Frank Clark, an American lawyer and politician, famously remarked that a path without obstacles is likely a path that doesn’t lead anywhere significant. In spite of our well-intentioned plans, reality is peppered with unexpected blocks we may not have accounted for. The world is unpredictable to say the least, and in the face of adversity all kinds of doubts arise in the mind. How many times have we begun something and given up?
Unless the voice within says “I want to! I can do! I know how to!” the contrary voice telling us “No can do” starts gaining the upper hand. Ironically, many of life’s failures were people who didn’t realise how close they were to success when they gave up. A breakthrough may well be within reach but not always within sight. How do we bolster our determination and avoid giving up too easily? After all, the quality of our determination determines the quality of our life. We thrive on the hunger for a better future, and when we lack a vision, or lose the determination to follow the one we have, life becomes meaningless.
In Chapter One, Arjuna stands on the battlefield, his mind is reeling and the famous Gandiva bow slipping from his hand. In true warrior spirit, Arjuna had once made a vow to annihilate anyone who told him to leave aside his bow. To even think he would give up his fighting spirit was an insult. Ironic. This famed bow symbolises the determination of the living being to answer the call of duty and rise to the challenges of the day. The determination to heroically face whatever life throws one’s way. The determination to never give up.
Just like Arjuna, many of us have, or will, experience a juncture in life where we’re faced with existential confusion. We doubt our path and lose the will to continue. When we begin doubting our current identity and ideals, they begin to weigh us down rather than drive us forward. At that time we may opt to take a rest from them. It’s interesting that the word ‘depressed’ is spoken phonetically as ‘deep rest.’ When our life no longer inspires and excites us, we may well enter a state of deep rest and detach ourselves from everyone and everything. In Srila Prabhupada’s translation of the Bhagavad-Gita he explains that Arjuna’s mind was in a state of depression. It’s more common than we may think, and though there are acute forms of clinical depression, many more of us experience this in our own way.
In the seventeen chapters of dialogue that ensue, Krishna expertly equips Arjuna with a vision of life. When we have vision, then determination comes naturally. When we have a rock solid ‘why,’ we’re willing to endure anything for it. The key is to find something which captures our imagination and resonates with our heart. Something which creates such a hunger that we’re willing to do anything for it. Krishna shares with Arjuna the greatest vision, goal and adventure that anyone could embark upon – the journey within. In life, we often set a plethora of external goals to aim for, but overlook the inner adventure. When the immensity of this spiritual quest, the journey of self-discovery, dawns on us, it subsumes all difficulties and generates an unbreakable determination. Equipped with spiritual vision, nothing can faze you.
Sanjaya said: "Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief" (Bhagavad-Gita 1.46)
1.21-22 – At the onset of war, Arjuna begins to reassess his mission and priorities in life