To see our own stupidity, unvarnished and unjustified, is infuriating and invigorating

When someone we care for does something stupid, they often try to hide it from us, either denying it entirely or concealing it under various varnishes. But when we come to know clearly what they have done, we feel infuriated and invigorated. Infuriated at how they could have done something like that, and invigorated with concern to protect them from repeating their idiocy. 

We need to similarly confront ourselves. Within us, in our mind and senses, we all have self-destructive desires that make us act foolishly. Under their spell, we often spend huge amounts of time, energy and money on sensual pleasures that are fleeting, unfulfilling and even degrading. 

However, we don’t usually see such indulgences as a colossal waste because we hide our stupidity from ourselves. Or rather, the same self-destructive desire that misleads our senses and mind also misleads our intelligence (Bhagavad-gita 03.41). Such a corrupted intelligence prevents us from taking a hard look at ourselves; it denies or rationalizes our wrongdoings. 

On some occasions, however, we are brought face-to-face with the harsh realities of what we are doing and where we are heading. Such occasions usually come when the consequences of our actions hit us or when we study scripture and look at ourselves through the eyes of scripture. At those times, all the varnishing falls aside, and our actions stand before us, exposed in their folly. Such moments can be infuriating (“How could I have been so dumb?”) and invigorating (“I am never going to let this happen again.”)

Channeling the energy of such anger and vigor, we use our intelligence – or rather, the part of the intelligence that is uncorrupted – to connect with the supreme spiritual reality, thereby gradually freeing ourselves from those stupefying desires (03.43).  

 

Think it over:

  • How do we hide our stupidity from ourselves?
  • How are we brought face-to-face with our stupidity?
  • Is there anything you need to confront yourself about? 

 

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03.43 Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to the material senses, mind and intelligence, O mighty-armed Arjuna, one should steady the mind by deliberate spiritual intelligence [Krishna consciousness] and thus – by spiritual strength – conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust.

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