Material breakdowns or spiritual breakthroughs?

We are often so caught in the immediate that we don’t spend time to consider the ultimate. Material things are immediately accessible, essential and enjoyable, whereas spiritual things seem remote, non-essential, and require the sacrifice of immediately enjoyable things. So we often get caught in the material and stay away from the spiritual. Only when immediate things break down — when the things we have counted on turn out to be disappointing — that we start looking for the bigger picture. 

In the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna faced such a breakdown on the battlefield of Kurukshetra when he realized that the upcoming fratricidal war would take an immense human toll, not just of his enemies, but also his venerable elders, and also the entire dynasty to which he belonged. When his attempts to find a way ahead were stonewalled in every direction (01.30), he surrendered to Krishna and sought the wisdom of the Gita  (02.07). And the Gita replaced confusion with confidence (18.73). How? By revealing a bigger picture of spiritual evolution and devotional harmony, which infused life with enduring meaning when the immediate things that gave his life temporary meaning were disrupted. 

When we face the death of a loved one, or face our own imminent death because of an incurable cancer diagnosis, or if a natural disaster or pandemic brings our life to a standstill, that’s when we start seeking a bigger picture for making sense of things. Knowing that material breakdown is often the price for a spiritual breakthrough, we can avoid getting overwhelmed when adversity hits us and can seek instead to be receptive toward the spiritual lessons that life is teaching us. 

Significantly, if we study Gita wisdom carefully and regularly, then we can get spiritual breakthroughs even without having to go through material breakdowns. 

One-sentence summary:

Spiritual breakthroughs often come through material breakdowns.

Think it over: 

  • Why don’t we usually contemplate the spiritual?
  • How did the Gita transform Arjuna’s material breakdown into spiritual breakthrough?
  • How can you use Gita wisdom to face material breakdowns positively?


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