Actually we are all spirit souls and are intended to associate with God in the spiritual sky where there are innumerable spiritual planets and innumerable spiritual living entities. However, those who are not fit to live in that spiritual world are sent to this material world. This very idea is expressed by Milton in Paradise Lost. Although spirit soul, we have voluntarily accepted this material body and by accepting it have also accepted the threefold miseries of material nature. Exactly when we accepted it and how we accepted it cannot be traced out. No one can trace out the history of when the conditioned soul first began accepting these material bodies.
At present Darwin’s theory of the evolution of organic matter is very prominent in institutions of higher learning, but there is information given in the Padma Purana and other authoritative scriptures of the living entities’ spiritual evolution from one bodily form to another. This Purana informs us that species amongst plants and vegetables alone. At present everyone is giving stress to Darwin’s theory, but in Vedic literature there is immense information about the different species. Darwin expresses the opinion that the species are evolving from lower forms of life, but this is not the whole truth. The soul may progress from lower forms to higher forms, but in the beginning of creation all species were created by Sri Krishna, as indicated in Bhagavad-gita.
prakritim yan ti mamikam
kalpa-kshaye punas tani
kalpadau visrijamy aham
prakritim svam avashtabhya
visrijami punah punah
bhuta-gramam imam kritsnam
avasham prakriter vashat
“O son of Kunti, at the end of the millennium every material manifestation enters unto My nature, and at the beginning of another millennium, by My potency I again create. The whole cosmic order is under Me. By My will is it manifested again and again, and by My will is it annihilated at the end.” (Bg. 9.7–8)
All of these living entities are subject to the threefold miseries, including those miseries pertaining to the body and mind. Animals cannot understand that they are suffering, but human beings can. One who does not know that he is suffering is in animal consciousness. Animals may be standing behind a fence to be slaughtered, but they do not understand this.
As human beings, we should be cognizant that we are suffering the pains of birth, old age, disease and death and should be inquisitive to know how to avoid these miseries. We have been suffering from the beginning of our birth when as a baby we were tightly placed for nine months in the womb of a mother. After birth, suffering continues; although a mother may take much care for her child, the baby still cries. Why? Because he is suffering. Either a bug is biting, or there is a pain in the stomach or some other malady. Whatever the case, the suffering goes on. The child also suffers when he is forced to go to school when he does not want to. The child does not want to study, but the teacher gives him tasks anyway. If we carefully analyze our lives, we will find that they are full of suffering. Generally speaking, conditioned souls are not very intelligent, and therefore they go on suffering without ever inquiring why. We should understand, however, that this suffering is there, and if there is a remedy we must take advantage of it.