An Alien’s View of Life on Earth


Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa) – TRANSCEND Media Service

Ever since I can remember, I’ve never been too comfortable about being in this human body, nor about being on this planet. It’s always been too foreign to me. I know that some people may find that odd, but it’s the way I’ve always felt. Whenever I tried to find a niche, or attempted to find a place where I had a sense of belonging on this planet, it seemed I only got more anxious, more worried about the future and how to accomplish my goals. You know, on this world it’s a major decision about what you are going to do in life, what you’re going to become when you grow up, or how to fit in and find approval or acceptance from others. So when it came time to make a decision about what course of study I had to take in school, I simply felt empty and could never really make up my mind. It seemed that there were few things that seemed worth it or that did not end with disappointment, or the need for constant revision and change.

Even when I was a small child I would question life and wonder why I’d been placed inside the body I had. Or why I was looking out from inside this body instead of some other body, a body that was perhaps better looking, stronger, or something else. Or why others had bodies that were a different color, or had physical problems. No one seemed to have the answers for me, not even the church my parents attended.

In the unbiased perception of youth, we often question things in a way that can make adults feel ill-at-ease, or are unable to answer. Yet, we grow up while being trained in the opinions and bias of others, and their lack of understanding, centered around judging things on the basis of externals, or that which we perceive only with our senses. Then we often adopt that limited perspective that is given to us. Fortunately, some of us come through the training and once again inquire into the nature of things and the internal mysteries we wondered about while young.

I remember when I was about 4 years old I would wonder why we have to breathe and eat to maintain this body, because if you don’t do that your body dies. I thought it was such a fragile situation. And then after eating, you have this thing politely called “the call of nature” that forces you to use the toilet, and not always at the most wanted times. Certainly a messy business. I’ve never gotten used to that. I mean am I being weird here, or is this really considered the natural way things are supposed to be? Of course, it’s natural as long as we have this material body, which is quite an amazing machine. But then the question arises, is being in such a body the natural way we are meant to be? Is this as good as it gets? I feel that there are others among you who have also questioned things in this same way. Am I right?

Another thing I could never understand is why we have to sleep a certain number of hours of the day just because we are in these material bodies. Yes, yes, I know that the body requires that kind of care, and that there are many people on this planet who think that eating and sleeping are some of the greatest joys of life. Yet to me it never really seemed natural, almost like a waste of time, and another limitation forced on us by this material body. And feeding the body necessitates so many agricultural endeavors. Have you noticed that most of the activities and economy of this world are based on this need to eat? For example, farmers first have to grow the food, hope that the weather is good and that no droughts develop, then harvest it, then ship it and exchange it for money or other goods. Then for the consumer there is the need to acquire the food, cook it, and only then can you eat it. And then if it is not cooked or kept properly, you get sick. To me it seems like such a tricky ordeal, which most people of this world simply consider part of the normal course of events. These are just some of the reasons why I’ve not felt completely at home here on this planet. Of course, I know there are going to be those who will try to tell me that this is the way things are supposed to be, but I just don’t buy it. I know that this planet is a magnificently beautiful and amazingly functional place in which to exist. Yet I, along with others here, have always felt that there was a better place with a higher level of life, where things don’t require so many endeavors to survive.

As I grew older and started to perceive my spiritual identity within this body, I came to understand why when I was a small child I had such doubts and questions about life on this planet. I began to understand and realize that there were other realms of existence that made more sense to me. There were other domains of existence wherein eating solid food and sleeping are not so much required, nor are we forced to use a toilet. These higher grades of existence within much finer levels of consciousness are areas wherein the gross physical desires or sensual needs and habits are not such an important part of life. I was able to understand that there were other forms of life out there that not only made more sense, but also of which I seemed to remember. Only then did I realize why I have never been so comfortable on this earthly plane of existence.

Life-cycle: birth-old age-disease-death

On this earthly stratum, the fact that we are caged in material bodies makes us focus on the idea that bodily and mental pleasures are the goals of life. Even the act of sex, which most people on this planet can hardly do without, and the act of procreation itself is often based more on compulsions rather than on the focused intent of producing children. In such a case, we often see that these children carry the same desires within them from which they were born. Thereafter, their existence is not always based on an intentional purpose, but more on finding the means of fulfilling the same sort of desires they inherited from their parents, the same desires that produced them in the first place. However, there are other levels of existence wherein procreation does not require such a physical act in which there is the exchange of bodily fluids which produces a body into which another living being is forced to enter. On such higher levels the power of one’s concentrated thought alone can be enough to produce children.

Another limitation regarding life on Earth is that in this human body expressing ourselves is like trying to talk through a sack, and speak in a way that others who are also in such containers can understand. And to perceive what is around us is like being in a vessel which has cameras, microphones, and other forms of sense perception that are wired in a way to bring the signals from the outside of that sack to the core of our consciousness, which exists deep inside the container. Our perception and understanding of our experience thus depends on the ability for such circuitry to function, as well as our interpretation of the signals we receive. If the wiring or center of such operation, the brain with all its nerves, becomes even slightly dysfunctional, it changes everything in regard to performing or understanding our experience in this body.

This brings us to another point of consideration of life on Earth. In this human body we have to try and understand language which is the basis of how we communicate to others. We have to understand our own disposition, feelings and perception of things, and then externalize that perception to others through the use of our own ability to use language, which itself can be limited by the number of words and phrases we know, or our own basic knowledge of things. Then after we voice our thoughts, those with whom we are talking also have to take in what we have said, and churn that through their own understanding of language and their own ways of perceiving things in order to relate with what we have expressed. This whole process paves the way for many possible misunderstandings between people.

Furthermore, with the constant changes that this material body goes through, our feelings and thoughts about ourselves and our experience are always changing, along with our likes and dislikes, or desires for what we want to do and how to find happiness. Sometimes we don’t know what to think of the changes we are going through, nor do we always understand how we are supposed to fit into this world. We may not even know what to think about certain events in our lives. Or we may also have to deal with shyness or other reasons for feeling hesitation to express ourselves to others. So, in such situations, how can we begin to properly express ourselves in a way others can comprehend when we sometimes don’t even understand ourselves, and when we are also limited by our ability to use language as the basis of our communication? Thus our thoughts and ideas are not always projected as well as we would like, nor are they always understood or accepted by others as we would hope. Ever notice how you may be talking to someone and he or she takes it wrong, or thinks you are talking about something completely different than what you mean? That’s the problem.

But I am here to tell you that there are spheres of existence wherein the system of communication does not require such a process of externalization and reception as found here on Earth. There are planes of reality wherein we simply share the feelings from one to another through a more telepathic, clear and intimate process, or wherein another can feel our feelings or directly perceive what we think. This frees us from the intellectual process of gathering our thoughts into a system of language to provide for the need for voicing our thoughts through a physical mechanism. However, we can experience this even on this planet. Even now we may meet those elevated sages who cause a change in our consciousness merely by their presence. Or who may convey knowledge not merely by expressing it with their voice, but by transferring it in a way that allows us to directly experience the insights and spiritual perceptions they are trying to give us. There are those planes of existence wherein this goes on all the time.

Reincarnation into a new body according to karmic reactions and desires accumulated from lives in past bodies.

This brings us to another peculiarity we find on this Earth, which is the wide range of mental dispositions and perceptions that the species called human beings can have. For example, most people would prefer to live in peace, but many also live with constant confrontation between others. Through the centuries there have been many wars amongst “humanity”, some of which were very large, all for the domination of land, or politics, culture, race, or even religion. You can trace those who engaged in conquering others by force, from Hitler back to Alexander the Great, and more. They enlist others in their goals, often forcibly, who then kill and murder thousands more, taking survivors back as prisoners or slaves. Yet, is it natural that masses of people can be motivated by some political or even religious leader to look at everyone who is not in their clan as if they are like a virus that needs to be cured, converted, or wiped out? If not, then why does it continue to happen time and time again? It’s another reason why I don’t consider this planet to be the ideal place in which to live. It’s not my real home.

However, the question is: What is so great about inflicting war and domination on others because of one’s self-absorbed sense of superiority? Those who act in such a way are all the epitome of fools for not seeing the temporary nature of this world and their own body. They go to such great lengths for power and might, all the while blind to the fact that death is closely following them, and may force them at any time to lay down all that they have gained. And then what happens? That’s what they do not know. That’s why people of the mentality as Alexander the Great should be called Alexander the great fool. No matter what they have accomplished, they are still unaware of the temporary nature of life, and remain unprepared or misinformed about death and what lies beyond, which is a door through which everyone must travel.

The fact of the matter is that people often become totally dedicated to doing what is terribly wrong while completely convinced that they are working for what is right, or even righteous. The fact is that many cannot rise above such mass public opinion or even mass hysteria because they cannot perceive the genuine reality of the situation. They remain blinded by limitations based on temporary bodily designations. And when this is all they see, there is little hope of recognizing or seeing the real spiritual unity that exists between us all, beyond the temporary nature of the physical body which we only wear like a dress.

Even when it comes to love, the best of loving relationships can never last forever simply because of the ephemeral nature of the material body. And for most people, it is so important to them that a perfect loving relationship is a dream for which they will spend the greater portion of their life in search of. However, I know there are planes or realms of existence where such interruptions of the change of bodies are not necessary. But that is a special area. Otherwise, all levels of life in the material universe, and all situations, are impermanent.

As we look at life on Earth, the physical body that we have is like a spacesuit made in reciprocal percentages of the elements found on this planet, consisting of water, earth, air, etc. It is a vehicle that allows beings to act out their desires on the theatrical stage of ups and downs, highs and lows, joys and sorrows. It allows them to get entangled in the world of duality, and the dreams of attachment to the temporary objects that exist on this level of life. These desires may be for achievement, or for overcoming various obstacles or physical disabilities, winning something, or merely for the ordinary hopes and dreams in family life, and so on. This temporary body is the perfect vehicle for engaging in such dreams. It is indeed the ideal spacesuit for living on planet Earth.

However, sometimes it is not even the kind of spacesuit in which we’d expect to find ourselves. For example, I look in the mirror and I feel that I don’t even look like myself. Now how can I say that I don’t even look like myself? What else am I supposed to look like? But when I see that I’ve got veins running through my arms and hands, bones are sticking out in certain ways, or my digestive tract isn’t functioning the way it needs to, or my hair is thinning, my skin is getting wrinkled, and on and on, then it’s like being in a machine that someone else gave me. It’s like looking in the mirror and seeing someone else looking back at me. It’s not really me. I’m only inside looking out. That’s why it doesn’t really look like me, and why I’m not comfortable with all of the things this body forces me to endure.

Even growing old is part of the drama of being in such a body. So many people feel a variety of emotions as they are forced to witness the aging of the body. It is like watching something that is not you which, nonetheless, forces you to participate in its changes. So even if you have worked for all the desires you have ever wanted and have now put yourself into what could be considered a perfect situation, the body itself, in its vulnerability to get old and diseased, forces you out to some other place when the body expires. Now I don’t know about you, but personally, I don’t like it. I don’t like death, and I don’t like seeing my friends and relatives die off around me. This may be a natural part of life while we live within these material bodies, and I even wrote a book about it called “Facing Death: Welcoming the Afterlife.” But death goes directly against that for which we are always looking, which is ever-increasing joy and happiness without end because that is our spiritual position. However, this obviously cannot be found here on this material plane of existence to the degree which we would like, which is another reason why I’ve never felt completely comfortable here on this planet. And I’m sure there are others of you who have felt the same, or maybe just haven’t put it this way before.

For these and many other reasons, I admit that I do not belong in this material atmosphere, and it is the reason I’ve never felt fully at ease here. I realize that I am not from this plane of existence. I may have been here many times before, however, mostly I am but a tourist merely traveling through this world, and trying to help those who also may feel as I do about life in a material body on planet Earth. I’m simply trying to leave behind a few seeds of spiritual insight so that others may also gain an understanding of why they may feel uncomfortable here, and that there are other realms of existence that make much more sense. And some of these realms do not have the hardships that exist here, that don’t require that we exist in material bodies that need to breathe, eat, use the toilet, sleep, or make you chase after your physical desires for a few years before you have to get old and die, and leave everything behind.

Human embryo

For this reason, I do not want to remain entangled in another material body after this life. I want to be sure I can be free of it. Being in a body can be a messy business. And becoming attached to another who is in material or bodily consciousness can make it even messier. Therefore, our attachments to each other must be based on Truth, which is the divine knowledge of the soul. These kinds of spiritual relations between each other actually help all of us elevate ourselves to higher levels of existence. We can all go there together. In this way, we assist one another to leave the troubles of the body, or even the awareness or negative focus on such difficulties, far behind. In this way, we can help provide those around us with some relief from the ongoing endeavors to exist in this world.

We need to remember that this body and world also act as the doorway to the innumerable levels of high or low species, planets, and areas of consciousness that one may be transferred to after death. If we use this life and body properly, we can attain higher realms of existence wherein we no longer have to live being absorbed in maintaining a temporary body, or trying to fulfill any of the innumerable desires that may infect our minds. This life is our opportunity to do that, which depends on our ability to receive and follow the instructions of spiritual authorities for raising our consciousness to a higher or finer frequency, such as the spiritual frequency.

Maybe this world needs an influx of such spiritual aliens who are aware that they are not the body but merely inside it, and who can help show how to live according to a genuine spiritual perspective. It may require those beings who are of a higher consciousness, a finer frequency and spiritual level of awareness, in order to bring some serious uplifting changes to this planet, and to help remove the darkness of ignorance that pervades so much of this world.

As we look around we can see that everyone is looking for happiness, but most people are looking for it within the confines of the material energy by attempting to rearrange their life with additional bodily pleasure and external facility. However, that which is temporary does not last, and is considered to be the illusion that most people take so seriously. Being absorbed in this temporary illusion will not make us happy, but ultimately leads to continued changes, complexities, insecurities, and numerous disappointments. We are meant to go deeper into our journey of spiritual Self discovery. We are all meant to taste the nectar of spiritual life, but we cannot do so while engrossed in the anxiety and confusion of the illusory energy, which is the temporary material existence in which we find ourselves. We must become free of its influence. We must rise to a higher state of mind and awareness. Everyone is looking for love, but that love must be redirected from the ephemeral material objects to the eternal Divine Person, Lord Sri Krishna, in order for us to be completely fulfilled in the loving spirit and mood of devotion to God. This can give us that bliss and nectar that we all want, the pursuit for which keeps us motivated to find where we can truly love and be loved, where we belong and feel fully accepted. This is the higher spiritual realm of existence for which we all will continue to search, lifetime after lifetime, until we find it because it is our natural constitutional nature. That is our real home.


Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa) has dedicated himself to spreading the deepest and most practical levels of spiritual knowledge about the soul–our real identity. Though this world may give us numerous challenges, when we rise above the basic materialistic view and its limited search for solutions, our evolutionary development on all levels greatly accelerates. By recognizing that we are all spiritual beings who are, basically, attempting to achieve the same essentials for our existence–namely love, acceptance, harmony, peace, and happiness, not to mention the ordinary needs of food, water, clothing and shelter–we can reach a new level of cooperation with each other. Stephen has written many books on this and related subjects and studied with A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada becoming initiated into the spiritual line of Brahma-Madhava-Gaudiya sampradaya. He is also president of the Vedic Friends Association.

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