I had some difficulties accepting the advice of the Bhagavad Gita but perhaps they were just misunderstandings. The misunderstandings were as under:
The misunderstanding was that I thought that the Gita was asking me to not have any desires when I did any act. I should be completely desireless and egoless in all my actions right at the outset when I tried to put the Gita into practice.
The relevant sentence to solve my difficulties is I think – You have the right to act but not to the fruits thereof. As I said earlier I had interpreted that to mean that I should not have any desire or motive at all and at all times. The problem is that in that situation I would not act at all. I eat because I am hungry and drink because I am thirsty. If I didn’t eat or drink I would die in short order. Clearly this was not what the Bhagavad Gita meant.
The following are the points solving this difficulty:
- The first point is that I am not going to change as a person and become completely egoless in an instant just because I read something in a book (even if the book happens to be the Bhagavad Gita). So there is no point expecting that to happen.
- The second point is that if the Bhagavad Gita was really asking me to be egoless right at the outset then its teachings are not meant for me. I do not have the stature to put such an advanced teaching into practice. I am what I am and there are many things that I cannot do. I cannot do open heart surgery for example. There is no point giving me advanced tips on how to do heart surgery because I am completely incapable of putting the advice into practice. I have to accept myself as a person and work with what I have.
- The third point is that the Gita says that I have the right to act. It nowhere says that I should not have any desires right at the outset when I am starting my practice (if you know that I am mistaken please bring the relevant shloka to my attention). A desire is also an act although it is a mental act. And the Gita says that I have the right to act.
- I think that being egoless or desireless is an ideal that the Gita has placed before us. It is something to aspire to. If I truly was such a person then I would already be enlightened and I would not need the Gita or the scriptures. I would have already reached the desired goal.
- Lastly Lord Krishna himself appeals to the desires of Arjuna many times in the story. For example there is the sentence – Even a little bit of dharma saves one from terrible fear. Also Krishna appealed to the pride of Arjuna and his desire to do his kshatriya duty early on in the book. He also said that people would form a poor opinion of Arjuna if he refused to fight. Krishna was motivating Arjuna by appealing to his desires to be feared and respected as a great warrior.
So now if I start practicing the teachings of the Gita (I haven’t yet started and I may never do so – there are many alternate paths) I would give myself permission to have desires and motives. I am what I am. Being completely egoless is where I will reach at the end of the journey, not at the beginning.
I’ll end here. Please explore this blog for more articles on Politics, Spirituality and Self Help. The link to contact me is below.