One of the most intriguing verses in the Bhagavad-gita (06.05) urges us to elevate the self with the self, not degrade the self with the self.
What does this verse mean? To understand, let’s consider two aspects of the self: the reflective self and the impulsive self. The impulsive self is the surface part of us that is prone to get carried away by the world’s changes. The reflective self is the deeper part of us that is grounded in our unchanging spiritual core. Phrased in terms of this terminology, this Gita verse urges us to use the reflective self for elevating the impulsive self. How? By monitoring and mentoring the impulsive self.
Monitoring: When we study the Gita regularly, we gain the philosophical conviction to identify ourselves with the reflective self, thereby distancing ourselves from the impulsive self. Being thus situated internally as a detached observer, we can note what the impulsive self is up to and calm it when it becomes elated by worldly pleasures or dejected by worldly troubles.
Mentoring: Guided by Gita wisdom, our reflective self becomes convinced that our life has a higher purpose: to realize ourselves and to manifest our full potential. When we pursue that higher purpose, we relish a sublime non-material fulfillment that makes worldly troubles more bearable and worldly pleasures less irresistible. The more we relish such fulfillment, the more we can help our impulsive self understand that most of the things that agitate it are temporary; they are of value primarily to the extent they point us to the things that really matter. Boosted by such understanding, our impulsive self gradually outgrows its material excitability and becomes our ally in our pursuit of life’s most important things.
Monitor the impulsive self with philosophical conviction and mentor it with spiritual fulfillment.
Think it over:
- How can the two aspects of the self help us understand Gita 6.5?
- Which Gita insight can equip you to monitor your impulsive self?
- Which experience of higher fulfillment can you use to mentor your impulsive self?
06.05: One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.