18.28 – Fretting is like overcooking a rotten vegetable in our head
Suppose a chef who found that a recently purchased vegetable was rotten, and, annoyed at the prospect of wasted time and money, decided to set things right by overcooking it.
Obviously, overcooking can’t compensate for the rottenness.
Yet that’s what we try to do metaphorically when life hands us a rotten deal. We often keep thinking resentfully about the mishap, wishing it had never happened and fretting that it did. Essentially, we are overcooking the rotten-vegetable-like situation in the pot of our head with the fuel of our thoughts, hoping that this will somehow make the rottenness go away.
But it won’t. What’s happened has happened. What’s gone wrong has gone wrong. What can’t be changed can’t be changed.
No doubt, we can do things to soften the blow. We may even find an opportunity hiding somewhere behind the adversity. But such corrective action is best done with a calm and clear head, not an agitated and agonized one. For that, we need to first put some emotional distance between ourselves and the mishap. Like throwing the rotten vegetable out, we need to get the festering thought out of our head.
For doing such inner house-cleaning, Gita wisdom offers empowering insights. The Bhagavad-gita (18.28) indicates that moroseness – which inevitably results by fretful, resentful thinking – is the characteristic of those acting in the mode of ignorance, the mode that is most antithetical to our spiritual nature.
We can fight off the mode of ignorance by philosophically meditating that we as souls are indestructible by any material upheaval, and by devotionally remembering that Krishna still resides in our heart ready to lovingly guide us if we just think of him instead of the problem. By thus regaining balance and perspective, we can choose the best response intelligently and pragmatically.
The worker who is always engaged in work against the injunctions of the scripture, who is materialistic, obstinate, cheating and expert in insulting others, and who is lazy, always morose and procrastinating is said to be a worker in the mode of ignorance.