Musings on the Bhagavad Gita 1: From Confusion to Courage

The war on the battlefield of Kurukshetra is not a historical event alone that happened about 3,000 years BC, but also an ongoing war happening each day, every day in our lives.

The fearful Arjuna in great despair and confused about his course of action also lives within each one of us. Similarly, Krishna, the great advisor, is also here. He is our inner voice. His is the voice ever guiding us and encouraging us to face the challenges of life as a warrior.

Krishna’s is the voice of hope, whereas Arjuna is our mental/emotional composite that frequently experiences bouts of despair and hopelessness. And, Krishna is the “spirit” of warrior, the warriorship that is telling us not to give up. It is the voice that tells us not to fear.

Arjuna faces his own cousins, his mentors, his elders, and he is fearful. He is not sure of his capability and capacity to face them, to confront them. He is loosing hope. He is loosing his spirit to fight and face the challenges of life.

Arjuna within each one of us often faces such dilemma. Cowardice envelops us, and we try to cover it, to wrap it with made-up, dry and superfluous moral values, “Why confrontation? Why fight? Why face the challenges of life? Life is full of challenges anyway, one challenge today, another tomorrow. It goes on endlessly. Why involve in such meaningless game?”

Another Arjuna part of our consciousness is trying to be goody-goody. It is trying to please everybody. It is trying to play God. Well, even God cannot please everybody. There are people who even question God’s existence. So, who are you Mr Me-Arjuna?

Whatever you do, whatever we do, it will please some, and displease others. We cannot please everyone at all times. No matter how right our actions are in our opinion, there will be people to challenge them. There will always be people to confront, because what is right and appropriate to us may not be so to our opponents.

We want to adapt; we want to compromise; we want to go out of our way to please all and everybody – and, yet, those who dislike our opinions, our views, our actions and us may still confront us. We cannot stop them.

There are times when we simply have to ignore them. But what happens if after ignoring them, they still confront us? What happens if they do not leave us alone? Then, even the apostles of peace and non-violence like Mahatma Gandhi and Dalai Lama advice us to face them in their language. We cannot “allow them to kill us”; that would be suicidal. At times like that, listen to the voice of Krishna. His is your inner voice.

And your inner voice is always bold. It is always courageous. Its message is clear: Face all the challenges of life with a smile on your lips. The inner voice does never ever prompt us to behave in a cowardly manner.

It is the mind-emotion composite that is prompting us to behave in a cowardly manner. It is the mental-emotional layers of our consciousness, which are trying to make us turn deaf ears to the promptings of the inner voice.

Arjuna is trembling with fear. He is sweating, “What should I do?” There are times in our lives, in the life of each one of us, when we lose our sense of direction. We simply don’t know, don’t understand, which way to go, which road to tread, which direction to choose.

Unsure of the course of action to take, we often make the mistake of looking outwards for help. In despair, we cry for help. In our self-imposed helplessness, we look for support from outside forces. But we do not get the help. We get no support. For at times like that we are vibrating on such a low frequency that we cannot possibly access any higher frequency.

Indeed, when we look outwards, when we search outside for support, our energies are further lowered, and we hit the ground. There, on the ground of sheer helplessness, we feel all the more helpless.

If we are weak, then we cannot but reflect weakness outside. The outside factors will only weaken us further. If we despair, then the conditions outside will make us despair all the more.

A blind man can only see darkness everywhere. He is reflecting his own blindness. Indeed, there is nothing wrong outside; it is our own blindness that must be cured so we can see and enjoy the sights outside.

No, therefore, don’t look outside; move in. Focus on yourself, go within. Arjuna goes within, and he finds Krishna, the great charioteer commanding the chariot of his life, “Here I am, fear not!”

Once focused within, we get all the guidance we are in need of. If necessary, we shall be guided to meet with right people who can assist us, or meet with right conditions favouring us. Let us be guided by the inner voice. Let us not be guided by our mind and emotions to seek outside. Let the outside search start from within, from the search within. Let us be prompted by the reality within.

Allow the inner reality within to free you from all fears first. Having freed yourself from fear, whatever you do becomes right. You cannot go wrong. Whereas in a fearful state, whatever you do goes wrong. You cannot do anything right.

Arjuna remains fearful as long as his focus is outside, as long as he busies himself measuring the strength of his enemies. Fine; no problem. But don’t you forget your own strength. Don’t you allow yourself to be discouraged by the outside factors.

This article was published in The Bali Times on Jun 25, 2012.

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