It’s humbling to be on the receiving end of a sermon whilst being the speaker! At one event, an outspoken audience member asked me “Are you married?” I told him I wasn’t. He challenged, “Do you have a job?” I told him I didn’t. He inquired whether I ran a household and paid bills. Obviously not. He kept going, “Do you have children?” – it seemed so rhetorical I stayed silent. He triumphantly concluded that because I answered “No” to every question, I could say “Yes” to the prospect of spiritual development. I registered his line of thought – he was arguing that for those ‘living in the world,’ it’s practically impossible to find quality time for spirituality.
Now it was my turn. Was Arjuna married? Yes! Did Arjuna have a host of worldly responsibilities? Yes! Was Arjuna running a household and looking after children? Yes! Did Arjuna have to contend with life complexities? Yes! Despite all these pressures, did Arjuna make time to reflect, introspect and question the direction of his life? Yes! Check mate!
Over 640 million soldiers had assembled on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, lined up like game pieces on a chess board. As the commanders manoeuvred the chariots into deadly formations, the atmosphere reached fever pitch. Everyone’s adrenaline was pumping, and in the midst of it all stood Arjuna, the supreme archer, shouldering the heavyweight reputation of being the most formidable fighter of his time. All eyes were on him, watching with baited breath, wondering how he’d launch into battle and who he’d attack first.
At that moment, Arjuna did the unthinkable! He told Krishna to drive to the middle of the battlefield – not for strategic warfare purposes, but to step back, hit the pause button and contemplate his life direction.
It’s impossible to capture the sheer unexpectedness of Arjuna’s act! Despite being faced with practically every pressure under the sun to dive into action, Arjuna prioritised introspection. That takes incredible character. Can any of us say we’re subjected to a more intense, chaotic or demanding situation than Arjuna? Seeing his predicament, can we complain that our life situation doesn’t facilitate spiritual reflection? Saying we “Don’t have time” for spirituality doesn’t hold up. In life it’s not about having time, it's about making time.
Imagine you embarked upon a car journey to Scotland, but never made the time to visit the petrol station to fuel up first? What if you were about to walk into an exam, but never made the time to attend the classes or revise the lessons? What if you took a pizza out of the freezer, but never made the time to heat it up in the oven? Some things are so crucial you have to make time. Failing to do so is not even an option. There’s no escaping it.
Before we decide our goals in life, our direction, what we want to invest time, energy and resources into, we first need to understand who we are and what our purpose is in the grand scheme. Making time for this kind of questioning and spiritual realignment is not just a one-time affair. Every day is a battle, every day we’re surrounded by intensity, every day we have to contend with obstacles, issues and dilemmas – and, therefore, every day we have to make time to remember the overarching purpose in the journey of life. Without that, we lose perspective.
"Arjuna said: O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see those present here, who desire to fight, and with whom I must contend in this great trial of arms.” (Bhagavad-Gita 1.21-22)
1.20 – Arjuna decides to pause and reflect, which may have seemed like a weakness, but which brought complete clarity of vision