13/10/2015 8:24 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

How The Gita's Teachings Can Help Us Overcome Even The Biggest Challenges And Crises

MAYELA LOPEZ via Getty Images
A Krishna devotee reads the Bhagavad-gita, Hare Krishna's movement Holy Book, during a ceremony held in the living room of a house located in the town of Aguacaliente, Cartago province, about 30 kilometers east of San Jose. The Costa Rican members of the Hare Krishna movement meet every Sunday in this house located in the town of Aguacaliente, Cartago province, about 30 kilometers east of San Jose, to sing in front of Krishna's altar and to read the Bhagavad-gita, their Holy Book. AFP PHOTO / Mayela LOPEZ (Photo credit should read MAYELA LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

At the very outset of its teachings, the Gita illuminates to us the nature of life and challenges it throws before us:

● Life is a field of action, sometimes a battlefield, making us confront challenges and crises. It should be fought or resolved on the basis of the right values. In Sri Aurobindo's words, "the field of human action" is "the field of evolving Dharma". Evolving Dharma essentially implies emerging into a larger life-supporting, life-enhancing value-system.

● If one can ensure the right course of action, there is no need to remain caught in the weaknesses of mind and heart. Whatever the severity of the challenge or crisis, we must rise up to face and resolve it. As Krishna exhorts Arjuna: "(S)hake off the petty weakness of heart and arise (to meet the challenge)..."(II3)

● The challenge becomes more severe when we are not able to decide the right course of action. In the words of the Gita, when our "whole consciousness is bewildered in its view of right and wrong" (II7). In such a situation all our energies and strengths are confounded as they don't find a focused and well-directed outlet. Such a situation calls for not only a thoughtful analysis but also a meditative-intuitive exploration into the essential nature of the challenge as well as one's own fundamental nature and its essential equipment to face the challenge.

"[T]he inherent message of the Gita is to connect with higher dimensions of consciousness and, thus, to move on to a higher sphere of peace, harmony and resolution."

The nature of a major challenge

The Gita addresses a major challenge and sets out to resolve it in the course of its teachings. If we understood the nature of a major challenge and all its factors, it would help us figure out how to face them as we set out to resolve them.

A major challenge might usually involve a major value crisis with:

● no clear course of action available to focus all one's energies at and to act with a singular will, thus demanding a higher value compass and a new law of action.

● major relationships threatened as the very frame of values in which they ordinarily operate is under siege. This would call for a major shift in the frame of values as well as the law of action to govern and motivate them.

● a falling short or failure of the ordinary or normal strengths and energies of the person facing the challenge, thus demanding an inner transformation to develop a whole higher equipment of inner strengths and energies.

● an experience of both success and failure. One may lose on certain counts, gain on others. A mindset caught in the desire for success and the fear of failure is not equipped to face a major challenge with potentially vast and varied consequences. What one needs are concentrated energies, integrated strengths of mind, heart and body and a clear sense of direction and a firm sense of determination to tread the path open ahead and to hew new ones. Hence the Gita advises one to act with all one's strength invested into action with all one's sense of self rooted in one's true sense of being -- free of all desire for success and fear of failure.

Connecting with higher dimensions of consciousness

To resolve a major challenge or crisis, the inherent message of the Gita is to connect and associate with higher dimensions of consciousness and, thus, to move on to a higher sphere of peace, harmony and resolution.

● It becomes possible as we learn to step back to observe and stay aware of the movements of our lower self, and gain thorough inner clarity and a clear sense of perspective without which all our material strengths and resources are of little or no utility.

● In a major crisis, embedded in a complex situation, a mind caught in a fixed frame of preferences and long-rooted inhibitions is a sure hurdle. It calls for not just a shift in mindset but a shift in the planes of consciousness to rise above old inhibitions and preferences. Howsoever detached and pure the observation might be, the observer within us might still cherish certain biases and therefore the Gita would have us grow into a higher union of this observing self with further higher dimensions of consciousness which are all-inclusive, all-loving and all-compassionate.

● Growth in higher dimensions of consciousness helps us bring about an inner transformation, developing a whole new equipment of inner strengths and energies to set the sail of inward and outward situations and circumstances in novel directions of growth and development. Thus, when a great leader is able to see all human life -- across nationalities, religion, class, culture, gender and other distinctions -- as one and deeply connected, his leadership of the world gains altogether new heights as in the case of a Gandhi, a Nelson Mandela or a Mother Teresa.

Krishna-Arjuna relationship

This relationship essentially describes how to connect and associate with a high problem-solving, crisis-resolving, peace-harmony-resolution-attaining domain of higher consciousness and reality.

● The greatest advantage Arjuna has in his extreme crisis is his friend, philosopher and guide, Krishna, accompanying him and leading him through the turbulence that has weakened not only his mind and heart but also his body. But the Arjuna-Krishna relationship is far too deep to be treated as a merely external relationship.

"In a major crisis, embedded in a complex situation, a mind caught in a fixed frame of preferences and long-rooted inhibitions is a sure hurdle."

● In its spiritual symbolism, Arjuna, who represents a human self, mind and consciousness, has to connect at a deeper plane with a higher self with its cosmic and transcendental dimensions of mind and consciousness, represented by Krishna.

● Thus the Arjuna-Krishna relationship is meant to show and lead the human society at large to a higher level of evolution where human life and society may find a higher value-compass to live and work in where it is sure to find itself more fulfilled and fulfilling, more productive and fruitful.

● This relationship manifests and fulfils itself in all those people who rise above their lower and narrower self to connect with their higher self to meet a large challenge or crisis to uphold and glorify human life and its higher values.

The essential message of the Gita

Thus the essential message of the Gita on how to face a major challenge (which might involve a major crisis as well as a major conflict) is very profound. To sum it up, all our efforts at crisis and conflict-resolution, whether inward or outward, should be guided with the following approach.

● To see life as the Field of Right.

● To see challenges and crises as means to evolve into a higher harmony...

●To learn to grow into pure and total observation of the outward crisis as well as the inward crisis-ridden sense of self.

●To set out to resolve all our differences and conflicts with deep faith that all life is one and connected...

● To enter into all effort at crisis- and conflict-resolution with deep love and compassion for all...

Finally, if one has a firm hold on these fundamental values it follows that one will have a deep aspiration to serve a larger good, have an integral faith in an all-loving, all-compassionate Grace, and will be sure to have an intuitive grasp of the situation and an inner sense of clarity to deal with it.

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