13. Now - and at the Last Hour
There is a beautiful mantra in the Taittiriya Upanisad which says that God created all this and then he 'entered into all things, the real and the unreal, making everything real'.
It is a beautiful idea.
It occurs also in the Bhagavad Gita:
I am immortality and also death, existence and non-existence, O Arjuna. (9:19)
'I am the reality, I am the unreality. I am that which is perishable, and that which is imperishable.'
That which is perishable, and that which is imperishable, are two sides of the same coin.
What is called perishable is also imperishable, it is another aspect of the imperishable.
You find yourself trapped in the idea 'I am this body' or at least 'The body is mine' .
Do not worry about who manufactured the trap, that is not your problem.
But the body is still yours; so, you have to feed it, clothe it, look after it.
It is a sort of vehicle, an instrument, a house of God bestowed upon you by God himself.
Still there is this funny feeling that the body is 'not me, but related to me'.
How all this I-ness and mine-ness arose in relation to the body we do not know.
And, whosoever, leaving the body, goes forth remembering me alone, at the time of death, he attains my being; there is no doubt about this. (8:5)
What is it that dies?
You cannot die - but there is a disconnection between what you call 'you', and the body (or, there is a suspension of the idea 'I am the body' or 'the body is mine').
Great hatha yogi insisted upon a period of meditation at midnight, just before you fall asleep.
Fall asleep with this consciousness: 'That which is real and that which is unreal, that which is perishable and that which is imperishable, is all that one imperishable being that can never cease to be'.
That is the pivotal teaching of the Bhagavad Gita: the reality can never cease to be, the unreality has never come into being.
If it is possible to sustain this truth right up to the moment of falling asleep, you will probably wake up with the same feeling, contemplating this tremendous truth that nothing but God exists.
Nothing but God has ever existed.
Nothing but the reality could ever exist.
Who knows how to maintain this awareness?
It is very easy to cite stories like the Ajamila story, where a rascal suddenly remembers God at the last minute, or, Katvanga, who when condemned to death, suddenly said: 'Oh, I still have one hour, let me meditate.'
What is not so easy is to answer the serious question: when at the hour of death, your volition is suspended, and the entire brain bursts with innumerable memories, and when there is nobody to help you, are you sure you will remember God?
And, if not ...?
"When your throat is choked, at the time of death, who will help you for your salvation?" sang Swami Sivananda.
That is why Krsna insisted:
Therefore, at all times, remember me only, and fight. With mind and intellect fixed (or absorbed) in me, thou shalt doubtless come to me alone. (8:7)
"Do it now", as Gurudev used to say.
Then it is possible that you will think of God even then, not otherwise.
Then naturally you will be absorbed into him.
What really happens is: suddenly you wake up to the realisation that the body is not even yours.
First the idea that 'I am the body' is lost, but 'the body is mine' is an idea that persists.
As long as the prana vibrates in that body, prompted by the mind, the idea that the body is yours will not go.
When the prana ceases to vibrate in that body, then suddenly you think: "Hey, I thought it was mine, it is not mine. Because I, as such, am not."
'I am', or what is known as aham sphurana, is a part of the cosmic being.
'I am' , but not in the sense that 'I am Swami Venkatesananda'.
That thing came into being a few years ago, and it will cease to be a little later.
It is an idea.
Whosoever at the end leaves the body, thinking of any (state of) being, to that being only does he go, Arjuna, because of his constant thought of that being. (8:6)
Whatever be the state of your mind at the time that the idea 'this body is mine' is penultimately suspended (or, to use a simple word, when you die), that thought-form is vitally important, since that is the seed for what happens afterwards.
Swami Harisharananda used to give a beautiful example to illustrate what I am saying (but it can be misunderstood, also).
You are sitting for a portrait which is of great importance to you.
You have dressed yourself very nicely, and you want to look your best.
The photographer adjusts the camera and the lens and everything and says: "Smile". You smile.
He says: "Sorry, I forgot to advance the film."
Then he says: "Smile." You smile.
"Oh, sorry, I forgot to focus."
By that time you are frustrated.
Now that he has focused the camera, advanced the film and is about to click, a fly sits on your nose and you wrinkle your nose.
That is the picture you get!
You cannot protest: "My God, I smiled then, I was charming then. Just at the last moment the fly came and sat on my nose and I pulled a face."
That is unfortunately the picture that the camera got!
But Krsna does not want us to assume that whatever might have been our mood before, we can somehow smile at the moment of the clicking of the camera (as fashion models do) and have a nice photograph.
The example is not valid there.
Unless you have trained your mind all the time, it is unlikely that at the last hour the state of your mind, or consciousness, will be what you hope it will be.
When you investigate the truth and realise that what is permanent and what is impermanent, what is perishable and what is imperishable, is all part of the one cosmic being, then your heart, your mind, your entire being is rooted in God.
That is what is known as brahmacarya - to live, to move and have one's being in Brahman.
That is when even at the last moment you are rooted in that consciousness, and therefore there is no more dreaming.
Just as in deep sleep there is neither a pleasant dream nor a nightmare, in deep-rootedness-in-God there is neither sorrow nor joy.
That is called brahma-nirvana.
There this thing called samsara ceases.
You have reached supreme perfection.
What happens till then?
You keep on going round and round.
In your own daily life you experience different moods, and the world that is experienced in one mood is perhaps very different from the same world experienced in another mood.
So that you have around you an interpenetrating world of several planes.
You go on changing from one mood to the other every day.
You were a loving person two or three hours ago, you are a very serious person now.
An hour later you may become very angry about something, and then you might experience dullness, fatigue and sleep.
Have you changed because of that? No, no.
There is a change, and yet there is no change.
In the same way, it is possible that the entire universe keeps on churning from one mood to the other.
So, our first endeavour should be to lead a pure and disciplined life, in order that we might contact the central core of our personality, to realise that it is not our personality, that it is all God.
Once you are there, you see that all these belong to him, not to 'me'.
There is no 'me' - except a sort of memory.
'I am' is him, everything is him.
Then there is no more sorrow, no more coming, no more going.
That 'I am' can undergo all sorts of changes, the changes brought about by sattva, rajas and tamas, but there is no problem in that.
If this is understood, then the entire world-play is understood; if this is misunderstood, there is great danger.
In order that the misunderstanding may not arise, the Bhagavad Gita cautions:
But verily there exists, higher than the unmanifested, another unmanifested eternal being who is not destroyed when all beings are destroyed (dissolved). (8:20)
The reality is not the perishable or the imperishable, or a mere synthesis of these.
Reality is not the assembly of different parts of what you call reality, but something entirely different.
God is not the assembly of the different pieces of what is called the universe put together, but non-different from that and yet something that is unthinkable.
So, even though the perishable and the imperishable are all parts of this one total being, this totality cannot be thought of by the mind.
Therefore, go to the source of thought, and let thought collapse.
Truth is beyond that which is manifest, beyond that which is unmanifest, beyond that which is perishable, beyond that which is imperishable.
Indescribable is this supreme truth.
And that does not come to an end, even when all things come to an end.

The Bhagavad Gita - Introduction | EN

Swami Venkatesananda

The Song of God - Introduction - Swami Venkatesananda - enlarged 4th edition – 1984 - published by The Chiltern Yoga Trust, Cape Town, South Africa
1998 - 2017