Act proactively, not reactively

Acting proactively means acting according to our principles and purposes in actions we initiate as well as the ways we respond to events. Acting reactively means to let our actions be determined by our mind’s fancies of the world’s fancies.

To understand the difference, consider the metaphor of boaters facing a storm. If boaters have a destination they are determined to reach, then even if the storm constrains them to change course, they will as soon as the storm abates get back on course. If, on the other hand, they have no clear destination or no determination to reach there, they will drift whichever way the winds push them.

Gita wisdom compares the material world to an ocean, wherein storms of desires can drive us off-course at any moment. Reactive people are driven by nature’s mode of passion, wherein, as the Bhagavad-gita (14.12) indicates, insatiable desires keep them flitting from one thing to the next. People in ignorance are even more reactive, with their reactions characterized by confusion, inaction and overall illusion (14.13).

People in goodness are proactive – the Gita (14.11) indicates that their senses are illumined with knowledge, implying that they know how to thoughtfully process the inputs coming from their senses and intelligently respond to them.  Of course, being fully proactive requires rising beyond the influence of the modes that impel us towards reactive behavior, acting as if programmed by our conditionings. So only those who are transcendental, who can see the actions, perceptions and emotions triggered in the world and in the mind as the result of the modes (14.19), can be fully proactive.

Such a vision centers not on the rejection of the whole world and its stimuli as illusion but on learning to love the transcendental Lord and letting the desire to serve him shape all our choices.

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