Chapter Six: 43-44
There he comes in touch with
the knowledge acquired in his former body and strives
more than before for perfection, Oh Arjuna.
By that very former practice he is borne on in spite of himself. Even he who merely wishes to know yoga goes beyond the Sabda-brahman, the rituals of the vedas.
CommentaryIn his next incarnation in the house of a yogi, the seeker's spiritual aspiration is rekindled. We have a beautiful synthesis of the theories of individual evolution and heredity. Man is now what he had made of himself in the past birth. He carries with him the subtle residue of the sum-total of all his actions, good and evil.
How does this reconcile with our discoveries about heredity? Let us bear in mind that heredity does not always operate; it is an influence even as environment is an influence. It influences...what? The evolving soul, which has its characteristics largely determined by the activities in a past birth. Hence, genius is seldom inherited. With few exceptions it seems to appear spontaneously in families not unusually gifted.
However, Krishna gives us a clue to the reconciliation of the two theories. The evolving soul is reborn in a family of kindred souls; this appears to our unenlightened vision to be the operation of the law of heredity.
Hereditary influences and environmental influences may or may not be conducive to spirituality - even one's own superficial tendencies may be unspiritual! No one is perfect in the world and the incarnating soul is certainly not so. As Jesus Christ would have said: "Why call me good? Only God is good." Yet, the force of past yoga practice compels the aspirant to pursue the goal from where he left the path in the previous incarnation. A study of the lives of saints is the best way to understand this paradox. Often they are suddenly whisked away from a worldly life to the path of yoga.
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