Q: Where is the Jeeva and the Atma before birth? What is the difference between Jeeva and Atma? How is a Jeeva born, and where does it come from?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both are same. Life comes into the body at the time of conception, and sometimes at the time of birth also. The soul enters the body at the time of conception or the time of birth. Sometimes one soul stays up to birth and another soul comes at birth. Usually, it is the same soul that stays throughout.
It is one of the 5 secrets. The secret of death, the secret of birth, and the royal secret. These are some of the 5 secrets. I’ve spoken about it in the knowledge books. Just read those books.
I know many of you have not read the seven volumes of An Intimate Note To The Sincere Seeker. Read these seven volumes. For seven years, every week I used to give one knowledge sheet. It was on Wednesdays, we used to sit and write something new. And it was all compiled as An Intimate Note To The Sincere Seeker.
Another book that you must all read is the Yoga Vasistha (a discourse of sage Vasistha to Prince Rama, during a period when the latter is in a dejected state).
You may not understand it by reading it once. Read it again and again and again. Whatever you understand, just take that. And whatever you don’t understand, just leave it. One day you’ll say, 'Oh, this is it!'
There is a doctor in USA, he’s a brain surgeon. He went into coma for seven days and people thought he’s dead, and that he will not come back to life. But suddenly something happened and he came back.
He wrote a book called The Proof Of Heaven. He’s a Christian, and had no idea about the eastern philosophy. He has never read anything about it. But when he came back to life, what he wrote is startling. He wrote what is usually taught in the Bhagavad Gita (an ancient Indian scripture).
He said when he left the body, all that he felt was the big presence, and the name of the presence is Om. He called it Om.
He also talks about the golden egg, and the core. Core means the self, the atma.
And he says the roots are above, and the shoots below. That is what the Bhagavad Gita said. There is a tree with its roots above, in the sky.
He said, when he left the body, he moved through the roots to the other side. It was a muddy, murky space through which he had to go.
This is absolutely what the puranas (Hindu religious text) speak about. It is simply the ancient puranas in the modern language; in the language of science.
It says the same thing: Communication without language. And an angel comes, a guide comes to take you through from one place to another. This is what is said.
Why do you have to have a Guru in life? Because after you die, the first person that you meet will be the Guru. The Guru will take you from that place; like a guide. It is like when you arrive at an airport and you have someone there to receive you, to take you to the car. That is why a Guru is important.
All those ancient ideas, is what this doctor experienced. It is very interesting. And many people who have had near-death experiences (NDEs), have all experienced similar things, like seeing a tunnel with a very loving light on the other side. Not going to hell or something like that.
Reading these experiences makes you understand life. So forget about the fear of hell or the temptation of heaven.
In India also, there is a gentleman who comes to the Ashram regularly. He also said that he had a very similar experience. He died for seven minutes before he was revived.
When he was revived, he explained his journey, how a few people came and took him to another place. He said there were people dressed in white, with beards, like some rishis (sages).
They said to the people who brought him, 'Why did you bring him? It the wrong person, he still has to be on the planet'.
The people who brought him said, 'No, this is the right person', and so they were having an argument. He was narrating his experience, and then he said that he was brought back and left just near the nostrils of his corpse.
He said, 'I saw myself on the operation table. I saw myself and I saw people crying. The doctor was trying to revive me but I was gone. I was connected with a thin thread. And then they attached me to the thin thread and left me near the nostrils. I breathed in gently and came back to life'.
Many people who have come back to life had similar experiences.
So life is much more than what we think it is.
I wrote a poem in Kannada when I was 17 years old. In the poem, I had written that I was everywhere and then suddenly I came like a lightning back onto this Earth. And this is exactly what this doctor has also written!