Scientists say we make up to 35,000 decisions every single day. Some are practical – when we’ll get up, what we’ll wear and how we’ll fit everything into the day. Other decisions are more tactical and strategic – where we’ll live and what we’ll study. As the world becomes increasingly complex, the options available expand exponentially, and people begin suffering from decision-making fatigue. Life can seem like a perpetual multiple-choice exam, and making those decisions is not always easy. It can be disconcerting, since decisions determine destiny.
There are three broad archetypes in decision-making. Some of us are just indecisive. We struggle to commit, perpetually sitting on the fence, unwilling to take a stand and assertively embrace a clear path. On the polar opposite are the impulsive, who dive in and decide without scrutiny and due diligence. The introspective decision-makers walk the middle path. They embrace the opportunity of choice, but carefully investigate and contemplate the likely ramifications of each option. Interestingly, the Bhagavad-Gita opens up a fourth dimension in decision-making which is relatively untapped, but which can be a complete game-changer.
Arjuna was sweating. With deafening conchshells sounding, the armies gearing themselves up, and the weight of expectation on his shoulders, the atmosphere had well and truly reached fever pitch. He was baffled. How to honour his various responsibilities, preserve his morality, and decipher a course of action that would please everyone? He was trying to avoid indecision and impulsiveness, and thus came to the middle of the battlefield and began an introspective analysis. The game-changer, however, occurred when Arjuna, in order to upgrade his introspection, added the element of inspiration. That elevated source of insight, beyond the limits of our own mind and intelligence, opens the doors to enlightened decision-making.
Arjuna’s inspiration was Krishna, an endless fountain of knowledge and wisdom who knew the answers, and was able to convey them in a digestible and practical way. We all need perspective in our life – rising to a vantage point beyond our own limited vision reveals the bigger picture. How we wish we could turn to Krishna whenever a decision-making dilemma arises. Arjuna was exceedingly fortunate, but where do we find our inspiration?
To be inspired etymologically means to ‘infuse with a spirit,’ and usually indicates some form of divine guidance. According to spiritual tradition, this divine guidance is available to us in the here and now, almost at our fingertips. Firstly, there are the divine books, which are not just historical writings but a living theology, fully equipped to address one’s confusions and concerns. Then there are the divine guides, spiritually inspired individuals who can expertly administer the wisdom in a tailor-made way. Finally, there is the Supersoul, the divinity within, the voice of intuition that injects surety and conviction. The depth of one’s connection with these three sources of spiritual inspiration will directly impact the quality of one’s decision making. Despite his initial bewilderment, Arjuna went on to make the most powerful and pertinent decisions of his life. It was all possible due to the very first decision he made – the decision to take inspiration from a higher source. That was indeed the game-changer.
“Nor do we know which is better—conquering them or being conquered by them. If we killed the sons of Dhritarastra, we should not care to live. Yet they are now standing before us on the battlefield.” (Bhagavad-Gita 2.6)
2.7 – Arjuna admits that he requires help and is unable to independently find a solution.
2.8 – No amount of speculation, however qualified one may be, will bring one definitive answers.