“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
It’s not a competition. One team against another. The supporters defending their side, arguing against others they view as opponents. “My religion says this. My religion says that. Your religion is different.”
Genuine spiritual life should go beyond faith. Rather than a hope and a prayer that something is true, put every faculty gifted to the human being to use. In Sanskrit this way of life is known as sanatana-dharma, which has synonymous terms like bhagavata-dharma and bhakti-yoga.
Two plus two equals four. This is logical. The truth comes down first through the descending process of knowledge transfer. That is to say someone teaches it to me. While sitting in the classroom, I can put the principle to memory, ready to invoke when necessary.
Another option is to make a test for it myself. If I take two apples from one table and join them with two more from another table, how many apples do I now have? The answer is always four. No matter how many tests I do, the result is the same. Practical realization, vijnana, supports the theoretical knowledge, jnana.
In bhakti life so many aspects are understood logically, starting with the foundation of the difference between matter and spirit. The individual is spirit soul, covered by gross and subtle material elements. Combined together, those elements form what is known as the deha, or body. The deha is always changing, starting from birth through to the time of death.
This truth is as logical as the two plus two equation. The principle applies to every living thing. The body types may vary, the external appearance is not always the same, there are various capabilities and levels of intelligence, but the basic distinction, the dividing line between proper identity and improper, is always the same.
If I put the furniture together the wrong way, it stands to reason that something will go wrong in the future. The negative consequence may not manifest right away. It might be many years after the fact. A husband sits down on the sofa that I put together the wrong way. The sofa breaks upon contact, and the wife starts yelling at him for either being too heavy or not knowing how to sit properly.
In fact, it was my error that caused the breakage. The cause was a sin, in effect. In the same way, all behavior has some consequence. This is known as karma in Sanskrit. Action and reaction. The results are unseen and indefinite in duration, but there is always an action as the root cause.
“Unseen and indefinite are the good and bad reactions of fruitive work. And without taking action, the desired fruits of such work cannot manifest.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.17)
A reasonable person understands these truths and more presented in bhakti life. Faith is not required. If there is doubt, make a test through studying the behavior of others. If you decide to stay in bed tomorrow, will there be no consequences? If you do good deeds, are there not some rewards? Does bad behavior not catch up to someone eventually?
Take the principles learned and see how they apply to other people. The two plus two equation works for more than just apples. The changing of the bodies is not only for people of a specific faith. Heaven and hell, two relative conditions that already show themselves to a certain degree on earth, apply to every person. It is not that only people who go to a specific house of worship will get to travel to heaven, and that everyone else is forever condemned, with no chance of redemption.
4. Insightful inquiries
Accept the teachings of bhakti on faith at first. This is how formal knowledge gathering works already. The majority of people watching the weather forecast on television know nothing about meteorology. They trust the information given to them, since many times in the past predictions have been later verified.
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)
There is no reason to be prohibited by faith, however. Make insightful inquiries. Do so in a humble and submissive way, so that the spiritual teacher will be comfortable sharing information that is so important to them. Bring every doubt to the table. Ask every question that comes to mind, so as to have confidence in the path going forward.
5. Contemplation over the entire picture
Bhakti life is not only about ascending to heaven in the afterlife. Sure, there is the promise of no more rebirth, of no longer having to spin on the wheel of suffering known as reincarnation. There is the promise made by the Supreme Personality of Godhead that those who think of Him at the time of death attain His nature.
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
The teachings are so comprehensive that the entire picture becomes clearer. That is to say a student of bhakti-yoga learns about both the material and the spiritual. They know enough about material life to continue on, to use the changing situations to their advantage. They know that in spiritual life the dividing line between body and spirit goes away. There is such a thing as the spiritual body, known as the svarupa.
In the liberated state the devotee can survive anywhere and everywhere. They maintain their connection to God in what is known as yoga. Heaven, hell, earth, pious and impious are no longer of concern, as in the pure state of existence there is only the interest of Shri Krishna on the consciousness.
Faith and belief beyond,
Something to dwell upon.
On which the consciousness to fix,
No more after illusion’s trick.
Logic like math equations testing,
Reason in consequences manifesting.
To the table bringing every doubt,
For eternal bliss to bring about.