“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)Download this episode (right click and save)
“Brain space. It seems like there is only so much of it. For some people, multitasking is easy. It’s like they are happier when there is chaos. When everything is quiet, when there is calm, they are not at peace. They would rather be in the thick of battle, tackling many problems at once.
“For me, it is the opposite. There is only so much my mind can handle. I would love to get rid of certain thoughts. The negative ones; stuff that bogs me down. I’d rather not be consumed by the fire of greed, envy, and other negative emotions.”
In Vedic teachings, consciousness is everything. It is what determined the circumstances of the present birth. It determines the nature of living going forward. At the end of life, the consciousness is measured by the higher authorities, who are in charge of nature and its functioning, which is predictable, reliable, and scientifically understood.
“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)
Consciousness is important, and it can be shaped. When we attend a fair featuring many companies, there is competition for attention. Each company wants to make a sale, and so they compete with each other to gain majority influence over the potential buyer.
In the same way, there is competition for the consciousness. Kama tends to have a stranglehold, starting from the time of birth. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna declares kama, which translates as “lust,” to be the all-devouring enemy of this world. The statement is in response to Arjuna’s question about people behaving sinfully even when they know better.
The more kama becomes a minority as a stakeholder in the consciousness, the better off the individual is. Of course, the question remains the replacement. Diminish kama, but replace it with something more beneficial.
This Sanskrit word means “knowledge.” The developed consciousness is advantageous for this particular area. The differentiation with the animal species is from the consciousness. The tree barely has any consciousness, and the animals a little more so. Still, there is a limitation on jnana. The animals learn a little, but never to the point of understanding their real identity, the nature around them, or the purpose of life.
Jnana comes from the Vedas. The study of Vedic philosophy is known as Vedanta, which means the end of knowledge. Not the end in terms of a movie completing, but rather reaching the final stage, where every other piece of information learned gets put together. It’s like getting the last piece of the puzzle.
This Sanskrit word means “renunciation.” Kama is like a fire, and the more you feed it the greater it becomes in intensity. Think gambling. You place one wager. If you win, you want to continue forward to make more. If you lose, you want to try again to erase the loss. The same applies in eating, as one slice of pizza is not enough. A few drinks get you buzzed, so maybe a few more will have you feeling even better.
Vairagya is coupled with jnana. You use your knowledge to voluntarily practice renunciation. It is not a form of punishment, either. You are staying renounced in order to experience more pleasure. Vairagya is the natural reaction to too much kama. I have enjoyed so much, but I’ve become entangled as a result. Therefore let me live more simply.
Tapasya is also important. It is penance and austerity; included in the broader category of renunciation. Tapasya is the way to formally renounce, to follow a kind of plan, established by higher authorities. The human being can practice tapasya, and there is tremendous benefit as a result.
This Sanskrit word means love and devotion. Bhakti is always there. It is the very dharma of the soul; the essential characteristic of the essential ingredient of life. Without spirit, there is no question of life. Death means the absence of a fragment of spirit from a place where it once was.
Bhakti should have majority influence over the consciousness. The stake can even be at one hundred percent without negative consequences. The reason is that bhakti automatically includes everything previously mentioned. There is desire in bhakti. It is like a purified version of kama. The difference is the beneficiary. In kama you are working to please the senses, which become further entangled. In bhakti you are working to please the Supreme Spirit. A natural byproduct, the side benefit, is renunciation.
Bhakti is also symptomatic of jnana. A person who knows that God is Supreme, a person, and should be served without motivation and interruption already knows everything needed to be known. They don’t require knowledge of different aspects of the material world. Everything needed to survive, to continue in their bhakti life, is provided for by the object of their service and His associates.
From tasks difficulties to face,
Occupying all of brain’s space.
When properly to clear away,
What then as majority to stay?
Jnana for human birth unique,
Renunciation for pleasure to seek.
Bhakti even completely can occupy,
Everything provided when on Him to rely.