Philosophy should expand our human sensitivity, not shrink it
In the Bhagavad-gita (02.11), Krishna chides Arjuna for lamenting the imminent death of his relatives in the impending war.
Yet, when Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu was slaughtered in the war and Arjuna broke down, Krishna didn’t use the same chastising tone or speech. Instead, as reported in the Mahabharata, Krishna’s tone was sensitive and empathetic; his speech, comforting and encouraging.
Why the difference?
Because there is a time for education and there is a time for commiseration. And understanding the difference between the two and modifying one’s behavior accordingly is a matter of basic human sensitivity – sensitivity that should be expanded, not shrunk, by philosophy. Those who neglect such sensitivity end up alienating others who feel that philosophy simply makes one heartless.
Krishna emphasizes this sensitivity in the Bhagavad-gita (06.32), wherein he declares that the most advanced spiritualists feel the joys and sorrows of others as if they were their own.
From their own past experience, these spiritualists know how lack of spiritual wisdom leaves one shelter-less amidst worldly upheavals. If one is unaware that everyone is an eternal soul, how can one not feel devastated at the loss of a loved one? And even the spiritually aware like Arjuna naturally feel afflicted on being suddenly and permanently deprived of the association of a fellow spiritualist, a loved one who met an untimely death brought about by treachery and brutality, as happened with Abhimanyu.
No wonder Krishna consoled Arjuna with sensitivity and maturity. Being thus solaced Arjuna soon overcame his lamentation and resolved to intensify his service to Krishna, rectifying the predominance of unprincipled rulers that had cost his son his life.
By learning from Krishna’s example, we can ensure that philosophy expands our human sensitivity and that our mature behavior attracts people to Krishna’s message of wisdom and love.
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