When the evolutionary force kundalini completes the transformation of the body, Death loses it power.
15 Considering them common, Arjuna, one who does not waver on account of these and remains resolute, is ready for immortality.
“these” refers to opposites as mentioned in verse 14:
“It is perception by the senses that produces the sensations of heat and cold, pleasantness and pain. These appear and disappear and are impermanent, so have patience, Arjuna.”
The keyword in verse 15 is ‘ready’. The ultimate outcome is liberation and immortality. In the Bible and other mystical texts of the East, this reference to immortality is literal — the corruptible becomes incorruptible; the yogi cheats death; etc.
When this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? — 1 Corinthians 15:54-55
Two conditions then, are necessary for this transformation: resolute determination, and indifference to opposites.
When truly indifferent to opposites, such as heat and cold, and pleasure and pain, one is in a state in which opposites have been neutralized through union (yoga). The instant prana and apana* unite within the body, opposition vanishes and the Life Energy takes on an evolutionary function (kundalini), and though this may only last for a moment, in that moment there is absolute indifference to opposites. Attractions and aversions cannot exist where there are no likes or dislikes, and likes and dislikes cannot exist in the complete satisfaction and fulfillment of this moment of union. Thus begins the work of neutralizing the polarized pull of the very things that support ignorance (Dhritarashthra): the desires of the mind (the sons of Dhritarashthra).
* 'prana and apana': The Life Energy moving upward that warms the body is called prana; moving downward and cooling the body it is called apana. When these opposing functions of the Life Energy collide, they are united as one, and the evolutionary force, kundalini, becomes active within the body. This is Yoga ('union').
Desires of the mind (the sons of Dhritarashthra) appear as things you like as opposed to things you do not like, and visa versa—opposites. Begin by simply noticing these when they arise.
Ignorance refers to non-enlightenment. In the West, this is called ‘ego’, but the Sanskrit word (ahamkara) suggests that what this ‘ego’ is, is the sense of yourself as ‘doing’. This in turn suggests that what you really are is something other than what does things, and begs the question: “What am I?” Begin contemplating this question.
Enlightenment happens when you know through direct experience that what you really are does nothing. This unfolds by degrees.
All activities of the mind having vanished, I sit happily as the ruler within the city whose gates are nine [the body], not acting at all, nor causing action. — Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita, ch 5, vs 13
As a sadhika, I lived in the woods on very little of anything in order to find the time and solitude to practice yoga full time. I had no frills like air-conditioning and often no heat in winter, so I bore up under a great deal of discomfort. I told myself that I was cultivating dispassion and indifference to heat and cold, and pleasure and pain. What was really happening was that I was so miserable, and it took so much will to endure this misery, that I was not only holding myself back, I was getting over-exposed without realizing it. This resulted in the body becoming even more sensitive to heat and cold than it was in the beginning, and I have had to deal with this every day of my life since that time. It was a kind of ‘mortification of the flesh’ that I didn’t realize I was ‘doing’. And it didn’t work. It doesn’t work. It won’t work.
Scriptural injunction insists that we take proper care of the body so that it is fit for sadhana, not beaten down. So now, instead of tents, cars, vacant houses, or huts with quarter-inch cracks between the boards, I live in a simple house with AC and heat, and I do not put up with tolerating anything any more, if I can help it. That’s full circle from an ordinary life, to a determined and devoted spiritual life, and back to where I started from, only now I live a devoted sensible-spiritual life.
Indifference to opposites must come naturally and spontaneously as a result of surrender to God/Truth. You cannot make it happen. If you try, you will pay. The trick is to monitor your own motives as you live sensibly spiritually: Are you taking care of your body for sadhana? or are you using this principle as an excuse for seeking pleasure? And then, when you make a mistake (you will), you must ignore the temptation to put yourself down, forgive yourself, and move on.
I bow to the Divine One that you really are,
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