06.05: Who will save me from me?

by April 15, 2012

“Why did I do that?” This question often troubles us whenever we look back at a less-than-worthy action that we did on the spur of the moment. Seeking an honest answer leads us to an unpleasant conclusion: my greatest enemy is me.

The question, then, begs itself: who will save me from me?

Gita wisdom answers, “Me.”

This is the verdict of an enigmatic Bhagavad-gita verse (6.5) that addresses the self in a dual sense. Translated literally, the verse states, “Elevate the self with the self; do not degrade the self with the self. The self is the friend of the self and the self is also the enemy of the self.”

This dual sense of the self arises from the dual nature of our present existence: we are spiritual beings trapped in material bodies. Our spiritual side, our real self, prompts us towards our long-term interests, whereas our material side, our illusory self, pushes us towards short-term indulgences. This dual sense of the self is difficult to comprehend and as our misidentification with the illusory self is created primarily by the mind. No wonder then that almost all prominent Gita commentators translate the second “self” in this verse as the “mind.”

With either translation, the essential question remains: how can we save ourselves? Let’s consider a metaphor to understand the answer.

Our situation is like that of a boat on an ocean. For the boat to stay steady amidst the wavy and stormy ocean, it needs to be coupled to something steadier than itself: an anchor. Similarly, if we wish to stay steady amidst the materialist storms that shake us through provocative situations and passions, we need to couple with something steadier than ourselves: the ultimate spiritual anchor, Krishna.

Therefore, the complete answer to the question, “Who can save me from me?” is, “me, by coupling with Krishna.”



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