Posts Tagged ‘Bhagavad Gita’

The War Within

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Living the Bhagavad Gita

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The armies have been assembled, the choices made. On the appointed day at the appointed time, the armies face-off on the battlefield of Kurukshetra (near present day New Delhi).

The entire Gita is written from the standpoint of Sanjaya, the messenger of the blind king Dhrithrasthtra. The two station themselves remotely, with Sanjaya providing “live” details as they happen, being blessed with divine vision (ability to see remote events clearly) by Krishna.

The very first verse of the Gita begins with Dhritharasthra asking Sanjaya, “O Sanjaya, what did my sons and the sons of Pandu do when eager to fight, they gathered on Kurukshetra the battleground of Dharma?”

And so it is that right from the outset, this is not about a war fought in an ancient world, but the war waging within each of us at any given moment. Kurukshetra is right here, right now – the inner conflict that is the hallmark of human existence. And it all has to do with what has been termed dharma.

Dharma is quite simply, natural law – that upon which all creation rests. If we can remain rooted in our own personal dharma, there would be no inner conflict and there would be peace at all times. However, although it is a simple definition, the murky thing is to know what one’s dharma is. In the context of the Gita and other Vedic literature, in order to understand dharma, it helps to understand three other concepts – guna, varna and ashrama.

Guna is “quality”, tendency or aptitude. All of creation can be seen to be composed of 3 gunas – tamas, rajas and sattva. Tamas refers to the quality of inertia, darkness, and/or heaviness, rajas of movement, action, dynamism and sattva of purity, lightness, light. Tamas makes up the structure of the universe, rajas provides movement, and sattva the intelligence. In all creatures, these qualities in specific combinations, make up the individual psyche/nature/personality. Evolution entails moving from tamas to rajas to sattva. Tamas in us results in inertia, lack of motivation, laziness, etc, rajas results in activity (and hyperactivity), movement, determination, accomplishment, etc and sattva results in quiet mind, clarity, purity of being, etc. The gunas also determine the “tightness” of ego-identification or “I- and my-ness”. Tamas results in total entrapment in the ego (separate self) on all levels, rajas to a lower degree and sattva to a still lower degree of such clinging to “I” and “me”.

Varna is the sorting, classification or division of a group. In 4:13, Krishna declares that he created 4 varnas (castes) according to guna and work/vocation: Brahmin (not Brahman), Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Sudra. This classification exists universally in every society, government, organization or group. Brahmins are those individuals that have a guna combination of sattva, rajas, tamas (in that order) and make up the segment of society that comes up with ideas, concepts and discoveries (scientists, philosophers and the like). Kshatriyas have the guna combination of rajas, sattva and tamas and are the leaders, the ones that take on the task of bringing ideas to fruition (politicians, military commanders, CEOs, etc). Vaishyas are driven by the guna combination of rajas, tamas and sattva, and excel at finding resources for the project (economists, financial planners, fundraisers, etc). Sudras with gunas combining in tamas, rajas and sattva are the workers, the ones that do the actual producing of results.

In the Vedic system, a person chose his “caste” according to his/her aptitude and type of work.  Thus, a Brahmin’s son could become a warrior (Kshatriya), a Sudra’s son a Brahmin, etc based on one’s personal aptitute driven by gunas, and according to the “ashrama” system.

Ashrama is the stage of life that along with guna and varna, will determine one’s unique dharma. Upto a certain age, everyone was a celibate student (Brahmacharya). Upon entering adulthood and finishing education (that was pretty equivalent for all, consisting of learning about the greater purpose of life and integration into society), most married and became householders (Grihastha). Once these duties were performed and children were raised, the householder left all material ties and retired to a quiet place for reflection (Vanaprastha), becoming celibate again. Finally, with further development of non-attachment, one entered the final stage of life (Sannyasa), renouncing everything and withdrawing inward.

In the context of guna, varna and ashram, it is easy to know what one’s dharma is. Thus, as a Brahmacharya (celibate student), one’s dharma is to study, to honor and obey the guru and parents and to direct all energies toward learning. Upon entering Grihastha ashrama, if one became a Kshatriya, one’s dharma was to first and foremost serve/protect and to lead by example, but also care for his family (since he would also be a Grihastha). If one had followed the ashrama system as it was designed, one would be ready to renounce material possessions when the time for Vanaprastha came.

In the context of the Mahabharata, Duryodhana was a king (therefore Kshatriya) and his dharma was to rule justly, to give the Pandavas the kingdom he had promised them before their exile. His dharma was to protect his people, not subject them to the horrors of war. However, (especially once the war was announced and particularly after the conches were blown), it was Arjuna’s dharma (also as a Kshatriya) to fight against injustice. To not fight would be adharma (opposite of dharma) for him and akin to “sin”. Throughout the Gita, Krishna emphasizes that swadharma (one’s own dharma) is far superior to paradharma (someone else’s dharma). As an example, premature renunciation of one’s family/life to retire into a life of contemplation (because someone else did that) would be adharma.

Even though knowledge of one’s gunas/varna/ashrama makes it somewhat easier to know what one’s dharma is, it is not always easy to follow it. Humans have the unique ability to choose or discriminate between what is right and what is pleasurable. A tiger does not wonder if it should kill for food and if that is the right thing to do. It is driven by instinct. We humans, on the other hand, are plagued with constant assessment and re-assessment of our thoughts and actions, heavily caught up in what we have learned to be right or wrong from our culture and upbringing. There is one part of us that knows what the right thing to do is; yet the other part that desires pleasure nags in an overpowering fashion. One adharmic action leads to one more and then one more and so on until we are lost in the perpetual war within. In every moment, opposing forces pull us in one direction or the other, in the form of self-judgment, jealousy and comparison to others, endless desire for “more” (more admiration and approval from others, more material wealth, more status, more fame…). The Bhagavad Gita is really about this war – Dharmakshetra, Kurukshetra.

On the spiritual path as well, it may not always be clear what our dharma is, at least initially. This is also true because as spiritual practices are taken up, there is continuous evolution in terms of the gunas; becoming more and more sattvic. This may (and does) result in a draw toward drastically different types of work/vocation and lifestyles to be in line with the inner transformation. Previously enjoyed work may not appeal so much as the need for external validations in terms of approval, fame, wealth and such falls away.  Also, the need for external reminders of our dharma in terms of guna/varna/ashrama lessens with surrendering to and trusting that which arises from deep within.

Dharma is not merely “should” or “should not” but the universal law that inherently benefits and upholds the whole, rather than the individual. Thus, any action undertaken with the motive of benefitting solely oneself is inherently adharmic. As one progresses along the path of yoga, the war within subsides and all thoughts and actions that arise become inherently dharmic, without a conscious choosing between what is right and what gives pleasure. Such actions of a perfected yogi benefit everyone around and he/she takes no personal credit for it.

Universal Desires, Reincarnation and Liberation

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Living the Bhagavad Gita

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The ashrama system based on guna + varna was designed to fulfill the four basic categories of desires of human life:

1. Dharma, the desire to lead a purposeful life and to contribute to society according to one’s gunas.
2. Artha, the desire for basic needs [food, shelter, clothing] and material wealth/resources.
3. Kama, the desire for fulfillment of sense pleasures – art, music, beauty, sexual union and so on.
4. Moksha, the desire for liberation, and transcending the other three classes of desires.

These four categories simply describe the universality of desires and in the context of the spiritual path, refer to the “pull” or the hold of desires upon us. And what each of us desires is dependent upon our unique matrix of vasanas (conditioning).

Vasana literally means fragrance. Quite simply put, a vasana is an impression left by a particular action that drives future actions. As an example, if I have less than a positive experience interacting with a particular person, all my future interactions will be colored by the impression left by that first unpleasant encounter. Over time, this becomes a subconscious impression, associating a certain “type” of negativity with this “type” of person. And all our interactions with that “type” of person consequently become subtly colored. This type of coloring arises from the combination of: the faculty of memory plus the emotional component of feeling a certain way plus cultural/familial conditioning of what “should” or “should not” happen (“so-and-so should do such-and-such” and so on). Thus we go about our lives driven by likes and dislikes, love and hate, greed and generosity and such polar opposites, continually at the mercy of our vasanas – deeply embedded impressions. And these impressions do not reside only at the level of the mind – to understand this further, we will need to see about reincarnation, without which the understanding of vasanas is incomplete.

Vasanas are a result of impressions not only from this lifetime, but also of previous lifetimes. Death is applicable only to the physical body. At the time of death, the soul or Atman simply departs from the body that is no longer fit for it to inhabit (for various reasons). All impressions from this lifetime, which are “stored” in the causal body go into the pool or “bank” of impressions from all past lives. After a period of time spent in non-physical planes, the soul decides to take another birth (reincarnate). Why? To exhaust the vasanas that drive all desires. The soul decides what “set” of vasanas to exhaust in the next life, and along these lines, chooses the parents, the family, the culture and the community to be born into. If the chosen set of  vasanas are exhausted in that life without accumulating new ones, there is no further reason to live in that body and death is the logical conclusion. And another set of vasanas is chosen to exhaust (from the very vast “bank” accumulated over innumerable lifetimes) and another life chosen..

The fruits (results or consequences, including the good, the bad and the ugly) of all actions and their associated impressions (vasanas) across all lifetimes makes up the “bank” of karma known as sanchita karma. What is picked out of this bank to work off in a particular lifetime is called prarabdha karma. Accumulation of more vasanas in a particular lifetime (instead of exhausting it all) results in agami karma, that gets added to sanchita karma. When does this end? When one becomes desireless. How? Through moksha.

Moksha or liberation is what gets us out of this endless loop of birth and death altogether. The result of moksha is the state of desirelessness. Moksha or liberation quite simply, is to know one’s true (divine) nature. This is not secular knowledge gained through books, but experiential knowing that is beyond the mind and intellect. With very few exceptions, moksha can be attained only during a human birth, which is why being born human is considered a great privilege and an opportunity not to be wasted. According to Vedic philosophy, human evolution mandates that all desires must be, and necessarily, are fulfilled in the particular order of dharma, artha, kama and moksha. For example, a person starving of hunger craves for food, not Van Gogh’s art or Mozart’s music. Yet, when one has fulfilled basic needs of food and shelter, there is a natural pull or drive for material success and recognition, and for gratification of sense pleasures. Thus, unless one’s basic needs are met, they cannot be asked to meditate or to desire transcendence. Similarly, someone driven by ambition to “make it” in the corporate world will find neither the time nor the interest to discover the deeper purpose of human life (moksha). Additionally, moksha cannot be attained unless one has experienced the other three to a certain degree.

Importantly, all vasanas must be exhausted within the context of one’s dharma in order to progress to moksha. Adharma results in further enmeshment in the continuous loop of vasanas, with moksha being lower and lower on the “list” of desires to be fulfilled. Desires also fall into categories of gunas; desires driven by a very dense matrix of vasanas tend to be tamasic and progressively become rajasic as the vasanas are exhausted. Following one’s dharma on a continuous basis results in a loosening of sorts from the vasana driven birth/death loop, the mind and psyche becoming progressively prepped for the sattvic desire of moksha. While this progression is something we must all go through, the timeline for this progression is different for each of us, occurring over many lifetimes. Thus, somebody extraordinary like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa or Ramana Maharishi may seem to have jumped right to moksha, but that is simply because they have been through the previous stages in previous lifetimes.

Arjuna (symbolizing us spiritual seekers) has come to this sacred battleground (Dharmakshetra) “ripe” for moksha. He has followed his dharma, has accomplished much in his life being a superb/decorated warrior with no wanting for wealth (artha), and has enjoyed all sense pleasures to his heart’s content (kama). At this juncture, it is clear that all his prior accomplishments were necessary but transient, and that they have not succeeded in erasing the war within. This inner conflict is the greatest gift of human life, that which can be harnessed to leave behind the drama of the birth-death cycle.


Action and Inaction, Doing and Nondoing

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Living the Bhagavad Gita

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On the path of karma yoga, the crux of existence comes down to how we perform actions at any given moment. On the surface, the journey is always from here to here, as Yogani wisely says. However, this path is very often convoluted, and takes unexpected turns and twists despite our best intentions to “do” karma yoga. In these twists, we come to understand first-hand the true meaning of nondoing in doing and inaction in action as explained in the Gita.

Once the process of unfolding begins, it takes its own uncharted course. For me, that course has been a deep dive into the subtle and causal bodies, coming to rest often in ever deepening pools of stillness and peace. Sinking here in meditation, there is a freezing of the body in a paralysis-like state often associated with cessation of breath and loss of consciousness. Coming out of it, there is deep peace untouched by any activity going on around me. This “state” frequently wafts into daily activities where there is a sort of jarring out of a deep reverie wondering what I’m doing or why I’m there, amidst conversations or other activity. Thoughts, sensations and emotions are seen like passing clouds and bubbles, not touching the deep stillness. This is all associated with a loss of drive and ambition, related most likely to loss of fear and anxiety around being “someone” with specific qualifications or achievements, title or status. The deep peace pervades the waking, dreaming and deep sleep states, unshakeable and groundless. Increasingly, it is difficult to relate to the rat-race of the marketplace – not particularly conducive to one with a busy career and family.

This phase appears to be quite common. I was discussing this with a dear friend, Anurag Jain, a wise yogi, fellow-lover of the Gita and founder of Neev Forum for Integral Living. In his characteristic and unassuming fashion, he asked me what I thought about Krishna’s words in the 4th chapter (4:16), where he discloses the secret of karma yoga – inaction in action. Like a complicated lock falling into place with the right key, I immediately “got” what he was referring to.

As discussed here, the evolution of karma yoga involves losing identity as the doer of action. And this evolution requires the additional yogas of bhakti and/or jnana. With deepening self-inquiry, one dives into the subtle and causal bodies, with a shift in identification from the limited body-mind to a greater, non-localized sense of being. The distinctions between “inside” the body and “outside” blur and fade and this shift is often accompanied by subtle and not-so-subtle movements of Shakti (energy), intuitive openings and a growing sense of “knowingness”. The sense of doership simultaneously fades, since the sense of being is no longer associated with this particular body-mind. Most traditions talk primarily about this part of the journey; to see that we are not the limited body-mind. And this is where many can get stuck, as I’ve experienced. The bliss and deep peace of being are so vast and all-encompassing that there is no compelling need to “do” anything (since I’m not the doer anyway). Engaging in the world becomes difficult and a chore. It takes supreme effort to be interested in clothes and cars and titles and statuses and paychecks and who-is-doing-what.

The conundrum is this – many of us are prompted to enter the spiritual path after we have established careers and long-term goals and have committed to partners and family. And we never count on drastic changes that can (and do) occur on this path; of phases of craving solitude more than anything, of deep confusion and pain of the so-called “dark night of the soul”, of the terror and fears that surface as the subconscious mind is churned, of the need to stand and face oneself and one’s own perceived utter failures and disappointments and to own it all. We assume that the spiritual path will make us holy and serene like in the pictures; moreover, our family members assume these qualities for us – and thus, we are all shocked when we are less than holy or serene at times. Mostly, we do not count on going so deep within that the surface ripples do not even touch us – we certainly do not count on losing the identity as the doer and what that really means in the context of a busy life.

Going from doing to nondoing is only half the journey. The other half involves returning once again to doing. But this time, the doing is different, for while it appears that one is doing, he/she does nothing at all and the action flows through him/her. Life and its processes become the Sri Yantra – stillness of the Bindu amidst dynamic activity of the intersecting triangles. In this (necessary for many) hiatus resulting from this shift of identity to not being the doer, the only thing to do is to surrender all vestiges of personal will. And to submit to Shakti to use this body-mind in any way She chooses. Inaction in action is this exactly – just like the heart and the digestive system work without volition, external actions also just happen with this body-mind being the vehicle for it without any personal ownership of it all. How long this “return journey” will take, I do not know.

Yet, there is a deep trust in the process and in Her. For it is now evident that the secret to inaction in action is surrender.

Surrender.. A tale of birds and snakes

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Living the Bhagavad Gita

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The central theme of all spiritual traditions is surrender, the giving up of this person that we think we are. It can be said that surrender is the central theme of the Bhagavad Gita as well; again and again, Arjuna is instructed to surrender his will to the Divine (Krishna). Yet, the concept of surrender is volatile and often misunderstood. Importantly, it is the most challenging (and therefore a significant) movement on the spiritual quest. The body, mind and intellect are what we think we are, and these obscure the inner divine light effectively and often totally. At each level, there is a strong sense of individuality, of being a person in control of life and its circumstances, as well as relationships with others and with God. This strong sense of individuality arises from upbringing, values instilled by caregivers and prevalent culture, life experiences that “teach” us to love or hate, to accept or reject, to be strong or timid, to choose this over that, and so on. All along, we have the strong sense that it is “me” that is choosing or doing out of my own “personal free will”. Yet, there is hardly anything “free” about this will, since every choice made is dependent upon a cascade of circumstances that can (if one would want to) be traced all the way to infanthood (and beyond).

Every action has infinite possibilities in terms of outcomes; yet, we ardently hope for one single outcome that is based on our experience of desirable and undesirable. When the outcome is what we had hoped for, we are temporarily satisfied (until the next expectation comes along, as it surely will). When it is not, we are filled with disappointment, regret, resentment and ill-will. This is how we live our lives on a moment-to-moment basis, each moment colored by expectations of the next and based on the experience of the last.

And then we arrive on the spiritual path and take up practices and studying. Here too, the active issue is of control; specific outcomes are expected from sadhana. Practices and spiritual studies are taken up with certain goals; we remain fixated on these goals in a rigid sort of way, happy when a prescribed milestone is reached and disappointed when our experience differs from it. When it comes to surrender, we can misunderstand it to be passive and that no effort is necessary on our part at all. However, because we have become experts at efforting and expecting, such giving up becomes frustratingly impossible. On the other hand, we may tap into tamasic qualities of inertia and laziness and think this is surrender. In fact, the relationship between self-effort and surrender is one of the hardest concepts to grok on the spiritual path; both effort and surrender are necessary, and this is the entire basis of karma yoga.

The surrender that is required is of the active quality. All efforts arising from our passionate desire for God are consecrated to God. And this consecration is an art that has to be perfected along with non-attachment and equanimity. Surrender can never be perfect if there is attachment to a specific outcome or aversion to another. Thus, we perform actions and continue with sadhana with utmost sincerity and engagement, but we are deeply okay with whatever the outcome may be. Why? Because any outcome is the most obvious evidence of Divine Will (all our choices and actions also arise from Divine Will, but the impurities of identification with the body-mind-intellect obscures the seeing of its role until a later stage). For active surrender, this “okay-ness” needs to be at a level that is much deeper than the mind. It must permeate our physical and subtle bodies; our very cells must be bathed in this okay-ness for it to be active surrender. There can be no hope for anything that is not aligned with the greater will. Thus, we acknowledge the desire that drives an action and give it up with an affirmation for it to occur if it is Divine Will. When this giving up occurs at the aforementioned deepest layers, there is an unmistakable release and relaxation. Although Divine Will will determine the outcome anyway, the acknowledgment of the desire and it’s concomitant release make it an active movement. Miraculously, such a practice (known as samyama) results in dissolving of our will into the Divine Will.

This practice, as difficult and imperfect as it is, has been the most beautiful aspect of my sadhana. Over the years, my life (like that of others who practice this) has become a steady stream of miracles. One such incident occurred on a trip to Costa Rica. More than any other wildlife of this lush country, I wished to see the Resplendent Quetzal, a magnificent bird with vivid colors and a long two-feathered tail. As we toured the cloud forests of Monteverde, our many hours spent for one glimpse of this highly elusive bird were in vain. On daily guided tours, we saw every other species of native birds except the quetzal. On our last day in the region, we took a self-guided tour of one last rainforest but the ranger at the ticket booth warned us not to expect to see a quetzal because of unfavorable weather conditions that day. Disappointed, I trekked along, hoping against hope that it might still happen. Halfway through the tour, I suddenly felt the desire dissolving fully, knowing without a doubt that if it was Divine Will to see one, it would happen; it was no longer “my” concern. In a brilliant inner flash of release, there was a whoosh of relaxation down to the bones along with immense peace and joy of just being. The quetzal was forgotten and the magic of the forest captured my attention and heart. A half hour later, a male quetzal alighted on a tree branch right next to us in a glorious flash of blue-green. As we gaped, a female (with shorter feathers) joined its mate and the two remained preening on the branch for a while and flew away just as a group of people approached (they had to see the above picture to believe it). Tears streamed down my face and I was humbled beyond belief. Two days later and on our very last day in the country, I felt that our trip could not be complete without seeing a large snake. We had seen several varieties of smaller ones, but not a big one. Again, this desire was surrendered in a big release and a sense of being totally okay with not seeing one. Minutes later, we were strolling down to breakfast at the forest resort as a guide ran up asking us to hurry – a python had been spotted nearby and it was feeding. We rushed to the spot and watched the strikingly gorgeous creature finish its meal and leisurely make its way into the bush. This beautiful country had been my guru for this valuable lesson in surrender.

In every moment, we can dive into this practice of active surrender. We can put in the effort and simultaneously call for Grace to release all “my-ness” from it and to pour our stubborn will into the fire of Divine Will. The prerequisites for this are inner silence and unwavering faith in the Divine. We have to know (not merely believe) that nothing in the cosmos occurs outside of Divine Will. Our effort, our path, our life and its saga, world events – all these are intricate parts of the cosmos, which moves as a whole according to Divine Will. Any action performed by anyone anywhere moves the whole in a specific direction, all of it dictated by this Will. No action is isolated and affects seen and unseen sentient beings and events in orchestrated ways. By no means is this a fatalistic predetermination, for every action has infinite possibilities in terms of outcomes; all these possibilities and their resultant cascades of outcomes are contained within Divine Will.

In fact, the very movement of surrender is a sanction of Grace and of this all-encompassing Will.

Equanimity and the end of slavery – a dialogue

Written by Heal Your Heart on . Posted in Living the Bhagavad Gita

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Question: How do I overcome anger and resentment? I have been depressed most of my life, have been on medications and in therapy for decades, but nothing has really helped.

Response: Can you describe your feelings a bit more? What are you angry about?

Questioner (Agitated and with raised voice): I hate my health problems. I hate myself and hate it when I become a monster around my family. (And in a softer, kinder tone): My wife of sixty odd years is an angel and the kindest person I know. She does not deserve a monster like me.

Response: When you were talking about your wife just now, where was the thought about being a monster?

Question: (Puzzled) Don’t know. Where was it?

Response: When the thought “I am a monster” arises, you become angry, resentful and sad. When the thought “My wife is the kindest person I know” arises, you become kinder yourself. Do you see this?

Question: Yes. You are right. But how do I stop the first thought from arising? It is a running thought all the time in my mind.

Response: Not all the time. You just demonstrated that when you spoke about your family.

Question: True. So how do I stop it?

Response: Let us first examine this – when the thought of being a monster arises, you latch on to it and become its slave. You do what it wants you to do, by becoming angry, resentful and unhappy. What if you did not latch on to it and simply waited for it to pass? As we saw a few minutes ago, the thought always passes (even if it will arise again). Do you agree?

Questioner: Yes, I agree. But how do I stop it?

Response: You cannot force a thought from arising. Think of your mind as a train station. No train stops permanently in a station. Trains come, stay until passengers get on or off, and leave. Thoughts are exactly like trains – they arise, stay a while and leave. If we get onto the train/thought, it will take us places. These are familiar places of heaven (good feelings – happiness, satisfaction) or hell (bad feelings – anger, anxiety, resentment). The fact of it is that any time go to heaven, we will eventually have to go to hell. That is how these trains work – in a “both or none” fashion. Thoughts quickly make us their slaves and force us to do their bidding. The only reason specific trains/thoughts keep stopping at specific stations is because there is a passenger willing to hop on. If we stayed on the platform and never got on the train, it might keep stopping at this station out of habit for a while. But due to the lack of a passenger, it would stop less frequently and eventually stop coming this way altogether.

We break out of the chains of slavery by the practice of equanimity (a.k.a., staying on the platform). The key to this is to stop believing every thought that arises and to see how temporary it is. Belief in a thought (hopping on to it because it is glittery or alluring) is to become it’s slave.

When we break free of this mental slavery, we become astute station-masters and are able to command thoughts to do our bidding and go where we order them to go. In this reversal of roles, the station and the trains arise only to serve us (and not the other way around).

Question: What you say makes total sense. How do I stay on the platform?

Response: There are many things you can do. The breath is the most immediate experience in the body. Bring your attention to your breath and just observe it. Go for a walk. Take up a mantra to repeat – this can be as simple as “stay on the platform”. Watch the impulse to jump on the train out of habit. Merely watching it causes the impulse to lose its power over you. (Note: an advanced practice is to abide as awareness or self-abidance).

Question: If I don’t get on the train to heaven, would my life not become dull and joyless?

Response: No. All trains get you to temporary heavens. Your time there is always short and by the very design of things, you will get on the train to hell by and by. However, staying on the platform reveals another hidden dimension that leads to peace, joy and bliss not found at any train-driven destination called heaven. The only way to discover this is to practice staying there long enough.

The Bhagavad Gita describes this predicament beautifully: “The enjoyments that are born of contacts (with sense-organs/mind/thought, or hopping on the train in this example) are only generators of pain, for they have a beginning and an end. O son of Kunti, the wise do not rejoice in them” (5:22)

Questioner (with a smile): I have never heard anyone talk about this. It makes perfect sense and I see it happen all the time in my mind. I jump on to the thought and am led to anger and frustration by believing it. I feel hopeful already and I am willing to try to stay on the platform. I will report back in a while for some more advice. Thank you.