Enlightenment means to replace oneself with Krishna as the center

Different people conceive enlightenment differently – as experiencing peace, as perceiving a white light, as merging into a cosmic oneness, for example.

However, the Bhagavad-gita indicates that enlightenment essentially means seeing everything in relationship with Krishna, the pivot of existence. For becoming enlightened, the Gita (04.34) urges us to learn from seers of truth. It gives the twin results of learning in its next verse (04.35).

Dejection and its foundational illusion would be dissipated, the Gita assures, by enlightenment.

The first result in the Gita’s context is that Arjuna will not relapse into illusion. Arjuna’s illusion had arisen from a self-centered conception of reality, wherein he equated his self with his body. With that bodily self-conception, he had felt that the impending war was a lose-lose predicament – if he fought, he would have to kill his loved ones; if he didn’t fight, he would sentence his other loved ones to lifelong penury as mendicants. As neither alternative was palatable, he had sunk into dejection. Such dejection and its foundational illusion would be dissipated, the Gita assures, by enlightenment.

The second result of enlightenment is the capacity to see everyone as related with Krishna, as his eternal spiritual parts. Arjuna’s loved ones on both sides of the battlefield were related first and foremost with Krishna – their relationship with Arjuna was secondary. And Krishna was their greatest well-wisher. By doing Krishna’s will, Arjuna could do the best good for everyone, much more than what he could do by trying to benefit them based on his own conceptions. Consequently, Arjuna decided to place Krishna at the center and he found his confusion replaced by illumination.

Gita wisdom can similarly illumine us. We too have to battle our dilemmas and disappointments that arise from our self-centered conceptions. By living according to the Gita and replacing ourselves with Krishna at the center, we can become enlightened and enlivened.

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