Essays on the Gita

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Question: Is the thinking a contemplation?

Answer: Yes. Thinking has three levels. First is thinking based upon ordinary observations; observation is a starting point of real thinking. There are many other kinds of thoughts which arise directly from our emotions, impulses. They are also called thoughts but the real thinking, real philosophic thought, arises on the basis of the data, which are presented and observed. So this is the first starting point. Even in science observation is a starting point. Observation, experiments, formation of hypotheses, verification of hypotheses, confirmation, repetition, these are the steps of scientific thought. Similarly in a philosophic thought, observation of facts of life is a starting point, but normally you do not have all the facts before you from start, so it is a gradual building up. You observe many facts, you encounter many experiences, but during the time when you are investigating, your mind is observant, it is a speciality of a philosophic mind or a pure scientific mind. Developing an observant mind is the fundamental condition of rationality. One who is purely ethical and not philosophical he has no patience to observe, he is very impatient to do something and do something that is right. But if he has not arrived at a conclusion philosophically, he tends to accept the authority of higher people who simply tell him this is right or this is wrong. And as soon as he knows what is right, he starts doing it, because the tendency is to do the right. But as far as discovering what is right or not, he depends upon somebody else whom he believes, whom he trusts. So most of the ethical beings in the world are those who are not philosophical and these people tend to accept the word of a master, the injunction of a friend whom they consider to be much more developed, or the injunction given in a book, or a Shastra, or even if they attend to a debate on the subject,  his whole attitude is to come to a conclusion as soon as possible. There is impatience to do the right thing, so the process of arriving at the idea of what is good, he wants to do it as soon as possible. If he were philosophical at the same time, he would spend time in thinking and would stop or resist their tendency to act immediately.

And this is what happened to Hamlet because he was philosophic in his mind so did not immediately jump into action. He allowed some time to think out, even to verify his doubts that his mother and his uncle were conspirators. He made a plot, enacting a drama in which the whole conspiracy of which he had learnt and about which he was not sure, he got it enacted, just to see the reaction of his uncle and his mother while watching the drama. So you can see how much he was considerate to the demands of philosophic truth, as to what exactly was the truth – that was what he wanted to find out, he took so much of trouble. Otherwise he would have murdered his uncle very easily when he was in a prayer room and Hamlet is just there and he had full chance of killing his uncle, just at that time, because he is not sure whether it is right or wrong.

In the case of Arjuna you cannot say that he had no philosophic training at all, he had. But predominantly he was an ethical man, predominantly an emotional man, a practical man therefore sensations, emotions, practicality and ethicality  these were the fundamental forces of his life. And if you read the whole of Mahabharata, you will find confirmation of this description of Arjuna: sensational, emotional, pragmatic, ethical. But ethical not philosophically, ethical in the sense that he was prone to accept the truth of good as declared by Dharma or Dharma Shastra or philosophers or the sages or great men. The crisis of Arjuna arises because a situation arises in his life where this kind of personality cannot answer the questions pertaining to the situation in which he was. All crisis is a resultant of the inner abilities and inabilities confronting the demands of a situation. And when the equation is disbalanced between the two, that is to say the force that you have to deal with a situation is less powerful, less capable, than the demands of the situation, when one is put in a crisis. This was the situation in which the kind of ethicality that he was pursuing so far had no answer to the questions which  now arise in that situation.

In every human life, we find the questions of right and wrong almost at every step. What is right, what is wrong, we normally know as it were and therefore the life goes on smoothly. It is easy to tell the child, "Read" because you think reading is good, isn't it? There is no doubt in the mind at all that you have given the right advice to the child. No question, no crisis. "Go to sleep early", you are quite right, you are sure this is the right thing to do, therefore no crisis at all. But when the child reads properly, when the child sleeps properly and yet the child is not happy, yet the results are not commensurate to your expectations, then you begin to wonder what is really right and what is wrong. A question really arises, when you really expected results don’t come about. Then you begin to wonder whether your handling of the child is proper or not. Now this is an ordinary kind of a problem in which you may perhaps find an answer more quickly after some reflection, after making this or that effort, by trials and errors you finally find out some kind of a workable formula. But there are situations where you cannot find an answer at all! And then crisis arises. On  the one hand one must solve the problem and on the other hand one can't solve the problem. When these two things confront each other sharply, then you call this situation `a crisis'. Till that time your situation is of `a problem',  not of `a crisis'. As long as you have got elbow room and you can swim further, it is a `problem'. When you can’t, on the one hand you must do it and on the one hand you cannot do it then it’s a crisis.

Question: Does not this crisis arise because you do not understand what it means to you?

Answer: Yes, it is quite right. Absolutely. The situation which is before you you’re not able to face it because of three reasons: You do not understand it; or even if you understand, the force opposite to you is very powerful and you do not have the means of meeting it; or thirdly, even if you have the power, you are restrained. Even if you understand, even if have the power to deal with it, but somehow you are restrained, do not have the means to act, you are chained as it were, you cannot do anything. For example, there are human beings who are addicted to liquor; now some of these people know what is to be done, they have capacity of doing it, but liquor disables them to do anything, then the crisis arises. So in any case, the general definition of a crisis is a situation where you must do and you can’t do and the two confronted with each other with a tremendous pressure, then you say, "I am in a crisis".

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