Socrates replied, “I am not worried or concerned, because if I will be finished after my death, there is no reason to worry – and if I don’t survive, then who will be there to worry? Who will be there to know that I have died and to suffer about it? If I am finished, there will be no one to know that I have died. There will be no one to become aware that I ever existed, that there was ever someone called Socrates. So there is no reason to worry. And if I don’t die, if I don’t die even after death, then what is there to worry about?
“There are only two possibilities: either I will be finished or I will not. There is no other possibility. Hence I am unconcerned.”
Krishna is telling Arjuna that that which is going to die anyway is not going to survive just because of his efforts, and that which is not going to die is not going to be killed even if he tries to kill it – so he should stop worrying unnecessarily.
There is this expansion of the world from the form to the formless. If we look at it from the viewpoint of the form, then too it is pointless to worry, because that which is already dying…dying…dying each moment is eventually going to perish. It is like drawing a line on water – it starts disappearing before it is completed. Before we finish drawing it, the line has gone. And if we look at it from the viewpoint of the formless, then that which is not going to die is never going to die, and it has never died before.
But we are not acquainted with the formless, and nor is Arjuna.
It is also important to understand that Arjuna’s worrying shows one more thing. Arjuna is saying that they will all die. This means that Arjuna also considers himself to be only a form – otherwise he wouldn’t be saying this. What we say about others is actually being said about ourselves. When I see somebody dying and I think, “My God! That person is dead! That person has vanished forever!” I should know that I myself don’t know anything about my own inner reality, which does not die, which does not perish, which does not disappear.
When Arjuna is expressing concern over their death, he is expressing concern about his own death. He doesn’t know the reality within him that is deathless. Similarly when Krishna is saying that they will not die, he is saying something about himself. He has known that which is deathless.
Our outer knowledge is nothing but an extension of our inner knowledge. Our knowledge about the world is nothing but the extension of our knowledge about our own selves. What we know of our own self is what we then extend over the whole as our knowledge of it. And whatever we don’t know about our own self can never be known in the context of the other. Self-knowledge is the only knowledge. All other knowledge is based on deep ignorance, and knowledge based on ignorance is completely undependable.
Now, Arjuna appears to be talking about great knowledge, about great religiousness – but he doesn’t even know that there is something formless and beyond any shape, that there is something intrinsic to existence that is deathless. He has no idea of this. And the person who hasn’t experienced the deathless doesn’t know anything. The person who knows only death is engulfed in dense darkness and ignorance.