02.14 – Imprisoned by circumstances, liberated by consciousness
Sometimes life pushes us into a tight corner from which we just can’t wiggle out. We feel imprisoned by our circumstances.
Such imprisonment is an opportunity to tap an underutilized power – the power of tolerance which, as the Bhagavad-gita (02.14) indicates, enables us to break free from our circumstances. This emancipation unfolds through three progressive insights:
- Accept the unavoidable: It compares the circumstances that bring us pleasure or pain with the seasons that bring heat or cold. When the weather turns hostile, we don’t waste our time grinding our teeth and wringing our hands; we accept its unchangeablity and find a way to go on with life in that weather. We need a similar humble and hard-nosed realism to acknowledge that some circumstances may be unavoidable, like the weather. This acknowledgement saves us from futile resentment and frees us to find ways for going on with life amidst those circumstances.
- The unavoidable is temporary: Hostile weather never lasts forever; the weather that is unchangeable by our efforts will in due course of time definitely change by nature’s arrangement. The same holds true for adverse circumstances. By remembering that everything material is temporary, we can muster the resolve to tolerate our circumstances, no matter how suffocating they seem at present.
- Concentration of our energy on inner change provides rich returns: The real gift of tolerance is that it enables us to concentrate on our inner life. When we persevere dynamically in our attempts to remember and serve Krishna, we discover a rich inner reality whose stability and strength empowers us not only during those adverse circumstances but forever.
By thus realizing that our consciousness can always keep growing towards Krishna, we learn the life-changing lesson that even when we are imprisoned by circumstances, we can stay liberated by consciousness.