Focus not on where the inner voice is coming from, but on where it is taking
We often hear different voices from within us. Some voices prompt us to act foolishly, some to act wisely, some to actions in between.
Gita wisdom names the various prompters in our inner world: our mind, our intelligence, our ego, and beyond them all our Lord. The world within, like the world without, is filled with both friends and enemies.
However, we don’t have a torchlight that we can flash inwards and identify which voice belongs to an enemy and which to a friend. Of course, we know broadly that the mind often acts inimically and the intelligence benevolently. The mind impels us towards short-sighted self-defeating choices, and the intelligence, towards far-sighted self-actualizing choices.
However, things aren’t always that simple. The Bhagavad-gita (03.40) cautions that selfish desire is situated even in the intelligence. When the intelligence is thus corrupted, it comes up with rationalizations for self-centered indulgences. The ensuing internal confusion can be externally paralyzing.
How can we avoid such confusion? By shifting our focus. Rather than obsessing over choices where the moral contours are blurred, we can concentrate on choices where the contours are clear. To know these clear contours, we need to study scripture and understand broadly which actions elevate us and which degrade us – and choose accordingly.
Using scriptural guidance, when we do the things we know we should be doing and avoid the things we know we shouldn’t be doing, we show our indwelling Lord our sincere desire for his guidance. Being pleased with us, he removes the inner darkness (10.11) and illumines our inner world so that we can discern better and choose better.
Thus, by following Krishna’s voice coming through scripture, we gradually get the inner illumination to recognize and harmonize with his voice coming from within