Reformation requires reformulation
Suppose we want to grow vegetables in a land where only weeds have been growing. We may uproot the weeds and plant the vegetables, but they won’t grow if the soil is unsuitable for them – we will need to change the soil.
We sometimes resolve to change ourselves by giving up short-term pleasures and pursuing long-term purposes. Unfortunately, such resolutions don’t last for long. Why? Because we may be pursuing external change without doing the necessary internal change – we are trying to change what grows in the soil without changing the soil.
Of course, any change we make has an element of changed inner desire. But we need more than just changed desire – we need reformulation of our understanding of ourselves. Without such reformulation, our old thought-patterns will, sooner or later, sabotage us.
The Bhagavad-gita (03.36-43) analyzes the force that makes us act in self-defeating ways. To counter that force, it (03.43) recommends that we use our intelligence to situate ourselves on the spiritual platform. This implies that the mere desire to change is not enough – we need to educate ourselves about our non-material side and elevate our consciousness to the spiritual level. Such education and elevation comprises reformulation of our self-conception.
For such reformulation, the Gita equips us philosophically and practically. Philosophically, it explains that we are at our core spiritual beings. As long as we see ourselves as material creatures, we feel that giving up material indulgence is self-deprivation. But when we see ourselves as spiritual beings meant for higher fulfillment, we see rejection of worldly indulgences positively – as clearing the way to our self-realization and the unlimited spiritual happiness therein. Practically, the Gita delineates the process of yoga, especially bhakti-yoga, that gives us blissful experience of spiritual reality (09.02).
When we thus reformulate our inner conception, we can march towards self-improvement steadily and swiftly.
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