Reincarnation, transmigration, the cycle of birth and death, the wheel of eighty-four – these beliefs about what happens after death are easy to understand. To put it simply: From the day of creation, ever since we were separated from the Lord and sent to this realm of birth and death, our soul has been transmigrating from one life form to another according to our karmas.
Sant Mat teachings affirm that there are 8,400,000 species that we needed to evolve from, before achieving this human form. Our ‘human being level’ is a unique stage, since we are the only species in the entire creation that possesses the ability and potential to attain both self-and God-realization, enabling us to merge back with our Creator. However, mystics tell us that whenever we obtained the human form in the past, we became engrossed in worldly pleasures and pursuits, and thus failed to realize our true purpose. We therefore continue to revolve miserably around the wheel of transmigration with no end in sight. Furthermore, despite our unfortunate plight, we continue to remain ignorant, clinging constantly to worldly objects and affection.
Even though we claim to understand this, the problem is that for many of us it remains just a concept, and we do not fully grasp the depth and power of this seemingly cruel reality. We need to awaken to the truth that salvation and God-realization can only be attained in this human life form. In no other form of existence, including the forms of deities, angels, gods and goddesses, can we realize the truth, and become one with the Lord. Saints throughout the ages have reminded us of this invaluable opportunity, and how we can make best use of it. They have pleaded with us, begged us, warned us and lovingly explained this to us. They have left no stone unturned to enlighten us. Their message to each one of us is loud and clear.
You faltered through a million lives before you found this rare human form. Do not waste it this time – devote every moment to remembering God.
Soami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Poetry
Great Master often gave examples from the Bhagavad Gita:
Krishna himself said to Udho that a worm crawling nearby had many times been Indra, the god of the heavens and Brahma, the creator. When such deities could not escape the cycle of eighty-four, how could an ordinary soul do so?
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Kabir further explains:
On obtaining this beautiful human body, worship the Supreme Lord before doing anything else … Remember, you will not get such a body again for ages and then you will repent most bitterly. In the wheel of eighty-four, human life is incomparable.
Kabir, The Great Mystic
Saints have begged us to wake up and seek a deeper understanding; to pay close attention and heed their message. The human form is the last step on the evolutionary ladder. We are now just a single step away from reaching our goal – any negligence, any laziness on our part will prove to be a catastrophic mistake resulting in us having to start over from the bottom rung of the ladder.
To further emphasize the severity of our dilemma, Maharaj Sawan Singh explains:
To pass the entire round of 8,400,000 different forms of species would take the soul many aeons to complete. Even if an average of ten years were to be allowed for one life – though this is an underestimate since there are trees that live on earth for two thousand years, and even the ordinary banyan and peepal trees in Indian villages live for five or six centuries each – it would require eighty-four million years for a soul to get the human body again.
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Can we really afford to wait for another chance to meet the Lord? Are we really willing to waste this precious opportunity of a human experience?
Life after life they will suffer in the wheel of birth and death and they may never get this human form again. Now that you have gotten this rare human form, use it well and fulfil the purpose of life.
Soami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Poetry
With such powerful examples from the saints, it should automatically be engraved in our mind that the wheel of eighty-four is very real, and our only way to escape is to catch hold of the sound current. Attending daily to our meditation with keen determination and a strong resolve, together with the grace of our Master, is all that it takes for us to finally be free.
Let us not regret, at the time of our death, that we have wasted this invaluable gift of our human existence in social obligations, attachments and possessions. It is now time to wake up, fully comprehend the impact of our pitiful situation, place our spiritual goal as our life’s priority, and dedicate our utmost efforts towards attending to meditation daily. We must remember that without this, there is no release from the vicious wheel. We have reached the final stage of our journey; just one step away lies true freedom – one careless move could be disastrous. Who knows when we may receive another chance?
The true value of the human body is realized after death,
when man regrets that he has squandered
his most precious possession.
Maharaj Jagat Singh, The Science of the Soul