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Unhappy Pleasure Seeking and the Antidote

the unhappiness of pleasure seekingThe conclusion of When Rites Go Wrong

“To those attached to enjoyment and power, whose thought is stolen away by this kind of talk, resolute insight in meditation is not granted” (Bhagavad Gita 2:44). Prabhavananda: “Those whose discrimination is stolen away by such talk grow deeply attached to pleasure and power. And so they are unable to develop that concentration of the will which leads a man to absorption in God.”

The above is a remarkable statement. The word chetasam means both “thought” and “mind.” In other words, the “precious promises” of ignorant religion, and the scrambling and scratching after the things of this world erode the mind and heart, the higher intelligence, of human beings, the power of the Self that is to be set forth to reveal Itself.

Aiming at freedom

That is why he has already urged Arjuna to “rid yourself of the bondage of karma” (2:39) which leads only to rebirth. “The yogi should concentrate constantly on the Self,…have no desires and be free from possessiveness” (6:10).

Krishna outlines to us the hierarchy of control in our own makeup, saying:

“They say that the senses are superior. The mind is superior to the senses; the intellect is superior to the mind; that which is superior to the intellect is the Self. Thus having known that which is higher than the intellect, sustaining the self by the Self, kill the enemy which has the form of desire and is difficult to conquer” (3:42, 43).

Putting forth our mind power to obtain the objects of desire destroys the true intelligence of the self and substitutes the delusions of the ego, and so “resolute insight in meditation is not granted.” The Sanskrit literally says, rather awkwardly (in English): “And so the resolute-natured intelligence [buddhi] is not granted in meditation [actually: samadhi].” That is, the highest state of meditation–samadhi cannot be attained, and the illumined will-power of the buddhi cannot come into force. How terrible!

The antidote to the unhappiness of pleasure seeking

Yet there is a hopeful truth here, as well. If we constantly cut off our desires and addiction to their objects, we will develop the will that enables us to unite ourselves to Brahman.

“Thus constantly disciplining himself, the yogi, freed from evil, easily encountering Brahman, attains happiness beyond end” (6:28).

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