How do we distinguish between material anxiety and spiritual anxiety?
Transcribed by: Dr Suresh Gupta
Edited by: Sharan Shetty
Question: How do we differentiate between spiritual anxiety and material anxiety?
Answer: Spiritual anxiety means anxiety experienced due to problems faced in serving the spiritual master. Material anxiety is when we serve under the material mode of passion simply for name and recognition.
It is said, phalen parichayate – the tree is known by its fruits. We should introspect before doing anything – is this activity enhancing or weakening our remembrance of Krishna? If the activity helps us move closer to Krishna, then the impulse is positive. Rather than perceiving an action as black and white, we can observe with what motivation we are doing the action. We then strengthen those motivations which take us closer to Krishna and weaken those that take us away from Krishna.
We all have a human need to be accepted and respected in whatever community we belong to. This is by no means, wrong or unhealthy. It is just a natural human need. To the extent this need is addressed, to that extent we can function properly in our lives.
We all have to act in specific ways to move forward in our lives. When we fulfil what is required to act in specific ways, we feel secure. If we do a valuable service which is also difficult where we put our time, efforts, creativity, dedication and resources but in the end if nobody appreciates us, we will instinctively feel disheartened.
It is important to know that human need for appreciation is not like ego’s need for gratification. Although we aspire for pure selfless motivation, but we work with whatever motivation we have and at the same time we work on the motivation we have. Thus, we have to work for Krishna with our existing motivation while improving on our existing motivation.
We may question ourselves, “Should I stop doing this service since I am doing this for name, fame, glories?” The answer is – If we stop doing the service, then how will we be purified by the service? If we stop doing the service and someone else takes it up and starts doing it wonderfully then we will simply become envious of that person. It is important that we recognise and deal with our situation in a mature way.
Passion is associated with creation but generally anything in the mode of passion is not sustainable. If we are starting a new project as a service to Krishna and want to expand it then some amount of passion will be required. However, only passion cannot sustain things, we will also need goodness. Without goodness, we will exhaust ourselves so much that we feel sick and unhealthy. Or we will exhaust ourselves mentally and become irritable, resentful, feeling that we are working so hard, but nobody cares for or cooperates with us. While such emotion may be true, but we have to know that we are like a mother and the project is our baby. Sometimes others may come forward to help take care of the baby but if the baby starts crying in the night then the mother cannot expect a neighbour to come and take care of the baby. Only mother has to take care of her baby in such situations. To have a baby requires some amount of passion but afterwards taking care of that baby requires goodness which is not easy to sustain.
We can decide that although I had expanded to this proportion, may be this is not sustainable for me, so let me downsize. In general, if we do the service in a way that is holistic and also sustainable then we will move closer to Krishna. We will actually start feeling that we can connect with Krishna and by such connection we will be successful. Not just in the term of contribution in the world but also making the connection that takes us beyond the world.
Both of these drivers can come together in a holistic and a sustainable way if we work with whatever existing motivation we have while also working on that motivation. Sometimes we might be partially fuelled by a desire for recognition and partially by the desire to serve guru and Krishna. The proportion may vary differently at different times. Even when we do not get recognition, rather than giving it to frustration we can see this as an opportunity to purify ourselves, our motivations. Instead of being discouraged, we rework on our motivations and move on in our lives. That is how we can function and progress.
End of transcription.