Millions of Lifetimes


Why does a human being keep getting born again? Unfuliflled desire is one thing which may be the reason but what about animals they would not have much desire other than food. What happens to reincarnation due to evil nature. does human become animal again

—Niraj, India


According to the yogic teachings, souls reincarnate repeatedly due to their desires. As long as these desires can only be fulfilled on the material plane of existence, such as the desire for good food, then the soul needs to come back into a material body. And since there are so many desires possible on this material plane, this repeated coming back happens many, many times. In the Indian scriptures it is said, and Paramhansa Yogananda corroborated this as well, that it takes five to eight million lifetimes to reach the human level, and then millions of lifetimes more in a human body to become free and realize our oneness with God.

The physical plane of existence provides such an entertaining show, that it’s difficult to want to leave it! But, after millions of lifetimes spent not only on the material plane, but living in the duality that accompanies it, we begin to realize that something is very wrong. Living within duality we realize that we can never be completely satisfied or fulfilled. Every pleasure we experience must be balanced by a pain, for this is the law of duality. For every fulfillment, we must experience a disappointment, for every joy, a sorrow — and so on and on it goes.

Yogananda said that the soul comes to the point in its evolution when it experiences “an anguishing sense of monotony.” It is anguishing because our soul can only find its fulfillment in union with the Divine, which in duality will never be possible. The monotony comes because we know that things we always be balanced by their opposite, and will never be completely satisfying.

The soul, which is that spark of the Divine within us, will never be satisfied until we begin our journey home to our oneness in God. It is this longing for union with the Divine that keeps us ever moving forward during our many lifetimes. It keeps us constantly looking for what will be truly fulfilling, searching for it in many bypaths of experience. We never find this fulfillment until we realize that it is our longing for reuniting with God that is the answer we have been looking for. It is at this point that we become interested in the spiritual path and begin our journey back to our oneness in God.

Animals and other creatures, being on lower levels in the evolution of consciousness, evolve more automatically, and therefore, more slowly. (According to Yogananda, it is very rare for a soul that has finally reached the human level to reincarnate once again in an animal body, but it can happen due to lower material desires and evil actions.) It is only when the soul finally reaches the human level, after millions of lifetimes, that it has the potential to evolve in consciousness more quickly. But it remains only a potential for many, many lifetimes, because we have to choose to do this. The material plane for most souls is very entertaining and seems in the beginning to be fulfilling. But we find material fulfillment is like a carrot on a stick, with its promised fulfillments being always just a little out of reach.

This is why, even in human incarnations, it takes many lifetimes to come to the point where you want something more. That something more is complete soul fulfillment. This is a fulfillment that we gradually realize is not possible through fulfilling our material desires.

In divine friendship,
Nayaswami Parvati