Humility empowers when certainty doesn’t

We live in an uncertain world where perplexities and adversities can befall us at any moment. Naturally, we seek certainty, sometimes by turning to God and to his words in the Bhagavad-gita. 

And the Gita does provide us some certainty. For example, it explains that God, Krishna, is our supreme well-wisher (05.29). He always acts for our ultimate well-being, even when things seem to be falling apart. That certainty about divine benevolence is the foundation of our spirituality. 

We will still experience uncertainty because of life’s innate dualities: good and evil, happiness and distress, honor and dishonor. If we expect certainty in specific things, for example, that God will make our plan work because we are now devoted to him, we may well be disappointed and disempowered. To persevere amid such uncertainties, we need to focus not on certainty but on humility: on the humble service attitude, “How can I serve and contribute in this situation?”

We see such humility in Arjuna, the original student of the Gita. The Gita’s wisdom convinced him to do Krishna’s will by taking up the difficult duty of fighting a war against his venerable elders. Yet the war brought unfathomable agony, especially the brutal slaughter of his beloved son, Abhimanyu. Nonetheless, he persevered, with the humble understanding that whatever happened, he was meant to be Krishna’s instrument. And divine grace led him eventually to a better place and ultimately to the supreme place: the Lord’s eternal abode (18.62). 

When we thus reconceptualize spiritual growth in terms of increased humility, not increased certainty, we will be empowered to face difficulties faithfully and resourcefully.

One-sentence summary: 

If we turn to God for certainty, we may be disempowered. But if we turn to him with humility, we will be empowered. 

Think it over:

  • In an uncertain world, what certainty can spiritual wisdom provide us?
  • Even when we live spiritually, uncertainty still remains in life. Explain with an example.
  • Amid the world’s uncertainties, how can humility empower us?


05.29: A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.

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