If You Only Live Once by Kesava Krsna Dasa


Many people in the world think they live only once. With only one life, how does this affect lives and society? How is a one-life concept going to affects ambitions, goals and outlook? There is one-life spirituality and multi-birth spirituality – which of these enable a full understanding of the soul, and why good or bad things happen? Is God to blame, or us? If there is no God, why do people lament the loss of loved ones if they are simply bags of chemicals?

With only one life, there must be a rush to cram the maximum in enjoyment. Life is meant for enjoyment, but what kind? Is the ideal of life enjoyment in spiritual happiness or just to be a decent human being without the need for religion? With one life ahead, can any spiritual path or non-belief in God satisfy the self? Let us examine some outcomes of one-life limitations. The following implications are:

  • There is only one life in which to attain salvation

  • If one misses out on ‘being saved’, one is doomed forever

  • An incomplete understanding of the eternality of the soul

  • The soul must be born or have a beginning at material birth

  • Burial of the dead to await salvation or damnation

  • If people miss religion because of geographical remoteness, they are cast forever in hell – tough luck

  • God must be cruel and vain for giving only one single life in which to turn to him, or else

  • Incomplete philosophy and thought

  • Many souls hang around after death without promised salvation

  • God is not fully in control of His creation

  • Only the human species has a soul, and even then, if they are believers

  • Psychiatrists, psychologists and psycho-analysts cannot explain all human tendencies, phobias, social traits, memories and other behavioural observations fully

  • Normal people do not lament the loss of chemicals, yet people lament the loss of loved ones (dead bodies)

  • Selfishness and greed is disguised under the heading of success at exploitation

  • Lamenting over bags of chemicals is contradictory behaviour for those who do not belive in the soul

  • God’s love and patience must be limited

  • God must be influenced by material time

  • Material success must be the favour of God

  • Suffering and poverty must be the punishment of God

  • To blame God for whatever good or bad happens in the world

  • Unable to explain why a soul is born into a privileged situation and another soul is born into difficult circumstances – it’s all God’s grace

  • Everybody who lived before the appearance of saviours are all doomed

  • Intolerance of other faith systems

  • To do good to others out of fear and obligation, not genuine love

Without wholesome spirituality, a society built on sense enjoyment and exploitation flourishes. Exploitation and selfish sense enjoyment can and does occur with a belief in God as well. With an incomplete understanding of God and the soul, to that degree, society can malfunction, and people suffer a lack of genuine spirituality. If there is a fuller concept of God and the soul, it means:


  • There are multiple lives and opportunities in which to turn to God

  • If one misses out on ‘being saved’, there is always another chance

  • Eternality of the soul indicates no material birth or death for the soul

  • The soul has no beginning or end

  • Cremation helps to relinquish bodily attachments after death

  • If people miss out, God’s love remains and He is willing to accompany the soul in the heart as a friend

  • A loving God, like a loving father, will always wait for His children (souls) to make the choice of turning to Him

  • If human life culminates in love and devotion (Bhakti), it is a complete science

  • The quest to please God by love and devotion is never lost, and continues birth after birth until perfection

  • God is fully in control of the creation and awards all souls accordingly

  • People are responsible for whatever good or bad happens in this world – we are to blame, not God

  • Wherever there is life, there is a soul, in all species of life, symptomized by consciousness

  • Hunan tendencies and traits can better be explained when we consider previous impressions from previous lives

  • When people lament the loss of loved ones, they are lamenting the loss of the soul, not the dead body

Living in a society based on a one-life philosophy is to be surrounded by uncertainty, fear and incompleteness. Anything produced out of such a society will reflect the same. It shows how fortunate people must become to receive genuine knowledge of the soul and God, and how compassionate they are who try to give this knowledge to others.

Proof Of The Soul

Within a one-life concept in which “You only live once” is as certain as indoctrinated thought, there are loopholes to be exploited. Just as Srila Prabhupada often said that consciousness was the symptom of life – here too, proof of the existence of the soul is revealed, no matter whether one is a believer or not.

In BG 2.26 (God) Krishna includes an atheistic or religious one-life concept when describing the nature of the eternal soul. Krishna says that if we believe the soul is born at material birth and dies forever at death, there is no reason why people should lament the loss of the body previously animated by loved ones (living force, the soul).

Within this world geared towards maximising enjoyment at every moment – if possible – because there is only ‘one life’ in which to do so, there is somehow great attachment to loved ones who only come into being once, and then vanish forever. (God) Krishna says that one-life deaths are not worth lamenting for, yet non-believers and convinced atheists still cry at bereavement of loved ones. Why?

They cry for that which animated the bodies of lost ones. What this animation is, non-believers do not know. Whatever it is or was, certainly gave them affection , pleasure and love – something which chemicals are incapable of doing. The fact that people lament the loss of whatever animated dead bodies is proof of the existence of the soul, however indescribable and misunderstood. People lament for something, not for nothing (a dead body composed of chemicals).

This loophole of lamenting over something enabling bodily animation is a vulnerable chink in the armoury of avowed non-believing people. When they lament, they are exposing their belief in something other than the material body. At bereavement, non-believers exhose a type of faith in an unknown – the soul. They will not admit it though. They believe in the soul by crying for its loss.

This loophole should be exploited more to help change such lamentation into proper understanding of the mysterious life force which has no beginning or end. Once non-believers have been exposed for crying over something not worth lamenting about, and they still refuse to admit that they cry for something other than the body, they need to be asked, “What are you crying about?” Surely, no one cries over nothing, unless one has been taught to. The teachings and promotion of a one-life concept literally causes people to believe and behave irrationally, especially in loss of loved ones.

Some people say that God must be heartless and cruel if he allows souls to be reborn into new bodies over and over again with no possibility of escape. If God only grants one single life in which to turn to Him or suffer eternal damnation if you don’t, this puts a limitation on God’s love for all. In the rebirth concwpt, God reveals His patience and eternal love in waiting for lost souls to return to Him, however long it takes.

What we souls experience as a long time because we are bound by time, does not affect God (Krishna) because He is beyond time. Krishna consciousness means one can end the cycle of rebirth in this life. God’s love is infinite, not being bound to limited one-life ultimatums. Multiple births is a long time for us, not for God, If we are willing, God (Krishna) will help us end the rebirth cycle and return to Him, back home, back to Godhead.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=23289

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