The best way of overcoming likes and dislikes is to remain steadfast in the performance of one’s own duty — svadharma.
A person’s nature is built on personal likes and dislikes, some of which keep changing, while others are firmly rooted. As a result, it becomes difficult to understand people. Likes and dislikes being unpredictable, it becomes difficult to please either oneself or others. It is perhaps for this reason some people prefer animals to humans.
This capacity to change is also the beauty of the human being. They can also change for the better. In the Gita, Bhagavan reveals the means to bring about change. At first, we must become aware of the likes and dislikes which govern our nature. Since they can neither be wiped out completely nor neutralised immediately, convert them to become preferences. It is better not to come under their sway because then we are unable to live the knowledge we have understood from the scriptures.
For example, if you are invited for a meal and do not like what is served, let the mind not stir up a storm. Do not give way to your likes and dislikes, throw a tantrum, get upset or push the plate away. Make the best of whatever is available.
The best way of overcoming likes and dislikes is to remain steadfast in the performance of one’s own duty — svadharma. This is higher and nobler than doing the duties of another, even though one may not see great virtue or merit in the work assigned. A doorkeeper (dvarpal) may prefer to perform the duty of the king (rajpal) but in our interest it is better to do the duties assigned to us. Do what you are supposed to do. Better to die in the performance of your own duty than to do the duty of another, which is fraught with fear. If the clerk who has to prepare the bank cheque imitates the boss’ signature, it will be a crime because the duty of signing cheques is not assigned to him.
Bhagavan tells Arjuna that his duty is to defend dharma. In performing duty there is no room for personal likes and dislikes. If we are lazy we will be guided by raga and dvesa. Prohibited and selfish actions are also performed for the same reason. In performing duties we cannot be controlled by likes and dislikes. So the best way to neutralise them is to remain steadfast in the performance of obligatory duties, offered as worship of the Lord. When we perform obligatory duties and dedicate our actions to God, His heart is touched. His grace, which descends on us, purifies the mind and leaves us free of raga and dvesha.
We have built our nature. Take responsibility. Understand how it has been formed. Then follow the path of transformation to reach the goal of purification and perfection!