Don’t just eradicate the past – engage its product
When revolutionaries seize power from a tyrannical regime, they often go on a destructive spree, wanting to eradicate all reminders of the dark past.
Their sentiment is understandable, but their action is impractical. Even if they succeed in eradicating the past’s external symbols, still they themselves – their mentalities, motivations and missions – have all arisen from the past. They need to move on from the destructive spree to a constructive phase, wherein they make peace with the past and examine which of its products are usable for creating a better future.
We undergo a revolution of consciousness when we move from a materialistic life, marked by unworthy activities, to a devotional life, filled with pure, Krishna-centered activities. While going through this revolutionary change, we may feel driven to eradicate all reminders of our past, lest they trigger old unwanted desires.
Certainly, we need to protect ourselves from relapsing into past godless indulgences. But protecting ourselves doesn’t necessitate eradicating our past. In fact, such eradication is impossible — the past is embedded in the very fabric of who we are. From the way we have lived in the past, in this and previous lives, we have acquired a particular psychophysical nature that is innate to our material side. We can’t wish away this nature, as the Bhagavad-gita (03.33) underscores by asking rhetorically: What can repression accomplish?
Instead of resenting or rejecting our past, we need to move on towards engaging its product. Indeed, the whole varnashrama system of social organization was meant to harmonize people’s material nature with their spiritual growth. In that spirit, we can non-judgmentally examine our present nature and determine how to best use it for serving Krishna.
By thus making peace with our past and engaging our nature devotionally, we can spiritualize our present for creating an eternally bright future.
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