02.13 – Do we recognize that we haven’t recognized ourselves?
“That couldn’t have been me.”
This is what people say when they think of what they did under the spell of alcohol – actions that were so out of character with them. They recognize, “That intoxicated person wasn’t the real me; I don’t want to ever become like that again.”
We may feel pity for such recovering alcoholics, but Gita wisdom prompts us to recognize that we may be in a similar predicament. In fact, worse because we may not have yet recognized, “That’s not me.”
We are not our material bodies, but are souls meant for an eternal life of love with Krishna. Our bodily misidentification acts like an intoxicant; it blanks out reality and sweeps us into a make-believe world wherein we play a role that lasts only as long as death doesn’t pull us out of our body. And soon thereafter we become intoxicated by misidentifying with another body. Again and again till we decide that we have had enough.
The Bhagavad-gita (02.13) refers to those who have had enough, those who have come to their spiritual senses as dhira, wise persons. Srila Prabhupada fittingly renders dhira as sober persons, for they have broken free from the intoxication of bodily misidentification. Just as an alcohol-free sober person can do everything much better, so can a misidentification-free sober person. By knowing that we are at our core indestructible spiritual beings, we can face the problems of life with maturity, resist the temptations of the flesh with integrity and march undistracted towards our glorious destiny with Krishna.
And that march begins and proceeds with the recognition: “That’s not me… The person who wants to act in non-spiritual immoral ways is not me. The real me is a higher, better person waiting to resurface as soon as I become sober.”