The soul's journeyWhen the soul leaves the body after death, there is a transitory period. The soul leaves the physical and flies away from the body-cage. From the physical it enters into the subtle physical, then into the subtle vital, and so on until finally it goes to the soul's world. There the soul takes rest. It depends on the Will of the Supreme how long the soul takes rest. Usually, for ordinary human souls, it is seven or eight years. For great spiritual Masters it is a hundred or two hundred years. Again, there is no hard and fast rule. In the case of some great spiritual Masters, the Supreme may say, "Come back soon to help humanity."
When the soul wants to come back into the world, it has to get the permission or approval of the Supreme. So the soul will have a short interview with the Supreme. This is absolutely true; all the great spiritual Masters know it. In that interview, the soul has to get the approval or sanction from the Supreme for its choice of the family and circumstances into which it wants to reincarnate.
Sometimes your soul chooses the family you will be born into in your next incarnation; sometimes the souls of the parents choose which soul will be born into their family. Again, sometimes the Supreme chooses the soul for particular parents. Sometimes it happens that you are with other souls in the souls' world. Then there is a discussion and you tell those particular souls who are going to be your parents, "You can go to earth a few years before me and then I shall come into your family." This is true. Again, it may happen in the soul's world that the souls of your future parents beg or request your soul to come into their family. At that time, the parents don't act like parents; they are like friends. They say, "Are you going to stay at someone else's place or are you going to stay in our house?" Then your soul will say that it would like to join them. So the request can be made either by the parents or by the children. And again, the soul can be offered by the Supreme. It can be the Supreme's Will that you will have these parents and that these parents will have you. There is no hard and fast rule. Usually the souls that will be able to offer mutual help to each other here on earth come together. This means that when you accept spiritual life, the parents you choose are the right ones so that you can help them in their evolution and they can help you.
It may happen that in this incarnation your parents are very bad and they have tortured you like anything. In your next incarnation you may try to go to your parents just to torture them: tit for tat. Many, many cases I know where souls have taken revenge. And even if you do nothing to take revenge, if your parents have been very bad, there is the cosmic law. In the souls' world some souls are bound to be born with defective bodies or to become deaf or blind. That kind of thing is karma. Into which families will these souls be born? Do you think that the parents will beg of the Supreme to give them defective children? Far from it. But if the parents have done something wrong, the cosmic forces may compel them to accept their due. In one sense it is very, very complicated; at the same time, it is very just; divinely just.
Again, if I have done something wrong, I can pray to God to forgive me, to illumine me so that I don't make the same mistake again. A child goes and strikes his friend. Immediately he sees that his friend is going to strike him back, so he runs to his father for protection. He comes to that person so that his friend cannot strike him. The father will try to protect the son and, at the same time, if he is a good father, he will console the boy who has been attacked by his son. Here also, if you do something wrong, immediately you go to the inner Source, the Supreme, for compassion, for protection, for forgiveness. When you pray and meditate, you try to get the proper divine wisdom so that in your future incarnations you won't make mistakes. But after doing the wrong thing, if you say that you have done the right thing and that the other person deserved what you did to him, then you suffer.