Compartmentalization is a mental mechanism for self-deception
When we strive to live according to some elevated principles, there results an inevitable tension between our precepts and our practices. The level that we live at rarely rises to the level we espouse and expound. The tension between the two can spur us to raise ourselves up, to start striving strenuously to practice what we preach. Even if we are unable to do so, just the sincere aspiration will keep us on the path to self-improvement.
Unfortunately, we may succumb to the mind’s trap of compartmentalization. That is, the mind may compartmentalize our public comportment and our personal conduct into two water-proof compartments, where one has no bearing on the other. The mind makes us believe that as long as we can maintain the facade of being priniciple-centered , it doesn’t matter if we in our private life are actually pleasure-centered, not principle-centered.
The Bhagavad-gita (03.06) cautions about such a disjoint when it reproaches those who put on the garb of renunciates but internally contemplate on sense objects. Interestingly, the Gita refers to such people as not just hypocrites, but also as self-deceivers. They may or may not fool others, but they are fooling themselves. By imagining that they can get away with just the facade, they are depriving themselves of the substance of spirituality – the sublime satisfaction that comes by being able to steadily absorb oneself in the remembrance of Krishna, who is the source of all happiness.
In today’s cultural ethos, such compartmentalization has become accepted as a routine fact of life. If the President keeps the economy on the growth track, what scandalous affairs he has in his person life is his own business – so goes the mind’s deceptive mantra, a mantra that the mainstream media has adopted as its own. Amidst such a cultural setting, we need to know that the process of bhakti is choked by the mind’s compartmentalization approach. Krishna needs to permeate and conquer our entire being – external and internal, in fact, the internal is more important than the external.
By seeing the mind’s compartmentalization mechanism as self-deception, we can reject it and progress towards self-realization and devotional culmination the supreme satisfaction of pure love.
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