02.58 – Are we trying to move up while looking down?

by December 20, 2012

Seasoned mountaineers who aim to scale a lofty summit avoid looking down unnecessarily. Of course, they stay aware of the terrain below so that they don’t become careless and let themselves slip. But they know that thinking too much about the land below can spark fears of falling. Such fears can paralyze them and even impel them to start going down instead of up. That’s why they focus on the next steps to be taken in the climb, knowing that taking one step at a time will eventually take them to the peak.

These mountaineering principles apply to our devotional journey too. We wish to offer ourselves fully to Krishna and so aspire to scale the peak of self-mastery atop the mountain of self-discipline. During our climb, we need to avoid looking down unnecessarily or, as the Bhagavad-gita (02.58) puts it, avoid contemplating the sense objects. Of course, we can stay aware of the morass of attachment and bondage from which we have arisen so that we don’t become careless and let ourselves slip. But thinking too much about the ground below can spark desires for those immoral indulgences that we have quit. The re-stimulation of those desires may make us fearful that we will never become free from them. This fear may paralyze us or may even impel us to start moving down towards them.

That’s why we need to focus on the next steps to be taken in our climb, that is, on the next activities to be done in our life of devotional service to Krishna. If we concentrate our intelligence and energy to just take that one step, we will slowly but surely move upwards till one day we surprise ourselves by planting the flag of pure devotion atop the peak of self-mastery.

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