04.36 – The power that supersedes nature, nurture and culture
We are what we are because of three primary factors: nature, nurture and culture.
Nature: All of us are born with a particular psycho-physical nature that is determined by our past-life karma.
Nurture: The upbringing we receive from our parents and guardians during our formative years comprises the this-life foundation of our character and behavior.
Culture: As we grow up and interact with the larger world beyond our family, the prevailing culture acts as a lifelong shaping force.
When we try to lead a life of moral and spiritual principles, we often find that our past nature, nurture and culture shackle us.
Gita wisdom enables us to break these shackles. It introduces us to a power that lies beyond these three material influences: the spiritual power of devotion. The Bhagavad-gita (04.36) points to this power when it declares that spiritual knowledge can take us beyond the most constricting of all conditionings. All spiritual knowledge culminates in devotion.
We can access the power of devotion by practicing the process of devotional service. Such practice gives us clear knowledge and convincing realization of our spiritual identity as souls, an identity that lies beyond all material factors. This enables us to recognize that our willpower, being ultimately an expression of our spiritual identity, doesn’t have to be limited by our material influences. Secondly and more importantly, devotional service enables us to connect with the supreme power of Krishna, who can boost our willpower far beyond our individual capacity as finite souls.
Of course, we can’t cancel all the influences of nature, nurture and culture. And we don’t need to. But whenever we do need to go beyond the limits that they impose on us, the sincere and diligent practice of devotional opens doors that we had assumed were forever closed for us.