When we rationalize, we indulge in rational lies

To rationalize is to give some fallacious reasoning to prove as right something that is wrong and that we know is wrong. We resort to rationalization when we are attached to getting something without paying the price for it. When we rationalize, we indulge in rational lies – we succumb to the temptation to lie and we use our intelligence for serving the temptation instead of fighting it.

The Bhagavad-gita (03.06) points to such rationalization when it declares as pretenders those who externally act as if they are sense-controlled but internally delight in sensual fantasies. Isn’t this the plight of all spiritual seekers? Possibly. But the mismatch between externals and internals is not necessarily problematic – its rationalization is.

When we seek a principle-centered life, it’s natural that what we profess publically may not always match with what we are able to practice privately. Though we want to live purely, impure desires still afflict us, and we may sometimes succumb to them. Such succumbing simply makes us struggling seekers, not hypocritical pretenders.

We become hypocritical pretenders when we make no efforts to purify ourselves, when we focus our energy primarily on rationalization instead of on rectification, when we continue delighting in the prestige coming from the image of being self-controlled without striving for the purity to actually become self-controlled. When we rationalize, arguing, “Those standards are, anyway, impractical. This is a fallen age, after all. I am ok the way I am,” and we do nothing to rectify ourselves, then we indulge in rational lies.

The alternative to rationalization is rectification, and bhakti-yoga makes rectification easy and efficacious. We can see the gap between our aspirations and our actions as a spur for purification. When we engage wholeheartedly in bhakti, Krishna’s omnipotent grace gradually elevates us, thereby empowering us to better walk our talk.

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  1. Thank you for clarifying the difference between what makes one a struggling seeker and a hypocritical pretender. Showing how putting energy into rationalization is not progressive. The struggle keeps one humble. Thank you!

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  2. a true KRISHNA BHAKTA need not bother about rationalization.

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