Daily Archives: January 12, 2012

If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging

A great football coach once said,” Just because you’re doing something wrong, doing it more intensely won’t help.”

Yet, how often do we do just that? We are making a mistake, getting ourselves into trouble – and, instead of backing off, reflecting, and doing it differently, we roll up our sleeves and do the very same thing even more intensely!

The same pattern exists in many areas of our lives. Many people have a great deal of conflict to manage. Whenever a potential new conflict arises, or the environment or circumstances seem to be encouraging that development, instead of backing off and looking  for new ways to defuse the situation, they charge straight ahead, as always – repeating their identical patterns and responses, taking the adversarial approach – and, once again, find themselves in the middle of another drama or conflict. Then, frustrated and stressed, they assume the world is to blame, or that they need to find more effective and more aggressive ways to deal with things. This is the essence of being in a vicious circle. The same essential problems come up over and over again, unless and until you see your own contribution – and vow to do something differently.

The solution is simple, but not always very easy. The trick is to recognize when your part of the pattern is being repeated; for example, “Here I am, arguing again,” or “I’m upset by the very same things – this sure feels familiar.” Then, rather than clenching your fists, feeling frustrated, filing your mind with stressful thoughts, and trying the same old thing, you instead relax, back off, and empty your mind. Soften and try to see the situation in a whole new way.

What is that joyfulness?

People think, “I can enjoy this material world very nicely. Everyone is having such a good time. There is no reason I can’t enjoy myself as much as they.” This idea is illusion because there is no real enjoyment in the material world. We may be very good-looking, famous, well educated, wealthy and powerful, and we may have a very beautiful wife and children and hold the highest position in the country—but at any moment we are subject to be shot down. This is the nature of this world. There is no question of having pleasure without impediments. Even when the pleasures are earned after a great deal of struggle and sacrifice, they are temporary. In this material world there is no pleasure that can give us constant and unending enjoyment. One has to understand he is not the material body. Then one immediately becomes joyful. Just like if you are implicated in some undesirable affair and your lawyer advises, “Oh, you are free from this implication. The law does not bind you,” you feel pleasure, “Oh, I’m free from this implication?” “Yes,” similarly, as soon as one is convinced that “I am not this material body,” then immediately he becomes joyful. What is that joyfulness? There is no hankering, no lamentation. Only Krishna can give us that. Therefore Krishna instructs in Bhagavad-gita that it is the welfare of every living entity to give up this material activity and just surrender unto Him, He will give protection from all sinful reactions. Unfortunately, people are so attracted by the glitter of material nature that they cannot do it. People always fear that by surrendering to Krishna they will lose something but Krishna is so kind that if He takes anything away, He will reward us a thousand-fold.

Ref: Chapter 8c, Science of Self Realization authored by Srila Prabhupada (Founder – Acharya, ISKCON)