You are Eternal
“I was born, and I am going to die one day” – we would all say this. It looks like an innocent statement of fact, but if we examine this a little closer, it reveals some interesting and fatal assumptions I have made about myself without much thought. i.e.
“I was born” = I am the physical body
“I am going to die” = I am the physical body
Even if it is not said, it is implied by the above 2 statements that “I live my life in between birth & death” = I am limited by my physical body, I am do not exist before the body is born, and I will not exist after the body dies
Is it true? Am I really this physical body which is subject to birth, death, old age, decay, disease? This is another matter for you to contemplate upon by examining your own personal experience. Apply the ‘seer-seen’ principle to help you examine your experience and meditate (see: http://www.advaita-academy.org/blogs/investigation-into-consciousness/). You will find that the body is known BY you. Which means you are NOT your body, but you are a separate ‘conscious being’ (that appears to dwell in the body) which is conscious of the body. This ‘conscious being’ is the true you. Not the body. Your own experience reveals this, and Vedanta helps us clarify our own experience.You, as a conscious being, are called ‘Atma’ in the Vedas and Gita. It’s just a Sanskrit term meaning “I”.
Knowing this, let’s go back to our original opening statement: “I am born an I will die”. Now think…if I = conscious being = Atma, the question is not really about my physical body being born or dying (because it is definitely true that my physical body is born and will die!), the question is: Does consciousness die when the body dies? Is consciousness born when the body is born? Chapter 2, verse 12 of the Bhagavad Gita answers this very question by revealing that consciousness is eternal (nitya). Sri Krishna explains how consciousness exists in the past, present and the future. This covers all 3 periods of time therefore consciousness is ‘eternal’. Consciousness is not born, even if your body is born. Consciousness does not age, even when your body ages. Consciousness does not get sick, even when your body gets sick. Consciousness does not die when the body dies. In fact, your own experience reveals this…
“I was born, I was a child, I was a teenager, I was a young adult, I was old” – do you notice a common unchanging thread in ALL these statements? I. The sense of “I” never changes. This unchanging I is Atma or consciousness which Sri Krishna is describing here.
Consider the body to be like an item of clothing for Atma. When the clothing gets old, you replace it with new clothing. But the person inside the clothes is the same. So to, when the body gets old and can’t function, it gets replaced with a new one (re-birth). But the conscious being within the body is the same. That conscious being is you. You are eternal. Knowing this, we need not fear death.