We help ourselves best by remembering that we are helpless without God
The saying “God helps those who help themselves” conveys validly that we shouldn’t expect God to do everything for us, but should strive to do our part. However, this saying is sometimes invalidly extrapolated to mean that if we help ourselves, God will automatically help us – so we don’t need to worship him; we just need to do our work.
This extrapolation presumes that we can do things without God’s help – a presumption that seems true when we are young and healthy, and the whole world seems to be there for the picking. But as we grow old and sick, we are forced to watch helplessly as time inexorably takes away our power to do things. And even in our youth and health, we are often dragged by our unruly mind and senses from important things to meaningless indulgences.
The Bhagavad-gita (15.07) states that we are spiritual beings, parts of God, Krishna. The ultimate purpose of connecting with Krishna is not to get things done at the material level of reality, but to raise our consciousness to the spiritual level and find lasting fulfillment in immortal love for Krishna. If we don’t link lovingly with him, we stay caught in material consciousness, prone to affliction and captivation: affliction by old age, disease and death, and captivation by the mind and senses that drag us deeper into material illusions.
In contrast, when we focus on loving and serving Krishna, the resulting higher fulfillment empowers us to resist the pulls of our mind and senses. Such self-mastery not only grants ultimate liberation, but also enhances intermediate contribution – it enables us to function more effectively in the here-and-now. Thus, by remembering that we are helpless without Krishna, we can strive determinedly to stay connected with him and thus help ourselves best.
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