It is believed by many that we reincarnate into different forms. What of us remains after we die and continues on?
We do not end after our physical bodies shrivel and turn to ash. The body dies, but the soul does not. This part of us continues on in the form of our astral bodies, called the Devaloka or Second World. Without going into the myriad philosophical descriptions of the Second World, this is where the remains of our person – our soul – decides what to do next.
The Astral & Causal Bodies
The memories of the soul are carried within the astral body. This is distinct from the causal body, and the physical body.
Paramahansa Yogandanda says in his book, Karma and Reincarnation,
“The physical body contains, hidden, two other bodies, the astral body and the spiritual (idea) body. If a pint of salt water is put into a jug and corked, and this then is placed into another larger jar and corked, and these two jars are put finally into a third, larger jar and corked, and these three jars are then placed into the ocean, the salt water in the inner jars cannot mingle with the sea water when the outer most jar is broken.
“All the three imprisoning jars must be broken to allow the water to merge back into the ocean. Likewise, the physical body has the astral body and the ideational body, or causal body within it; the soul is encased finally, within the idea body and corked with ignorance.”
Therefore, the physical body is not yet free when we die. There are still layers of our previous experience which must be shrugged off.
Out-of-body experiences, and near-death-occurrences are usually the memory of the experiences of the astral body when it re-enters physical form.
These have even been described scientifically, and photographed using fMRI imaging. Andra M. Smith and Claude Messierwere from the University of Ottawa described one subject’s ability [to experience their astral body] in their paper, published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience:
“She was able to see herself rotating in the air above her body, lying flat, and rolling along the horizontal plane. She reported sometimes watching herself move from above but remained aware of her unmoving “real” body. The participant reported no particular emotions linked to the experience.”
In other words, our astral bodies having “an experience” is just business as usual.
Understanding the difference between the causal and the astral bodies can help us to understand the phenomenon of reincarnation.
The soul, which is the pure reflection of Spirit, appears on the causal plane, not the astral plan.
The soul’s astral desires which encase and limit it allow for the astral body to exist (as in Yogananda’s metaphor). Those desires must still be worked out on the astral plane. When the soul’s journey upon the astral plane achieves its natural end, the astral body is shed and the soul rises for rest to the causal plane there to re-incarnate back to the astral plane if there still any astral desires.
Once the soul has shed all physical and astral desires it moves to the causal plane, known as the bliss plane, at which the only remaining “desire” is the separateness of the pure Soul from Spirit. The soul can merge back to God easily from the casual plane, and no longer needs to reincarnate into physical form. We literally step into the physical according tot these rules.
Reincarnation and Karma
“For although the activity of the soul is not independent, yet the soul does act. The Lord [Infinite Oragnizing Principle of the Multiverse] indeed causes it to act, but it acts itself. Moreover, the Lord in causing it to act now has regard to its former efforts, and he caused it to act in a former existence, having regards to its previous efforts in that existence; a regression against which, considering the eternity of Samsara, no objection can be raised.”
Translation – the soul chooses what life to incarnate into next, as it has an infinite number of lessons based on its previous choices which it desires to learn, thereby lessening the cycles of additional rebirth into material form before returning to the Infinite from which it came. The soul chooses certain lessons, even difficult and painful ones, because if they do not, the lesson will remain, to be learned at some future time within the soul’s cycle of life and death.
This is also why a soul may remember its previous lifetimes, people, places it has lived and more. They are carried with them beyond the physical brain.
In “Have We Really Lived Before?”, Michael C. Pollack, Ph.D., CCHT describes a lower back pain, which grew steadily worse over the years and limited his activities. He suggests a possible reason for this recurring pain:
“I discovered that I had lived at least three prior lifetimes in which I had been killed by being knifed or speared in the low back. After processing and healing the past life experiences, my back began to heal.”