We all aspire to improve ourselves, to bring out our best and to make our best contributions. However, there exists some force within us that sabotages us, that makes us take wrong turns at critical junctures, that makes us our own worst enemies.
Our higher aspirations originate ultimately from our spiritual core, whereas our self-defeating lower side arises from our conditionings. The Bhagavad-gita indicates that these conditionings come primarily in three forms: lust, anger and greed. As long as we don’t overcome these forces, we can’t act for our well-being. The Gita (16.22) exhorts us to fight and overcome these forces. Unless we can learn to purge ourselves of our lower side, our higher side can’t be sustained, just as fire can’t last for long in rain.
Of course, the sequence here is not chronological – that is, it is not that we have to first beat down our worst and then we will bring out our best. Actually, the opposite is most often true: we need to develop our devotion, connect with Krishna and uncover our godly spiritual core, thus bringing out our best and thereby crowding out our worst. Fire is often a powerful way of getting rid of the water already present.
While our focus undoubtedly needs to be on bringing out our best, there is no easy way to it – we have to go through a grim and bruising battle wherein we need to fight against our lower side. Those not ready to go through that battle often stay at a superficial, sentimental level of devotion. When we become ready to fight the inner war, then we practice bhakti-yoga determinedly, relish the transformational power of devotion and rise to the spiritual level of consciousness where life and love eternal beckons.