Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

The problem of good and evil has been a subject of much engagement by religions and philosophers alike

What the Gita and Modern Psychology Say of the Evil Within the Self

Force by what does a person do wrong things, even if he or she doesn’t want to do it? I know it’s wrong to change my allegiance from time to time and be on the side of those I’ll benefit, but somehow I’m force to do so. I realised I’m biased and take the wrong stance, but somehow, I have to take the wrong stance or else it will destroy the relationship that has served me well. I know it’s wrong to make money illegally, but somehow I can’t stop doing it whenever I get the chance. I know I am seeking happiness and it is wrong to use violence to oppress other people who also desire happiness, but somehow there is something in me that motivates to do this vile behaviour. I know it’s wrong to tease young girls and women in inappropriate ways and manipulate them in the name of love to satisfy my need but somehow there is something in me that compels me to do it. I know I can’t excuse that I don’t know about stealing, abusing power, hoarding black money or even rape, but I am acting like this as if some powerful force was driving me to do it. There is a strong tendency in me which makes me do certain things which I know it’s wrong. I also know what is right and I must follow the right path but I can’t. I tried but failed. This is my problem. I am aware of what is right and wrong. But simply I can’t stop myself from doing it.

This question that compels us to live contrarily to our conscience was made by Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita chapter 3 verse 36 where he said,

“Yet tell me, teacher! By what force doth man

Go to his ill, unwilling; as if one

Pushed him that evil path?” (Edwin Arnold transliteration)

  Krishna answer: “It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world”

Probably most people want to enjoy wealth and pleasure but within the bounds of moral behaviour dictated by society. But problems arise when people want to get that enjoyment regardless of the means they use. As a result comes a desire with extreme impatience.

Of lust and anger it is said that the former is more central than the latter. As when the object of desire gets blocked or obstructed by some situation, we become angry and the greater the intensity of desire , greater is the degree of the manifestation of  anger.

To take a metaphor, most politicians want to join the ruling party as they assume it will bring them more benefits   but surprisingly when the same object of desire becomes a source of dissatisfaction, the desire gets transformed into anger and the person is compelled to switch their loyalty. And the politicians as if it were a bee goes on to  sip for another honeypot and continually its feet get stuck to the jar and  the cycle goes on repeatedly.

This is something paradoxical about desire. The problem inherent in trade. There are good times and bad times. It acts like the two sides of the same coin wherein there is both pain and pleasure. It is bound by the laws of success and failure. Hence, work done with a glimmer of hope  is bound to bring misery. And the duty demands the renunciation of every thought directed towards oneself in performing social obligation. Any deviation from this spirit is essentially a selfish work contracting itself and thus cutting off all expansion.

We see this every time a man falls in love with a girl. The man receives a blow left and right in return for the love. Not because of the fact that he loves because he wants love in return. The more the man struggles and wants love in return, the more miserable he feels. Sooner or later , he has to  give up.

In chapter 3 verse 38, Krishna continued; “As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, the living entity is similarly covered by different degrees of this lust”.

This verse points to the fact that these are tendencies which are uniquely individual and it differs from person to person. The drunkard surely knows that drinking too much is injurious to health and may lead him into trouble. Yet, he can’t stop it. Every members in the family can advised him to stop but he feels helpless and become a slaves in the hands of his subconscious conditioning. A paramour knows for sure that sexuality incorporated within legitimate relationship bound by mutual vows of celibacy stabilize society, family and psyche. But the sum total of impression in him or her create the strong motive power of what he does. As soon as I try to sit down and pursue the object of knowledge, so much stuff starts entering into the theatre of my conscious mind. And if the impression that bubbles up are so strong then  I start to act mechanically under the influence of my tendencies in spite of my will.  Hence, each individual lives exactly as a prototype of his own past conditioning.

In some cases, these sum amounts of tendencies are lighter like a fire envelope in smoke. And the gust of wind is enough to blow away the smoke and reveal the fire. In some, it is more as if it were a dust on the mirror and it will not go away by a little gust of wind. We need to scrub the surface and it takes effort. But in some, it is really thick as it were in the embryo of the mothers womb encased by placenta.

Jung pointed out that all of us carry a “shadow” and in order for the “ego” to grow the individual needs to integrate unconscious contents into conscious territory. A toddler is not conscious of the “ego” personality straight away when he or she is under the care of others.  The world just occur to him or her. But by the time, the child began to interact more with the world of objects, the child began to realize that he or she has its own “ego”. Or in other words they are a subject acting upon object.

This process continues through out life. The more one become conscious of the unknown object/stuff , the more conscious one become and the more one’s “ego” develop. Similarly, in respect to the human psyche, the more one integrate the unconscious into conscious realm, the more the “ego” grows.

Otherwise, when the “ego” come in contact with the unconscious mind or the Jungian shadow to be specific, the latter tends to have a sort of autonomy and act upon the “ego”. Unless one wilfully confront it, the shadow will become really thick and the outside world will mirror’s one’s shadow.

We see this projection every time in the political blame games between politicians. Often the debates and  speeches delivered in the political conference are a play of ego( individual egoism) where the person in question repeatedly tries to prove that he or she  is better than the other one. In the process, the real issue are unheeded and they failed to discuss their plan outlets and vision documents. In fact, ethics and morality are subordinated in the service of the ego. Hence, if we dig the deeper layer of meaning of what we normally think at the surface of our mind as following some political ideals or contesting elections to serve people may actually turn out to be a subconscious urge which is not so noble or something related with basic instinct or drive for power. This is not only to blame politicians alone as it could be “you” or “me” too.

In the mythological epic, Mahabharata Bhishma knows who is right and who is wrong but turns a blind eye on seeing wrong with others and chooses to be a silent witness of Draupadi humiliation in the court. Although alive, he dies everyday to his conscience. Krishna appeared before Karna before the onset of the war and suggested to side with the truth but the choice was ultimately left to him.

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