Better to look stupid than to act stupid

Sometimes when life’s complexities perplex us, we may hesitate to ask others for help because of the fear of looking stupid. But by letting such fear determine our actions, we often end up acting stupid; our ignorance impels us to choose erroneously.

Choosing courageously amidst confusion is demonstrated at the Bhagavad-gita’s beginning. Arjuna faced a heart-wrenching ethical crisis: Should he fight against his relatives who had sided with evil? Some battle-hardened warriors might have considered the decision obvious: “A warrior is dutybound to fight.” Arjuna was definitely a battle-hardened warrior, but he was more – a softhearted, sensitive and scripturally aware human being who knew that real life’s complexities frequently nuanced the translation of ordained duties into actions. Being unable to discern the right way amidst such subtleties, he surrendered to Krishna (Gita 02.07) and sought to know dharma, the best course of action.

For a famed hero to submit to someone else in full public view amidst the two armies might have seemed mortifying. But Arjuna put first things first. He focused not on prestige considerations, but on the huge stakes – the right decision was a matter of life and death, not just for him, but also for his many relatives and the thousands of assembled soldiers.

Significantly, Arjuna’s submission far from making him look stupid made him supremely wise – by Krishna’s guidance, he made an enlightened choice and thus played a pivotal role in establishing the reign of dharma. And by his very act of questioning, Arjuna enabled Krishna to utilize him as an instrument through whom to share Gita wisdom for humanity’s perennial guidance.

When we are perplexed by life’s complexities, we can, like Arjuna, boldly put aside prestige considerations. By submitting to Krishna through his words and his representatives, we can gain the protection and empowerment of divine wisdom.

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