You’ve all heard of Oscar the Therapy Cat who predicts immanent death.
Oscar the Therapy Cat
How does he do that? Swami explained it to me. You see Oscar is the reincarnation of a man who missed being at the deathbed of his mother because he did not believe that she was about to die. Several times previously mother had been according to the doctors on the point of death but had pulled out. ‘Not my time yet’ she said to Jimmy (the son) sitting up in bed drinking a cup of tea. And then she died and he wasn’t there. Grief stricken and guilty he vowed ‘I would do anything for this not to happen to anyone else’. Being reborn into a lower form of life is not the usual fate but such was his desire that he took that form (karma - janma; Swami does that nod) in order that kin may be warned. So he walks the wards of the nursing home and when the doctor asks ‘how are we today’ the response is ‘Oscar thinks I’m fine, how are you’?
I have a black cat who helps me with the lotto. ‘Four, four’ how’s four’. No, ok. You’re not sure of seven. Two sevens. Come on, the draw is tonight’. My neighbour had a big win recently. I met her in the supermarket and she had some of those tuna pouches in jelly that you love. She doesn’t have a cat. Jade, are you picking for her? Cats have no loyalty. Except for Oscar. It comforts me to know that he’s there watching for the signs of pranic dissolution and the manifestation of the linga sarira.
Note on the Linga Sarira or Subtle Body:
The Linga Sarira or Subtle Body guarantees the continuance of identity of karma. Shankara explains:
B.S.B. III.i.1:....to the soul remaining still surrounded by the subtle elements, occur such thoughts about the future body as are called up by the accumulated results of past actions; and this expectancy becomes lengthened out to the next body like a leech. This being the manner of acquiring a fresh body, as shown by the Upanishads all other theories arising from the human intellect, such for instance as (the Sankhya theory) that when the all-pervasive senses and soul acquire a new body as a result of past actions, they start functioning there itself; or (the Buddhist theory) that the soul alone, by itself, acquires its function there, while the senses, just as much as the body, are born afresh in those different spheres of experience; or (the Vaisesika view) that the mind alone proceeds to the new place of experience; or (the Jaina view) that the soul alone jumps from one body to another like a parrot from one tree to another – all these are to be ignored as running counter to the Vedic view.
What your concept of personal identity is in this life will condition the view of your post-mortem identity. If you believe in the continuance of the karmic adventures of the Jiva or individual person after the 'great change' as James Carlyle, Thomas's father called it, then there must be continuity. The jiva in Vedanta is a body/mind entity so the subtle body must form a bridgehead to the next life. The material support for life is so to speak subtilised and this carries through the karma to its next venue.
Shankara indicates in a curtailed form how the different concepts of identity in this life, Sankhya, Jain, Vaisesika, and Buddhist, are reflected in the accounts of transition to the next. All show a definite metaphysical consistency and differ from each other.