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The Great Secret in Spiritual Life

Arjuna hears from Krishna in the Bhagavad GitaThe promise of happiness for the yogi.

In material life we are often promised great benefits if we will only do what the promisers want us to do, the implication being that if we do not obey we will lose or be denied the benefits. But Krishna has a very different thing to say in the Bhagavad Gita.

Happiness in both this world and the next are guaranteed to the yogi.

“Either, having been slain, you shall attain heaven, or, having conquered, you shall enjoy the earth. Therefore stand up, resolved to fight” (Bhagavad Gita 2:37).

In the sixth chapter Arjuna is going to present to Krishna the usual manipulative and resentful view of religionists: is not one who “fails” in or “abandons” spiritual life “lost” and hopeless? Krishna replies:

“Neither here on earth nor in heaven above is there found to be destruction of him. No one who does good goes to misfortune” (Bhagavad Gita 6:40).

And this is true in the inner struggle. If we literally die before winning the battle or are overcome in the battle and “slain” by the enemy, we shall still reap profound benefit. The intensely positive karma generated by meditation will result in our rising to high spiritual realms after death and enjoying its fruits there. Then, when we are reborn we will reap the good karma in the form of coming into the orbit of meditational knowledge and resume our practice.

The reward of Success

If on the other hand we persevere and win the ultimate victory we shall find life here on earth totally transfigured to a glory presently unimagined by us. In his book Practice of Karma Yoga the great Master Sivananda of Rishikesh expressed it this way:

Swami Sivananda young When I surveyed from Ananda Kutir, Rishikesh,
By the side of the Tehri Hills, only God I saw.
In the Ganges and the Kailas peak,
In the famous Chakra Tirtha of Naimisar also, only God I saw.

In tribulation and in grief, in joy and in glee,
In sickness and in sorrow, only God I saw.
In birds and dogs, in stones and trees,
In flowers and fruits, in the sun, moon and stars, only God I saw.

Like camphor I was melting in His fire of knowledge,
Amidst the flames outflashing, only God I saw.
My Prana entered the Brahmarandhra at the Moordha,
Then I looked with God’s eyes, only God I saw.

I passed away into nothingness, I vanished,
And lo, I was the all-living, only God I saw.
I enjoyed the Divine Aisvarya, all God’s Vibhutis,
I had Visvaroopa Darshan, the Cosmic Consciousness, only God I saw.

Sri Ramakrishna said that to the enlightened yogi the whole world that now is a sea of suffering becomes “a mart of joy.” A Buddhist mystic wrote: “I walk through this world and no one guesses that Paradise is within [me].” Is it any wonder then that Krishna concludes: “Stand up, resolved to fight”?

Even more…

Krishna continues with even more astonishing facts, underlining the truth that the Gita is not only unique among the scriptures of India, it is supreme. For next he says:

“Holding pleasure and pain to be alike, likewise gain and loss, victory and defeat, then engage in battle! Thus you shall not incur evil” (2:38).

Talk about Blessed Assurance!

Meditation deals only with the ever-changing, ever-mutating levels of our being. As Patanjali says (Yoga Sutras 1:2), yoga is the entering into the state where these levels no longer change or even move, but become transformed into a perfect mirror of spirit. This and this alone is self-realization. But until then what a bumpy ride! This being so, we must adopt the perspective Krishna presents: “pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, are all one and the same.” That is, they are all merely shifting sands, having no stable reality whatsoever. They are but fever dreams, delirium from which yoga is intended to awaken us.

Yogis must take their true Self very seriously–even reverently. But they must never take the antics of their Self’s “wrappings” seriously at all, except to determine to tame and transmute them. For the yogi does not shed them and swim away into the ocean of Infinity. He changes them into that ocean and abides in them in freedom.

Wherefore let us go into battle and end even the capacity for wrong. Being “sinners” is not at all our nature, and once we become established in our true self it will be as Saint John wrote:

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (I John 3:9).

The Gita clearly shows the way to such an attainment. That is why “Hindus” make the best “Christians.”

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