Modern self-development gurus teach us that confidence comes from within. You have to ‘believe in yourself.’ If you’re sure, others will follow; your consciousness creates the reality. They tell us to be optimistic about our abilities, pride ourselves in our strengths, and have the conviction that anything is possible. This ‘material confidence’ may work in a limited scope for a finite time. Such confidence, however, which is rooted in artificial self-assurance, will inevitably dwindle, leading us to realise that we’re not what we pumped ourselves up to be. In his prime, Muhammed Ali would proudly assert: “I am the greatest.” Later in life he realised his folly, declaring that he was in actuality the greatest fool for attempting to usurp the Supreme position.
In Chapter Eleven, Arjuna discovers deeper truths about the cosmos. The most striking is the revelation that Krishna controls everything. Nothing moves without His sanction. Uncomfortable or reassuring? Limiting or empowering? Depressing or hope-giving? It all depends on how deeply we’ve understood ourselves, Krishna, and the relationship we have with Him.
In previous chapters, Krishna imparted His wisdom orally. Now, Krishna switches to a visual presentation. As He exhibits His Universal Form, Arjuna witnesses how past, present, future, and the entirety of existence rests within the Supreme Person. He sees how divine plans inevitably manifest according to the formidable movements of time. Arjuna realises that there are higher powers functioning way beyond his circle of influence. Struck with wonder and fear upon seeing the totality of creation and the imminent death of everyone on the battlefield, Arjuna requests Krishna to transform back into His unintimidating, original form. At that time, Krishna encourages Arjuna, “Conquer your enemies and enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you can be but an instrument in the fight.”
Arjuna’s confidence is solidified. When we align ourselves with the divine will, transcendental back up is guaranteed. Real confidence comes from humility. We play our roles, fulfil our responsibilities, and endeavour with dedication, all the while knowing that we are acting on a stage which is being directed by higher powers. Despite our inherent limitations, we gain firm conviction from knowing that the all-powerful will of providence is on our side, which means anything is possible. One who is ‘quietly confident,’ their surety grounded in humility and dependence, can achieve unimaginable things in this world. Pride, complacency and hopelessness are not found in their dictionary. Seeing themselves as merely instruments, they sideline any ego or pride and let the divine magic manifest.
Despite having poor health, no money, no followers, and no specific strategy, Srila Prabhupada left India and came to the West to share Krishna Consciousness. His superpower was his unflinching faith in Krishna. Against all odds, despite innumerable trials and tribulations, he continued on with full faith. He became an instrument of spiritual inspiration, divinely empowered to spread Krishna Consciousness to every major city throughout the entire world. Not once did he take personal credit or glorify his own abilities. Rather, he always stressed that his dependence on divine grace is what triggered all the miracles.
“Therefore get up. Prepare to fight and win glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasaci, can be but an instrument in the fight.” (Bhagavad-Gita 11.33)
11.33 – The entire creation is moving under the plan of God.
11.34 – The plans of God can be understood through His representatives.