The Paradox of the Senses


Chapter II, Verse 14

Sri Nerode’s Translation:


The sense of heat and cold, pain and pleasure are born of the contact between the senses and their objects. However, it comes and goes; it is mutable. (Knowing their impermanence bear it as the wise do, O Prince.)


Helpful Translation:

Physical sensations are produced when the thought or idea of a sensation comes into contact with its creation. The illusion or “product” of thoughts are temporary and limited by a beginning and an ending. Bear all sensations with even-mindedness.



All physical sense experiences are reports from the past. Like a demanding spouse or continuously upsetting news reports, sensual experiences demand attention from one’s consciousness.

The wise learn how to acknowledge sensual stimulation without becoming attached. Most humans are attached to the senses. Attachment to the senses leads to a reactionary life that is lived in the past. A devotee who is advancing spiritually becomes disillusioned with sensual experiences, feeling “stuck,” “behind the eight ball,” and like he “never gets a break.”

Until one has learned non-attachment, it’s best just to say “that’s good” or “that’s bad” and then immediately move on to the next experience. Daily introspection and consistent meditation practice will loosen the impact of the senses.

Referring back to “Human Design According to Sankhya,” it is seen that sensual experiences essentially have four components. On the thought level, senses take form as “knowing” and “working.” “Knowing” comprises the nature of each sense and “working” comprises the blueprint of the structure required to produce the illusive nature. On the physical manifestation level there are the “resistances” created by the knowing-nature and the “elements” created by the working-blueprint.

Consider an ignorant young man and an ignorant young woman who are drawn together by instinct. They mate without knowledge of the consequences. Nine months later a child is born. Both the mindless father and the naïve mother deny any knowledge about how the child came into existence.

Similarly, the ignorant human denies any knowledge about how sensual events occur. However, each human is personally responsible for the creation of these experiences. The wise accept sensual experiences as a necessary aspect of creation and are indifferent towards them. This “indifference” and the required non-attachment allows for full enjoyment of temporary sensual events, because they are now experienced on a deeper, more pure level. The ignorant man fears that non-attachment and spiritual enlightenment will destroy the senses. The wise man knows that non-attachment is like the sun which causes the bud of sensual experience to blossom into a spectacular flower. The paradox of the senses is that non-attachment purifies the experience.

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Easter Eggs:


Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:

KaunteyaSon of Kunti – child of the earthly woman who represents attachment to emotions. Kaunteya indicates the state of consciousness that is worldly. This moniker is related to the ida nadi.

BharataThe Average Human Devotee – child of the blind mind that still has sufficient deductive reasoning to meet the challenges of sense experience. Bharata is a devotee, but an ignorant one who is new to the path of enlightenment. This moniker represents the pingala nadi and the pursuit of enlightenment.

Titiksasva – Even-mindedness, here indicates that “cold, heat, pleasure, pain” are results from the past. There’s “no use in crying over spilt milk”. Reports from the “matrasparsas” (material senses) must be endured until the devotee learns how to live in the present. In the present, one is fully aware of all experiences as they happen and is increasingly able to direct those experiences for the best outcomes.

Ancient History

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