While driving, if we see a bump ahead, we slow down. However, instead of slowing down, if we accelerate, we may damage our vehicle or even injure ourselves. Unfortunately, that’s what we sometimes do when we face unexpected difficulties during our life-journey. We try to rush through things, hoping to paper over the cracks. Even when we are told to slow down, our mind refuses, “You have to get to your destination quickly. You can’t afford to slow down.” But then we end up with a run-down vehicle – we end up with difficulties that are perpetuated or even aggravated, not mitigated by our frenzied approach.
A dramatic example of slowing down on hitting a bump is offered by Arjuna at the start of the Bhagavad-gita. While on the verge of the biggest war of his life, he hits an unexpected bump – he is overwhelmed by apprehension about fighting against his relatives. Rather than acting impulsively, either by walking away from the battlefield or by fighting without the necessary conviction, he turns to Krishna and seeks guidance about dharma, the right course of action (02.07). Thereby emerges the wisdom of the Gita that illuminates him and has continued to illuminate millions for millennia.
Arjuna’s example shows that slowing down doesn’t mean not doing anything – it just means refusing impulsive reactions and taking time to gain spiritual insight, thereby equipping ourselves with a fresh, positive perspective.
When life’s vicissitudes jolt us, the most effective way we can slow down is by turning to Gita wisdom. Thereby we can remind ourselves of our essential spiritual identity and our eternal spiritual relationship with the ultimate reality, Krishna, whose parts we are. When we thus ground ourselves in these inviolable spiritual truths, we get the composure and confidence to think clearly and figure out the best way ahead.
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