Life’s misfortunes are like thorns – don’t press on them; pass through them

Suppose we are walking barefoot and the path turns thorny. If that is the only way to our destination, we will gird ourselves to endure the pain. But we won’t press our foot on the thorns – we will take it off as quickly as possible and pass through.

Ironically, we often do the opposite on encountering misfortunes during our life-journey. We keep mentally regurgitating the reversal, resenting or ranting long after it has happened. Thus, we end up pressing on the thorn instead of passing over it. Such a perverse self-flagellating mentality, the Bhagavad-gita (18.35) indicates, typifies determination in the mode of ignorance. It is the obstinacy to hold on to something that does no good, does only harm.

To avoid such self-inflicted suffering, we need to become self-aware, aware of what we are doing. Such awareness is a natural characteristic of the mode of goodness. When situated in this illuminating mode, we realize that misfortunes, like everything else in this world, are temporary. They will pass, and we just need to pass through them, as we would pass through a thorny path.

The easiest way to elevate our consciousness is bhakti-yoga. Actually, bhakti raises us above goodness to transcendence, wherein we become not just self-aware but also aware of Krishna, the all-attractive supreme. When we habituate ourselves to fixing our consciousness on him, he becomes for us the supremely satisfying object of thought – an accessible and attractive alternative to mentally stewing on problems. Absorption in him becomes like protective footwear for navigating life’s thorny patch. The Gita (18.58) assures that those who become conscious of Krishna pass over all obstacles by his grace.

Thus, bhakti-yoga provides us both the awareness of how we are hurting ourselves and the supremely relishable object of awareness for transcending the hurt.

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