Have you ever been at the crossroad, confused about which direction to take... wondered if you needed to quit or continue, leave or stay, do or not do, act or just wait till things tide over?
Being in doubt is a common phenomenon, it's an everyday experience. We constantly question ourselves even in small simple acts... we're playing out these little wars in our mind, thinking of the worst-case scenario... What if I don't attend her party, she may get offended and not talk to me again... what if I speak up and say the truth in an office meeting, will it go against me in my appraisals... you may just rebel and do something even worse.
Hundreds of years ago, in a sacred script called Mahabharata, the Pandava warrior Arjuna was in a similar dilemma. But his issues were much graver. He was at war with his cousins and uncles, the Kauravas... he was on the battlefield in Kurukshetra. And just before the war began, Arjuna was paralysed into inaction. Arjuna questioned the futility of killing his own relatives... he wondered what good was victory if half of his people would be dead at the end of it.
And that's when Lord Krishna, his friend and philosopher intervened and gave him (Arjuna) wisdom that steered him to action. Lord Krishna's teachings to Arjuna highlighted that all wars first exist in the mind. And thus, winning in the mind is the first step to winning on the battlefield and in real life.
The 700 plus verses that Krishna taught Arjuna on the battlefield were later compiled into the Bhagavad Gita, a scripture that continues to be looked upon as the "manual of life". The Bhagavad Gita today is used by many organisations for better management and is even included in the syllabus of some business schools.
Here are some excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita and how you can use them to resolve your own uncertainties, doubts, fears and confusions.
Think with a calm mind: Lord Krishna says: Undoubtedly, O Arjuna, the mind is restless and difficult to restrain, but it is subdued by any constant vigorous spiritual practice -- such as meditation -- with perseverance, and by detachment, O Arjuna. (6.35)
The first step of gaining clarity on any situation is developing a clear, calm and collected mind. This takes a lot of effort. One way is meditation, another is by distancing yourself from the situation - not physically but mentally - where you look at it as an outsider and have a bird's eye view of it. For example in the movie Vantage Point, the protagonist replays the same series of events of the crime in his mind, till he finally decodes the mystery. By distancing himself from the scene, he was no longer worried about his own life and could think objectively.
Give up on results: These are the most oft-repeated words of the Bhagavad Gita and often referred to as nishkam karma, doing action without expecting reward: You have control over doing your respective duty only, but no control or claim over the results. The fruits of work should not be your motive, and you should never be inactive. (2.47)
Most of our decisions get affected because we wonder about their outcomes and consequences. But when you realize that you have little control over the final outcome and when you don't focus on the gains, your efforts will be filled with more meaning. What's more you will also look at every gain as a bonus and appreciate the rewards more.
Treat everyone equally: A person is considered superior who is impartial towards companions, friends, enemies, neutrals, arbiters, haters, relatives, saints, and sinners. (6.09)
People make up our lives and it's difficult not to get influenced by them or by our equations with them. But that's exactly what Lord Krishna says. Treat everyone with the same lens of impartiality. A son shouldn't take on his father's business by virtue of being his son, but because he is an able and competent worker. Likewise just because someone has picked a fight with you, don't write them off for good... the event isn't the person.
Don't give in to stress: In a world full of busyness and activity, with people snapping at each other, with road rage and intolerance, these words by Lord Krishna ring truer than ever: The one by whom others are not agitated and who is not agitated by others, who is free from joy, envy, fear, and anxiety, is also dear to Me. (12.15)
Rid yourself of excessive worry, don't take on more than you can cope with and add enough me-time in your day to help you de-stress. I often walk back home from work and just being by the sea, and watching its movements, helps me get rid of the tensions of the day.
Be ready for change: Arjuna, when inertia is predominant; ignorance, inactivity, carelessness, and delusion arise. (14.13)
Adding change and excitement to your activities helps give them a boost. Every once in a while, when you feel yourself slipping into lethargy or a state of inertia, stir yourself up, change direction, give yourself a new challenge. I remember when I taught in a school, we'd often rearrange the way the children sat in class... we'd make them get up, move the tables around and sit in a new place. This kept them alert and also helped them make more friends. Similarly, if you get stuck in one way of thinking, you're unlikely to come up with good solutions; be open to new views of learning and doing things.
Act with conviction: Whatever is done without faith - whether it is sacrifice, charity, austerity, or any other act -- is useless. It has no value here or hereafter, O Arjuna. (17.28)
There's a common story about villagers who had come out of their homes to pray for the much-awaited rain. Amid all these people, there was one small boy who had carried an umbrella. This little boy had true "faith". Setting out to do anything is an action, but being ready for it is faith. Before you undertake any action, think about how strongly you believe in it. If you don't need to justify it in anyway or draw on any extra reserves for it, then it's an act of conviction and the right decision for you.
Set high standards: Because whatever noble persons do, others follow. Whatever standard they set up, the world follows. (3.21)
Once you've decided on your course of action, set your own standards of excellence, benchmark your own success, and then create newer highs. The greatest achievers have kept pushing themselves for gaining greater levels of mastery. They compete with themselves and continue learning in all areas of their lives. They meet with success and failure but still keep growing. And their journeys continue to inspire us and give light to our lives.
Thus the knowledge that is more secret than the secret has been explained to you by Me. After fully reflecting on this, do as you wish. (18.63)... Could Lord Krishna have put it any better?