Karttika Journal | Austerity

October 20th, 2008

October 20, 2008
Sri Govardhana

Austerity

According to the Bhagavad-gita, one of the symptoms of austerity in the mode of goodness is satisfaction of the mind (prasadamanah). It seems contradictory. How can something pleasing, such as satisfaction of the mind, be an austerity?

Austerity means to tolerate the pushing of the mind and senses for a higher cause. Satisfaction of the mind means attaining the feeling of happiness that comes in goodness when we act for purification. Austerity in the mode of goodness thus means to accept the mental satisfaction that naturally comes from doing what’s right despite the pushing of the impulses of the mind to satisfy those desires. In other words, it is difficult to sacrifice our drive and restlessness even for mental satisfaction.

As an example, one devotee discussed a life changing and extended obligation he had to undertake to become the personal care giver of a chronically ill relative that had no other means of help. He described how difficult it was to perform that arduous duty, but how purifying and satisfying it was for his consciousness.

Conclusion: We should be satisfied with the positive transformations of the mind in goodness that come from righteousness in lieu of the temporary happiness that comes from the fulfillment of lower modes.

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