The real war is the battle we fight with ourselves
I really like this short story from the well known Indian epic poem, “Bhagavad Gita.”
It talks about the meaning of life, reaching equanimity, understanding the internal conflicts we have and how to smoothly and easily flow throught all of it.
Ever felt split between what is right and what is not, between “good” and “bad”? (moral questions);
That you can’t do something you think isn’t right (or safe, perhaps), mainly out of moral reasons and judgement imposed by society, religion, and spirituality and your own thinking.
Even though, it is what must be done — precisely what we need to do, it is our life’s work and calling, something bigger than us, something very important for our development. (Mainly spiritual).
Helpful to people who strive to improve themselves in all sorts of ways and are faced with self-limiting beliefs, challenges, fears, doubts, worries and feelings of helplessness on their path, such as:
- Is it okay for me to be successful?
- To get what I want?
- To enjoy the human body?
- For things to go my way?
- To have access to all the power in this world?
- To win, create, make changes?
- To stand up for myself?
Of course, only those on the path of spirituality and self-actualization, will ask such questions .. This is a sign that they are aware of the mortality of the human form… and immortality of their essence…
Arjuna is one of five brothers, the Pandavas, who represent our positive emotions. And they have cousins, the Kauravas, who are vicious and devilious and have stolen a kingdom from them. Now both sides, with their armies, have come to Kurukshetra to settle this dispute. Arjuna and the Pandavas know that they are fighting for justice.
But as Arjuna gazes from his chariot at the two armies, he suddenly loses his will to fight. Arjuna is scared. He is afraid of losing not only his own life, but also the lives of the “fathers, grandfathers, teachers, uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, fathers-in-law, and friends, kinsmen on both sides” whom he sees lined up in both armies with their deadly weapons. For although this is a just war, it is still a war withing a fmaily. If the Pandavas lose, they die. But to win, they have to kill people they have grown up with. Arjuna drops his bow and arrows and sinks to the floor of his war chariot, sobbing like a frightened child.
Because this is a “righteous cause, Arjuna, no matter what happens, you win,” Krishna said, trying to console him. “If killed, you immediately enter heavem; if victorious, you acheive a great name and fame. Either way you triumph. So arise, Arjuna! Fight!”
But Arjuna is too afraid. His mind, he tells Krishna, is “restless, unsteady, turbulent, wild, stubborn; truly, it seems to me as hard to master as the wind.”Krishna stays firm. Life has put you here to fight this battle, and this is now your dharma, he says. So you must prepare your mind for what lies ahead. Don’t dwell on what the outcome of the battle might be. Don’t picture either you or your cousins lying in a pool of blood. You need to let your fears go, Krishna tells Arjuna. Bring your mind back from worrying about the future and focus on the here and now.
If you do that, Krisna continues, your mind will become calm. Arjuna, I’m telling you to become a man who “lets go of all results, whether good or bad, and is focused on the action alone.” You must be “content with whatever happens, unattached to pleasure or pain, success or failure.” And finally, Arjuna understands. He fights the war and leads the Pandavas to victory.
Krishna first appears to the broken-hearted Arjuna who is slumped and crying on the battlefield between the army’s of the Pandavas watching as his friends and neighbors on both sides shed blood. He asks God how this can be, how this killing can be right, and Krishna responds in a stern and loving manner. Krishna tells him,
“Only the man who is unmoved by sensations, the wise man indifferent to pleasure, to pain, is fit for becoming deathless.”
As they talk on the battlefield, Krishna pours his wisdom onto Arjuna like a sweet nectar. In beautiful, simple stanzas he tells him the power of non-attachment and the strength of Self it creates.
He tells Arjuna that we must act and fulfill our various duties while alive and then we must detach ourselves from their results if we want to maintain equanimity of mind.
We must act for action’s sake and go about our lives as an offering to God, rather as a means to benefit ourselves. If we are able to practice this, to harness this sense of detachment from the fruit’s of our actions, only then are we able to experience serenity of mind within our lifetime.
Even though, this is just a story about a mythical war, its message is clear and powerful. I think many people if not all struggle with a simiral question/problem at some point in their life.
Even Mohandas Gandi himself, said of the Gita: “that under the guise of physical warfare it described the duel that perpetually went on in the hearts of mankind, and that physical warfare was brought in merely to make the description of the internal duel more alluring.”
The inner battle is in essence, the daily and individual struggle we must all wage between our good states of mind — clear thinking, compassion, tolerance, courage, humility, and so forth — and our bad emotions, such as anger, hatred, greed, vanity, evny, arrogance and fear.
So as the story and quotes tell, we need to strive towards equinimity of mind. Not to look at short term success or failure, win or loss. Not to worry about the future and what our actions will bring… but to get lost im the action itself, in the here and now. Without fear, without worry. Pleased and satisfied with whatever will be, because we are triumphant in either case of the outcome. Our work is beyond ourselves. We are not personally invested in it, so we have nothing to lose, nothing to gain. We take life as it is…Good as well as the bad doesn’t reach us. Our inner battle has been won, before we have gone to war. And that is why we are victorious!
Originally published at sunnylikethesun.wordpress.com on March 16, 2016.