Raised fists or linked arms don’t transform as effectively as folded hands
Suppose we see something terribly wrong in the world around us. It may impel us to raise our fists in shocked protest. Or it may inspire us to link our arms with others in solidarity as we work unitedly for change.
Such responses are desirable; they indicate that cynicism hasn’t paralyzed us, that our conscience is active enough to galvanize us to action. And these responses are sometimes essential because oppressive social structures or social leaders need to be removed. But just as important, if not more important, is what replaces whatever is removed. Human history bears witness to many occasions when revolutionaries who overthrew tyrants ended up becoming tyrants themselves. Power can corrupt even those who start with the best of intentions.
The root cause of the world’s wrongs is not corrupt leaders or corrupt social systems; it is the corruptibility of the human heart. Highlighting this sobering reality, the Bhagavad-gita points to selfish desire within the heart as the world’s greatest enemy (03.37). The Gita is spoken on a battlefield where a war is about to be fought to dethrone oppressive leaders. Even when on the brink of such urgent and essential outer action, the Gita stresses inner purification as foundational for sustainable social transformation.
How can the heart’s corruptibility be countered? By activating the soul’s spirituality. When we grow spiritually, we realize our identity as souls, who are parts of the Whole. Thereby, we gain access to nonmaterial inner satisfaction and become less vulnerable to the temptations of power and pleasure. We can seek spiritual growth in many ways, but the most expeditious way is to connect with the all-pure divine in a mood of devotion and service. Folded hands signify a plea to the divine to infuse our heart with purity.
When we complement outer reformation with inner purification, we become effective agents for enduring transformation.
Think it over:
- Why are raised fists and linked arms desirable
- Why are such external changes insufficient?
- How can the heart’s corruptibility be countered?
03.37 It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.
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