02.52 – Untrue ways of being true to oneself
We live amidst continuous bidirectional traffic between our externals and our internals.
The outside-in flow is usually more influential because the world is much greater than the individual. This is best seen in how external fashions change people’s inner likes so quickly.
In such a cultural scenario, a few people stick to their own ways of living, saying that they want to be true to themselves.
This sentiment is good, but first, Gita wisdom emphasizes, we need to know what the true self is: the soul. We are presently covered internally by our mind’s conditionings and externally by our culture’s conceptions. To be true to our self means to act according to our nature as souls and delight in loving Krishna. For that, we need to counter both the outer cultural and inner mental influences by placing ourselves in a spiritually conducive culture and cultivating a devotionally receptive mindset.
Otherwise, in the name of being true to oneself, we may well be holding on to outdated traditions that are as untrue to our true identity as are the current fashions. The traditions that we follow in the name of being true to ourselves may well be nothing more than the external influences that had affected our ancestors.
The real criterion for deciding what is true to oneself is not what is traditional, but what is spiritual, that is, conducive for our realization of our true self. Using this criterion, the Bhagavad-gita (02.52) indicates that spiritually realized people stay uninfluenced by what they are hearing now, what they have heard in the past and what they will hear in the future. They are fixed in their inner connection with Krishna and in all that helps them sustain and strengthen that connection.
Such steadiness is the actual standard of being true to oneself.