When clarification causes confusion, the culprit is pre-conception
Krishna speaks the Bhagavad-gita to remove Arjuna’s confusion about the best course for him: action or renunciation.
The Gita’s second chapter, eschewing these two polar extremes, recommends a balanced intermediate: action with renunciation. But Arjuna is unable to grasp the introduction of this third option, and so feels confused by seemingly equivocal instructions (Gita 03.01,03.02). Krishna responds by taking the discussion deeper to make Arjuna’s understanding clearer. Yet at the start of the fifth chapter (05.01), Arjuna asks essentially the same question as two chapters earlier the same confusion lingers on.
The culprit is Arjuna’s pre-conception that he has only two choices. This bipolar presumption obstructs the opening of his mind to the third alternative.
To elucidate this third alternative, Krishna expounds on the concepts of atma (the spiritual performer of action) and yoga (the spiritual art of action), and explains how the yoga of spiritual love (bhakti-yoga) integrates the virtues of both action and renunciation in a universally accessible blend. This exposition resonates with seekers at all times, not just a warrior unable to decide whether to fight or not.
In fact, fixation with those immediate concerns obstructs Arjuna’s appreciation of the exciting expansion of the scope of the discussion. Only when he persists in enquiring and Krishna persists in edifying does the message penetrate through the pre-conceptions and bring illumination, as Arjuna asserts at the end of the Gita (18.73).
When we find Gita wisdom confusing instead of illuminating, the culprit is our own pre-conceptions. Piqued by such incomprehension, skeptics doubt or deride the Gita and deprive themselves of its wisdom.
Instead, we can follow Arjuna’s example of persistent inquisitiveness and stay open-minded about our unnoticed pre-conceptions. Krishna will appreciate our faithful eagerness and his grace will gradually remove all pre-conceptions, resolve all confusions and reward clear understanding.
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