Heaven and hell are not physical destinations

Human beings have been given the gift of life in order to transcend it by using the power of discrimination, dispassion and dedication to truth.

When the mind is focused upon the world, it is removed from the Self, but when it is focused upon the inside, the Self is realised. Such is the interplay of the manifest and unmanifest aspects of the Supreme.

Sri Krishna explains to Arjuna that he who is born must experience death. Birth and death are inevitable to all living beings. Feelings of grief are experienced due to strong identification with the body. Once this identification is removed through discrimination, the aspirant realises his true identity as being one with eternal consciousness. Self-realisation is the sole purpose of human birth.

But in reality, there is neither birth nor death. It is our limited perception that makes us experience birth and death: “Anything that occurs in the visible world,” observes Swami Rama, “has its roots in the invisible. Life is like a sentence with many commas, semicolons and exclamations, but it does not have a period.

This never-ending sentence composes a manuscript whose beginning and end are lost. But the middle page of the manuscript remains with us. By thoroughly studying this fragment, one can catch the thread of the infinite and touch the eternal.” This is why the wise do not grieve over death.

The Lord, therefore, advises Arjuna to perform his dharma.The word dharma is a rich and complex term and has many meanings. In this context, it refers to the fulfilment of duty and anything (thought, word and deed) that supports the fulfilment of our duties is called dharma. If performed correctly, the mind is able to live in harmony (heaven) and if performed incorrectly, the mind is led to be in a state of disharmony (hell). Heaven and hell are, therefore, not physical destinations in the Vedic tradition, but are states of mind reflecting equanimity or turbulence.

The human mind is composed of three different kind of gunas or attributes including sattva or purity, rajas or activity and tamas or sloth and indolence. The Lord urges Arjuna to conquer the gunas and achieve equanimity of mind. Yoga is actually nothing but equanimity of mind.

Arjuna is asked to practice action but not to covet the fruits of action. Being attached to the fruits of action creates sorrow and bondage. To be ever immersed in supreme consciousness and be alike in all states of duality whether it be joy or sorrow, insult or praise is a virtue.

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