15.07: Go Beyond the External – and the Internal
Many self-help books tell us that we can become peaceful by going within. But is the within actually peaceful? In our own experience, we often find it filled with disturbing emotions like tension, stress, resentment, worry, and frustration. These inner disturbances impel many people to seek relief in TV, movies and similar outer distractions. In some people, these disturbances become so acute as to cause them serious mental health problems.
Does this mean that we shouldn’t seek peace within?
We need to first understand what is truly internal to us before seeking peace in it. We normally define as external the physical world that we talk and walk in, and as internal the mental world that we think and feel in. However, we base this definition on the assumption that we are the body: as the physical world is outside the body, we call it external; as the mental world is inside the body, we call it internal.
Gita wisdom shows that this underlying assumption about our identity is false; it explains logically and systematically how we are not the body but the soul. From the viewpoint of the soul – from our actual viewpoint, both the body and the mind are external. The Bhagavad-gita (15.7) indicates that both the body and the mind cause the soul to struggle and suffer (manah shastanindriyani prakriti sthani karshati).
The only truly internal world for the soul is the world of its loving relationship with Krishna. That alone is eternal – and is eternally beyond the ups and downs of both the body and the mind.
By cultivating regular remembrance of Krishna, we can go beyond the physical and the mental worlds to the devotional world. There and there alone will we find lasting peace.