Lord Krishna tells Arjuna how to attain immortality. “This world is transitory and full of suffering. Those great souls who have perfected their lives and come to Me are no longer subject to rebirth into yet another lifetime. Avoid birth and you avoid death.”
“One gets what one is worthy of, Arjuna. Those who do not advance past the notion of heaven and hell commit themselves to the intermediate worlds and tie themselves to death and rebirth.
“Contemplate the cosmic standard of time and creation. When Brahma the creator wakes up at dawn of each cosmic day, this entire universe and all creatures in it are instantly manifested, only to be dissolved back into the unmanifested (formless) at Brahma’s cosmic nightfall. But each cosmic day and night of Brahma last thousands of yugas, and each yuga lasts 10,000 to 400,000 years; the time is all but incomprehensible to humans. In succeeding days and nights of Brahma, the same multitude of beings helplessly come to birth and death again and again as the physical universe continues its expanding and contracting.
“This eternal cosmic play is the same in the microcosm of the individual soul as it is in the cosmos. When an individual goes to sleep, the entire world his or her mind experiences as ‘real’ withdraws, only to ‘come alive’ again at waking.”
“But beyond even the mysterious, unmanifested state into which all beings dissolve at cosmic nightfall, there is another unmanifested reality. It is Brahman, the Godhead, the Thing-in-Itself that is beyond time, that does not perish even when existence itself dissolves!
“It is this eternal, absolute Thing-in-Itself that is the ultimate goal. I am That, Arjuna. All those who come to this ultimate home come to Me, never again to be separate, never again to return.
“The only way to reach this immortal state is through love, through unswerving devotion to Me (the Divine) alone. As the individual wave does not have any existence independent of the sea, the separate soul does not have any real existence apart from Me, the Universal Soul.
“There are two paths for the individual soul : to freedom from death-rebirth, or to bondage. The former is allegorically the ‘Northern’ path, which here indicates the way of light and brightness of day, symbolically a cloudless sky. This leads selfless souls (those who are free of ignorance and egoism) to the supreme Godhead. The other is the ‘Southern’ path, here meaning the way of darkness or the path of smoke or fog. This leads selfish souls (the ignorant, egoistic ones) to the lesser light of the moon and chains them to the darkness of rebirth and death.
“These two ways, the light (Northern) and the dark (Southern), have existed since the beginning. Following the light way (which refers not to a period of time but a state of mind) leads you to spiritual success and freedom; taking the dark way leads you to further pain and misery.
“Once you know these two paths you can never be deluded or misled again. Therefore, beloved friend, gain this great knowledge! Be a yogi at all times.
“The wise know that living by scriptural injunctions (good deeds, sacrifice, and so forth) will help you reach heaven. But the true yogi knows that even heaven is part of nature (prakriti) and thus is eventually perishable. This yogi therefore transcends all of nature to reach Me, Brahman, the Imperishable Godhead, the Divine Love who lives in your heart.”
Source: BG 8:15-28
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