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What To Do If You Wake Up In A New Body.

Imagine, you wake up in bed one day, and things are just as normal. To your surprise however, upon removing the covers, the first thing you notice is you are in a different body. You have woken up in a different body to your own. You yourself are still there, but you're completely trapped in another person's body. You're inside a house you don't belong, with a family that isn't yours. There's no explanation as to why it's happened and you certainly can't remember how you ended up like this. You can't remember who you are, and if you tell the others around you, you'll be sent to an asylum. No-one can understand your position. After some time you begin to feel like you are that body. You can't neglect it because you run the risk of dying along with that body, you can't ascertain your survival. Attachment has developed at this point because the consciousness of the body you're trapped in takes immediate priority. If this body dies you don't know what'll happen to you. Going along with the whole thing out of desperation, you prepare food painstakingly and then feed your "body" while you, unable to taste the food, feel no pleasure. Your existence is becoming dependent on the survival of the external body, and you have lost hope of getting back to your normal life. The body you woke up in is related to other bodies, and you feel obliged to maintain said relationships. As you continue to work for the body in varieties of ways, you gradually lose consciousness of your self completely, and the concern for your so-called "body" has taken over entirely. You are dissatisfied and frustrated. No matter how much you care to the whims of the imposed senses of the body, you, the controller of the body, can never feel fulfilled.

The thing is, you don't have to imagine this scenario because you have regular, everyday and lifelong experience of it. You are currently in whatever status of body you have, be it of a young man or woman, an older body, or a childish body, but that body you have now is different than the one you had in your childhood, youth-hood, or early adulthood respectively. The blood corpuscles, bones, muscles, cells, everything, all have changed. Not a single element of the body you have now is the same as what you had even as recently as one month ago. The body, comprised of five gross elements: earth, water, fire, air and sound are recycling into the atmosphere every second. The breath is going out, transforming from oxygen to carbon dioxide, the skin cells are falling off the body and food is being digested to create new ones. Water is being sweated out, and then drunk back in throughout the day. So the gross elements are coming and going all the time. Right now, in fact, you have a body made of someone else's recycled elements. The material elements of their body are recycled in the same way yours do, and by various processes of nature those same elements are now constituting your body. Although this body is constantly refreshing and dying however, you are always remaining, observing and remembering. You are steadfast throughout the changing of bodies just like you change your clothes everyday. You take the clothes off, put them in the wash, sometimes even throw them away, but your body doesn't get thrown out with those clothes. In the same way, you, the consciousness, are ever present, an undying principle that the material elements are forming around, but because we cannot see that person inside the various bodies, we think he doesn't exist and we take the body as all in all. This is nicely pointed out by Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the Bhagavad-gita as follows:

"As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A self-realized person is not bewildered by such a change." (BG 2.13)

You might reply that, "That's okay, I'm not the body, as you have factually proven, but I'm the mind, or the intelligence! You can't see the mind or the intelligence, but they are still there, so that's what I am." No, you are also the controller and the possessor of the mind, just like you control the body, but you are not the mind, neither the body. No one says "You intelligence." It doesn't make sense. We say "you have intelligence", or "you have a great mind". We observe and use the mind and intelligence. For example, you can observe your mind right now. You can hear and see varieties of thoughts racing through it. But you don't identify with those thoughts. You might be thinking, "should I keep on reading this article?" You, the person possessing the mind, can choose between the two options: To read or not to read. If you were the mind, you would automatically go with whatever thought came up first. Actually, you would say whatever is on your mind all the time, walking down the street blurting whatever nonsense thoughts are spinning around up there. But you don't, you have some discretion: you choose who to talk to, when to talk and what to say. That is also the use of your intelligence, which you use to control the mind. It's like any tool you find in a toolbox. You don't identify with the screwdriver just because you are using it, saying "I am screwdriver, I am simply metal and plastic" like a madman. In addition, sometimes the mind takes us somewhere we don't want to go, and then we lament, "Why did I do that?", "why did I say that?". Then the mind bombards you with negative thoughts. You may have the experience that you feel like a prisoner within your own mind and you can't get out of thought-loops. You find yourself limited by the mind: Sometimes you want to do something, but then your mind isn't strong enough to carry it out and you become frustrated. If you were the mind, then none of these circumstances would occur, you would have absolute determination, whatever you wanted could be done immediately and you wouldn't have the limitations the mind ordinarily imposes. But that is not the case. Instead, you are caged inside this mind and body.

The soul, being eternal, is going through different bodies within this material world just like one is changing his dress when it becomes worn out. He throws it away and buys a new one. When our present material body becomes unusable, we throw it away, and take another body in which we try to enjoy life. A living entity tries to enjoy life in varieties of bodies, sometimes manifesting as an animal, an ordinary man or a higher celestial being known as a demigod. But in all the different forms of body, of which here are 8,400,000, the common feature of all bodies is a set of senses. This is explained very clearly in the Bhagavad-gita:

"The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of ear, eye, tongue, nose and sense of touch, which are grouped about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects." (BG 15.9)

The eternal soul also has a set of senses that are eternal, and therefore, whatever form of body manifests for the living being to live within also has senses. Just like when a coat or a pair of trousers are cut from a certain fabric by a tailor, they have arms and legs according to the shape of the wearer. Similarly, the material nature creates a set of senses encapsulated in a form of body comprised of the five aforementioned elements ie. Earth and water etc. to fit over the spirit soul. If the spirit soul was impersonal and did not have senses, it would not make sense that all forms manifested within the material world, i.e animal and man etc. have a set of senses. Therefore the spirit soul has senses and that is why both the body has senses and the senses can operate in the material body. Just like if you were trapped in another's body, you would be able to control it because you had senses by which you can operate the senses of that body. You would have some previous experience and your senses could fit those senses like a hand fits a glove.

Now, the senses require some engagement to be satisfied. The basis for existence and the activity of the soul, which is executed by his senses, is service. Everywhere you look, there is service going on, and no-one can escape this ever-present reality. The soul's eternal activity of service is covered by material nature and manifests as service to the body for sense gratification. Therefore, in pursuit of satisfaction, one living entity serves another as his boss, his friends, children, wife and even his dog. No matter however apparently esteemed his position may be within the material world, his obligatory duty is to serve. Even the president of the most powerful country serves the people. Someone might be very rich and might not be servant to any particular person, but he is certainly the servant of his senses, at least his belly, which is always being filled. In the material sphere, all these relativities of service, man to man, man to woman, man to animal and man to nature are all frustrated because they only serve the body. The body is temporary and we are eternal. Therefore, whatever mentally concocted satisfaction and little accolades we acquire from the service in the material world, is finished at the destruction of the body. The eternal spirit soul within the body can, of course, not be satisfied with such a proposition. Trying to enjoy the materially covered senses is just like trying to enjoy a nice sweet while you have a cloth over your tongue: The sweetness, texture and taste are all taken away. Just like in our imagined proposition at the beginning of this article, the person within the body can't be satisfied by service that pertains only to the external body by which he is covered. All the pleasure only touches the surface like a knight is unaffected by weapons on account of his armor. The soul requires an eternal engagement. That kind of service, which has to be spiritual, reaches the soul, and that only can satisfy the eternal soul.

How the soul proper, the eternal self within the body, can be happy is explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:

"The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self." [SB 1.2.6]

The basis for existence is service because you, as spirit soul, are eternally part and parcel of the supreme spirit whole. The position of the part is to serve the whole, just like a finger serves the stomach or a cog in a machine serves the whole machine. When the finger tries to enjoy food separately from the stomach, he is malnourished and has no facility for such enjoyment, (He cannot digest the food) therefore he suffers. In the same way, a minute living entity can only suffer when he wants to be the enjoyer of service, the served. Transcendental devotional service to Krsna, on the other hand, is fully satisfying for the self because it is the natural function of the self. As soon as the finger supplies foodstuffs to the stomach, he is in the healthy state. When the minute part of God serves God, he is happy. Service in the spiritual world is based on pure love, not conditional so-called love, on the basis of the body. In the material world we try to enjoy the body through various avenues of service: we serve the opposite sex, for example, in order to enjoy each others bodies. That is not love, and being that the soul cannot be affected by anything material, that enjoyment is illusory. In addition, said relationship is temporary, whereas service to the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna is eternal, and therefore blissful.

Because the current senses are covered, however, they cannot be engaged in the spiritual service of the supreme spirit, the supreme pure. The material senses are conditioned to enjoy the temporary sense objects for one's own pleasure, always at the expense of others. Such an impure consciousness is not fit for the spiritual world, wherein all living entities serve Krsna the Godhead in pure and unmotivated love, free from envy. In the Padma Purana this is affirmed thus:

“‘Therefore material senses cannot appreciate Krsna’s holy name, form, qualities and pastimes. When a conditioned soul is awakened to Krsna consciousness and renders service by using his tongue to chant the Lord’s holy name and taste the remnants of the Lord’s food, the tongue is purified, and one gradually comes to understand who Krsna really is.’ [Padma Purana]

Take our imagined scenario for an easy reference. If you, embodied within a body that was not your own, started doing all the things you used to in your original body, you would start to remember who you actually are, and consequently you would be gradually free from the illusory attachment to that unnecessary body. When we perform the same activities that are eternally happening in the spiritual world, we are acting in the same way our eternal self is always acting, and therefore our dormant and original consciousness, Krsna consciousness, can be awakened.

How can we learn this loving service to God, which is transcendental, if we ourselves are conditioned? No ordinary person can teach us such a science. A bound man cannot help another bound man. In the situation of a person being trapped within a body, no other person can help, for they themselves are in the same situation. Therefore one requires a spiritual master. A spiritual master can see that you are trapped. He has the vision of transcendental knowledge, and therefore he is the only one who can help you.

"The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcast]." [BG 5.18]

He knows exactly your original position in the spiritual world, how you came into this temporary existence, and how you can get out of it according to your ability within the body. Because he sees the soul within the body, not the body itself, he can help the person within the body rather than simply the body.

The proposed situation of being trapped within a body other than one's own is terrifying, because we all want to be happy. If such a situation presented itself before us, we would all look for the solution. But the problem is actually our reality. We are an eternal individual consciousness, who desires pleasure. It is stated in the Vedanta-sutra that the living entity is pleasure seeking by nature. But being in this temporary, imposed material body, our avenue of real, self-satisfaction is nonexistent. The real pleasure of the self, the soul, is not service to anything temporary and material, but to the Supreme, eternal spirit, Krsna.

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