16.16 – Are we living our life at the center or at the periphery?
In our life, we presume that we are the choosers and the doers, the central protagonists in an ongoing, unfolding drama.
But are we, really?
We often unwittingly let ourselves be displaced from the center of our life to the periphery. Replacing us at the center is a shadow version of ourselves, a weakling surrogate who performs just for the gallery. This substitute constantly buckles under the pressure of worldly situations and temptations, doing whatever will hopefully earn praise or at least avoid censure. The desires that the world injects into this shadow self are unlimited. So, despite its feverish efforts to gain the world’s plaudits, it inevitably feels strained and drained. The Bhagavad-gita (16.16) outlines the plight of those who meekly dance to the world’s tunes: being trapped in a network of illusions and attached to petty desires, they lead lives that are distracted and doomed.
Gita wisdom rescues us from this fate. It activates our introspection and helps us realize that we are spending our life on things that don’t reflect our core concerns, our foremost values, our innermost aspirations. Thus, we understand that, metaphorically speaking, our real self has been sidelined by a pseudo-self, a cheap soul-selling populist.
Of course, Gita wisdom acknowledges our need to do our worldly duties. But it reminds us that if we want lasting fulfillment, we need to satisfy our deepest longing for love, eternal love for Krishna. When we give adequate time to lovingly connect with Krishna, he gives us the clarity of thought for intelligently choosing to do those worldly things that truly matter to us. By thus refusing to dance to the world’s tunes, we can harmonize our actions with our aspirations.
This harmony reinstates us at the center of our life.