California, USA — Friday, March 12th

Bhagavad Gita walkthrough

If this material world, as I intimated in my last blog, is like a computer game — a virtual reality that we are forced, by software (cidabhasa), to see as being real — then smart players who want to beat the game will look for a user manual, strategy guide, or FAQ.

All non-trivial computer software comes with a user guide or manual, and this Game of Life is no exception: it comes with a comprehensive strategy guide called the Bhagavad Gita. Why struggle to beat this game on your own, trying to solve the complex riddles and repeating the same mistakes over and over again, when the author and chief programmer, Krishna, has provided a complete walkthrough (a document that attempts to show a player how to beat or solve a particular game) as well as a FAQ? (thanks to Arjuna's frequently asked questions :)

Like all good walkthroughs, the Bhagavad Gita is organized according to the different levels of experience or stages of difficulty in the game. Of course, just knowing the strategy to beat a particular level doesn't necessarily mean that you have the qualifications to play at that level.

For example, you may know that to beat the final level of the game (Level 18) you must, paradoxically, completely surrender to the Boss (mam ekam saranam), but if you try to do that when you are still on Level 3, you will be doomed!

Sure, you're impatient — you want to beat the game now! — but as long as you are only on the third level of experience, you are advised to follow a different strategy (sreyan sva-dharmo vigunah).

Think about it. Even if you could hack the game — bypass all the lower levels and go to the final level — you would not last more than a few minutes there, because the meager HP (health points) and XP (experience points) that you have accumulated at Level 3 are hopelessly inadequate, and leave you woefully unprepared for the intensity of play at Level 18. (The rusty sword that is sufficient for dispatching your foes and the shabby leather armor that provides satisfactory protection on Level 3 is hopelessly inadequate at Level 18 — where anything less than a +10 Vorpal Sword and Elemental Armor IV is more or less useless :)

So don't be impatient to move up to a level that you are dangerously ill-prepared and ill-equipped for. Understand that you are at a specific stage or level as a consequence of your actions: how you have chosen to play the game so far. You barely have the skills to cope at this degree of difficulty, so learn how to make the best of the situation you are in, even though it may not be easy (sreyan sva-dharmo vigunah) and don't be eager to advance to a level that you are not qualified for yet (para-dharmat svanusthitat). It is better to repeatedly fail at this level, and learn from that experience (sva-dharme nidhanam sreyah) than to attempt to prematurely graduate to a level that you lack the skill and ability to deal with (para-dharmo bhayavahah).

Accept what you are, and understand how far you have to go. (Fools rush in where angels fear to tread!) Don't try to advance too quickly, or follow the advice recommended for players on Level 18 of the game (sarva-dharman parityajya) but rather, try to understand why the more cautious strategy (sreyan sva-dharmo vigunah) is safer for someone of your relative inexperience, at Level 3.

(Of course, if you are recruited to Level 18 by an experienced "guru" — somebody who has already beaten the game — then none of the above applies to you. Even if you lack the proper preparation and training, you will be victorious if you follow the directions and play under the protection and guidance of a such a master.)

To continue: this world is like a huge and complex computer game (or video game, for all you X-Box, PlayStation and Wii users out there :) in which we are given unlimited "lives." A computer game is not real. It is an artificial, illusory environment (an alternative reality) created by a software programmer, but once you enter the game and become absorbed in its complexity, just as in a dream, everything seems to be real.

Because you identify so strongly with the protagonist, you forget that all the action is actually taking place in an illusory world — that you, the player, are not really affected by the tragedies and fortunes of your game character — but you do learn from this vicarious experience (just as the soul, although unaffected by the three modes of material nature, learns to adjust its consciousness and behavior according to the karmic reactions of its surrogate's good and bad deeds in this make-believe world). The longer you play the game, the more adept you become at adapting to the circumstances and conditions of your environment — learning to avoid the pitfalls and execute the correct sequence of actions to elevate yourself to higher levels.

How do you ultimately win the game?

The secret it to save the game whenever you can. When you "die" in a computer game, you have to start all over again, from the beginning. But if you're smart, if you have the forethought to save the game at a particular level (before tackling a dangerous opponent or complicated task) then, if you are "killed," you don't have to restart the game from the beginning, but from where you left off in your last life.

Karma is the good or bad luck of the game; if you are unlucky, you have to start all over. Sukriti is the wisdom to learn from your mistakes (to save the game to memory at particular points of progress along the way) so that if you are unsuccessful in your attempt to advance to the next stage or to a new level, you begin your next life from the point where you failed — to get another chance to make the attempt, without any real penalty.

Great! But how do you save the game?

See? Now this is where the Bhagavad Gita walkthrough comes in handy! (Don't you just love a walkthrough with "cheat" codes? :)

According to Bhagavad Gita, even if you conquer all the lower levels of the Game of Life and, by your own, individual efforts, reach the very highest stage (abrahma-bhuvanal lokah), if you fail at any level, you have to begin all over again (punar avartino) — but! (tu) — if you are fortunate enough to become conscious of Krishna (mam upetya) at any of these levels, and submit to, and faithfully follow the instructions of His agent, the guru, the hidden "Auto Save" feature of the game is activated, so that if you fail at any level, you restart the game from that same level (punar janma na vidyate).

Those fortunate few players who discover and follow the path of Krishna consciousness in this Game of Life never lose the accumulated experience that they have gained (nehabhikrama-naso 'sti) nor is there any reduction or decrease in the level that they have attained (pratyavayo na vidyate). Even the slightest acceptance and practice of this Krishna consciousness (svalpam apy asya dharmasya) saves them from the greatest fear of losing all the credits, experience and advancement that they have made so far (trayate mahato bhayat) and having to start the game all over again, from the very beginning.

Are you beginning to see what an invaluable resource this Bhagavad Gita walkthrough is for those who want to finish this crazy game as quickly as possible? I can only give you a hint of all the hidden treasure that Bhagavad Gita contains, so go read the whole thing yourself — now! — and good luck with the Game of Your Life! :)

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Layout by iMonk — March 12th, 2010.