Don’t let imagined problems become real
Suppose a person worries excessively about future financial problems, thereby becoming emotionally paralyzed and unable to work and earn in the present. If we were told to counsel such a person, we would probably ask: “Why are you creating a real problem in the present due to a future problem that is basically imaginary right now?”
We won’t usually let worry interfere with our earning capacity because we value money as a vital necessity. So we carefully prevent anything, even worry, from interfering with our earning capacity. But we are often not so careful in preventing worry from plundering another precious resource of ours – our mental energy.
When threatened by future problems, we frequently keep worrying about them, without realizing that so much of our mental energy is getting wasted. No doubt, preparing for the future is a sign of intelligence. But worrying about the future so obsessively as to become dysfunctional in the present is a sign of not intelligence, but of ignorance.
The Bhagavad-gita (18.35) indicates that habitual fearfulness and moroseness characterize determination in the mode of ignorance. Why is indulgence in such negative thinking called an act of determination? Because our holding on to thoughts that do nothing except drain us requires determination, though of a perverse, ignorant nature.
To combat such self-defeating thought patterns, we need greater self-awareness. The more we rise towards the mode of goodness and beyond towards transcendence, the more we become self-aware and thus capable of detecting and rejecting waste thoughts.
As Krishna is the topmost transcendental reality, meditation on him is the best thought elevator. For such meditation, bhakti-yoga provides multifarious means, which offer enhanced self-awareness as a fringe benefit. By regular bhakti practice, we can quickly recognize imaginary problems to be imaginary and concentrate our mental energy on productively tackling real problems in the here-and-now.
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