Avoid hell in the mind, avoid hell in the world

Some people think of hell as merely a belief of some religious groups. Others think of hell as merely a physical location meant for the sinful. Both these conceptions overlook the universality and immediacy of hell: it is a psychological disposition that we all are vulnerable to. Selfish passions such as lust, anger and greed can make our inner world a veritable hell wherein we are tortured by cravings that are often unfulfilled and are sometimes even unfulfillable. 

Over time, these illusions can become so severe as to create a replica of hell inside us, wherein we are never contented, ever tormented. Over time, that inner hell spills out into the outer world — if we entertain those cravings internally, they become so insatiable and uncontrollable as to impel us to do things that make life hellish for those around us. Pertinently, the Gita (16.21) warns that these cravings are the gateways to hell. 

How can we protect ourselves from such cravings? By putting ourselves together. To protect us from these cravings, wisdom-texts since time immemorial have recommended a responsible life dedicated to worthwhile purposes. 

And the best way to put ourselves together is to come together with the ultimate reality, Krishna, whose parts we are intrinsically. When we strive to serve our Lord using all the talents, resources and interests we have been given, we help make the world a better place for raising our and others’ consciousness. Thereby, we experience a sublime sense of meaning and fulfillment that empowers us to resist and reject inner self-destructive drives. 

One-sentence summary:

Put yourselves together by coming together with the Lord, lest we create hell in our inner world and then our outer world. 

Think it over:

  • How do we create hell in our inner and outer world?
  • How can we best put ourselves together?
  • Contemplate three ways in which you can use your talents, resources and interests to come together with the Lord. 

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16.21: There are three gates leading to this hell – lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul.

Author: Chaitanya Charan

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