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Ignorance must be Completely Dispelled

Krishna said to Arjuna, "There is no meaning in your grieving and lamenting, basing all your feelings on these outer bodily attachments and relationships. Go inside; let your mind become introspective. Then you will be able to understand all the things that I am expounding. You are grieving for people for whom there is no need to grieve. You are making yourself miserable without reason. You should not suffer so. You are feeling all this sorrow because your heart is full of ignorance. Drive this ignorance completely out of your heart. It is only when there is not even the least vestige of ignorance left in your heart that you will be capable of understanding wisdom."

Ignorance is like fire. Suppose a fire is extinguished almost completely, except for just a few glowing embers. If a breeze comes up, sparks from these few coals may develop into a huge conflagration. Therefore, there should not even be a remnant of the fire left. Ignorance is also like sickness. Suppose your disease is almost cured but there is only a small vestige of it left. If, after coming home from the hospital, you give up the proper diet, it may quickly develop and spread again. There should be absolutely no remnant of disease left.

You can also compare ignorance to being in debt. Suppose you have discharged all your debts; there is only one small loan of a hundred dollars left. But if you let the interest accumulate, what will happen? The debt will start piling up again. Therefore, you should discharge your debts completely. In the same way, if there are any latent impressions of attachment and desire left in your heart, your sorrow is likely to flare up and grow. That is why Krishna admonished Arjuna, "If you retain even the smallest trace of attachment in your heart, whatever I teach you will become useless. You must completely destroy all your attachment which has been fed for so long by the ignorance that is beclouding your heart. To help you do this, I am teaching you the path of wisdom."

The wisdom teaching is an extremely important part of the Gita. Once you understand the difference between the true self, the divine atma, and the false self which is associated with worldly things, then all the other teachings will become very easy to understand. You have to spend a number of days in concentration, trying to understand from the very core of your heart the distinction between the real and the not-real, and then detach yourself from the not-real. That is the central teaching of the path of wisdom.

Each word of these teachings is a rare jewel. It is only when you completely understand the nature of the wisdom path that you will be able to understand the Gita in full and live a life free of grief and sorrow.