Chapter III, Verse 26
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
Wise people should never unsettle the mind of the uninitiated by sowing in their hearts the seed of despair. Rather the wise ones should steadily act and then take action attractive to the uninitiated.
Wise men lead by example. The wise do not disturb the ignorant through force or argumentative behavior.
The ignorant man feels compelled to prove he is “right”. The wise man lives correctly and thus leads by example.
“Never discuss politics or religion with strangers.” This adage is common (if ignored) advice. Both politics and religion impact community life. Each person is at a different stage of growth and development. One’s current stage of development informs their opinions regarding community life.
There are four stages of human progression and expression. The most ignorant humans, who are driven solely by their sensual desires, are quick to follow the opinions of others. Those in the second phase of development, who have developed a degree of self-discipline, can formulate their own opinions through a step-by-step evaluation that leads to a considered conclusion. A society led by either of the lowest classes of humanity will devolve quickly.
In the third stage of human development, human behavior becomes more erratic often vacillating between extremes until personal attachments begin to be broken.
The human in this stage leads the community life of the two lower stages, for better by noble example or for worse through repression. Finally, the wise person manifests in the fourth stage of human growth. This individual leads solely by example. Enlightened sages, whose duty is to teach the lower castes, may adopt the correct behavior for the stage of humanity they serve in order to provide a tangible and “perfect” example of healthy living.
At a certain point in the expansion of consciousness, the aspiring sage must let go of the attachment to “help” others by unwanted discourse and oppression whether the oppression is through peer influence or the police powers of the state.
Ignorant humans are pleased with their ignorance. When someone has an awakening moment, it is their personal responsibility to seek the counsel of the wise. The wise have no “personal” desire to impose upon another.
Both unenlightened political and religious leaders attempt to legislate morality by force. The wise person, like Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, has no attachment and leaves the choice to seek counsel up to the individual. At the beginning of the Gita, the opposing forces both seek help from Krishna. He gives them an choice: One side can have his army and the other side can have his counsel. Arjuna rightly chooses his counsel. In the higher ages of human culture on earth, systems of education designed for each stage of human development are preferred over force.
The wise allow others their ignorance. The wise offer advice and discipline only when sincerely requested and then only reluctantly. Be wise and lead by example.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
vidvan – wise one, the seeker of causation
yuktas – steadfast in yoga, behaving properly
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