15.07: Might we ourselves be the aliens?
The possibility of aliens fascinates the contemporary imagination: “Can we encounter on earth life forms from other parts of the cosmos?” Science fiction glamorizes this possibility, whereas science dismisses it.
Gita wisdom offers us an unexpected third perspective. It acknowledges the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms, but then reverses our alien-finder scope by raising the question: might we ourselves be aliens? This question might seem outlandish because we are accustomed to think of ourselves as our material bodies whose entire existence is wedded to the earth. We tend to presume, “We belong to the earth, or, more precisely, the earth belongs to us.”
However, is this presumption really justified? Life on earth is the only life that most of us remember or conceive. Nonetheless, isn’t life on earth radically at odds with life as we would like it to be? We want to live forever, yet life on earth doesn’t allow any of us to live forever. We want to be constantly happy, yet life on earth makes us only occasionally happy, and instead makes us frequently stressed and distressed.
The drastic difference between our lofty expectation of life and its shoddy materialization on earth is undeniable. When we stop denying the undeniable, then we see the truth of the Gita assertion that the earth is alien to us and we are aliens on the earth. The Bhagavad-gita (15.7) indicates that we are spiritual parts of Krishna, who belong originally to his eternal ecstatic abode, but are presently struggling under the shackles of the mind and the senses.
Once we recognize the alien-ness of earth, we can become one-pointed in expediting our stay here and striving to return where we belong and thereby reclaim the life for which we long.