How can we develop our determination?
Answer Summary: By deliberation and devotion
Answer: Determination differentiates a strong person from a weak person, a successful person from an unsuccessful person and, in the spiritual field, a seeker who attains self-mastery from a seeker who fails to attain it.
How do we develop determination?
Through deliberation and devotion, indicates the Bhagavad-gita (03.43). This verse concludes one of the most introspectively illuminating and contemporarily relevant sections of the Gita (03.36-03.43), wherein the cause of self-defeating behavior is analyzed.
The seminal question that starts the section is: What is it that compels us to do what we know we shouldn’t do? Or in other words, what is it that sabotages our determination?
The Gita answers that it is selfish desire that expresses itself initially as lust and later transmogrifies into fury. To the extent we let ourselves be seduced by such selfish desires, to that extent it sabotages our determination. Such desires rivet our vision to short-term pleasures, whereas determination comes by focusing on our long-term interests. Students who are obsessed with the movie being released tonight will find it nearly impossible to sustain their determination to study for the upcoming exam. People who are obsessed with hormonal drives and physical sensations won’t have the determination needed for committed relationships. Spiritual shoppers who are obsessed with quick-fix “i-am-ok-you-are-ok”- type pop psychology can’t have the determination to do lifestyle changes – changes necessary for inside-out self-actualization that is the real gift of spirituality.
After thus analyzing the modus operandi of selfish desires, this Gita section exhorts us in its concluding verse: by deliberating on your true identity, situate yourself in spiritual devotion and conquer selfishness.
Let’s take a closer look at these two points:
- Deliberation: When we deliberate what our true values are, what we would like to be remembered for at the end of our life, what we would like to leave as our legacy, we soon see that most of the passions and obsessions that we give in to – playing video games, channel-surfing on TV, gossiping, for example – are so trivial that we wouldn’t care for them in the long run. When we take such introspective deliberation deeper, we realize that scriptural wisdom offers us an inner torchlight that shows us our deepest values. We are all thirsting for love – to love and to be loved. This thirst doesn’t come from the hormones of our body or the neurons of our brain, but from our innermost core – our soul. Gita wisdom shows how we can fulfill our soul’s longing for love by directing it towards God, Krishna, and through him to everyone else, seeing them as family members in the one divine family. Deliberation reveals the integrity, the dignity and the glory of our most cherished aspirations, and gives us the determination to lead a life that honors those aspirations.
- Devotion: What deliberation clarifies intellectually devotion confirms experientially. When we choose to offer our love to Krishna by the universal time-honored process of bhakti-yoga, we soon start relishing the higher happiness of divine love. This happiness is so enriching that we realize by contrast that our past pursuits for happiness through materialistic indulgences were so impoverishing – they provided a few moments of pleasure preceded and succeeded by hours and years of impoverishing craving. Bhakti provides a steady fulfillment that keeps increasing as we grow spiritually.
Bhakti-yoga is such an encompassing path that it spiritualizes even our worldly ambitions. Instead of rejecting such ambitions as mundane or craving for them as trophies for our ego, we pursue them to do justice to our god-given talents, and to use them for Krishna’s pleasure and for the benefit of others. This noble vision empowers us with determination to do our best in all our endeavors.
Thus the insight provided by deliberation and the fulfillment provided by devotion catapult our determination to new unprecedented heights.