01.44 – Choose the self-definition that is eternal and factual, not fickle and fallible
The world usually defines us by our possessions – what we wear, what we drive in, what we own, for example. Being influenced by this pervasive social mirror, we too frequently define ourselves similarly.
But such a self-definition is fickle and fallible. Fickle because it can change dramatically or traumatically as our material fortunes change. And fallible because it doesn’t reveal our character, our heart, the essence of who we are.
Yes some people are so desperate to see a flattering reflection of themselves in the social mirror that they frantically crave and slave to increase their possessions – and even ride roughshod over their morality and integrity. They become blind to the reality indicated by Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita (01.44) that such people unwittingly set themselves up for reaping heavy karmic consequences.
To avoid these consequences, we don’t have to give up our possessions; we just need to change our self-definition. The later sections of the Gita address Arjuna’s concerns by refining and revising his self-definition. The Gita replaces the fickle and fallible self-definition offered by society with our eternal and factual self-definition: we are eternal souls on a multi-lifetime journey meant to culminate in our return to Krishna’s supreme abode for a life of unending love. During this journey, our progressively unfolding love for Krishna is our only lasting possession. Nothing else will last, though it can make a lasting contribution if used for the service of Krishna – it can purify us and propel us forward on our spiritual odyssey.
Animated by our revised understanding of who we are and what is actually ours, we act as competent custodians of our belongings, using them in Krishna’s service. Thus our possessions become reinvented vehicles in our ongoing spiritual evolution.
01.44 – Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts. Driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness, we are intent on killing our own kinsmen.