Spiritual Approach to Resolve Moral Dilemmas

Krishna's Teachings

by Jayaram V


Chapter 2, Verse 6

6. We do not know which is better; whether we conquer them or they conquer us. The sons of Dhritarashtra, after slaying whom we do not wish to live, are standing before us in battle array.

Arjuna continued his line of argument using certain social and ethical values out of context to justify his thinking. Having become convinced by his own arguments and reasoning about the evils of war, he was now wondering whether winning the war was a better option or losing it. He still had a soft corner for his cousins, although they gave him great trouble and forced him to engage in an apocalyptic war with them. Arjuna's suffering and his eagerness to avoid bloodshed show that he was a noble soul, who despite the harm done by their enemies, still thought about their welfare and wanted to save them.

However, his dilemma about waging or not waging the war is typical of those who become emotionally disturbed or lose their balance at a critical time, You cannot reason with such people or engage them in a rational conversation, until they exhaust themselves and become calm and composed. This verse shows that Arjuna was still in a disturbed state, and he was still thinking about the evil consequences of the war and the damage it might do to his opponents. He was still searching for a solution, without abandoning his hope to save them from destruction by avoiding the war.

Dilemmas or predicaments are part of our lives. Life often offers us tough choices which we cannot readily accept. Since we cannot foresee the future or correctly weigh all the alternatives, we cannot easily decide what to choose and where it will lead us. Actions will have repercussions and consequences. In our attempt to solve problems, we may create new problems. Such limitations compound our suffering as we cannot easily decide which course of action will be better for us.

Indeed, the Bhagavadgita comprehensively addresses this problem, as we can see in the subsequent verses of this chapter and other chapters. It states that a devotee on the path of liberation should not worry about the consequences of his actions. Instead, he should focus upon performing them as a sacrifice and an offering to God, leaving the outcome entirely to him. That way, he will not be responsible for whatever happens, since God will take care of all the consequences and neutralizes his karma.

Thus, by taking refuge in God you can deal with dilemmas and difficult situations in your life. Of course, you cannot do it without faith or conviction. If you ego is strong, you will not easily give up striving and you will not surrender to divine will. With effort, one can find solutions to problems in worldly life also. For that you have to train your mind to become receptive to foresight and intuition. You can listen to the messages which God keeps sending you in different guises. You can become observant and sensitive to your perceptions and the world outside.

These alternatives are possible when you practice self-purification and free your mind from ignorance and delusion. If your mind is pure, it will let the light of wisdom to shine through like the rays of the sun in a clear sky. If it is clouded, that light and wisdom will be prevented from reaching us. The problem with human perception is a scientific fact. Pure objectivity is not possible for many. However, one can remove many obstacles that cloud the mind and improve one’s perceptions.

Confusion reigns our hearts and minds, when we are confused, ignorant and deluded. Maya is a powerful force. It works in mysterious ways and prevents us from seeing the truths of our existence. Most people see what they want to see according to their desires and expectations. They project their own consciousness, or super impose it upon the world. Thereby, they cannot see the world as it is. Another barrier to clear perception is lack of right perspective. We must learn to perceive truth from different perspectives. Only then, we will have right discernment.

Our consciousness is limited in scope and ability. It is essentially an impurity, shaped by our egoism, attachments and delusion, which permits both light and darkness to pervade the mind. It simultaneously yields to the temptations of worldly life and the noble possibilities of spiritual life, thereby creating a kind of dilemma for most people. You do not know whether you should pursue your worldly desires and social values or your spiritual goals and moral values.

Arjuna was facing a similar predicament. He was confused and disturbed by conflicting thoughts and ideas, unable to decide the right course of action. He did not know what to do, or which alternative would be better for him. Normally, in such situations it is better to seek divine help and guidance rather than purely rely upon your intelligence or discretion. Arjuna did the same. He honestly put his problem before Lord Krishna and sought his advice and guidance. with faith and humility.

Note : These commentaries are not part of the Bhagavadgita Complete Translation.

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