Mr. George Riddell: Now, according to Yoga, when your physical being ceases to exist or when you do what we call "die," what happens to your spiritual self?

Sri Chinmoy: When we die, our physical body, the physical sheath enters into the physical world and is disintegrated by burial or cremation. The vital sheath enters into the vital world. The mind enters into the mental world. Then slowly the soul goes back to its own region. There, usually, it stays for a few years … it depends on the individual soul … according to its necessity and according to its preparation. Now after taking rest for some time, the soul feels that the time is ripe for it to enter into the world once again to fulfil its divine mission. God-realisation takes a good many incarnations.

Before the soul enters into creation, it tries to observe the environment, the situation and the family from above; which family it is going to accept. Then the soul goes to the Supreme for approval. Sometimes it gets this approval; sometimes the soul comes into creation merely with the knowledge of the Supreme. Again it starts its journey, it tries to unveil the inner Divinity and at the same time, it tries to manifest the Divine in the field of creation. So this is how the process of reincarnation continues.

We believe in reincarnation. We know that we have millions of desires to be fulfilled. At the age of four I had many desires; at the ages of ten, twenty, thirty, forty, sixty, these desires are not yet fulfilled. Neither we nor God will be satisfied unless we are fulfilled. First we get our fulfilment in satisfying our desires in the ordinary human life. Then we have our fulfilment in achieving our higher aspiration. Right now, we want money, name, fame and all this. Later we try to achieve Light, Peace and Bliss with our spiritual aspiration. In one incarnation, in one short span of life, we cannot do all that. We need many incarnations. That is why, according to our Indian philosophy, reincarnation is a positive fact and a positive truth.

Mr. George Riddell: Speaking of reincarnation, this brings to mind the idea of the wheel of karma. Now on the wheel of karma, a person or a soul is reincarnated in human form or can he be reincarnated in other forms?

Sri Chinmoy: Let me say as a preface to my answer that a soul is in this table, a soul is in the chair, a soul is in the plant, a soul is in everything. A soul, of course, is in all human beings. It is all a matter of the degree of manifestation. The Christ had a soul, I have a soul, we all have a soul. In the case of the Christ, He had the Supreme's all-pervading Consciousness. In the ordinary person's case, his degree of manifestation is not anywhere near that. Similarly, the soul that is in this table, this chair, is nowhere near our soul in degree of manifestation.

But, in answer to your question, once the soul has come into human incarnation, once it has accepted human life, it does not, as a rule, accept animal life. Once upon a time, we were all in the animal kingdom, but as a general rule, the soul does not enter into animal incarnation from the human state. But very rarely it happens that people are still in the animal consciousness although they have a human body. They are in the animal kingdom with their passions and lust, their lowest vital desires. In such cases the Supreme allows the particular human being, the human soul, to enter into a particular animal to enjoy itself, to work out and throw away all these lowest vital movements. There the soul remains, say for six or eight months or a year. But it does not mean that the soul has to remain perpetually in the animal kingdom. No. And only in very rare cases does the soul go into the animal world. We have got a human body and from here we grow; from man we grow into the superman.