How does one understand death in terms of evolution?
Death is only a transition. I leave this house for a better or smaller house, whichever I like. If you take death to mean destruction, then the very theory of evolution itself is ungrounded.
Evolution exists, nature is evolving, the mind is evolving, emotions are evolving. Evolution is a constant motion, but it is very slow. It is one motion intermingling into another so that you don’t see it. Everything is in motion and thus death is just an exit, a point where evolution enters into another phase.
Where does the cycle of birth and death end?
If you take a wheat seed and sow it, it will always grow. Why? Because it has the potentiality. But if you take a wheat seed and roast it, it will not be able to grow. Desire to live, longing to continue, clinging to life – as long as you have desires you have karma. As long as you have karma you have the result. This is how action and reaction, cause and effect continue.
Do you mean there is no end to human development or evolution?
Human evolution is infinite, like a circle. Is there an end to a circle? Itzak Bentov, a scientist who was behind many new and revolutionary discoveries, wrote a book called Stalking the Wild Pendulum. In it he agrees completely with this concept. At the ultimate point of evolution, the individual goes out of the structure and becomes a creator. Such individuals are called junior creators. Gurus are junior creators. When their evolution has reached a certain point they come out. This is also how evolution is taking place in the material universe. When the energy revolves, at a particular point of evolution it issues forth and becomes another creative energy. We call it co-creator energy. This is the theory of avataras and gurus.
When a child is born, is it always a reincarnation, or can it be a new life?
All beings are reincarnations, but some may have completed their own cycle of evolution and then accepted rebirth so they could come and help mankind. Such a birth could take place in the normal way as the result of a highly evolved man and woman coming together, or it could be an immaculate conception, although this is very rare.
In other cases, when a couple is very pious and noble, spiritual and grand in mind and heart, the child they conceive will be a higher soul. This is also very rare because our hearts, bodies and minds are very weak. We don’t even know what we can produce. Most people just want to create children; they are not concerned with quality. However, when we practice yoga and meditation, and revolutionize the pattern of our life, quality production is possible, as the higher souls may select us for conception.
—First published in Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati Vol. 1