Gates of heaven and hell

“From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls again into the material pool.”
Bhagwad Gita, 2.63

Since childhood, anger is one mental health issue that has been a cause of bother for me. The state of anger as pointed out so right by Lord Shri Krishna in Bhagwad Gita (refer to the verse above) robs you of your intelligence. As the divine Lord rightly points out, when intelligence is lost, one falls down to a lower vibrational state.

The religious scriptures describe heaven and hell as geographical locations. The soul attains these destinations depending on the karmic merit that it has acquired during its lifetime.

But is that really so?

Can one stand at the gates of heaven or hell while embodied?

Are heaven and hell psychological?

Yes, if we were to go by a Zen tale.

A tale of a Samurai

Once a mighty Samurai warrior visited a zen master called Hakuin. He asked Hakuin,

“Can you show me the gates of heaven? I want to avoid hell; I wish to attain heaven. Can you please show me the way?”

Hakuin asked the Samurai about his identity.

“I’m the chief of Samurais. Even the king pays respect to me.”

A Samurai means a perfect warrior. They are revered highly in Japan. Pride in the Samurai was a natural consequence of his position.

Master Hakuin laughed and said, “you a Samurai? You look like someone who makes tik-tok videos at Lodi art district!”

Master Hakuin said, “you look more like a beggar than a Samurai.”

This was a massive insult to the Samurai. His pride hurt and ego wounded, he took out his sword about to strike the master dead. He completely forgot about why he had come to meet the master in the first place.

Hakuin laughed and said, “This is the gate of hell about which you wanted to enquire. The ego, the pride and anger help you open the gates to hell.”

The Samurai understood what the master implied. He put the sword back in the sheath.

Here opens the gate of heaven.”

This incredibly powerful tale helps us realise that heaven and hell aren’t geographical locations outside but psychological conditions within. When we are alert, when we act from a state of consciousness, there opens the gate of heaven.

What happens when you are angry?

You’re in a state of bewilderment. You’ve lost consciousness.

In the story, as soon as the Samurai’s pride was hurt, he ‘loses his intelligence’, his power to discern. He forgets why he had come to the master. Given a chance, almost every human being would choose a pleasant to be in, not the one where you lose yourself.

In a recent discussion about Bhagwad Gita with a friend led to us talking about anger. I recalled how one moment of rage lost Zinedine Zidane and the France football team, the 2006 Football world cup. Little blips in consciousness can lead to life-altering outcomes. Relationships break, guilt perpetuates, and one loses a lot of potent energy. I have lost a lot of good merit on numerous occasions because of the mental health challenge of anger.

Become an observer

“It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.” Bhagwad Gita, 3.37

Anger, as Shri Krishna explains, stems from lust or a strong desire. In day to day life, I see it as ‘control issue’ amongst us. When we try and determine the outcome and have preconceived ideas and notions about life; When we try to control others response and reactions— That’s where we lose our element. No one can ever behave according to what we perceive as right or wrong. When that sense of controls slips away, we burst out.

Emotions are the juice of life. They make you human, make you alive. When there are emotions such as compassion, love, joy and gratitude, it’s criminal to be possessed by a feeling that opens the gate of hell.

The question arises, though, should we judge us or others on the merit of one emotion?

I have judged myself, and consequently, others for one lapse. Guilt has consumed me for certain parts of life.

Has any good come out of that?

Not once.

You cannot allow yourself to judge someone or yourself based upon the smokiest chambers of your heart. Usually, when you’re in a lower vibrational state such as anger, lust or greed, you end up doing the inconceivable. Those moments do not define any of us. Instead, what we can focus upon is cultivating more moments of awareness.

Years of spiritual practice has led me to a conclusion: the training aims to make you detach from the drama of mind and be an observer. Cultivation of awareness or the mode of observation needs practice, but, Lord Krishna assures us that it is attainable and possible. A state of peace, calm and contentment while residing in the body. A state wherein, you influence your state of mind and environment than the environment influencing you.

I hope this article was worthy of your time, dear reader. I wish you harmony, health and well being wherever you are. Stay in communion with your higher self.

Practising awareness,
Kushagra

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3 thoughts on “Gates of heaven and hell

  1. Pingback: The Power of a Gaze – Wisdom from the Smiling Panda

  2. avichlsharma

    Grt thought. Anger is nothing but a form of love but we as an observer need to see from where it originates from. Whether it’s ego or for something really worth of anger like when Krishna went to kill Bhishma himself. Anger originating from ego, lust etc transforms into fear exactly what happened with Arjun but latter transformed into aim

    Like

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