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Seeker: Ramji, I have heard you speak of past life incarnations before, but also speak in terms of reincarnation as a falsehood. Do you mean to say that the reflected self does reincarnate from time to time but that the original self does not? Or is reincarnation just another bait-and-switch like the creation teaching versus the projection teaching ?
Ramji: The original Self is unborn, so it doesn’t die. Therefore it doesn’t reincarnate. It is eternal, out of time altogether.
The reflected self is eternal also. However, owing to Maya, it seems to live and die. To a Self-ignorant person birth and death are real. A non-eternal jiva is nothing but material energy – the three gunas – that seemingly lives because of its intimate association with the original, all-pervasive, eternal Self. We know that matter is not created or destroyed. It just changes form. It is eternal. It recycles. So nothing is gained when the body and mind appear, and nothing is lost when they disappear. The jivas do actions which create vasanas, which cause them to do actions in an endless cycle. If a jiva’s subtle body is still under the spell of the vasanas when the physical body dies, it picks up another physical body after some time and continues on the round of births and deaths. So yes, there is rebirth for jivas unless their vasanas have been negated by Self-knowledge. The negation of the vasanas shifts the identity of the reflected self to the original Self, which is whole and complete, so there is no reason for it to be reborn, even if it could.
Yes, it’s a bait-and-switch. If a person isn’t ready to understand the Self, we give him the reincarnation teaching to point out the futility of action. We tell him he will be back, which is logical, but is actually a lie because Isvara wipes out the memory of the last birth and creates a new non-eternal identity in the next birth. The non-eternal jiva is nothing but a conceptual construct built up on the basis of time, place and circumstances, which are never the same from one incarnation to the next. The same set of vasanas are operational in the next birth, however. They are eternal because they are Isvara, and Isvara is eternal. None of this is known by the reborn jiva, so the whole question of rebirth is actually moot.