What happens after death?
Sadhguru looks at the mechanics of how the human system is structured, and what happens when the physical body falls dead.
Sadhguru: Okay. (In Tamil – not transcribed) Now the question is, is there re-birth, if it’s there what is the basis for one being to go from one birth to another, what is it that carries a person from one to another. Now if you need to understand this, you must have some understanding of the mechanics of who you are. I am talking about the mechanics of how a human being is built. See, when you say I am a human being, the outermost periphery is the physical body. In yoga we look at everything as body because it is easier for you to understand it that way. So we see the body as five dimensions or five sheathes. Physical body is known as Annamayakosha. Annamayakosha means -anna means the food, this is food body. Next one is called Manomayakosha that means it’s the mental body. The third one is called Pranamayakosha, which means the energy body. Physical body, mental body, energy body, all these three dimensions are physical. They are physical existence. Physical body is very gross, mental body is subtler, energy body is even subtler but all these three are physical. This is just like the light bulb is physical, you can see that. The electricity behind also is physical, isn’t it? The wire that connects is also physical; the electrons that flow through the wire also are physical existence. So similarly, physical body, mental body, pranic body all are physical dimensions of life.
This physical dimension of life both… in all these three dimensions carries the imprints of karma; I think we were looking at this in the morning. On the body, it is imprinted, on the mind it's imprinted and on the energy it’s imprinted. This karmic imprints or the karmic structure, is what holds it together. Karma is the cement which holds you to the physical body. Karma is the bondage at the same time, it’s only because of karmic stuff you can hold on to the body and be here. This is where spirituality seems to be difficult because if you try to take it away it doesn’t work, if you try to add it doesn’t work. You need to be just there. If you’re just there, it’s a moment.
Now the next two dimensions are called Vignanamaya kosha and Anandamaya kosha. Vignanamaya kosha is non-physical but related to the physical. It is like a transient state. Anandamaya kosha is completely non-physical. So, Vignanamaya kosha and Anandamaya kosha means it’s the bliss body. There is a bliss body inside which is hundred percent non-physical. It has no form of its own. Only if the energy body, the mental body and the physical body are in shape it can hold the bliss body in shape. If these things are taken away the bliss body will just become a part of the cosmos.
So whatever you are referring to as atman or the soul is a fiction actually, in the sense, people are describing a certain limitation of the non-physical as a soul but the body for the soul is still your karma. If the karmic structure is completely dismantled there is no soul; everything merges into everything else. What is referred to as Mahasamadhi or Mahaparinirvana, is just this - that you slowly understand where the keys are and dismantle the karmic structure so that you become truly no more. When somebody dies, we say this person is no more, that’s not true. That person is no more the way you know them but they still very much exist. Now if you dismantle the karmic structure hundred percent, now you merge with the existence. This is what is referred to as mukti, Mahasamadhi - in Hindu tradition it is referred as…to as mukti, in yogic tradition it is referred to as Mahasamadhi, in the Buddhist way it is called as Mahaparinirvana, generally in English we are saying liberation. Liberation means becoming free from the very process of life and birth and death. Liberation means becoming free from the basic structures of body and mind… and for all this, the karmic structure is the strings which hold these things together.
So when a person dies, obviously, the physical body is something that you borrowed from the earth. This body is just earth, isn't it? You understand? This physical body is just a piece of earth, which is right now prancing around this. But you have to pay it back, atom to atom. No interest though, but you have to pay back every atom. You won’t be allowed to carry a single atom from this planet, nobody has managed it. (Laughs) Physical body will fall apart, the mental body and the pranic body, depending upon the strength of your karma goes on. If the karmic structure is very intense, unfinished, then it has to finish it. If the karma has become weak because it has run its course, then it very easily finds another body. If it has to find another body, the intensity of this structure should come down, it should become passive. If it is very intense, it cannot find, it has to hang.
So this is what you are referring to as ghosts. Somebody is dead; his karmic structure is still intense because it’s not over. Now he needs much more time to find another body, he still exists. And the more intense his karmic structure is, the more visible he becomes or more experientially available to people. There are innumerable such beings all around you, if you…whether you know it or you do not know it but most of them you won’t feel because their karma is dissipated. They are just waiting for more dissipation before they find another body. But if their karma is very intense - this is why they told you in the tradition if somebody dies unnaturally, either by accident or suicide or some other way, they will become ghosts - it is not so, everybody becomes. It is just that they are more experience-able. They are more available to your experience because they have more intense karmic structures. So you…people may experience them a little more than other beings who die of old age. If one completely completes his allotted karma for that life he will die just like that. Without disease, without accident, without any injury. When one dies simply like that, that person may find another body within hours. This is why in this tradition always they said if one completes his life and dies peacefully it’s the best way to die because he need not hang around, immediately it goes on.
Now when you walk the spiritual path, the ultimate goal for every spiritual seeker is he wants to break this whole process. Or otherwise to use an analogy, we can say what you call as my soul right now is like a bubble. The outer periphery of the bubble is your karmic structure, inside there is air. Suppose you blow the bubble, you burst the bubble, where is the air? Where is your air? There is no such thing as your air; it’s become part of everything. So what you call as soul is fictitious because there is no such thing as your soul and my soul and my soul and somebody else’s soul. Right now this unbounded-ness is contained in the limited karmic structure, so it makes you believe as if this is a separate entity. If you take away the keys which hold the karmic structure, then it just collapses.
. So, this after life, next birth, don’t believe all this nonsense but right now if you sit here and just close your eyes, you can clearly see more than this body you are, isn’t it?