14.10: Beyond indecision and indiscretion to introspection and inspiration

by May 18, 2012

“What should I do now?” We often face this question when life’s perplexities disrupt our routines. We frequently respond based on not just the external situation, but also our internal mood at the moment. As our moods keep changing and even conflicting, their unpredictability worsens our perplexity.

Gita wisdom helps us understand that our moods derive from the modes, which are subtle forces that shape our interactions with matter. The Bhagavad-gita (14.10) indicates that within our consciousness the three modes are in perpetual conflict. Let’s look at the typical mood induced by each of the modes:

  1. Indecision: Characteristic of the mode of ignorance, indecision prevents us from both thinking clearly and acting decisively. Sometimes, indecision degenerates into self-pity, frustration and even violence.
  2. Indiscretion: Triggered by the mode of passion, indiscretion goads us towards acting without thinking. Usually, indiscretion aggravates the perplexity.
  3. Introspection: Stimulated by the mode of goodness, introspection enables us to think carefully and then act calmly to implement the best course of action. Our introspection works best when guided by scriptural instruction.
  4. Inspiration: Gifted by the indwelling Lord who resides beyond the three modes, inspiration resolves the entire perplexity in one moment of epiphany.

These four moods may not always be discrete, but may comprise a spectrum with indecision and indiscretion on the negative side, and introspection and inspiration on the positive side. Inspiration is usually not in our hands, but introspection surely is. Even when we feel indecisive or indiscreet, we can make our introspection active and effective by seeking appropriate scriptural instruction.

This, in fact, is what Arjuna did in the Bhagavad-gita: though he was paralyzed by indecision in the beginning, he utilized introspection and instruction to become enlivened by inspiration.


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