So what happens after death? Just as the soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth, and then to old age, at death he similarly passes into another body. This can be compared to the changing of clothes. When our clothes become old and useless we take them off and put on a new set of clothes. In the same way, when the body becomes old and worthless we cast it off and obtain a new body.
Many people agree that this human life is like a school. At school we are supposed to master a certain amount of information and if we don’t, the school authorities will ask us to repeat the class all over again. In a similar way, as human beings we are supposed to learn certain lessons, for example to love God, to respect and serve all other living entities, to be kind and generous, to control our lower nature by giving up envy, greed, anger, lust, etc. If we don’t learn these lessons in one lifetime we are allowed to come back to the school of life and try to learn them again, and again, and again. No matter how many times we try and fail we are never declared hopeless cases. In this sense, the reincarnation is a sign of God’s endless mercy to the soul.
Our next life depends on the quality of consciousness we develop in our present life.
If we live a life of virtue and discipline we will acquire godly consciousness and after death we will be elevated to a higher position. However, if we don’t strive to control our lower nature, we will be degraded.
The law is that whatever state of mind we have at the moment of death, the same type of body we will attain in our next life. The state of mind in our last moment depends on the type of thoughts we have been cultivating throughout our life. If we have developed low-grade material desires we will continue to pursue them in our next life. For this we will need a suitable body. Therefore, it is very beneficial to train our mind in positive thinking. The highest types of positive thoughts are those related to God and the service to God.
The reincarnation of the soul ends when he awakens his natural love for God and returns to the Spiritual Kingdom where there is no more reincarnation but eternal life of ever-increasing happiness.
The soul reincarnates from one body to another until he learns his lesson; when God appears on earth, however, He does so not because He has to learn something, but by His sweet will.
Another difference between the soul’s reincarnations and God’s incarnations is that when God appears in our world He maintains His eternal blissful spiritual form. In other words, although He might look like one of us, the human beings, His body is not material, but spiritual. Therefore, He is omniscient, and the soul is forgetful.
God appears on earth in countless incarnations taking different forms. There are two main reasons for Him to appear, namely to destroy the bad guys and to protect the good guys. Another reason is to reestablish the principles of godly lifestyle which tend to get lost in due course of time.
Of course, since God is all-powerful, He does not really have to appear personally in order to accomplish any of the objectives mentioned above. Simply by His will He can destroy all the demons, protect all the devotees and reinstate true religion.
Then why does He incarnate personally?
Because He loves His devotees and wants to personally reciprocate with their love.
Just as a wealthy father can hire someone to pick up his son from school but if he wants to show his love and affection he comes and picks him up personally. In the same way, God wants to award His personal audience to His loving devotees, knowing well that this will make them perfectly happy.