Archive for February, 2014


The Vedic theory of reincarnation holds that the divine arrangement enables us to live multiple lives in the context of a long-term educational process. But since we can’t seem to remember anything from our previous existences, someone could ask how we are supposed to learn something from them. This question can be answered with the help of a pot of boiling water, a poem and a scented flower.

We are all very careful when we are carrying a pot of boiling water. Even if no drop is touching our skin, the very anticipation of this danger makes us tread lightly. The question is: when did we learn that we need to stay away from boiling water? What was the exact context? How old were we, in what location, what clothes did we have on? What was the weather like? Hard to say. But, still, this act of learning had to have happened sometime during our lifetime. Although we’ve forgotten the details, we have not forgotten the lesson: careful with boiling water.

Let’s take another example. Escaping the cold outside, relaxing under a warm blanket, we read something nice – say a lofty Rudyard Kipling poem. Carried away by the awe inspiring images, we let ourselves be seduced by the poet’s talent. All this time, our mind is silently accessing and processing hundreds of grammatical rules and word meanings. Can we remember the details of the context in which we have learned each and every rule? Definitely not. But still, the assimilation of the essence of those learning experiences is evident by our ability to read and enjoy the poem.

But even if we could remember, would it really help us? On the contrary. Let’s imagine that while we are savoring the subtleties of the poem our mind would suddenly be invaded with specific memories associated with the learning of every word and every grammar rule inherent in the processing of those verses. Could we then be able to concentrate on the poem?

This cumulative learning mechanism, through the assimilation of the essence and the discarding of the context details also applies to the lessons we have learned from previous lives. The arrangement of nature makes it in such a way that the soul is able to carry with it in a mind-bottle technically called citta the essential teachings of the previous life reflected in our worldview, habits and behaviors, but it spares us the mental overload which would paralyze our life if every time we were about to do something, we would automatically remember every little detail about that something.

In the Bhagavad Gita (15.8), the Supreme explains this using a comparison: the living entities in the material world carry with them various conceptions of life from one body to the next, like air currents carry with them a variety of scents from the flowers. Elegantly put.

In conclusion, despite our forgetfulness of our previous lives, the essential information is there, somewhere in our mind, present in the form of so-called inborn tendencies, traits and inclinations. The lessons are there at our disposal. The important thing is to use them wisely in order to be successful at our Final Exam.

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