14.23 – Navigating the troughs of our consciousness
As aspiring devotees, we will often observe the state of our consciousness oscillating up and down like a sine wave. In our devotional service, we feel sometimes attracted towards Krishna, sometimes apathetic or even averse. These feelings correspond to the peaks and the troughs of the sine wave of our consciousness.
We naturally love the peaks. During these positive phases, we find ourselves cheerful and purposeful. We feel cheerful because our attraction to Krishna gives us inner satisfaction. And we feel purposeful because our satisfaction affirms our conviction that we are on the right path and inspires us to press on enthusiastically.
Conversely, we naturally dread the troughs. During these negative phases, we find ourselves cheerless and purposeless. We feel cheerless because our apathy or aversion towards Krishna drains away all our inner satisfaction. And we feel purposeless because our inner dryness sows the seeds of doubts in our hearts, leaving us wondering whether we are on the right path and whether we might be better off by taking an about-turn.
Gita wisdom allays our doubts by reassuring us that the oscillations in our consciousness are natural and predictable effects of the three modes, which affect all living beings in the material world, even aspiring devotees. The Bhagavad-gita (14.23) urges us to take the role of observers while dealing with the modes. This role will help us understand that what we consider as our inner feelings of apathy are actually outer influences of the modes. More importantly, we will recognize that the feelings of fulfillment and ecstasy are our original feelings; our present experiences of those feelings are the pre-cursors of what awaits us eternally if we just persevere on the devotional path.
By thus contextualizing our negative feelings, we can navigate through the troughs and, over time, advance smoothly and swiftly.