Go beyond denial and dismissal to determination
“I fell from the scriptural standards yet again. What should I do now?” We often respond to such predicaments by either denial or dismissal. In denial, we hide our failures from others and even ourselves. In dismissal, we reject the scriptural standards as impractical or irrelevant. Either way, we pretend as if nothing is wrong.
However, our concealed shortcoming is like a festering wound hidden under good-looking clothes. Somebody finds out, or over time as the wound worsens, the pain becomes intolerable. Similarly, when we conceal our moral lapses, we are either discovered or we find the pretense unbearable due to guilt or tastelessness.
Fortunately, Gita wisdom offers us a better way: change the way we see moral lapses. We usually take them personally as deficiencies in our very self, so we don’t consult anyone as we fear the resulting disgrace. However, we wouldn’t be so fearful if we were re-educated to see our moral lapses as signs of an external infection, not as blemishes of our core self. The Bhagavad-gita (18.40) re-educates us to understand that everyone in material existence is impelled by material nature through its three modes. We act immorally when the infection of the modes becomes excessive. Nonetheless, we always remain at our core untainted souls with the potential for purity.
When we thus understand the problem rationally, we neither waste time in denial or dismissal, nor dissipate emotional energy in concealment or embarrassment. Instead, we become determined to remove the infection by all necessary means – including consulting a mature spiritual guide. Our determination enables us to cultivate systematic, sustained, sober remembrance of Krishna. This gives us a higher happiness that makes immoral pleasures unappealing and distasteful, thereby uprooting moral lapses.
“There is no being existing, either here or among the demigods in the higher planetary systems, which is freed from these three modes born of material nature.”