Information is not enough in formation of character
We may have seen normal, sensible people suddenly act abnormally and insensibly. They knew well the harms of what they were doing – or at least they knew it before and after their deed. Yet they did it anyway. Why?
Gita wisdom helps us understand that our actions are determined not just by the information that we carry in our heads, but also by the character that we cultivate in our hearts. The Bhagavad-gita (13.08-12) describes knowledge in telling terms: not as the degrees that comprise our information base, but as the qualities that comprise our character base.
How can we develop this character-centered knowledge?
Gita wisdom aids us in forming and reforming our character by showing us the fastest expressway to developing virtuous qualities. By our own individual, determined efforts, we may be able to develop some virtues. But we will get quicker and better results if we complement those efforts with a parallel effort to connect with Krishna, the embodiment of all qualities in their fullest and best manifestation.
The easiest way to connect with Krishna is through mantra meditation. Far from being a mere ritual utterance of some sound, mantra meditation is a subtle and sophisticated science that uses sacred sound as a bridge to link us with Krishna. When we focus our consciousness on Krishna's holy names, we pave the way for him to manifest in our heart. Krishna’s manifestation in our hearts dissipates all negative, self-destructive traits, just as the sun's rising dissipates darkness. This devotional illumination not only protects us from our self-defeating impulses, but also empowers us to become channels for Krishna to share the same illumination and protection with others.
Being able to help ourselves and help others in the best way – isn’t that the essence of character?
“Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; approaching a bona ﬁde spiritual master; cleanliness; steadiness; self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratiﬁcation; absence of false ego; the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease; detachment; freedom from entanglement with children, wife, home and the rest; even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me; aspiring to live in a solitary place; detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization; and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth – all these I declare to be knowledge, and besides this whatever there may be is ignorance.”