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Herein and hereinafter

In a tragic accident of implosion in North Atlantic, five occupants of ‘Titan’ the submersible, died a week back. They were on an adventure, to explore the wreck of the “Titanic” ship, which sank almost 112 years ago. The wreck of the submersible was found hardly a thousand feet from the Titanic. Stockton Rush, the OceanGate chief executive, who was piloting it also perished. That he was the husband of Wendy Rush, a great-great-granddaughter of the retailing magnate Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida, who died aboard the ‘Titanic’ may not be a coincidence, but may have a metaphysical connotation. Were the others too connected in some way with the Titanic? That probably, we will never know. However, curious as we are, we would want to cross the boundaries between the physical and the metaphysical worlds and find answers to our existence, our consciousness, and the relationship between mind and matter. We would also want to know the nature-of-being and the existence of God, the realm-of-spirits, energy-fields, higher-dimensions, and alternate-realities.

Many religions, such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, assert the existence of an afterlife. Upanishads describe ‘Self’ or ‘atman’ or the ‘Bahya-atma’, our external self. The ‘Antar-atma’ is the inner self, and the ‘Param-atma’ is the highest self or the ‘Brahman’. Whereas, ‘Antar-atma’ is non destructible, it carries memories with it, till it merges with the ‘Param-atma’.

Are there cases of rebirth? There are numerous fascinating stories and accounts of rebirth and reincarnation from different cultures and belief systems. While the authenticity of such accounts is a subject of debate, they always capture our interest and curiosity.

One of the most famous cases of alleged past life memories, is that of Shanti Devi, who, in the 1930s, claimed to remember her past life as a woman named Lugdi Devi from a village in a different state. Shanti Devi provided detailed information about Lugdi Devi’s life, family, and the village she claimed to be from leading to an investigation and verification. Another remarkable case is that of James Leininger, a young American boy who claimed to have memories of being a World War II pilot named James Huston Jr. The boy shared detailed information about aircraft, battles, and people associated with James Huston Jr., which his parents found difficult to explain. We have also seen some individuals report having mystical or near-death experiences, in expanded states of consciousness during moments of clinical death or near-death situations.

Possibility of past life memories may be true or may be imaginative storytelling. Ultimately, the question of rebirth or reincarnation remains deeply philosophical and spiritual. The concepts of ‘Atma’ ‘Jeevatma’ and ‘Paramatma’ are essential to understanding the nature of self, consciousness, and our spiritual journey, even as consciousness is awareness of ourself and the world around us, and the reason to experience emotions, it actually is the inner voice in our head, giving us a sense of who we are.

Everything in the universe is composed of energy, with different levels or frequencies of energy corresponding to different dimensions of reality. By raising our vibrational frequency through practices like meditation or spiritual development, we can access or interact with the metaphysical aspects of existence.

Hence “Chaitanya” or our consciousness, the energy and the vibrations of an earlier life, take us from herein to hereafter, and from death to rebirth, with the memories of an earlier life remaining till we are in the mother’s womb. That said, the new consciousness associated with the rebirth obliterates the earlier memories with ‘Maya’ the illusory power unfolding the true nature of our reality. This is the perceived separation between the individual self and the universal consciousness. Whereas non dualism may merge our body and soul into one, dualism however, will keep them separate. Hence the life lived in the earlier birth is the difference between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’ and ‘what is’ remembered and ‘what is’ not. A shloka from the ‘Mandukya Upanishad’ is very succinct. Translated it means, “what can a person do and achieve, with a mind that is unperturbed, neither desires nor grieves and neither hears nor sees? Only such a person is free from enmity towards all and becomes one with the Supreme Lord”. Everyone else finds a way back to a womb with memories of the past. Whatever be the truth, a debate of “what after death” will continue to fasciate us.

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