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Chapter Eight – D.E.A.D

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To contemplate death is actually a requirement to being considered sane. There are a few REAL problems in this world; situations that NOBODY wants, but situations that EVERYONE will experience. The Bhagavad-gita outlines those real problems as disease, old age, and ultimately death. People in Latin America would hang skulls in their houses to remind themselves. Yogis in India would meditate on the banks of the Ganges where open-pyre funerals were being conducted. We often forget the inevitability of death, and thus, in Chapter Eight entitled “Attaining the Supreme”, Krishna deals with this very subject.

D – Doubts (Verses 1-4) – Doubting is a function of intelligence and at no point in the Bhagavad-gita does Krishna discourage questions. On the contrary, He encourages Arjuna to intelligently contemplate all His answers and subsequently make his own decisions. The chapter begins with Arjuna’s doubts and questions on the meaning of certain spiritual concepts. Krishna concisely answers seven of his eight questions immediately, and then prepares to answer the final question in greater depth – “How can one attain a spiritual destination at the time of death?”

E – End of life (Verses 5-8) – Imagine you are going to watch a movie and you meet someone who just saw it. “You’ll never guess what happens” they say… before they even finish that statement you’ll interject and stop them. Knowing the end spoils the whole show. Similarly, for those engaged in worldly pursuits, hearing about, contemplating and accepting “the end” (death) is not the most inspiring reflection. It simply spoils their “movie of life” in the here and now. For a spiritualist, however, “the end” is not a depressing thought since their concept of life and its purpose is much broader. Krishna explains how one’s thoughts at death sum up ones consciousness, desires and worldviews they cultivated throughout their life. Thus, one’s state of mind at the time of death determines their next situation of life. For those who remember God at death, they will go to God.

A – Attaining the Supreme (Verses 9-22) – Thus, the entire world is a temporary university specifically created to dispense practical life lessons. When one becomes frustrated by the pursuits of this world, they realise that happiness lies in another realm. As spiritual beings, life in a complex world of matter is an incompatible situation. While the material world is rubber-stamped as a constantly changing place of misery, the spiritual world is distinguished as being eternal and all-blissful. There are many painstaking ways in which different spiritualists conduct their lives in order to attain that supreme destination, but having attained it one never returns to this temporary realm again. As they say, once bitten, twice shy.

D – Devotion (verses 23-28) – Various spiritual practices have been discussed in this chapter, but Krishna finally concludes by outlining the most effective process to attain the Supreme. Bhakti-yoga, the process of practical service to God in a mood of devotion, is described as the topmost spiritual path. In an age of rampant materialism and temptation coupled with individual weakness and lack of spiritual aspiration, a highly practical and powerful spiritual process is required. Through bhakti-yoga anyone can experience an incredibly fulfilling spiritual connection in a very short time. If one is able to thus saturate ones consciousness with constant meditation on God, they will be sure to attain the supreme destination regardless of all the technicalities and intricacies that other spiritual processes may stress.

By Sutapa das

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