According to a NASA scientist the current 11 year ‘Solar Cycle 24’ is the weakest in 100 years; which may be helping to keep the full effects of Global warming, from taking effect. We cannot count on the Sun to give us respite from our own follies; but our unusually quite star, has got scientists wondering. We do not have enough statistical information in our time series since record keeping on the observed number of solar flares and sun spots started in the 18th century; to extrapolate if we are headed, for another mini ice age yet. There are multiple cycles in the sun’s activities and we are not even sure what they are caused by; to predict future changes or outcomes, and can only wait and see how long this one will be.
Luckily for us our planet is still absorbing more energy; than we are releasing out into space, so we are confident that life will continue as it is, for quite some time. Just an imbalance in our one star can cause havoc for our lives; and so what happens if our Milky Way galaxy suddenly collides with another galaxy, which has billions of more suns and what havoc will that cause for existence is a cosmic mystery. In the Hindu tradition while Brahma is the creator and created the universe and all that is in it from his mind; it is Shiva who is the leader of chaos, change and destruction in the universe, and Vishnu rounds off the trinity, and is the only one to have taken avatars, to save life forms and preserve creation in the form of Krishna, Ram and many others. So I would equate the sun’s peaceful time to Shiva’s meditation and contemplation before he starts his next chaos theory. We all know that Brahma’s Kalpa or time horizons run into billions of years; and may be compared to a high mountain against which a bird flies a silk cloth every 100 years, and one Kalpa will last till the mountain is eroded away by the passing of the cloth.
As such infinite time and space is not quite comprehensible to normal humans we have to find an easier way to understand our birth, life and death. The Bhagwad Gita (Song of God) teaches many different ways to live a righteous life and of these I will just chose three, to simplify finding a path for salvation in this life. The first of course is the path of Karma Yoga or the carrying out of our Dharma by doing righteous deeds. For good to triumph Krishna teaches Arjun on the battlefield of Kurukshetra that a warrior must do his duty, even if it’s the killing of near and dear ones who are following the path of Adharma or evil. So this is a primary motive for us to live righteously; as one has to first act out the duty that is given to us in this lifetime towards our family, wealth, status or spiritual leanings. We have to carry out this duty without attachment to its outcomes. We do not destroy an evil empire in the hope of attaining all its wealth; but do so to make sure a righteous rule, can be established for its citizens. Only when we act without attachment; do we ensure that the Karma does not add to our desires, and we can then move into a state where we become detached from this body and its reincarnation to attain eternal peace.
The second path is of Bhakthi where we seek meditation and devotion and become immersed in the love of a Guru, God or Mantra; that we repeat constantly to ourselves and lose ourselves in it. All our actions or Karma are then devoted to this being and we do not become attached to the outcomes. Every action we take; we do for this love of the object of our devotion, or God. Our mind is removed from evil thoughts; and we seek only the eternal love, that comes from our prayers and sacrifice. This is also the path of renunciation; as we give up our earthly desires, in pursuit of the love of the pure state, that our ideal represents. To follow this path we need to open our hearts to love and devotion. On this path many saints have gone before and we find faith in their writings and songs, and we seek ‘Satsang’ or righteous companions who are also progressing along the path of Bhakthi. This path also teaches detachment to bodily desires; as we know the love that comes, from an open heart and mind. This love cannot be explained as it has to be felt; and this path of salvation comes from faith, found in the heart and soul, and not from the intellect.
The third path is one of Gyan or wisdom where we seek the truth through meditation, contemplation and study of the scriptures and learned treatises. We seek other intellectuals and learned beings to discuss and debate the meaning of life and the means of creation and destruction. This is a path that may lead to many missteps; as we attain levels of knowledge and attain ‘sidhis’ or powers, as we progress along it. We can be easily distracted from the goal of salvation; when we become entangled in our own wisdom, and attached to our knowledge as superior, to that of others. With knowledge can come power and if we get caught in the power trap; then we cannot progress, along the true path of renunciation. The other fallacy of this path is that true renunciation of the senses; cannot be an intellectual process, but has to be felt from the soul. As the mind cannot easily understand the time space continuum; and easily part with its ego for eternity, it becomes hard to let go and we are reincarnated again and again, to go to ever higher levels of wisdom. True Gyan is only attained when we are ready to give up all we have learned; and enter the void, with no karma to tie us to this birth.
This is a simplistic view of the knowledge that Arjun learned; as his heart was open to listen to Krishna and his friend and guru taught him slowly, and opened his mind, as he progressed through the different levels. As each level became clear; Krishna moved on to the next concept, so that Arjun could understand that there is no one path to salvation. I believe that we need to follow all the three paths outlined above, at some time or other in our life. The path of Karma is where we act to carry out our duty to society and our family and do it without getting attached. The path of Bhakthi is important as we need to open up our heart; to the beauty and love of the creator, as just duty is not the only goal of life. Lastly we need to exercise our intellect to attain a higher learning; as only then are we distinguished from the animals and other living creatures, like the fauna and microscopic beings. We need to pass the wisdom on to our progeny; so that they have a path to follow, that leads them to salvation, and away from superstition and false beliefs. Our body, heart, mind, soul all have to be purified to get to the next level. Choose any path and follow it; as in the end they all lead, to the same goal. The biggest mystery is that our soul is already eternal, and our mind refuses to accept it. We become attached to physical beauty, wealth and power and with it come all the vices of lust, anger, greed, hate and ignorance. These are all untruths of maya (non-permanent) and we cling to them and they become our chains to pain,suffering and death. The truth which is eternal remains lost, till that awakening when we break the threads of attachment to maya, and our heart and soul opens to experience Brahma.Then all you do is just an offering to him, as everything flows from and to him; and no Karma attaches to you and you are free at last.