What Happens if Die Ignorant (Why Rebirth)? – Part 44

Cause of Rebirth Reincarnation Samsara

In previous discussion, what happens to one who dies after realizing the ultimate truth (videhamukti).

Student asks, “What happens to those who die without knowing the ultimate truth?

People who do not know, are not even aware of the Truth. 

The triple knot of ignorance binds them to the world. (3 gunas: Bound to worldly knowledge, worldly action, procrastination)

At first, ignorance (avidya) veils their thinking, making them identify with their body and mind, separating them from the rest of the world.

Unable to accept the isolation (for sake of contemplating on nature of self, god and existence), they yearn to fulfill themselves through various worldly means – to feel complete and whole.

The yearning for fulfillment turns to desire. Urging them to act. Often without prudence. Tossed by likes and dislikes.

They choose their fancies over duties. An idea of what life should be like overshadows how it actually is.

Unable to loosen the hold of their conflicting emotions – their actions result in gaining some merits (punyam).

But more often then not, many liabilities and failings generate along the way, gaining demerits (papam) also.

But every action demands a corresponding consequence. This is law of universe.

One's new form after death is due to this very law. The consequences always follow the original doer who produced them.

Lifespan being short, incapable of delivering all the consequences at the appropriate time – another body is needed to continue enjoying or suffering them.

A new body is also given to continue fulfilling one's insatiable hopes and aspirations – unaccomplished in prior life.

But a new body unintentionally or intentionally produces additional punyam and papam, just by acting in this world. Ensuring another birth.

This process is know as the never-ending cycle of birth and death.

To recap…

Likes-dislikes compel actions.

Actions produce merits-demerits.

Merits-demerits require a body to either enjoy or suffer them.

Body only living a limited time, dies. So a new body is created.

Ceaselessly pursing transient goals until frustrated, full of despair – individual eventually begins seeking solace in one of their many births.

It's a chance earned through some past good deed (punyam). A start of the spiritual journey.

An uncertain, skeptical and hesitant beginning at first. But it's a step forward nevertheless.

There is of course no way of knowing which fruit of action yields which result. Nor can we known which will fructify in next birth.

But it would stand to reason; type of body, predisposition, opportunities and situations presented to oneself — reflects the the fruits of actions of our previous birth. Similarly, present way of life will shape our future life.


In next conversation, student comments that non-dual understanding takes out the joy of life; because everything is an apparent existence.


  1. Have you read any of Ian Stevenson’s and Jim Tucker’s work? There’s a lot of evidence for reincarnation of specific individuals and strong evidence of persistent vasanas from one life to the next. It seems as though whatever was most important to the person persists, for example a child will ask for their former spouse or request alcohol or cigarettes at a young age. They will be born with birthmarks corresponding to death wounds that presumably made a psychic impression.

    What we don’t see in these cases is any confirmation of karma as a moral law enforcing specific outcomes for good or bad behavior. The theme is a persistence of tendencies but not any kind of poetic justice or payback for misdeeds in a past life, or conversely rewards for good behavior. What would that look like? Of course you can always say it’s coming later, but the more parsimonious understanding would seems to be that karma and vasanas are the same thing: a jiva’s tendencies, the inertial force of a personality within and between lives, that bring natural consequences in life after life. A person who is angry gets into fights and gets hurt, a loving person gets into satisfying relationships, etc…

    1. Dear Jal, can you kindly recommend me the most informative book from either Ian Stevenson or Jim Tucker, regarding “lot of evidence for reincarnation of specific individuals and strong evidence of persistent vasanas from one life to the next”.

      Would like to read. Thank you.

      1. Hi Andre. “Before” by Jim Tucker is probably the best. There’s also this online PDF of one of Stevenson’s books: http://www.e4thai.com/e4e/images/pdf2/Stevenson-Twenty-Cases-Suggestive-of-Reincarnation.pdf
        It seems like in Vedanta not much importance is given to the topic because the Self is unborn to begin with, hence can’t be reborn. Do you think there’s much continuity of personality between lives, though? Or that it’s possible for the jiva’s personal consciousness to persist between lives? I mean, is it compatible with vedanta to affirm this? Because it seems from the literature as though it does happen, at least sometimes.

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