Q: It is said that reincarnation is due to our own karma and we alone who are responsible for the past, present, and future life. But what part within every individual living entity actually can create words, thoughts, and deeds either good or evil? Is it the atma (soul), mind, or particular organ of the body?
Someone said that life is suffering. This means that every birth is accompanied by suffering. But what or who really suffers, the soul or atma by getting rebirth (taking a new body after death), or what?
Presently we are functioning in and as a duality. Our atma (self) is encased in various bodies or koshas that are formed of vibrating energies of various frequencies. The atma never acts, but only experiences. All action is done by the bodies; they alone create good and evil. But the atma experiences the effects of the actions. That is why the Mundaka Upanishad says:
“Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the selfsame tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes. The individual self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the divine Self, bewildered by his ego, grieves and is sad. But when he recognizes the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and beholds his glory, he grieves no more. When the seer beholds the Effulgent One, the Lord, the Supreme Being, then, transcending both good and evil, and freed from impurities, he unites himself with him. This Effulgent Self is to be realized within the lotus of the heart by continence, by steadfastness in truth, by meditation, and by superconscious vision. Their impurities washed away, the seers realize him” (Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1-3, 5).
Q: I have come across the word “prana.” what is the relation between atma and prana?
“Prana” means “life,” and is the vital energy, life-breath and life-force. One of the bodies in which the atma is encased is the pranamaya kosha, the pranic body. It consists of vital forces and the subtle energy system that is the power behind the physical nervous system.
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