There is everything to gain and nothing to lose in that most exciting adventure of all: the pursuit of Truth/God.
Having been slain you will attain heaven, or having conquered you will enjoy this world, so stand up, Arjuna, resolved to battle.
According to this and previous verses, you can attain this most desirable of outcomes by following your svadharma (sva – one’s own, dharma – natural characteristic), your own ability, talent, gift, that you would naturally do best.
You have two life purposes:
(1) one that is the same for everyone, and (2) one that is unique to you.
Some of you are now taking the Design Your Life online course and will be making this discovery. Bravo to you! It is my hope that, once you have determined your own unique svadharma, you will remember the first purpose of your life and get on with this as well, for it is primary to the fulfillment of the second. Do keep us posted on your progress.
Now let’s see what you will get for your efforts:
“heaven” – traditional
The paradise where one goes to await the next incarnation.
The word for ‘heaven’ is svarga, which means ‘the heavens’. Notice the plural. Is there more than one ‘heaven’ then? Some say there are seven heavens and seven hells, seven levels in either direction from where we are right now.
“heaven” – in sadhana
There may be a good reason we look up when we talk or think about heaven. When the life energy in the body moves up to the crown chakra through the central channel (sushumna nadi), a loud cacophony of bells can be heard, and divine bliss is experienced. This experience can occur fairly early in sadhana. It is the inspiration behind the bells in church steeples, the ringing of bells at weddings, and the bell rung upon entering a Hindu temple (the temple is heaven).
In the state of sabija samprajnata samadhi, the paradise mentioned above is experienced. You ‘go’ there. Having directly experienced this heavenly place frees you from the fear of death. Later, when nirbija asamprajnata samadhi is achieved, you directly experience the highest heaven of the Absolute, where you are freed from both birth and death.
“heaven” – in life
There is also the idea of Heaven on Earth, that lovely dream of a good and happy life, or at least those perfect moments when everything is prosperous and in place, love is given and received, and life is good.
The point Lord Krishna is making in this verse, is that if Arjuna doesn’t quit and goes forward to take on the battle, he can’t lose — he will either gain ‘heaven’ if he ‘dies’, or have a good life if he doesn’t.
I think you will agree that, with just this short contemplation on one single verse suggesting a heavenly reward as motivation, by putting what we now know into action through the practice of meditation, heaven will naturally follow like a horse follows the groom for the lump of sugar he carries in his pocket.
Self-reference: If you do well performing your svadharma you will enjoy a good life, or good sadhana, or if you die in the midst of it, you will go to a good place. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Better one’s own dharma done poorly, than another man’s done well.
If you have forgotten what this ‘battle’ represents for you, you may want to refresh your memory by rereading earlier installments. Also, consider what the idea of ‘dying’ may suggest besides the obvious. And contemplate the phrase, “Our Father who art in Heaven…”
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