18.66 – Love values, but value love more

by March 23, 2013

Values protect us from impulses. When we become angry or lusty or greedy, our values, especially our ethical and behavioral values, check us from acting on those impulsive feelings. That’s why we need to cherish and love our values; they help us curb our lower material side and cultivate our higher spiritual side.

However, these same values that move us towards Krishna can also block us if we love them more than we love Krishna. How? By making us unwilling to surrender to Krishna’s will.

The tension between subordinate moral values and the supreme spiritual value comes to a flashpoint at the climax of the Bhagavad-gita (18.66). That dramatic verse urges us to subordinate all other values, as represented by various dharmas, to the supreme value of love for Krishna, as represented by surrender to his will. During such subordination we may have to do things that are deemed wrong from the perspective of worldly morality.  Lest this fear inhibit us, the verse assures that Krishna will free us from all sinful reactions.

Krishna is motivated by the highest of all values – love. He is the greatest lover of all living beings. Whatever he desires and does is for everyone’s highest wellbeing. When we surrender to his will, we act as per the supreme value – the value of Krishna’s supreme love. So, from the factual transcendental perspective, such surrendered action can never be a misdeed.

Of course, this reasoning doesn’t justify jettisoning all moral values in the name of love. Gita wisdom unequivocally differentiates divine love from worldly love, which is frequently just lust with an ingratiating mask. We need to strenuously curb lust with scripturally-based values.

But once we have become pure enough to enter the arena of devotion, the Gita exhorts us to let love reign supreme.


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