To differentiate between resoluteness and stubbornness, consider content, consequence and intent
When we stick to something rigidly, are we being resolute or stubborn? To understand the difference, we need to look at our action’s content, consequence and intent.
Content: If what we are doing is unethical or anti-spiritual, then holding on to it is stubbornness. Thus, Duryodhana’s many atrocious actions to grab the Kuru throne represent his obstinacy. If what we are doing is ethical and spiritual, holding on to it is resoluteness.
Consequence: Whatever we do in life is usually driven by some purpose. If that purpose is constructive and is being fulfilled by what we are doing, then we are being resolute. If we are beating our head against a wall, that’s only going to break our head, not the wall — persevering in that is mulishness. Sometimes, results take time to manifest, just as a river that is blocked by a rock keeps flowing against it till it erodes and lets the river through. River-like perseverance is resoluteness.
Intent: If we are doing it in a mood of service and contribution, we can persevere and we will grow spiritually by connecting with Krishna. Such perseverance reflects resoluteness. If, however, we are doing it in a mood of control and conquest, even if we persevere and even if we succeed, we will only grow in our ego and that too temporarily. Such perseverance reflects stubbornness.
Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (18.33-35) states that determination can be in the three modes. And it recommends that determination which focuses on gaining inner control and establishing a spiritual connection (18.33).
By thus considering our action’s content, consequence and intent, we can stick to those actions that help us realize our spiritual potential.
Think it over:
- How can we differentiate between being resolute and being stubborn?
- Recollect a past incident in your life when you held on to something that turned out to be dreadful. Contemplate that incident in the light of the above three points.
- Repeat the above exercise with something that turned out to be wonderful.
18.33. That determination which is unbreakable, which is sustained with steadfastness by yoga practice, and which thus controls the activities of the mind, life and senses is determination in the mode of goodness.
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