Realizing our dispensability can be a prick for the ego or a balm for the heart
When we have many things to do and many people depending on us to do those things, we may think of ourselves as indispensable: “How will things go on without me?”
Yet when we fall sick or somehow become incapacitated, the realization often jolts us: “Things go on without me … I am dispensable.”
This realization can prick our ego. If our sense of self-worth has come from feeling needed by others, witnessing our dispensability can be mortifying.
But Gita wisdom can transform that prick for the ego into a balm for the heart. In normal situations, when we invest time and energy in our bhakti, our heart may feel torn: “Am I neglecting my loved ones?” But when life exposes our dispensability, this torn feeling gets soothed.
Philosophical vision helps us see that the Lord who took care of the world before we were born and who will take care of it after we die will also take care of it when we are alive so we can and should unhesitatingly fulfill the one responsibility for which we are indispensable: our devotional growth.
No one else can learn to love Krishna for us. No one else can redirect our free will from the world to him for us. No one else can fight our battle against distractions for us.
If we devote ourselves wholeheartedly to Krishna, he promises in the Gita (09.22) to care for our needs. This assurance is not a license for material irresponsibility, but a guide for balancing our material and spiritual responsibilities realistically. Balancing realistically means recognizing the twin realities of our dispensability in our material life and our indispensability in our spiritual life and thereafter with hard-nosed realism preventing the material from encroaching on the spiritual.