“Every endeavor is covered by some sort of fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work which is born of his nature, O son of Kunti, even if such work is full of fault.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.48)
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सह-जं कर्म कौन्तेय
स-दोषम् अपि न त्यजेत्
सर्वारम्भा हि दोषेण
saha-jaṁ karma kaunteya
sa-doṣam api na tyajet
sarvārambhā hi doṣeṇa
1. They have the wrong political affiliation
“You know, I used to like that person. I respected what they had to say. I followed their advice. I was a subscriber to their content.
“Well, that all changed. Their political affiliation was recently discovered. I cannot believe who they support in elections. It is so ridiculous. I have blocked this person from everything. They are now out of my life forever. This is a line I am not willing to cross.”
2. They said something I don’t like
“Can you believe what that person said? It is so ridiculous. They should resign immediately. Okay, the remark was from ten years ago, but who cares? No one should be in the public eye if they made such offensive remarks before. They should never be allowed to work again.”
3. They did not speak out against abuses made by colleagues
“This thing is snowballing into a huge issue. Have you seen? There was abuse in that institution for years. That one person you love so much is actually implicated. No, they weren’t part of the abuse, but they also didn’t do anything to stop it.
“I get it that these groups can turn into something like the mafia, where you get killed for exposing corruption, but still. This person should have done something. They sat back and did nothing, while the victims were helpless.”
4. They have a dangerous habit
“Oh wow, did you see? That person apparently loves going to the casinos. They have been going for years. Okay, maybe no one is getting harmed. It is not like they are in debt or losing their house or anything.
“But still, they should know better than that. They are a public figure. They are a role model to millions of people. What are people going to think, now? This is terrible.”
5. They failed to rewind the video tape before returning it
“Well, the news just broke. You know that celebrity that everyone loves? Well, it turns out that they were a repeat offender when it came to their video club membership. This was in the days of the VCR, where you rented cassette tapes and brought them home to watch.
“No, the news isn’t about overdue fines for delayed returns. This person was prompt in that area. They did something much worse. They forgot to rewind the cassette tapes prior to returning them. Can you believe that? This meant that the next person renting the video had to wait to rewind the tape before watching. How inconsiderate. There literally was a reminder taped to the box. It said, ‘Please be kind, rewind.’ I can’t believe they would be so disrespectful of other people’s time.”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the person who is desperate for a utopia, to find a situation without any faults, inevitably falls into misery and hopelessness. From the above review, we see that it is not difficult to find faults.
If we are looking for some blemish, we could criticize someone for how they walk. We castigate them for their aloofness, for not caring. We despise the person who talks too much, and we can’t understand how someone can remain silent in the face of injustice.
We cancel out many generations of ancestors since they went along with a prevailing practice of the time, one that has since been outlawed throughout most of the world. We make one excuse after another to not offer respect to others, all the while expecting others to offer respect to us.
This certainly creates a hopeless situation, the answer to which is voidism. Nullify everything. Merge into nothingness. That must be the answer. Because nothing else is perfect. There are flaws all around. No one is beyond reproach, so the solution must be to remove personality altogether.
Don’t worship a personality. Don’t honor others. Don’t be involved with the variety. Eliminate duality. Eliminate contemplation. Remove the potential blemishes from acting in the wrong way. Take away the chance to be criticized for failing to act.
Bhagavad-gita takes a more rational approach. There is the acknowledgment that people are not perfect. The fallibility extends into occupations. The comparison is to fire and the smoke it produces. Fire is absolutely necessary for life to continue.
For a person to criticize fire is silly. The accompanying heat and light are basic requirements of an existence. The most luminous object in the sky, the sun, distributes heat and light without an external source. It is not that the sun shuts down for a brief period each day, in order to be patched to the latest version of the operating system. The sun maintains itself. It is the home of fire.
At the same time, we could find fault with fire. After all, fire produces smoke. That smoke is usually not welcome. It can cause suffocation. It can create a dangerous situation, if the surrounding area lacks proper ventilation.
Smoke is entirely the fire’s doing. The fire is responsible. Therefore, fire must be imperfect. We should cancel it out. We should forever swear off utilizing its benefits, due to the smoke it produces.
To take such an approach would be silly, and so the same follows with occupational duties. Shri Krishna recommends that a person should follow the work in accordance with their own nature. This work should be conducted as a matter of duty, for the pleasure of Krishna.
Then, even the faults will be eliminated. There is no harm in the process. The individual is imperfect, after all. This means that their work cannot be perfect. If the interest in the work, and especially in the fruits to that work, is not the highest concern, then the work can become transcendental.
By extension, the person performing that work is also of a higher standard. Though they may not be perfect, in our eyes, they are giving up everything else for the satisfaction of the all-attractive one. Their life becomes a symbol of sacrifice. They are setting a standard for others to follow, to lead them to a higher state of being.
The person engaged in Krishna’s service is always the best person. Their flaws may be compared to the smoke produced by fire. If their primary interest is towards the transcendental realm, then they go to that realm. They bring along others who are connected in that interest, either through direct support or emulation due to admiration.
To be cancelled in eyes of the woke,
But consider the fire producing smoke.
How nothing perfect can be,
Flaws everywhere to see.
Occupation to continue still,
But different underlying will.
That conducted for Krishna’s sake,
Who blemishes to negate.
Categories: the five
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