Bhagavadgita -Radhakrishnan 34

The Bhagavadgita -S. Radhakrishnan

7. The Individual Self

Life is like a game of bridge. We did not invent the game or design the cards. We did not frame the rules and we cannot control the dealing. The cards are dealt out to us, whether they be good or bad. To that extent, determinism rules. But we can play the game well or play it badly. A skilful player may have a poor hand and yet win the game. A bad player may have a good hand and yet make a mess of it. Our life is a mixture of necessity and freedom, chance and choice. By exercising our choice properly, we can control steadily all the elements and eliminate altogether the determinism of nature. While the movements of matter, the growth of plants and the acts of animals are controlled more completely, man has under-standing which enables him to co-operate consciously with the work of the world. He can approve or disapprove, give or withhold his consent to certain acts. If he does not exercise his intelligent will, he is acting in a way contrary to his humanity. If he acts blindly according to his impulses and passions, he acts more like an animal than a man. Being human, he justifies his actions.

Some of our acts are ours only seemingly. The sense of spontaneity is only apparent. We sometimes carry out suggestions given to us in the hypnotic condition. We may believe that we think, feel and will the acts but in so doing we may be giving expression to the suggestions conveyed to us during the hypnotic state. What is true of the hypnotic situation is true of many of our acts which may seem spontaneous but are really not so. We repeat the latest given opinions and believe that they are the result of our own thinking. Spontaneous acting is not compulsive activity to which the individual is driven by his own isolation and helplessness. It is the free acting of the total self.

The individual should become transparent to himself and the different elements should reach a fundamental integration for spontaneous or creative activity to be possible. It is man's duty to control his rajas and tamas by means of his sattva nature which seeks for the truth of things and the right law of action. But even when we act under the influence of our sattva nature we are not entirely free. Sattva binds us quite as much as rajas and tamas. Only our desires for truth and virtue are nobler. The sense of ego is still operative. We must rise above our ego and grow into the Supreme Self of which the ego is an expression. When we make our individual being one with the Supreme, we rise above nature with its three modes, become trigunatita,[1]and freed from the bonds of the world.


References and Context

  1. XIV, 21.