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14. "I have too many bad habits"

We sometimes look at ourselves and wish we were better, free of those behaviours and bad habits that plague us. “I’m not a nice person,” someone may say, “and spirituality is for the noble and decent.” Responding to those who feel disqualified and unworthy, Krishna offers an encouraging perspective. Each and every soul in creation is pure, He says, but currently enveloped by material influences which inhibit that purity from shining through. Those influences come in the form of the three modes of nature, and practically everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, falls prey to that energy.
In Chapter Fourteen, Krishna discusses the three modes and delineates how they intricately intermix to trap the soul into an ever-mutating web of complex entanglement. Nobody is bad per se, just that we’re covered by these superfluous influences. Spiritual practices empower us to ‘rise above the clouds.’ A crucial consideration, however, is that such practices are more effective and transformative when couched within spiritual lifestyle.
It’s something like ‘home advantage’ in a football match. You’re playing against the same players, running on the same grass, using the same ball, and trying to score in the same-sized goalposts. What’s the difference? Well, history shows that having a familiar environment and encouraging crowd is nearly always a game-changer. Every football pundit will tell you – when you play at home, even before the whistle is blown, it’s as if you’re one goal up.
Spirituality is also easier when you have the home advantage. ‘Home’ consists of the right habits, diet, atmosphere and company. ‘Home’ means to live in sattva, the mode of goodness. To become completely selfless, humble, tolerant and naturally aligned with God is a lofty ideal. We can, however, gain momentum in that internal shift by diligently (and seemingly mechanically) making small but specific lifestyle adjustments. It’s these finer details that we sometimes neglect, thinking them insignificant and unimportant in the bigger picture.
How clean is our environment? How regulated are we in habits of eating and sleeping? How mindful are we about the quality of our conversations? What are we willing to abstain from to preserve physical and emotional wellbeing? Pure action leads to pure mind which leads to pure consciousness. A spiritualist also needs to be a lifestyle engineer.
That lifestyle becomes the spiritual ‘home ground’ where it’s easier to remember who you are and what your purpose really is. They say you can't change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the end. Small, incremental and cumulative adjustments will create the bigger transformation of heart that we all seek. We may feel the process of change is slow, but rest assured, giving up won't make it any quicker!
It’s a process of reengineering our ‘inclination.’ If you picture a tilted floor, whenever water drops down it naturally flows in a certain direction. In our current inclination, we have an easy time developing bad habits, but struggle to imbibe the good ones. Using the Gita’s insights of the modes we can reengineer that inclination and begin effortlessly flowing towards the positive and beneficial, creating a life which unleashes our full potential.

“Sometimes the mode of goodness becomes prominent, defeating the modes of passion and ignorance, O son of Bharata. Sometimes the mode of passion defeats goodness and ignorance, and at other times ignorance defeats goodness and passion. In this way there is always competition for supremacy.” (Bhagavad-Gita 14.10)

References

14.11-13 – Effects of the three modes.
14.26 – Rising above these three modes and becoming transcendental.