Imprecision in identifying our enemies increases our enemies

In an area infested with insurgents, suppose the government indiscriminately bombs everyone. Consequently, even peace-loving people feel unfairly targeted and rise in rebellion. By failing to identify its enemies precisely, the government unwittingly increases those enemies, making administration unnecessarily difficult.

Similarly, we make our spirituality unnecessarily difficult by unwittingly equating spiritual purity with suppression of individuality. When we try to live according to spiritual principles, some inner desires frequently sabotage us. In a kneejerk reaction, we try to repress all our inner promptings to conform to some perceived ideal of purity. However, such wholesale suppression of our individuality suffocates us so much that we start resenting all regulation. And spirituality becomes much more difficult than it needs to be.

We need to understand that not all inner forces are inimical. The Bhagavad-gita differentiates among them in two successive verses. All people, even those in knowledge, act according to their nature – if someone tries to repress their nature, what can such repression accomplish? (03.33) In the senses and the sense objects are situated infatuations that we need to guard against (03.34). The latter verse refers to degrading passions such as lust, anger and greed – these must be curbed (03.36-43). The previous verse refers to our psychophysical nature: the inclinations of our body-mind vehicle. These inclinations comprise a significant part of our present individuality that can’t be repressed. We will be forced to act according to our nature (18.60). Best to channel that natural energy constructively for harmonizing with our indwelling Lord (18.62).

When we identify our enemy precisely – our degrading passions, not our defining psychophysical inclinations – we can focus on using our nature in the service of our Lord. This devotional connection with all-pure Krishna purifies us. Thus, we can channel our individuality to externally contribute to society and internally cultivate our spirituality.

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