We can’t always go outside, but we can always go inside

The outer world is subject to uncontrollable change that can limit our physical freedom. If we can’t go outside, we might go stir-crazy, becoming bored, irritable, gloomy. 

Thankfully, there’s something we can always do: go inside. Our inner world can be fascinating if approached with adequate objectivity and gravity. That means we don’t just wander aimlessly with whatever thought pops up inside us; instead, we embark on our inner journey resourcefully, with a reliable map and a potent vehicle. Spiritual wisdom-texts such as the Bhagavad-gita can be the map and time-tested spiritual practices such as meditation can be the vehicle. 

The Gita map explains that our inner world has three layers: body, mind and soul. Beyond the body is the mind, which is the reservoir of countless impressions, both positive and negative. And beyond the mind is the soul, the essence of who we are. Also, at that spiritual level exists the indwelling divinity, the source of all insight and inspiration, energy and ecstasy. Reaching that spiritual level yields sublime inner satisfaction. 

By going inward purposefully, we can better understand what motivates us, what distracts us and what sabotages us. We can identify our core values and purposes, and plan to align our life accordingly. Thus, going inside can help make our outer journeys, whenever they resume, more effective. 

Going outside is easy because we are habituated to doing it. In contrast, going inside can seem challenging because we aren’t habituated to it. Still, if we let the Gita guide us, going inside will become increasingly easy and enjoyable — even if it feels like poison initially, it will become like nectar eventually (18.37). 

Rather than lamenting the loss of opportunities to go outside, we can tap the opportunity to go inside, thereby becoming internally satisfied and externally effective.  

Think it over:

  • What does going inward not mean? What does it mean?
  • How can the Gita map guide our inner journey?
  • How can going inside empower us to go outside more effectively?

***

18.37: That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.

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