Retreat within to treat without
When external problems trouble us, we may feel that they need to be solved first, and so we can’t afford time for our inner life. Paradoxically, Gita wisdom suggests that we need our inner life the most during such troubling times. Let’s see why.
The sixth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita states that the greatest yogis retreat deep within the innermost recesses of their hearts. There, they experience the highest happiness that comes by re-establishing their personal devotional connection with Krishna, the supreme reservoir of all happiness and the equal spiritual potential of all living beings as integral parts of the supreme (06.32). Such experiences convince them that everyone has the capacity and deserves the opportunity to relish the sublime joy that they have relished. Not only that, they recognize that this inner fulfilment is the greatest necessity of those facing outer turbulence.
Because they have understood through their personal experience that external stability is difficult to attain or sustain without internal serenity.
That’s why they urge us to retreat within to treat without. They recommend that we first stabilize and strengthen ourselves internally by relishing our personal connection with Krishna. Then we won’t let our minds blow external problems out of proportion. When we thus regain our sense of perspective, we will acquire the vision and the vigor to intelligently deal with external volatility. By this peaceful and thoughtful approach, we will be able to act effectively for restoring outer stability; otherwise, our feverish and frantic responses will end making bad things worse.
More importantly, this experience of inner rejuvenation and outer restoration will help us realize a principle that will enable us to tackle similar future problems with much greater composure and grace: we can sustainably improve the outer material situation only when we first improve our inner spiritual connection.