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Whatever Doesn’t Challenge Us Doesn’t Change Us

By: for gitadaily.com on Feb. 3, 2017

Bhagavad-gita 2.11.

Suppose a person can lift 20 kg, but they go to a gym and lift 5 kg. Such weight lifting won’t strengthen them. To become stronger, they need to challenge their muscles by lifting weights that equate or slightly exceed their capacity.

Challenge causes change – this principle applies to our inner growth too, as demonstrated in the Bhagavad-gita.

At the Gita’s start, Arjuna has a particular conception of dharma, the right thing to do. He thinks he should be non-violent and avoid fighting against his relatives. But then he realizes that if he abandons the fight, he will unintentionally commit violence to his closer relatives, his own brothers, who will have to bear the brunt of the aggression. Thus, this circumstance challenges his conception of what it means to be a good guy who does the right thing.

Krishna’s first words of instruction in the Gita challenge Arjuna further – he chastises Arjuna for speaking learned-sounding words while being controlled by ignorant emotionality (02.11). Then, Krishna analyzes various conceptions of dharma and concludes that dharma ultimately means to lovingly harmonize with the Absolute Truth (18.66). This progressive, holistic understanding removes Arjuna’s doubts (18.73) and restores his morale and determination (18.78). He evolves thus because he doesn’t shy away from challenging circumstances or conceptions.

When we strive to grow by learning and living the Gita, we too will encounter challenges. If we balk and avoid the things that challenge us, we cut ourselves off from growth-inducing stimuli and stay stuck in the rut of worldly consciousness.

Instead, we can, like Arjuna, face challenges head-on. If we prayerfully seek guidance and strength from Krishna, we will gradually arrive at deeper levels of comprehension and discover hidden layers of willpower.

Thus, by embracing challenges, we will evolve towards becoming the best versions of ourselves.

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