18.26 – Life in goodness is not life in slow motion
As we live in a fast-paced, passionate culture, life in the mode of goodness can seem unappealing: “If I have to always think things through before acting on them, won’t that take all excitement and thrill out of my life? Won’t it reduce my life to a permanent slow motion?”
Not at all.
The Bhagavad-gita (18.26) states that those who work in goodness are permeated with enthusiasm (utsaaha samanvitah). Enthusiasm implies verve, energy, spirit – not the attributes of a life in slow motion.
The picture of goodness as life in slow motion is a caricature conjured by our stereotyped misconceptions about what goodness really is.
Earlier the Gita (14.11) mentions that the hallmark of goodness is illumination of the senses. That is, when in goodness, we can clearly perceive the kinds of sensory engagements that are beneficent and the kinds that are maleficent.
Our senses usually act as the pathways for our journey of life; we frequently turn towards those things that our senses find appealing and turn away from those things that our senses find appalling. Living in goodness implies ensuring that we invest the time necessary to look beyond appearances. We choose our direction based not on how a path looks, but on where it takes. Once we calmly ascertain that the destination is the right one for us, we take off enthusiastically, speedily even, as long as we stay on track and don’t court unnecessary danger.
When we are good at doing certain things, we can do them fast and still stay in goodness because the speed doesn’t distract our focus from why we are doing what we are doing. Goodness doesn’t make a virtue out of slowness. Its central concern, after all, is not velocity of motion but clarity of direction.
One who performs his duty without association with the modes of material nature, without false ego, with great determination and enthusiasm, and without wavering in success or failure is said to be a worker in the mode of goodness.