Exploring Possibilities: Demystifying Doubts...
Sight of Arjuna and Krishna involved in profound discussion is something which is deeply implanted in the conscious memory of almost every Indian. Arjuna’ s lack of clarity related to his action/ inaction is considered to be biggest example of doubt against duty(or dharma).
Arjuna feels the conflict deep. When doubt sinks deep, it paralyses the entire sytem “Krishna, he says: my limbs sink, my mouth is parched, my body trembles, the hair bristles on my flesh. The magic bow slips from my hand, my skin burns, I cannot stand still, my mind reels.” These are symptoms quite similar to paralysis.
I know a few people, rather most of us are stuck in doubt their entire lifetime, — some of them my very own friends and family—came at some point to a crossroads. I thought that doubt was the least of my problems. Traditionally Indian scriptures define doubt “the invisible affliction.”
Indeed, it is this very hidden quality that gives doubt its power. People in doubt come to a crossroads and found themselves rooted there, with one foot firmly planted on each side of the intersection. Action converts into inaction. They procrastinate. Finally, they make that crossroad their destination for rest of their life.
After a while, they forgot entirely that there even was a crossroads—forgot that there was a choice. This can be understood, like falling in love with someone who is married to someone else, and deciding that it might be enough in this lifetime just to live next door to the beloved.
Notice that “doubt,” as explained inn Indian yogic culture, is somewhat different than our ordinary dictionary understanding of doubt. When we think of doubt, we most often think of “healthy skepticism”— a lively mind, closely investigating all options. Doubt, as understood here, really means “stuck”—not skeptical. Doubt in our tradition is sometimes defined as “a thought that touches both sides of a dilemma at the same time.”
Paralysis is, as mentioned above, indeed, its chief characteristic. The Catholic also support the same view. Apparently, doubt is an issue for Catholics as well as Hindus: “Doubt,” it reads, “is a state in which the mind is suspended between two contradictory propositions and unable to assent to either of them.”
In Arjuna we have a hero whose doubt is evident all over. It took the entire eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita before he gets to certitude. And what a warrior he became after that. But is a life of certitude really possible? Our scriptures teach us that it is. Indeed, the only way to get to certitude is to look more and more deeply into our doubt—getting into the root.
Our eagerness to understand these things has leads us to an intensive study of “great lives”—the lives of those who have obviously brought forth their genius into the world. Along the way, I have looked, into, at what we might call “ordinary lives.” You and me. And what I could evaluate from this study of ordinary lives is that among so-called ordinary lives, there are many, many great ones. Indeed, for me there is no longer really any distinction at all between great lives and ordinary lives, apart from the fact the great lives have no or less doubts and ordinary one’s have doubts galore.
Have you had periods in life when you leapt out of bed in the morning to embrace your day? Once this happens to you, once you live this way, even for a few hours, you will never really be satisfied with any other way of living. Everything else will seem vaguely wan and grey. Everything else will seem, as Henry David Thoreau said, like “a distraction.”
St. Thomas declares in his gospel, if you bring forth what is within you, it will save you, if you don’t bring forth what is with in you, it will destroy you. Those who have had a taste of this kind of mastery have experienced moments when effort becomes effortless: joyful, gifted, and unbounded. These moments of effortless effort are so sublime that they draw us even more deeply into greater possibilities of fulfillment.
Fulfilment happens not in retreat from the world, but in advance—and profound engagement....
(The author is a Certified Designed Thinking Master practitioner and Clifton Certified Strength Finder Coach, Corporate Trainer and a Leadership coach. He is based in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, India.)