An intruder inside us is an intruder still
Suppose we find someone in our home. Will we assume that just because that intruder is now inside our home, he is our well-wisher? Suppose he asked us to do something, will we immediately do that?
We will seek to know the intruder’s antecedents and motivations. And we will evaluate the prudence of whatever he asked us to do before deciding what to do.
While such a response seems obvious, it doesn’t seem so obvious when the intruder comes inside not our physical house but our mental house, that is, when we get intrusive feelings. As we go about our life, disruptive feelings sometimes invade our mind: craving for immoral pleasures, jealousy towards a successful peer, greed for possessions, apathy towards our devotional practices, for example.
We tend to think that whatever is inside me is me. So, we frequently identify feelings inside us as our feelings.
We tend to think that whatever is inside me is me. So, we frequently identify feelings inside us as our feelings. And we sometimes unthinkingly act on them, only to later realize that we wasted our energy, needlessly and harmfully.
Certainly we can’t reject or neglect all our feelings. But that doesn’t mean we have to uncritically surrender to all of them. The Bhagavad-gita (14.23) urges us to view the various feelings that come into our minds as things distinct from our nature as souls. By observing them from a distanced, detached perspective, we can analyze: Do they reflect my values and concerns? Or are they incidental intrusions stimulated by the material modes?
To situate ourselves in a distanced, detached perspective, we need to stimulate our intelligence and conscience. Studying Gita wisdom sharpens our intelligence, and prayer and meditation refine our conscience. When we are thus internally alert, we can distinguish authentic feelings from intrusive ones and choose to act only on those feelings that promote, not impede, our well-being.
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