Amidst conflicts, how can we put aside our ego and accept responsibility for the problem?
Transcriber: Suresh Gupta
Question: Amidst conflicts, how can we put aside our ego and accept responsibility for the problem?
Answer: We often have a very functional approach to things – this is the problem; this is the solution. The one who has caused the problem should fix the mess. This is the way we normally function in the world. Instead, we should have a more service-oriented approach where we are conscious that the problem can impede our service to the Lord. The cause of the problem is not as important as the problem getting fixed. If we shift our vision from the specific problem or its solution, to service of the Lord and give more importance to service of the Lord then that itself gives a higher perspective.
We all have to choose our battles in lives. There are too many things that are wrong in life. If we look at the news, we will find hundreds of things that are wrong. We all choose our battles, even in spiritual lives we have to choose our battles. When we want to serve the Lord then for the service to go on, we keep the big picture in mind and may just decide to take a step back. This will help us understand that the problem is not a big issue and we can give concession to the person or the problem so that at least this will keep things moving.
The mind magnifies small problems and deludes us by making us loose our sense of perspective. Sometimes we may magnify a small problem and sometimes we may trivialise a big problem. Either way, the mind can make a loose sense of perspective. However, if we have a clear picture that we have dedicated our life for the service of the Lord, then we can decide, how much energy we want to spend on a problem.
There is a good example in Ramayana of four obstacles which Hanuman meets on his journey to Lanka, which represent various things. One of those obstacles was a demoness named Surasa. She had the benediction that whatever passed on her way should enter her mouth. Seeing Hanuman approach, she made her mouth big. Sensing this, Hanuman too makes himself big. Then Surasa makes her mouth bigger and similarly, Hanuman makes himself bigger. But at one point, Hanuman shrinks his size and immediately enters the mouth of Surasa and comes out. Hanuman could have made this situation an ego issue, but instead he gives priority to his goal of reaching Lanka, which was his service to Lord Rama. Hence, to honor Surasa’s benediction and continue on his journey, he reduces his size and enters her big mouth and immediately comes out. Seeing the intelligence of Hanuman, Surasa becomes pleased and allows him to go ahead and even grants Hanuman her blessings.
Similarly, when we are faced with arguments then instead of getting stuck in the loop of arguments and counter-arguments, we should instead look for ways to close the chapter and move on. Our love for Krishna should free us from the necessity of being right in every argument. Ego has the need to prove that one is always right but if our love for Krishna is strong, then we understand that there are more important things than proving our rightness and the other’s wrongness. The important thing is to move on. On the other hand, if someone is creating a problem again and again or victimising us, troubling us, then we may have to deal with it differently.
Whenever we are proven wrong, that creates an insecurity where we assume – “People will think I am careless, foolish etc.” and that may impel us to prove that we are right, but if we are fixed on Krishna, then even if we accidentally commit a mistake, we can move on because Krishna knows our heart and we have security with him. We don’t need constant approval from the world in every situation.
Giving up the egoistic need to prove ourselves right in every situation is a test of our love to Krishna. In the fourth Canto of Srimad Bhagvatam, there is a story of Prithu Maharaj who had performed ninety-nine sacrifices and while performing the hundredth sacrifice, Indra came and stole the horse. Indra did this repeatedly and was being a troublemaker. Finally, Lord Brahma intervened, and Prithu Maharaj stopped the hundredth sacrifice. Here, Prithu Maharaj could have argued that Indra is wrong, and I am right and could have opposed Brahma. In fact, Lord Brahma did not even need to mention it, Prithu Maharaj understood and stopped the sacrifice.
If we make a small issue into a big issue, then it may turn into a total mess afterwards. We should understand that “there is a right” and “there is also the right beyond right”. There is a right and wrong in a particular argument but there is a right in the ultimate sense also. Prithu Maharaj did not insist on proving his rightness. For him, what was ultimately right was – Lord Brahma is like a guru and he should be pleased. After Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu Himself appears. Normally, if somebody performs hundred yajnas then the fruit goes to heavens. The Lord may or may not appear. However, in the case of Prithu Maharaj, even though he did not complete the hundred yajnas, still Lord Vishnu appeared. The Supreme Lord appeared because Prithu Maharaj was ready to give up the egoistic pleasure of “doing hundred yajnas”. If we keep the higher cause of Lord’s service in mind and know that Krishna understands us then sometimes, even if in a particular argument, we are proven wrong, it does not matter. We can take the humble position and move on with the service of the Lord.
End of transcription.