The mind makes us juggle too many balls – and then makes us drop them all
Some circus artists juggle many balls, expertly catching them all before they fall. Still, even they have their limits – they can’t juggle too many balls.
Juggling too many balls refers figuratively to doing too many things. Such excessive juggling is typical of the mind in the mode of passion. The Bhagavad-gita (14.12) indicates that this mode is characterized by insatiable greed for more – for doing more, possessing more, enjoying more. When driven by the mode of passion, we take up far more that our capacity and feel stressed, as does a weight-lifter who lifts too much weight. Yet the mode of passion doesn’t let us slow down; far from it, it impels us to keep piling more things on ourselves – till we breakdown. Then, feeling frustrated, exhausted and dejected, we just quit. Such delusion-driven dereliction of duty symptomizes the mode of ignorance (14.13). Oscillating between taking up too much and giving it all up, we end up not doing even what we can do.
Thankfully, we can live a better way: cultivate the mode of goodness, which helps us realistically assess our capacity, just as a shrewd weight-lifter can assess their weight-lifting capacity. The Gita (14.11) indicates that the mode of goodness is characterized by illumination. With this light, we avoid over-endeavoring and under-endeavoring and endeavor appropriately.
Ultimately, the best way to such illumination is by connecting with the supreme inner illuminator, Krishna. When we practice bhakti-yoga diligently and strive prayerfully to serve him through all our endeavors, he provides us the inner light to see clearly and act competently (10.10).
Before passion impels us to overdo or ignorance impels us to quit, if we first invest due time for connecting with Krishna, we will be guided from within to best use our abilities.
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