Seeking to understand our nature won’t box us in, it will reveal the box we are already in

Some people resist any system of categorization of human personalities. They feel, “This will box me in.” While that concern is understandable, it is based on a misconception. That misconception is that we can stay out of boxes if we just don’t have a system of categorization and identification. It’s akin to saying that if we don’t identify the germ we are infected by, we won’t be infected at all. 

We all have a psychophysical nature with which we are born. That nature comes from the way we have acted in our lives. And this nature shapes our actions, often without even our conscious awareness. The Bhagavad-gita states that we are more or less forced to act according to our nature, even if we are filled with knowledge. Indeed, our knowledge is no protector from our nature, leave alone be a denier of our nature (03.34). If we neglect our nature, we are still forced to act according to that nature, even if we imagine we will be better off acting in some other way. (03.35)

When we introspect, we get a sense of our inner world. It’s like getting a map to navigate our inner journey to go toward self-understanding. Without that map, the inner territory remains the same. And we end up hurting ourselves because of a lack of that map. The map doesn’t make the territory the way it is, it just makes us aware of the territory. 

Of course, if someone forces a particular categorization upon us, a categorization that isn’t in harmony with our nature, that would definitely be alienating and disempowering. But self-knowledge can be empowering when it just reveals the reality and enables us to best harmonize with that reality. 

Think it over:

  • What is wrong with resisting the categorization of our nature?
  • What determines our nature? And how does it determine our actions?
  • How does understanding our nature help us in our inner journey?

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03.35 It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous.

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