Beyond Denial and Dismissal to Determination (Gita Daily)

Published on Oct 18, 2013

Based on Bhagavad Gita Chapter 18, Text 40

“I fell from the scriptural standards yet again. What should I do now?” We often respond to such predicaments by either denial or dismissal. In denial, we hide our failures from others and even ourselves. In dismissal, we reject the scriptural standards as impractical or irrelevant. Either way, we pretend as if nothing is wrong.

However, our concealed shortcoming is like a festering wound hidden under good-looking clothes. Somebody with a sharp nose may smell the pus or somebody may accidentally bump against the wound and be alerted by our excessive reaction. Even if neither happens, over time as the wound worsens, the pain becomes intolerable. Similarly, when we conceal our moral lapses, we are either discovered or we find the pretense unbearable due to guilt or tastelessness.

Fortunately, Gita wisdom offers us a better way: change the way we see moral lapses. We usually take them personally as deficiencies in our very self, so we don’t consult anyone as we fear the resulting disgrace. However, we wouldn’t be so fearful if we were re-educated to see our moral lapses as signs of an external infection, not as blemishes of our core self. The Bhagavad-gita (18.40) re-educates us to understand that everyone in material existence is impelled by material nature through its three modes. We act immorally when the infection of the modes becomes excessive; nonetheless, we always remain at our core untainted souls with the potential for purity.

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