By which path will you travel at death? Will you attain Eternal Happiness, or will you continue to return to worlds where happiness is only temporal?
The two paths of going at death are (1) “the bright fire of day, the bright half of the moon, the upper-going of the sun, and (2) the misty darkness of night, the dark half of the moon, the right-hand going of the sun.” These two paths are not what they seem at first glance. If you have come to this point without having read the previous post, you will find them explained in “The Day and Night of the Yogi”.
These two paths (of going at death), light and dark, are considered to be inevitable. By one the yogi attains non-return, by the other he returns again.
The yogi who attains the path of darkness at death, enters a state similar to what we call ‘deep sleep’. When this state passes he finds himself in a heavenly world, and after a length of time he is destined to return again to physical embodiment.
Though this yogi lands himself in a dualistic world of pleasure and pain, suffering and happiness, good and evil, he will be born into a family who know yoga, and will resume his practice once again.
The yogi who attains the path of light at death, retains his consciousness, passes into the heavenly realm of a higher plane, and is not destined to be born again into a physical embodiment. Instead, he “goes forth to Brahman”—he returns to his natural state of eternal happiness, free of the cycles of death and rebirth, in the Imperishable Absolute.
Knowing these two ways of going, the yogi is not confused. So engage in Yoga at all times, Arjuna.
Through the practice of Yoga as described by Lord Krishna, one attains this union, is a yogi, and takes one of these two paths at death. In this verse, Lord Krishna is suggesting to Arjuna that by being constantly engaged in yoga he will acquire the ability to remain conscious in death, and automatically take the path of light.
Because he will have already experienced death in his meditation, dying will not be unfamiliar to him, so it will not overwhelm him. By practicing yoga “at all times” he gives himself this advantage.
Once one becomes a yogi (one who has achieved union), he has reached a point in which the opportunity to end the rounds of death and rebirth and to know Absolute God, becomes a reality. He comes to realize through union with the Divine, that there is more to be had than the lower worlds of duality in which he is presently chained. He seeks release from this bondage and continues his Yoga practice enthusiastically. He knows that he must reach a point wherein he will not waver, even at death, and seeks to be engaged in uniting (yoga) at all times.
It should be understood that Yoga is not a religion, but a term expressing union with Absolute God, or Absolute Truth, by any name, regardless of one’s religion or even the lack of it. Yoga is a science that is proved. Its practice is aimed at attaining the Absolute and is proved by the individual himself by putting correct knowledge of Yoga into practice.
When action follows correct knowledge, understanding is gained and Truth is revealed.
Having understood all this, the yogi goes beyond the fruits of actions ordained in the Vedas—sacrifices, austerities and charities. He goes beyond this to the highest, the Imperishable.
This yogi goes beyond religious beliefs and ordinances, and ascends to the highest state: his original and natural state of eternal happiness.
One thing is certain about either path: The yogi (one who has achieved union) gets beyond religious beliefs and religious practices designed for fulfilling desires (‘fruits’). The destiny of the yogi is the immediate (day) or eventual (night) passage back to the beginning, his original situation—before the fall into creation and union with illusion—with full awareness (established in consciousness), immortality (not mortal) and Eternal Happiness.
End of Chapter Eight
The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman