There comes a time, sometimes regularly, where we may feel, Oh, Krishna. I can’t do this anymore. This ‘this’ will be different for everyone. It happened to Arjuna in the Gita – he wanted to give up, not to fight, and go off to the forest to be alone. He did not want to deal with people and life’s problems. He told Krishna: I’m not fighting, I can’t do it, I can’t see the point, better if I don’t act and move to the side.
If it can happen to Arjuna, who had everything going for him, including talent, skill, health, family, and especially friendship with Krishna, it can certainly happen to all of us. The struggle for existence, as daily life is described in our teachings, can sometimes just be too much. We will feel like Arjuna and have a desire to give up and go away.
Arjuna was a good person. He did nothing wrong and still he felt despondent. Of course that was connected to him not wanting to do anything wrong; the impending war and killing was something he was having grave doubts about. And he was a warrior! In his blood was the natural desire to protect the innocent and ensure good leadership in the world. Still he was overwhelmed, doubtful, and unsure of his next steps.
Our fight may be with an illness, a slow recovery, mistakes, a sudden death, a mountain of bills or debts, a challenging work environment, tension in relationships, a loss, a failure, a breaking of the law. Or it maybe we see how broken the world is and feel helpless to help. The list is endless.
How to respond to such feelings of inadequacy? How to work through them, gathering our resolve, and moving forward? We need to be able to do this otherwise such feelings will wear away at our energy and we will slowly grind to a halt.
By the end of the Gita, Arjuna has found his understanding, found his sense of self in relationship to the context of his life. Here are three of Krishna’s teachings in the Gita that helped him recover and re-energize:
We have to do something:
We are a soul with a body. One one level, spiritually, we have nothing to do with this world. The soul remains untouched. One another level, while in the body, we are connected to the world and must move within it. We are forced to act, even if all we do is breathe and eat. And every move has an impact on our future – both action and inaction. Be careful Arjuna, Krishna says. Running from difficulty may seem like a good move, but will solve nothing.
Do what we are good at:
Krishna told Arjuna, you are a warrior. To go off and be a renunciate is not your calling. You won’t be able to do it, and it will be neither good for you nor the world. Better do what you are called to do by your natural talents and disposition than trying to avoid your duty because it’s hard. We should try to adopt this mood ourselves. What is our best way to serve, to give, to live in community with others and Krishna? What is our part to play, even though we may sometimes want to be or do something else. We have to find our best fit.
Don’t do it for ourselves, but for Krishna:
Even if we know what to do and it’s what we are good at, we can still feel off center. That’s because life becomes dry if we are only trying to live it for ourselves. Working for others is a step up, but that still wasn’t enough for Arjuna. Ultimately we need to do it for Krishna. Krishna told Arjuna, “Remember Me and fight.”
How can we apply these things? We should think, “I am doing this for Krishna so let me do it in the best way possible.” If I am cooking for friends, let me cook as if it’s for Krishna and make it fabulous. If I am repairing a wall, let me see it as Krishna’s wall and make it perfect. If I am managing, selling, planning, teaching, parenting, drawing, doctoring – whatever – let me do it to the very best of my ability. Let me develop that ability. Let me be and do the best for Krishna.
Arjuna had Krishna in his uncertainty and so do we. With Krishna, we can face anything. And that makes all the difference.