“When we forget our real constitutional position and wish to enjoy the material resources, our material desires manifest, and we associate with varieties of material enjoyment. As soon as the concoctions of material enjoyment are there, because of our association we create a sort of lust or eagerness to enjoy them, and when that false enjoyment does not actually make us happy, we create another illusion, known as anger, and by the manifestation of anger, the illusion becomes stronger. When we are illusioned in this way, forgetfulness of our relationship with Krishna follows, and by thus losing Krishna consciousness, our real intelligence is defeated.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.22.14 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
You should know better. Better judgment advises against. Go in the other direction. Take a pass. You have knowledge guided by experience. Still, somehow you indulge. You give in to the temptation, only to regret it later on. A long time ago the wise Arjuna was baffled by the same issue. He wondered what drives a person towards sin, as if they have no control over behavior.
“Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrishni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.36)
From Vedic teachings we learn that the individual is spirit soul. We can say that someone is something, but for a real understanding that something should have distinct properties. In this regard, the soul is bliss, eternity, and knowledge. That soul is the animating spark in every species, including the non-human ones.
Fragments of individual spirit are equal to one another. Not that I am you or you are me, but we have the same qualities at the root level. How, then, is there varying intelligence? The tiger is obviously not as wise as the human being, but as spirit soul it should have the same level of intelligence.
The answer lies in the properties of what is not spirit, namely matter. Matter covers the spirit soul when there is a fall to the material world. That fall is instigated through desire, which triggers forgetfulness of the constitutional position. From there a chain of events leads to the defeat of intelligence.
1. Material enjoyment
Birth in the material world is referred to as a fall. It’s like dropping into a pit while walking along peacefully. The descent is not preferred, but that’s only when there is the proper consciousness, of which knowledge is an aspect.
The fall takes place through desire to enjoy separate from the Almighty, who is Supreme Spirit. He is bliss, eternity, and knowledge just like us, except to a magnitude unimaginable. This gives the meaning to the concept of achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, as propounded by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The living beings are equal to God and at the same time different. The combination is inconceivable to the mind.
When material desires manifest, there are corresponding objects of interaction. This is material enjoyment. It is a kind of illusion, since there won’t really be any enjoyment. Maybe some temporary ups, but sure to be followed by downs.
2. Lust to enjoy
Material enjoyment is there, and the corresponding desire is kama, or lust. I want to take another shot of whiskey, even though I know better. The last time I drank too much I didn’t like the effects later on. I swore then to never drink again. Of course that is not happening. The material enjoyment is there, and so lust is the natural byproduct.
3. Anger due to lack of enjoyment
The material enjoyment was a kind of illusion, and then there was the illusion to enjoy. The last illusion is anger. This is from frustration in indulgence. Maybe I got a little sukha, or happiness, from the interaction with the material nature. Maybe there was some pleasure.
The problem is the next time the same activity won’t bring as much pleasure. Or maybe I will be impeded in my quest to enjoy. Anger is the natural result. It is an illusion since the objects of enjoyment were material all along. They never matched the nature of the individual, who is spirit soul.
From anger there is loss of intelligence, and from there the fate of the individual for the next life is sealed. There is rebirth. If you have lost intelligence, how will you escape from the cycle of birth and death? How will your desires change for good if you don’t know better?
“From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.63)
The aim of the human birth can be summed up in one word: remembrance. Remember the constitutional position. Understand the illusion that is material existence. Know that reality lies within, with the source of identity. Know that the source of reality is the Supreme Lord, who is the best friend and well-wisher to everyone. If you know Him, then you know everything needed to be known.
Indeed, the teachings about the steps leading to the defeat of intelligence come directly from Him. The words are not merely to be used to give a lecture or pass an examination. The teachings are there to enlighten the individual, to break them free from the illusion. Real pleasure comes from surrender to the Divine, sharanagati.
Material enjoyment coming at a cost,
With three steps intelligence lost.
From objects then lust coming,
From frustration angry becoming.
All an illusion, nothing really there,
To become clear when of spirit aware.
From only surrender in devotion real,
Beyond maya, lasting pleasure to feel.