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5 Lessons in Self-Confidence from the Bhagavad Gita
Self-confidence is a fundamental quality to living an effective, empowered, and fulfilling life. Being conscious of and reliant upon your own powers and abilities is what allows you to think, speak, and act purposefully and believe that you have the inner strength and courage to succeed.
The Gita, arguably one of the most revered texts in all the Vedic literature, is a vast storehouse of Yogic knowledge and philosophy. A part of the epic poem, The Mahabharata, it encapsulates the essence of Vedanta in the tale of Arjuna, the finest of warriors who is caught up in an epic battle between the forces of good and evil.
Gathered on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, the forces of good (Pandavas) and the forces of evil (Kauravas) are preparing for war. The mighty Pandu warrior, Arjuna, asks his divine charioteer, Krishna, to place his chariot between the two armies so he can see who he has to fight. To his dismay, Arjuna sees in both armies friends, family, teachers, and respected elders, all willing to fight and die. Overcome with sorrow, Arjuna sinks into despair at the thought of the inevitable bloodshed. The resulting dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna expounds on the path of yoga as a means of liberation from suffering.
1. Know Your True Self
The impermanent has no reality; reality lies in the eternal. Those who have seen the boundary between these two have attained the end of all knowledge. Realize that which pervades the universe is indestructible; no power can affect this unchanging, imperishable reality. The body is mortal, but he who dwells in the body is immortal and immeasurable. Therefore, Arjuna, fight in this battle. (C2, v16-18)
When you truly embody this understanding, it becomes impossible to harbor doubt, insecurity, or fear. In living from the level of your soul, your thoughts, speech, and actions embody the essence of pure unbounded spirit—fearless, sure of itself, and courageous in all things.
2. Follow Your Purpose in Life
Considering your dharma, you should not vacillate. For a warrior, nothing is higher than a war against evil. The warrior confronted with such a war should be pleased, Arjuna, for it comes as an open gate to heaven. But if you do not participate in this battle against evil, you will incur sin, violating your dharma and your honor. (C2, v31-33)
While this passage may sound as if Krishna is advocating violence, the battle described is actually an internal one in which you are called upon to seek out the causes of your own ignorance. When you pursue and fulfill your dharma or purpose in life, you feel driven, deliberate, and purposeful in what you do. An important, valid, and unique piece of a universe that has no spare parts, you can be confident knowing that what you do in the world matters and makes a difference.
3. Take Action
You have the right to work, but never to the fruits of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction. Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself – without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat. For yoga is perfect evenness of mind. (C2, v47-48)
In other words, take action! Make that phone call; apply for that job; ask that special someone out on a date; and write that book. Don’t worry about the outcome; taking action is the important part. The more you act, the more comfortable it will become. If nothing else, your confidence will grow from being able to say, “I did it!”
4. Build Experience
Arjuna, now listen to the principles of yoga. By practicing these, you can break through the bonds of karma. On this path, effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure. Even a little effort toward spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear. (C2, v39-40)
Put another way, keep going. You will always progress. I’m reminded of the answer one of my martial arts instructors gave me when I asked him the secret to become a confident and effective martial artist. His reply was simply, “Mat time,” which was another way to say, just keep training. Repetition is the mother of all skill, no matter what the endeavor. If you want to get better, and therefore more confident, keep practicing!
Neither agitated by grief nor hankering after pleasure, they live free from lust and fear and anger. Established in meditation, they are truly wise. Fettered no more by selfish attachments, they are neither elated by good fortune nor depressed by bad. Such are the seers. (C2, v56-57)
When you make regular contact with your true self, the soul—the field of infinite consciousness—you experience self-confidence as your ground state. From this state of self-referral, you know intuitively that you can accomplish anything.
These five lessons provide you with powerful tools to harness the innate self-confidence that already lives within you.
Read the full article: http://www.chopra.com/articles/5-lessons-in-self-confidence-from-the-bhagavad-gita#sm.016vqn2d14yyf2310c817oznz1atw