The first application of spiritual knowledge
Suppose a medically well-informed person gets a disease with scary symptoms. If they know that those symptoms are an inevitable and non-lethal part of the progression of the disease, they will bear the symptoms and focus on taking the best treatment. They will be guided by the knowledge that getting emotionally overwhelmed by those symptoms won’t decrease those symptoms; it will only divert them from taking the treatment.
Similarly, Gita wisdom helps us become spiritually well-informed. Thereby, we understand that we all are presently diseased – though we are unchanging transcendental beings, we are residing in ever-changing material things: first our bodies and then our world at large. Because of our material embodiment, we are subject to constant changes. When we face scary-seeming change, our frequent first reaction is resistance. We try to prevent that change from happening; we may even deny that it is happening. And when it continues undeniably, we resent, fret or rant. This default resistance dissipates our emotional energy and diverts us from addressing the actual problem.
But once we understand that we are essentially unchanging (02.13), we feel less threatened by change and accept it with greater equanimity (02.14) — this in fact is the Bhagavad-gita’s first application of its wisdom.
When we are empowered by spiritual understanding, we don’t get worked up by change; instead, we work on processing that change to determine our best response. That response may even include firmly resisting some aspects of the change – just as a treatment may involve aggressively managing some symptoms. But this resistance will be consciously chosen based on our valued purposes, not reflexively raised by our unexamined fears.
The first lesson in applying spiritual knowledge is to lessen our default resistance to change.
Think it over:
- Contemplate a major recent upheaval in your life. Note the emotions in which your default resistance to change manifests.
- How can you use Gita wisdom to increase your acceptance to change?
- How can change acceptance help you focus on solutions?
02.14: The nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.