Channeling the need to be different (02.69 Gita analyzed 7 — Human level)
This Bhagavad-gita verse conveys that spiritual seekers need the courage to be different from the world. While being different requires fearlessness, it can also induce recklessness especially when it fulfills a basic human longing: the longing to be special, to stand out in the crowd. In some psychological frameworks for analyzing human personality such as the enneagram, the need to be special is considered to be one of the core human needs — it’s what primarily, if not exclusively, drives some people’s actions.
From the Gita’s perspective, the urge to be special can be directed in two broad ways: counterproductive and constructive. Negatively, this urge can be an expression of the ego, or more precisely, the false ego. This subtle element in our inner world reduces our identity to our physical or psychological side. Fearing that we are just another insignificant being among the billions that populate our planet, the false ego makes us seek extraordinariness by, say, adopting a fashion, habit or behavior that is eyebrow-raising, frown-triggering or even gasp-inducing. Such action is often rebellion for rebellion’s sake; it may well be pointless, thoughtless or even scruple-less.
Positively, the urge to be special can point to spiritual reality, wherein each one of us is a precious part of the Divine (15.07) and has a unique individual relationship with him. Despite our seeming insignificance amid the world’s vastness, the Divine has a role for each one of us. And we can play our part by using our talents and interests in a mood of service and contribution. From this spiritual significance of our existence can arise our deep-rooted human need to do something meaningful and be a part of something sublime that is bigger than ourselves. We all can channel this need to be special constructively by striving to do something valuable, something that really matters in the big picture analysis — even if it is devalued, derided or demonized by the world.
Seek to be different not just by trying to stand out amid a crowd, but by trying to stand up for something valuable, independent of the world’s evaluation.
Think it over:
- How may the need to be different drive us counterproductively?
- How may the need to be different drive us constructively?
- How strongly is your need to be different? How can you channel that need constructively?