This vast universe is a wheel

This vast universe is a wheel. Upon it are all creatures that are subject to birth, death and rebirth. Round and round it turns, and never stops. It is the wheel of Brahman. As long as the individual self thinks it is separate from Brahman, it revolves upon the wheel in bondage to the laws of birth, death and rebirth. But when through the grace of Brahman it realises its identity with him, it revolves upon the wheel no longer. It achieves immortality.

Svetasvatara Upanishad.  (This is the first time in Hindu literature that the image of the wheel is applied birth, death and rebirth.)

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Kaivalya Upanishad

This upanishad begins with the words: “The sage who by faith, devotion and meditation has realised the Self, and become one with Brahman, is released from the wheel of change and escapes from rebirth, sorrow and death.”

The subtle impressions of his deeds

A man acts according to the desires to which he clings. After death he goes to the next world bearing in his mind the subtle impressions of his deeds; and after reaping there the harvest of his deeds, he returns again to this world of action. Thus he who has desires continues subject to rebirth.

But he in whom desire is stilled suffers no rebirth. After death, having attained to the highest, desiring only the Self, he goes to no other world. Realising Brahman, he becomes Brahman.

When all the desires which once entered into his heart have been driven out by divine knowledge, the mortal, attaining to Brahman, becomes immortal.

As the slough of a snake lies cast off on an anthill, so lies the body of a man at death; while he, freed from the body, becomes one with the immortal spirit, Brahman, the Light Eternal.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Kousalya’s question

And when it was the turn of Kousalya, he put this question: “Master, of what is Prana born; how does he enter the body; how does he live there after dividing himself; how does he go out; how does he experience what is outside; and how does he hold together the body, the senses and the mind?”

To which the sage replied: “Kousalya, you ask very difficult questions; but since you are a sincere seeker after the truth of Brahman, I must answer. Prana is born of the Self. Like a man and his shadow, the Self and Prana are inseparable. Prana enters the body at birth, that the desires of the mind, continuing from past lives, may be fulfilled. As a king employs officials to rule over different portions of his kingdom, so Prana associates with himself four other Pranas, each a portion of himself and each assigned a separate function. The PRANA himself dwells in eye, ear, mouth, and nose; the APANA, which is the second Prana, rules the organs of excretion and generation; the SAMANA, which is the third Prana, inhabits the navel and governs digestion and assimilation. The Self dwells in the lotus of the heart, whence radiate a hundred and one nerves. From each of these proceed one hundred others, which are smaller, and from each of these, again, seventy-two thousand others, which are smaller still. In all these moves the VYANA, which is the fourth Prana. And then at the moment of death, through the nerve in the centre of the spine, the UDANA, which is the fifth Prana, leads the virtuous man upward to higher birth, the sinful man downward to lower birth, and the man who is both virtuous and sinful to rebirth in the world of men.

The sun is the Prana of the universe. It rises to help the Prana in the eye of man to see. The power of earth maintains the Apana in man. The ether between the sun and the earth is the Samana, and the all-pervading air is the Viyana. The Udana is fire, and therefore he whose bodily heat has gone out dies, after which his senses are absorbed in the mind, and he is born again. Whatever his thought at the moment of death, this it is that unites a man with Prana, who in turn, uniting himself with Udana and with the Self, leads the man to be reborn in the world he merits.”

Discussing rebirth

This is always an interesting topic!

Krishna says: ‘ I show you two paths. Let a yogi choose either when he leaves his body: the path that leads back to birth, the path of no return. There is the path of light, of fire and day, the path of the moon’s bright fortnight and the six months’ journey of the sun to the north: the knower of Brahman who takes this path goes to Brahman: he does not return. There is the path of night and smoke, the path of the moon’s dark fortnight and the six months’ journey of the sun to the south: the yogi who takes this path will reach the lunar light: the path leads back to human birth, at last.’

I’ve always believed in reincarnation. I have had a number of past life experiences. Indeed, my first book is called, ‘Why Am I Here This Time?’