02.38 – The world is a station, not a destination
New students of the Bhagavad-gita often find its injunction to stay equipoised amidst success and failure (2.38) perplexing: “Isn’t it natural to feel happy when we succeed and feel unhappy when we fail? Why does the Gita ask us to suppress such natural emotions?”
Gita wisdom discourages not the natural expression of emotions but the unnatural escalation of transient emotions. It reminds us that we are on a multi-lifetime journey that will take us through numerous stations which correspond with our various life-experiences. Some stations will be clean and pleasant; others, unclean and unpleasant. Similarly, some of our life-experiences will be joyful and relishable; others, painful and intolerable.
Our life-journey is meant for a glorious eternal destination: the supremely blissful abode of Krishna. For our train to reach that destination, we need to move emotionally closer to Krishna through all our life-experiences. To do this, we need to focus on cultivating his devotional remembrance internally and harmonize our response to external situations. At best we utilize those situations to aid our devotional remembrance; at least we navigate through them skillfully without getting emotionally entangled.
However, we frequently stay on emotionally at a departed station even after the train of life has moved on. This prevents us from experiencing the present fully, learning the wisdom it contains and capitalizing on the devotional growth opportunities it brings. Worse still, by living on emotionally in the past, we sometimes sentence ourselves to unnecessary misery, as in the tragic incidences of sports fans committing suicide due to their favorite team losing a match.
To save us from such avoidable miseries caused by our fixation on the past and to enable us to ultimately relish eternal spiritual emotions, the Gita urges us to not get carried away by transient worldly emotions.