Our destiny is bigger than our biology

People are often eager to know their destiny – what lies ahead in their life. This eagerness accounts for the widespread fascination with astrology, numerology, tarot cards and so forth.

Such eagerness carries over even to their study of the Bhagavad-gita; they frequently want to know: What does the Gita say about my destiny? The Gita focuses on an incontrovertible fact about our future: We are all destined to die. Death is the destiny ordained for us by our biology. Our material bodies are destined, or, more precisely, doomed to destruction at death.

Why do we overlook such a sobering fact about the future even while seeking methods to peer into it? Would a person walking on a mountain cliff fail to notice the steep fall ahead even while looking at the path? Unlikely. Why, then, are we so blind – so selectively and dangerously blind?

Because deep within us lies the conviction that we are meant for something more than destruction at death. That conviction comes from our core, which Gita wisdom explains, is spiritual and indestructible. That core is our eternal soul. The Bhagavad-gita (02.18) highlights the contrast between our biological and spiritual sides when declaring that the body is ephemeral, but the soul is eternal.

By misidentifying with our body, we impose our biological destiny on ourselves –we suffer the dread and the trauma coming from the notion that the Grim Reaper will exterminate us.

But by assimilating Gita wisdom we elevate our understanding of both our identity and our destiny. We understand that our identity is bigger than our body. And we understand that our destiny is bigger than our biology: We are destined for eternal blissful existence.

When we mold our life according to this understanding and learn to live according to the Gita’s guidelines, we realize our trans-biological destiny.



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Leave no space to space out

Doing anything worthwhile requires attentiveness. A sportsperson has to be on high alert to perform in the sporting arena.

This need for attentiveness applies all the more so in spiritual life, wherein we strive to do the supremely worthwhile thing – attain eternal love for Krishna and thereby do the highest good for ourselves as well as others.

In spiritual life, we need attentiveness to sense Krishna’s presence and action in our lives, and more importantly, to sense how we can best serve him amidst life’s ever-changing situations.

When we let ourselves become inattentive and space out, we soon get dragged down by lower desires just as an object left in space is dragged down by gravity. That’s why Gita wisdom urges us to practice being Krishna conscious consistently, even constantly.

To ensure that we leave no space to be spaced out, we need to see attentiveness not as an excruciating demand, but as an exciting opportunity. Instead of seeing attentiveness negatively as something we have to do to protect ourselves, we can see it positively as the gateway to philosophical illumination and devotional enrichment.

Every moment that we are conscious of Krishna, we get deeper realizations of the truths of Gita wisdom and we become increasingly attracted towards Krishna. The Bhagavad-gita (08.08) reassures us that those who practice staying focused on Krishna surely attain him.

Though such practice may be difficult initially, the more we train ourselves, the more we will realize how productive it makes us. We will no longer be draining ourselves internally by thinking about things that make us bored or worried or dissatisfied. By thinking about Krishna, we will find inner satisfaction, keep our thoughts clear, and thereby act intelligently and effectively. Then, we will have no doubt that Krishna consciousness is the best consciousness.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 08 Text 08

“He who meditates on Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Partha, is sure to reach Me.”



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Focus not on avoiding entanglement – focus on seeking engagement

When a person is traveling on a boat, they need to be aware of the dangers, but they needn’t become paranoid – otherwise, they will not be able to move anywhere, leave alone reach their destination.

We are all eternal souls who are presently caught in material existence. Gita wisdom compares material existence to an ocean. Our human body is like a boat for crossing over this ocean to the shore of eternal existence. How does the human body help us attain the eternal? By giving us the intelligence and the conscience to redirect our love from the temporary to the eternal, from the world and its objects to the source of the world: Krishna.

Yet as long as we exist at the material level of reality, we need to use our senses and act in the world for both our material survival and our spiritual growth. If we become paranoid about getting entangled in this world, we will not be able to function at all, neither materially nor spiritually. The Bhagavad-gita (02.59) cautions that the allure of worldly objects remains even when one refrains from indulgence. And that allure can drag down even a discerning person (02.60). Therefore, the Gita (02.61) urges us to fix our consciousness on Krishna. For thus fixing our consciousness, Gita wisdom offers an inclusive understanding of God: he doesn’t just exist beyond this world, but also permeates everything in this world. He is the attractive principle underlying everything attractive. And he is approachable with the simple devotion of the heart internally, and with our work externally.

When we focus on keeping ourselves engaged in his service instead of obsessing over avoiding entanglement, our consciousness becomes anchored in him, thereby enabling us to navigate the world’s stormy waters and ultimately attain his eternal abode.

Better to speak less and say more than to speak a lot and say little

We all know ramblers who love to hear their own voice, even though they don’t have much to say. Knowing their penchant for rambling, we often don’t give them much attention. In contrast, we give far greater attention to people who speak tersely and meaningfully.

Such condensed and concentrated communication is exemplified in the Bhagavad-gita, which addresses cogently life’s fundamental questions in just seven hundred verses.

Condensed and concentrated communication is exemplified in the Bhagavad-gita, which addresses cogently life’s fundamental questions in just seven hundred verses.

Can the Gita’s concision be attributed to the exigency of the situation? Did the presence of two giant armies geared for war make Krishna and Arjuna hurry up? No, because then war would make all warriors succinct, which demonstrably doesn’t happen. Moreover, haste frequently makes one’s speech disorganized, whereas both Arjuna and Krishna speak calmly and systematically: Arjuna asks clear and specific questions, and Krishna gives pithy and profound  answers.

So, self-evidently the Gita is concise because its conversationists are expert.

Krishna’s drive for brevity is illustrated in the Gita’s sixteenth chapter.  After listing the qualities of the godly in the first three verses (16.01-03) and the ungodly in the next verse (16.04) – and mentioning their respective destinations (16.05), he declares (16.06) that as he has spoken in detail about the godly, he will move on to the ungodly.

What does ‘spoken in detail’ refer to? The preceding three verses?

Possibly.

It can also refer back to earlier descriptions of seekers and their qualities: 02.54-72; 04.19-24; 12.13-20; 13.08-12 and 14.22-24. Yet all these descriptions, though similar, have their context-specific nuances. Those differences would have been enough justification for a self-indulgent speaker to ramble. But Krishna stays focused on swiftly and progressively developing the message meant to enliven Arjuna.

Thus, the Gita is so rich with wisdom that its content teaches fruitful living and its method of delivery, effective speaking.



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Cherish the power of love, not the love of power

Power. That’s what motivates most politicians today. Because they usually have worldly values and goals, they imagine that worldly power is their gateway to happiness. They may talk love of people, but they mostly walk love of power.

Gita wisdom unveils before us political leaders of an entirely different genre: leaders who are philosophically illuminated and devotionally motivated. The Bhagavad-gita (04.02) calls them rajarshis, which is translatable as saintly kings or royal sages. Either way, the designation indicates that they embody an intriguing harmony of worldliness (conveyed by the word raja, king) and other-worldliness (conveyed by the word rishi, sage).

The Gita indicates that these saintly kings are connected to a disciplic succession that traces back to the source of all wisdom and love, Krishna. Through this disciplic connection, they become educated, trained and realized in the spiritual purpose of the world. They understand that the world is ultimately an expression of Krishna’s love – he has provided it as an arena for us to redirect our love to him and thereby attain eternal life and happiness.

Such devotional vision enriches the worldly administration of these saintly kings with an otherworldly aspiration: the power of love. They recognize that their own – and their citizens’ – well-being lies in channeling the power of love from the human heart to the divine heart. So they don’t labor under the illusion that worldly power brings happiness. Consequently, their talents and energies become free to be utilized for implementing sound, scripture-based policies that herald the all-round good of everyone.

We are all in our own way leaders, big or small. If we start embodying the power of love instead of the love of power, then we can set off small but significant ripples of influence that will contribute to restoring our polity to moral integrity and spiritual sanctity.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 04 Text 02

“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.”



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Don’t come up with the truth; come up to the truth

The phrase ‘coming up with the truth’ indicates speculating and hazarding our own way to the truth. It implies that truth is something submerged and lost in a vast ocean of confusion and delusion. It thus propagates the misconception that the truth is something that needs to be retrieved by our gallant efforts and then brought up to the surface for being exhibited to the world. The notion of coming up with the truth makes us the hero in the quest for the truth. The phrase ‘coming up to the truth’ indicates raising ourselves to a higher level of consciousness so that we become able to perceive the truth. It conveys unambiguously who is floundering – we, not the truth. The truth stands eternally illumined and eternally capable of illumining everyone. We just need to raise ourselves out of the darkness of our own misdirected desires, desires that submerge us in the nescience of materialism. The principle of coming up to the truth underscores that in the quest for truth, the Truth is the hero.

Coming up with the truth implies that we are the hero in the quest for the truth, whereas coming up to the truth emphasises that the Truth is the hero.

The Absolute Truth in the highest manifestation is Krishna, the all-attractive Supreme Person, the supreme object of our love. Krishna is so merciful that he doesn’t just sit back indifferently and leave us to our struggles in finding the truth. Of course, he allows us to do that if that’s what we want to do, for he respects our free will. But, if we seek Krishna’s help through prayerful devotion, then he extends his omnipotent grace and lifts us out of the ocean of delusion, as the Bhagavad-gita (12.07) indicates. And later the Gita (11.53 – 11.54) reiterates that bhakti-yoga alone enables us to understand Krishna in truth. Thus, Krishna through bhakti-yoga helps us come up to the truth, thereby enabling us to relish true happiness eternally.



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