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The Greatest Adventure-Bhagavad Gita- Chapter 2: 37

There is everything to gain and nothing to lose in that most exciting adventure of all: the pursuit of Truth/God. 

37
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
Samadhi

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
Happiness

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…”

Namaste,
Durga Ma

*Design Your Life is a spiritual education and personal development course created and written by Durga Ma based on the ancient teachings of Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Designed to help you discover your unique svadharma, and align what you do in your life with the truth of who you really are. It is an essential and powerful tool for success and happiness in life, as well as a supplement in sadhana that will assist in supporting and orienting your growth. For inquires and download, please contact Anandibhagavan@gmail.com.
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Freedom or Heaven? Bhagavad Gita, Ch 9, Vs 20-22

“Those familiar with the Vedas, drink the soma to be free of sin and misfortunes, and worship Me with sacrifices desiring to go to Indra’s world and enjoy the pleasures of the gods in heaven. Having enjoyed the extent of heaven, when their merit is exhausted they enter the world of mortals once again, thus conforming to the edicts of dharma. With desire after desire, they come and go. But those who worship Me by constantly engaging in yoga with their attention not directed elsewhere, I unite them with their goal.” — Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9, Verses 20-22

20
Those familiar with the Vedas, drink the soma to be free of sin and misfortunes, and worship Me with sacrifices desiring to go to Indra’s world and enjoy the pleasures of the gods in heaven.

Indra's World of Heaven
Indra, king of the gods

  • Sin – evil, misfortune, bad luck, trouble, harm, guilt
  • Indra’s world  the heaven of the gods

Freedom or Heaven?

We in the West are used to thinking of sin as doing bad things, but the Sanskrit expands this to include the ramifications of bad behavior: it comes back to us in the form of trouble.

The word for ‘sin’ in the Bible means ‘to err’. Combining these two concepts of sin gives us a more complete picture. It inspires us to not make mistakes, and to know when we are making a mistake and turn to the yamas and niyamas, the first teachings and practices for doing anything completely and successfully. Anything done that is not consistent with them is ‘sin’ and backfires as ‘trouble’.

NOTE to initiates: Some of you who have come to understand surrender to God in practice, write to me about what to do in life outside the meditation room. This is my answer: Notice, observe and practice yama and niyama in your daily life.

To Do or Not To Do

The deepest meaning of sin is assuming the role of the doer of actions. It is a sin, a mistake, because it is an action that is not consistent with Truth—that what you really are never does anything in the first place. This error limits spiritual progress and leads to return (reincarnation). So performing actions in order to be free of sin cannot get one to God and liberation but only leads to heaven and return. To reach Absolute God, one resorts to sacrificing oneself, surrendering oneself, to Absolute God. But this is not everyone’s objective.  

For most, the highest objective is heaven. That there is something higher than heaven is beyond their comprehension. Laying the responsibility for sins on someone or something else, or performing ritual acts in order to reach heaven, is the goal of the majority.  

Drinking the Soma

The real soma is not an herbal concoction of the priesthood, but a biochemical product of the pineal gland, and is not even consumable under ordinary circumstances. It is naturally consumed by the body without any help from us when it is in its purified state as amrita, the nectar of immortality. This cannot happen by the use of one’s will, for acting willfully only takes us back to the ‘sin’ of taking the role of the doer, and keeps karmic bondage in place.

References to soma: The ch 9, vs 9-10ch 8, vs 24-25, ch 9, vs 2-3, and the previous verse.

21
Having enjoyed the extent of heaven, when their merit is exhausted they enter the world of mortals again, thus conforming to the edicts of dharma. With desire after desire, they come and go.

  • The edicts of dharma – Spiritual injunction. Duties enjoined by scripture. 
  • Dharma – Actions, behaviors and practices consistent with Truth. 

Those who follow the duties and practices of scriptural knowledge for the purpose of ridding themselves of sin and impurity in order to go to heaven when they die, follow the edicts for reaching this goal. Because they act in good faith and are virtuous, they attain their goal. Even so, their actions are motivated by desire, so they can only reach this temporary situation called heaven (svarga loka, the world of heaven). When their merit is exhausted, they will be returned to physical embodiment again. And around and around it goes.

But the yogi has a different goal  The yogi seeks liberation, freedom, and union with God. So the yogi’s injunctions are somewhat different. The yogi follows the ten yamas and niyamas (Ten Keys to Success) first and foremost, as the foundation for everything that comes next in his path so that he can traverse it successfully, reach union with Absolute God and become liberated.

22
But those who worship Me by constantly engaging in yoga with their attention not directed elsewhere, I unite them with their goal. 

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com


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VIII:26-28 Reaching the Imperishable

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”.

26
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.

27
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.

28
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