Determination


Question

Is determination to achieve a goal something that can be developed because we know we should do it or is determination only possible if we are attracted to the goal. In other words, is determination possible without a goal that attracts us?

Answer

H.D. Goswami Profile Picture

Krishna states often in the Gita that our duty arises from our nature. It is a bit artificial to become determined, on a long-term or permanent basis, to do something unnatural.


Or can it also be equally, or even more motivating, if sufficient suffering results from not reaching the goal?

HDG: If we suffer from not doing something, that ‘something’ may be natural for us. At the same time, one has to maintain a realistic sense of how long it may take to achieve a goal. As always, we seek balance between passionate impatience and lethargic apathy.


It seems that if someone is working towards a goal that is attractive to them that is totally in line with their nature, determination often does not even come into play; the person basically is on auto pilot and cannot not work determinately towards that goal (the writer cannot not write, the musician cannot not create music, the actor cannot not act, etc).

HDG:
 Thus, Krishna ordains natural duties.


Yet we have situations in which we are meant to do something we only have intellectual attraction towards (we know it is best for us, we will be happy when we get there, it is the moral thing to do, etc.) but little or no attraction or motivation to achieve it. In this case it seems that raw self discipline and determination are absolutely needed.

HDG:
 Krishna consciousness is supremely natural for the soul, yet we may lack attraction. Mahaprabhu speaks of this: durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuraga. In that case, we should strive to practice Krishna consciousness knowing that our advancement will render that service increasingly natural. Even here, though, there should be balance.


Philosophically we say taste is needed. We can hardly chant 16 rounds without taste and, thus, we rely on determination to do it. With taste we can hardly stop at 16 rounds and practically we see that determination does not remain unless some taste eventually comes. No one goes on in Krishna consciousness forever without taste.

HDG: True. Prabhupada said, “If you’re not happy in Krishna consciousness, you’re doing something wrong.” And Krishna says “susukham kartum.” Prabhupada also often says we should arrange our life in such a way as to be able to chant, etc. Even a devotee with taste can be overwhelmed by excessive worldly duties.


Another nuance: can we say some people’s natures are such that once they decide to do something, nothing will stop them, whereas others are by nature so lazy that even if the chance to obtain their life’s  dreams comes knocking on their door, if it’s too uncomfortable, too much trouble, or too much work, they’ll not have the persistence to stay with it, and thus the answer to this question really depends on which mode we are in (determination in goodness is unbreakable and determination in ignorance hardly gets you out of bed)?

HDG: The modes strongly influence us, but the intelligent soul can strive to act beyond one’s modes.


Or is there an interaction between all these elements (i.e. a person’s nature, the modes they are in, how much they want something and/or how much suffering will exist if the goal is not met)?

HDG: I believe there are several factors. But real determination, vyavasayatmika buddhi, can carry us over many difficulties.