To Fight or Not to Fight
That was the dilemma. The two armies were ready and facing each other. Just as war was about to break out, Arjuna, the greatest hero of his time, was suddenly overwhelmed with doubt. On one hand was his sacred duty as a warrior and, on the other hand, he saw so many on the enemy side who were his beloved friends and family that he was unable to bear arms against them. It was this inner conflict that started the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna – in what is known as the Bhagavad Gita – where Lord Krishna says to Arjuna:
Look to your own duty; do not tremble before it; nothing is better for a warrior than a battle of sacred duty.
From childhood we have been conditioned to think of struggle as a negative aspect of life. But what if conflicts were actually a good thing? We may not realize it, but most of us face an internal war every day. Not the kind that is fought on a physical battlefield but one that rages within.
On one hand, there are forces that spur us forward to help us reach our highest potential, courageously face our destiny, and carry out our spiritual duties. And on the other, there are negative forces that lure us into temptation and distract us from achieving our true goal. Both these forces are inside us, and every day we struggle. We strive to find a balance between our spiritual and worldly responsibilities; and we make the effort to find a middle ground. We try.
But sadly, in today’s world, it is extremely difficult to keep a balance. It takes enormous inner strength to be morally virtuous when everyone around you is getting ahead through corruption and deceit. It takes immense courage to be good and stay that way.
So how do we focus on our true goal? How do we remain faithful to the teachings when even after doing everything that is asked of us, we still have to go through major set-backs in life, be they financial, health or family related? With all this negativity constantly threatening to consume us, sometimes it feels like the only solution is to just run away. But where would we go?
Do not fear the conflict, do not flee it. Where there is no struggle, there is no virtue; where faith and love are not tempted, it is not possible to be sure whether they are really present. They are proved and revealed in adversity, that is, in difficult and grievous circumstances, both outward and inward – during sickness, sorrow, or privations.
St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ
The fact is, there is nowhere to run. It has been said that the only way out of any conflict is to go through it. The Saints affirm this when they tell us that struggle should be looked upon as a great opportunity. It is natural and essential for our transformation and growth. It unravels the heroic qualities of the warrior within us, compelling us to fight with our mind and overcome our tendency to give in. It forces us to face our shortcomings and rise above them. And since there is nowhere to run on the outside, the only option left is to turn inside and seek comfort, and inner strength from the Shabd within.
Take it as his grace and think more about the Father. When we are suffering, we think more about the Father than when we are in happy situations. So which is better from his point of view?
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
There is a little bit of Arjuna inside each one of us. We are vulnerable to weakness and yet we have the potential to be our own greatest hero. As disciples of a true Master, it is our sacred duty to face whatever comes to us in life; to fulfil both our spiritual and worldly obligations and face our destiny with courage and forbearance. And standing by our side helping us, is our Master, our guide, our greatest benefactor, ready to inspire and support us at every step.
Life is one strenuous drawn-out war of self-mastery that each one of us must wage if we want to emerge victorious from the prison of earthly life. These challenges that come to us are not hurdles as they appear to be but signs of his grace – a loving message from the Divine that our journey home has begun.
Those who experience contemplation and practise prayer are always ready for the hour of conflict. They are never very much afraid of their open enemies, for they know who they are and are sure that their strength can never prevail against the strength which they themselves have been given by the Lord: they will always be victorious and gain great riches, so they will never turn their backs on the battle.
Saint Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection