Star Trek - The Inner Light is one of my favourite episodes, because it is so evocative about the nature of awareness, the nature of life and consciousness itself.
It is a story about Picard, who is transported not so much physically, but in terms of his whole consciousness into another life, into another place in the past in which he lives as a different person. He has a wife, he has a family, he begets a grandchild and lives a full family life.
The truth about that planet is it is dying, because its sun is going supernova, and the increasing heat is starting to dry up the planet. Picard tries to develop many methods which may save the planet, but to no avail. The expansion of the sun and the inevitable death of all life on the planet make Picard sad because his grandson will not live out a full life.
It also tells us something about ourselves. Where have we been before, what lives have we lived? Are we alive somewhere else, with this life simply a short interlude, when we might wake up and find ourselves in the place where we truly belong?
Here is a clip from Youtube from that episode.
If we wake up in that place how can we be sure that that this life is not an interlude in another life? When Picard awoke on the Enterprise, how could he be so sure that the life which placed him on the Enterprise was not of the same kind as that on Kataan. Consider this, aside from being able to trace his life back to his early childhood, what is the real difference between life on the Enterprise and life on Kataan? What is the characteristic quality that made one life more real than the other?
The Issue of Which Life and Which Time is the more important "Seize the time, Meribor - live now! Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.", Kamin (Picard) admonishes his granddaughter on Kataan.
One thing about life and in most cultures is the issue of the prelife and the afterlife, we don't know where we go after that, we suspect that we will be conscious, after all that is what hell, heaven, purgatory are about.
Even if the after death life will be similar to the place where Picard awoke (the Enterprise) after his life on Kamin, how do we know whether the values in that life, the issues that our concerns and joys range over, and the manner in which we apply ourselves to them are more compelling, fulfilling and of a longer lasting spiritual relevance than the fake? false? transient? life in the temporary place?
Is the now here less important than the now there?
Is this life a better place to practice yoga than in the afterlife? Is this life a better place to acquire control over the nature and quality of our consciousness than in the next life?