See within to seek without; seek without to see within

by October 31, 2013

Ads, promos, billboards fill us with ideas of what all we need. Some of these things may be our actual needs, but many are simply superfluous trinkets that we mistake as our needs due to the outer propaganda blitz.

To seek without intelligently, we need to see within diligently. Seeing within means to contemplate our cherished values and our deepest aspirations. To see within more clearly, time-honored wisdom texts like the Bhagavad-gita serve as inner torchlights.

Gita wisdom helps us understand our true identity as souls and our eternal life of love in relationship with the all-attractive Supreme Being, Krishna. And it helps distinguish our core self and its central concerns from outer persuasions that have lodged themselves in our mind and are unscrupulously masquerading as “needs.” Once we make this distinction, we get two benefits: relief from pursuing un-necessities, and release for pursuing necessities. Thus by seeing within, we learn what to seek without. This is demonstrated in the setting of the Bhagavad-gita wherein Arjuna while being on the verge of fighting a history-defining war faced an emotional breakdown. Krishna through the Gita’s message helped him to see within, and thereby understand how and why to act without.

Significantly, the flow of insights is bi-directional. By seeking without, we learn to see within. When we strive to achieve something externally, the ensuing struggle tests our inner muscles, our grit and determination. More importantly, it helps us recognize the compatibility or incompatibility of our outer actions with our inner aspirations, thereby showing us the room for course corrections.

We often crave and slave for the things that the world glamorizes. But gaining those things often turns our to be an anti-climax – they give a short-lived titillation followed by a prolonged, in fact permanent, letdown. Most people try to get rid of this emptiness by seeking something else glamorized by the world. But astute people recognize this emptiness as a prompt for soul-searching, for enriching themselves with a clearer understanding of who they are and what will make them happy.

Moreover, our inner values are tested and toughened when we try to live them in the outer world. That’s why the Gita urged Arjuna not to renounce world, but to utilize it in the service of God and all living beings. By doing our outer responsibilities in a mood of service to the Supreme, we become enriched with epiphanies, as the Bhagavad-gita (9.2) indicates. Thus by seeking without, we learn to see within better.

This symbiosis of our inner and outer worlds is the key to a meaningful and joyful life.

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