Thursday, February 14, 2013

the soul

Verse 2.13: As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.

Arjuna's misconceptions (and our own) are directly addressed in this verse: misidentification with the material body. Krsna clearly outlines here one of the fundamental tenets of the Gita - we have a material body (which is temporary) and a soul (which is eternal). Our true identification should be that "I am a soul" and not be bewildered by the body that is currently on loan to us.

One may question, "So what if I identify myself with the material body? What does it matter?" It matters because the body is temporary, limited and is often a cause of misery. The soul, on the other hand, is characterized by three intrinsic characteristics. It is eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss.

A beautiful analogy is given with respect to this verse. Just as a person puts on cloths and discards them later, the material body can be viewed in a similar way. The only difference is we wear this body for a longer time than the pants or shirt we might have put on this morning.

The body we receive is a direct result of our karma and consciousness in our previous life. That determines the type of body and facility we receive now. Like this, the cycle continues and so the soul gets trapped in the cycle of repeated birth and death.

With respect to death, this verse can help ease our misconceptions and trepidations regarding death. This verse and those to come propound that the soul never dies. The body, any body will die, but the soul will live eternally. The loss of friends, family and loved ones is certainly painful and never easy. However, one can take comfort that the soul that we were lucky enough to come in contact with will live forever.

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