“And that understanding which cannot distinguish between the religious way of life and the irreligious, between action that should be done and action that should not be done, that imperfect understanding, O son of Pritha, is in the mode of passion.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.31)
यया धर्मम् अधर्मṁ च
कार्यṁ चाकार्यम् एव च
बुद्धिः सा पार्थ राजसी
yayā dharmam adharmaṁ ca
kāryaṁ cākāryam eva ca
buddhiḥ sā pārtha rājasī
To err is human. No one is perfect. We commit mistakes. Our senses do not always present the proper picture of the external world with which we engage. We might be tempted to cheat on occasion, and there is vulnerability to illusion.
“The common comparison used in Vedic literature is the snake and the rope. I am scared out of my mind walking into a room and seeing a snake. How did it get in here? Why is it here? What am I going to do about it? How many other snakes are around? Who will help me?
“Turns out, it is only a rope. Completely harmless. No imminent danger. I made a mistake in perception. I did not see clearly. The same is true when I hallucinate, whether from fatigue or intoxication. This is not the first time I have made such a mistake and it certainly will not be the last.”
“I thought I was doing the right thing. I was following the pious way. God wanted me to do it. At least this was the excuse I told myself. It removed some of the initial doubts that I had. I proceeded without guilt.
“Well, turns out I was completely wrong. It was the incorrect way to act. I could not properly tell the difference. Someone else had to notify me. I resisted the advice at first. I brushed off the criticism. In the end, I had to own up to my mistake. I messed up.”
“They valued my input. I was on the hiring committee. They trusted my recommendation. I gave that candidate full marks. I thought they were perfect. They answered every question thrown at them to my satisfaction. They were superior to the other candidates.
“Well, I certainly feel differently today. The assessment was not correct. That candidate turned out to be terrible. They barely know how to do anything. They have a bad attitude. They have had a negative impact on the team at the office. I am reminded of that humorous saying, ‘Addition by subtraction.’ We could use that strategy right about now.”
Shri Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita that such misunderstandings and defects fall within the mode of passion, rajo-guna. A person cannot determine pious or impious, dharma and adharma. They don’t know what should be done and what should be avoided.
Therefore, it is inevitable that they will not succeed in the long-run. There will be rebirth for everyone. From the highest to the lowest, the existence of the soul continues with the passage of time. No one can destroy the essence of identity.
न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्
नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतो ऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)
Success in this context relates to the kind of future birth. Just as a person within an education establishment aims for passing grades, to successfully complete their time receiving instruction, the individual souls finding a human birth should strive for completion to the evolutionary cycle.
That is to say if I work based on proper perception, discernment and assessment of both the world around me and my place in it, then I can stop repeated birth and death. This is the secret passed down to me from the acharyas, who are a chain of disciples originating in the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
तस्मादज्ञानसम्भूतं हृत्स्थं ज्ञानासिनात्मन:
छित्त्वैनं संशयं योगमातिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भारत
chittvainaṁ saṁśayaṁ yogam
“Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, O Bharata, stand and fight.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.42)
Krishna advises Arjuna to slash doubts borne of ignorance using the weapon of knowledge. The acharya helps me to see properly. If I properly understand my role in this world, what I am supposed to do, then I can succeed in linking the individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. This is real yoga, and in every respect I should strive to be a yogi.
Regretting that terrible mistake,
Where considering rope as snake.
That prior assessment gone wrong,
Now suffering misery strong.
When mode of passion under,
Expected repeated blunder.
When with soul direction choosing,
No more proper action confusing.
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