“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.14)
दैवी ह्य् एषा गुण-मयी
मम माया दुरत्यया
माम् एव ये प्रपद्यन्ते
मायाम् एतां तरन्ति ते
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante
māyām etāṁ taranti te
It’s natural to be proud of accomplishments. Those are successful outcomes, and who goes into a project hoping for failure? That is the easier option, always, since it involves the lack of effort. Want to fail? Just sit back and do nothing. I assure you that success has little chance of materializing.
On the other side, after overcoming struggles I find a way to reach the desired destination. Be it large or small, I am sure to take some satisfaction in the result. This serves as future impetus. If I have succeeded before, perhaps I will be able to accomplish difficult work again moving forward.
Despite the feeling, the living entity is actually quite helpless in this world. A few experiences from everyday life illustrate the principle quite clearly.
1. A plane ride
I really have no control at all in this situation. Everything is in the hands of the pilot. The turbulence experienced at 30,000 feet in the air is supposedly normal. It’s just the plane moving around because of wind. The difficult landing from last time? That was also expected, according to the experts.
Air travel is practically a necessity in modern-day life, and so millions of people become completely helpless for periods of time. To get from New York to London, you have to take a flight. On that trip the passengers put their trust in the pilot to succeed in the task.
2. Driving on the road
Here the illusion fools me into thinking I have more control than I actually do. I am the operator of the vehicle. I am in the captain’s seat, so to speak. I determine how fast to drive, which roads to take, and how to maneuver around other cars.
The issue is that I am still relying on the vehicle. It must function properly. Something could go wrong at any moment. A nail on the road will puncture the tire. The engine might stop working. The car could run out of gas.
Then there are the other drivers. I trust that they will obey the traffic laws. As I pass through an intersection with a green light, the drivers going across must obey the red light that they see. Otherwise, there will be trouble. Given that so many others are travelling at the same time as me, I am really quite helpless. The age of the smartphone has only made this mode of travel more dangerous.
This operation is required. There is no other way around it. The heart is in such bad condition, due to many factors. If left alone, another heart attack could strike at any moment. The unanimous consensus among medical professionals is surgery.
During that time I am completely helpless. I have to hope that the years of training pay off for the doctor. I can only wish that the machines function properly and that the recovery goes smoothly. In this case I have absolutely no control over the outcome.
4. War between nations
I was living peacefully in my home. The neighborhood was known to be quiet. Every visitor would remark as such. Now suddenly there is great danger. A bombing nearby. Planes flying overhead. The sirens of emergency vehicles travelling up and down the road.
The cause is war. The leader of my nation got into it with the leader of another. I’m not exactly sure what they are fighting about, but the citizens are caught in the middle. There is nothing I could have done to prevent the situation. Nor did I have any prior warning of imminent danger.
5. Bad weather
Just yesterday I had the air conditioner on. The humidity was unbearable. It seemed like for two months straight we were living in a swamp. One of the most brutal summers I have ever experienced.
Now today I am searching inside the closet for the space heater. It got cold out of nowhere. Nothing in between. I need my autumn jacket, as well. What is going on? Who could have predicted this?
Such a review of daily living conditions is not necessary if a person has contact with the Bhagavad-gita, an ancient Sanskrit work which loosely translates as, “The Song of God.” In one of the verses Shri Krishna says that the living entities are overcome by the dualities of attraction and aversion.
Like and hate. Preference and avoidance. I want this today and tomorrow I want something else. I should be happy in either condition, knowing the swinging pendulum of emotions, but I still struggle.
Krishna says that the material nature, though being an inferior energy, actually takes hold over the living entity, who is superior in nature. The material nature consists of three modes – goodness, passion and ignorance. These modes are very difficult to overcome. The fact that one thinks they can act independently and influence outcomes entirely through personal effort shows just how strong the force of illusion is.
The special benediction is that a person who has earned Krishna’s favor can easily overcome the difficulties. He is the highest authority, after all. He is the Supersoul within the heart, and it is actually His sanction which allows any result to manifest. If He decides in favor of the living entity, for escaping the cycle of birth and death and returning to His imperishable realm, then success is guaranteed.
Sign of illusion overtaking,
When of my own effort making.
For outcomes delivering through,
But actually on those like pilot who.
Plane flying and others driving,
Their attention for safe arriving.
Hard to overcome nature’s modes three,
But easy when Shri Krishna to oversee.
Categories: the five