Just as our body needs physical nutrition, our soul needs metaphysical orientation – a sense of place and purpose in the world

If we lack physical nutrition, we have no energy to do anything. We become similarly de-energized when we lack metaphysical orientation. Usually, we orient ourselves by thinking of ourselves as beings situated at some place and moving according to some purpose.

For example, we may be in our car and driving to meet a customer. In more abstract senses, we may be a marketing executive, working to climb the corporate ladder; or we may be Indian immigrants, striving to get American citizenship. We can conceive our place and purpose at various levels of abstraction, beginning with our physical context.

If we get physically lost, then even if we have the energy to move, we won’t. Similarly, we can become paralyzed when we are metaphysically lost. Suppose we lived on an island, where existed our family, our colleagues, our social circle, our whole world. If a tsunami drowned that island and somehow we survived, we would be utterly disoriented.

We don’t recognize how important higher-level metaphysical orientation is – till lower levels of orientation are ripped away. Usually, we keep ourselves oriented with our various roles, routines, responsibilities and recreations. However, such orientation doesn’t explain what our existence is ultimately meant for; it provides us no place or purpose in life’s big picture. When life’s upheavals steal our current sense of place and purpose – and they will, sooner or later – we will be devastatingly disoriented, as was Arjuna at the Bhagavad-gita’s start (01.30).

Gita wisdom oriented Arjuna metaphysically, explaining that beyond his various roles, he was an indestructible soul, part of the Whole. He was situated in a cosmos intended ultimately for furthering his loving union with the Whole.

Just as the Gita energized Arjuna with metaphysical orientation, it can energize us too.

Think it over:

  • What does metaphysical orientation mean? Why do we need it?
  • Think of three levels at which you can orient yourself, making sense of your place and purpose.
  • Have you ever felt metaphysically disoriented? How did you regain your bearings?

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