an atmosphere that we have become addicted to material enjoyment. There must be enjoyment in connection with the Supreme Person (puruṣaḥ sa paraḥ), whom we can see face to face. In the spiritual sky we are able to speak personally with God, play with Him, eat with Him, etc. All of this can be attained by bhaktyā–transcendental loving service. However, this service must be without adulteration, that is to say, we must love God without expecting material remuneration. Loving God to become one with Him is also a form of adulteration.

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