Determination means to subordinate pleasure to purpose

We sometimes think of determination as a special gift that some people have and some don’t. And when the mind is faced with the prospect of doing something that it doesn’t like, it very self-servingly places us in the category of those without determination. Thus, it excuses, even licenses, our lapses, slips and falls during our attempts for principle-centered living.

When we repeatedly fail in our resolve to do something, we may well end up believing the mind’s tale that we just don’t have determination. However, determination is nothing mystical – it is eminently practical. It is simply the result of the inner tug of war between pleasure and purpose. If we aren’t inspired to pursue a purposeful course of action, and if we believe that there’s a lot of pleasure available in choosing the path of least resistance, we can never muster the determination to choose purpose over pleasure.

That’s why when we struggle in our resolves to practice spiritual life, we need to strengthen our purpose. The Bhagavad-gita (02.41) reminds us that those who are on the spiritual path persevere by the strength of their purpose and thus avoid being distracted by the many alternatives that the mind and the world presents.

We can strengthen our purpose by studying scripture diligently and associating regularly with purposeful spiritualists. Both these activities will sharpen our intelligence and reinforce our conviction about why we are pursuing a higher purpose in our life. Simultaneously, scriptural study and spiritual association can also give us insights into the hollowness of lower pleasures and the richness of spiritual joys, thus shifting the scales in the inner battle.

Therefore, when confronted with poor determination within ourselves, we can, instead of dejectedly accepting the mind’s label of being determination-less, calmly and intelligently choose those activities that strengthen our determination.


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