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BY SWAMI CHETANANANDA

An important belief in Indian religion is that we reincarnate over and over again, but there is some misunderstanding about what reincarnation actually is.

If you look at a tree, year after year, you will notice that, each year, leaves come out and, over the course of the season, the leaves fall away. The next year, the leaves come again. This happens over and over and over again. Those leaves are not separate living creatures; those leaves are connected to the tree and are expressions of the life of the tree. The leaves are participating in, having a role in the conversion of the total biosphere into this expression manifesting as the tree.

The trunk of the tree isn’t the life of the tree. It’s also part of the structure. It is an expression of the life of the tree that is subtly flowing to the center of the tree and year after year after year, creating, transforming, the earth that its roots are in, and the sun into this dynamic display…a tree!

tulip_poplar_in_fall_colors

So each year, the leaves fall down. What happens to the leaves? Well, if the tree is in the forest, the leaves become the soil. The minerals in the leaves go back into the soil and are absorbed again by the tree, year after year, as the soil builds and builds and builds, and the same minerals become the tree and the leaves all over again. The biosphere itself is expressing its aliveness in the form of tree and leaf, and the leaf and the tree and the earth and the sky are all completely interconnected in this dynamic process. At some point in time the tree is going to fall down, and the trunk is going to dissolve and become the dirt again, and all the minerals that gave the trunk mass will then become a part of the soil which gives a new tree mass and vibrancy.

The story of the leaf is finished the moment the leaf detaches from the tree. The story is over. In the same way, the moment a human being dies in Nepal, particularly if they’re a Brahman, the first thing that happens at the cremation, before the body is burned, is that the person’s the astrology chart is torn up and thrown in the river—because that story is over. So when thinking about your past lives, you have to understand: your story is not what transmigrates. That story that you hold so closely now is a story that was a fiction in the first place, a fiction in the second place, a fiction in the third place, and then completely forgotten. Why do you hold it so closely? Why do you let it torture you?

What transmigrates are the minerals in your bones and the resonance that you held in your heart. The feeling that is the life of your life lives on. None of the rest of it does. Only the connection to the beauty that is your essence lives on. All of your tumult will live on, too, but the story will not. So you have to just go forward in life, instead of reinventing the same tortures all over again in some new fashion.  You to have remember to purify your mind and open your heart to all of the variety of forms of light that populate the wondrous field of your experience. You are able, in that case, to receive the blessing that is this life on Earth.

There’s only one life and that life is not yours or mine; it is its own. It is a self-organizing, self-sustaining, self-expressing dynamic system that is the self-awareness, the livingness of the Universe Itself. Having an experience of this reality puts an end to 99.9% of the misery of being a human being. In time, it heals everything—all of the traumas and all of the disappointments of your ancestors—and brings wellness, not just to you, but to everybody with whom you share your life and many generations of your ancestors, backwards and forwards.