Scripture is not a repeater of the world’s feel-good message

Some people think that scripture teaches the same feel-good message of motivation and inspiration that they hear from worldly sources such as self-help teachers and life coaches.

Undoubtedly, the Bhagavad-gita does motivate and inspire, but not by reiterating the world’s feel-good message. In fact, Krishna begins by chastising Arjuna for speaking at a feel-good level – for speaking learned-sounding words while lamenting like the ignorant (02.11).

Phrased in terms of the three modes of material nature, the world expects wisdom about how to live in the mode of goodness. Such wisdom is undoubtedly present in scripture, but the Gita specifically focuses on rising beyond goodness to transcendence. And that ascent requires countering the notions that keep us stuck at the level of goodness – notions such as: piety equals spirituality; our soul is just one part of us; religion is meant for providing worldly happiness. If people hear from Gita teachers the same message that they hear from myriad other sources, then why should they come to Gita teachers?

Of course, many people nowadays find the message of transcendence unrelatable. So, Gita teachers often start their outreach with the message of goodness as a bridge. The Gita too speaks briefly at the mundane level of gain-loss (02.31-37). But a bridge is meant to be crossed over, not lived on lifelong. Just as the Gita soon refocuses on spiritual growth, Gita teachers too need to move on from the generic message of goodness to the specific message of transcendence.

By providing the bridge of goodness where necessary, Gita teachers can attract people who can be made interested in transcendence. And by highlighting the supreme beauty of transcendental reality, they can attract people interested in transcendence. Thus expertly guiding both classes of people to raise their consciousness, they can help in fulfilling the Gita’s purpose.

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  1. Gita is the best scripture to follow

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  2. Very insightful post Prabhuji. Very true. People confuse goodness with transcendence.

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