Can the soul continue learning and evolving after death without having to come back to this planet?
This is a difficult question to answer, because I don’t know everything about it. After this life, the soul just remains in a dormant potential state; there is no physical transformation. The soul or atman has to reincarnate in order to learn, to suffer and to evolve. There is nothing to learn during the intermediate state, because the atman is like a seed in a bottle, waiting to be planted. Anything that happens to the seed only occurs when it is put in the soil. After this life, the causal body of the individual does not express itself; its whole life is in a state of hibernation. It is just waiting for the right moment to reincarnate. After reincarnation, it then undergoes the various experiences of life that we are familiar with.
However, there are also other forms of reincarnation which are not visible to the human eye. Evolved personalities incarnate into other realms of existence and experience a totally different life. They are like guardians, and although we cannot see them, they are constantly watching us. They live and work only for the sake of helping mankind; their own learning processes have come to an end. If they are to learn more, they have to reincarnate in a human body. Actually, I should not even say in a human body, it is better if I say they will have to incarnate in this plane of consciousness. This plane of consciousness may exist on other planets as well, or even in other solar systems. Or there may be many planets in this universe where there is a plane of consciousness, experience and expression. I don’t really know anything about them, but I’ve heard other people mention them and I’ve read about them and imagined them.
Here on earth, this is the only plane of consciousness, expression and experience. Here you learn and you grow; you fall and you experience. Here you make mistakes and you also work towards the perfection of your lifestyle. However, once you leave this plane of consciousness and find yourself in the intermediate state, you have to remain quiet. You cannot change the quality of your life, and even if you are there for thousands of years, you will be the same. Change will only take place when you are reborn.
There is also a theory that the individual self can be born on any planet. I cannot challenge this view because I don’t know much about it, but I am sure this is not the only planet where there is evolution. Scientists have only explored two or three planets, but so far their investigations have not gone very deep; they are only looking for oxygen and carbon. However, in this fantastic universe of God, there can be other forms of life as well. They may be forms of life which you cannot see through microscopes or telescopes. As you know, a thought cannot be seen through a telescope, yet it exists. Can you see love or hatred through a microscope? If you have lost your nearest and dearest one, how do you feel? Is there an instrument that can disclose your exact feelings?
Now, there is also another theory about this topic. There is existence in the body, but is there also existence without a body? We are only experiencing existence in this body, but at night, when we go to sleep and dream, we do not know where the spirit is. Maybe it has gone somewhere. It might go to India each night, or to Colombia or Europe, then before we wake up in the morning, it comes back. The structure of the spirit is very complicated and it also has a different field of operation. In fact, there must be incarnations without a body. Where do masters sleep? If your guru comes to you, where does he come from? Where does Christ live? Where does Babaji live? Where does my guru live? Surely they must be living somewhere, because when you pray to them, they hear you! They must receive your telephone call because they sometimes come to you. Many people have had this experience. This means there is an existence or an incarnation where you can live without a body.
However, the question was, are there teaching facilities in between the two states. And my reply to this complicated question is, no. You have to be born on a plane where you can express and experience. It could be on this planet or it could be in another solar system. Sometimes, when I think about this, certain questions come to my mind: “Are we only encircling this planet? Are we not born on some other planet?” Maybe we are in a similar situation to an Indian coming to Spain or a Spaniard going to India. So, when a soul leaves the body it could also leave this planet and be born on another plane.
In Hindu mythology, it is said that a human being can take birth on other planets. Hindu mythology contains stories of people being born in a land where everyone has wings, in a land where people don’t feel hungry and so on. There are so many beautiful narratives, and we should be able to conclude one thing from them – reincarnation is possible in worlds other than this one.
Spain, September 1980, first published in Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati Vol. 2