I warn you, we are going to dive really, really, really deep in this article. If you don’t understand everything what I’m going to write, that’s ok. Maybe it’s going to make you curious and start to ask questions.
The question is: what is the basis for one being to go from one birth to another ? What is it that carries a person from one to another?
To understand this, you must have some understanding of the mechanics of who you are. The mechanics of how a human being is built. What is actually a human being? In yoga, they look at everything as body because it’s easier to understand it that way. The body has five dimensions or five sheathes. The physical body is known as Annamayakosha, Anna means the food, this is food body. This physical body is just an accumulation of food, right? Next one is called Manomayakosha that means the mental body. The third one is called Pranamayakosha, which means the energy body.
These 3 dimensions are physical. They are physical existence. Physical body is very gross, mental body is subtler and energy body is even subtler. This is just like the light bulb is physical, you can see that. The electricity behind is also physical, the wire that connects is also physical; the electrons that flow through the wire are also physical existence. So similarly, physical body, mental body and energy body are all physical dimensions of life.
All these 3 dimensions carries the imprints of karma. On the body it is imprinted, on the mind it’s imprinted and on the energy it’s imprinted. These karmic imprints or the karmic structure is what holds it together. Karma is the cement which holds you to the physical body. Karma is the bondage at the same time, it’s only because of karmic stuff you can hold on the body and be here.
Now the next 2 dimensions are called Vignanamaya Kosha and Anandamaya Kosha. Vignanamaya Kosha is non-physical but related to the physical, it’s like a transient state. Anandamaya Kosha is completely non-physical. So, Vignanamaya Kosha and Anandamaya Kosha means the bliss body. Only if the physical body, the mental body and the energy body are in shape, it can hold the bliss body in shape. If these things are taken away, the bliss body will just become a part of the cosmos. That’s why I don’t really like the term soul because people try to put an image on it. The bliss body or what people call the soul is shapeless, formless and it’s not in space-time, it’s pure consciousness.
If the karmic structure is completely dismantled, everything merges into everything else. Like when a soap bubble explodes, the air in the bubble becomes one with everything else. When somebody dies, we say the person is no more, that’s not true. That person is no more the way you know them, but they still very much exist. If you dismantle the karmic structure 100 %, you merge with existence. This is referred as Mukti, Mahasamadhi, Mahaparinirvana or Liberation. Liberation means becoming free from the very process of life, birth and death. For all this, the karmic structure is the strings which hold these things together.
So when you die: the physical body will fall apart, you have to give it back to earth. The mental body and the pranic body, depending upon the strength of your karma, goes on. If the karmic structure is very intense, unfinished, then it has to finish it. If the karma has become weak because it has run its course, it very easily finds another body. When it has to find another body, the intensity of this structure should come down, it should become passive. If it’s intense, it can’t find a body, it has to hang. So this what people refer as ghosts, his karmic structure is still intense because it’s not over. The more intense his karmic structure is, the more visible or more experimentally available he becomes to people.
There are innumerable such beings all around you whether you know it or you don’t know it. But most of them you won’t feel because their karma is dissipated. They are just waiting for more dissipation before they find another body.
When one completes his allotted karma for that life, he will die just like that. Without disease, without accident, without any injury. When one dies simply like that, that person may find another body within hours.
The ultimate goal for every spiritual seeker is to break this whole process. If you take away the keys which hold the karmic structure, then it just collapses. Right now, if you sit and close your eyes, you can clearly see that you are more than this body, isn’t it ?