A Sensual Roller Coaster

Chapter II, Verse 15

 

Sri Nerode’s Translation:

15

The soul that is tranquil and remains unmoved in pleasure or pain and accepts joys and sorrows (calmly as mere lessons in life) is alone able to attain immortality.

 

Helpful Translation:

As long as the devotee-yogi is disturbed by the senses, he cannot attain the continuous consciousness of immortality.

 

Commentary:

Non-attachment to the senses requires understanding and action. Contemplation and meditation provide the wisdom each individual needs to succeed.

To liberate one’s consciousness from the confinement of multiple layers of attachment, it is not sufficient to simply become indifferent to the senses as suggested in the previous verse, verse 14. The devotee-yogi must also learn to fulfill his role in life by utilizing the senses while not becoming deceived by them.

Immortality is neither in the past nor in the future. Immortality is present in the “now” only. In verse 14 the devotee Arjuna was admonished not to lament for the past, while this verse suggests he should not to think of the future. By non-attachment to the senses, the devotee becomes conscious of “eternal life” in the current moment.

Sense experiences are like riding a roller coaster. Once the rider is strapped in, the train follows the track along a predestined route. Each rider reacts to the coaster differently. Some scream, some laugh, some cry, some close their eyes and wait for it to be over, a few relax and enjoy the ride.

The average human thinks that each sensual experience is amazingly different. The senses of sound, touch, sight, taste and smell combine in different ways to form a sensual event. Then each individual applies their unique emotional attachments to assign a good or bad label to each experience. Some scream, some laugh, some cry and many just close their eyes waiting for it to be over.

Like Arjuna, the progressing devotee-yogi learns to identify the sense elements present and to embrace each as a harmonious part of the whole experience. Like a roller coaster rider who is calm and enjoys the peaks and valleys, the one who has mastered non-attachment experiences the events of human life more fully than others do.

 

Easter Eggs:

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

Purusharishabha – The “chief among men” is associated with male attributes, the pingala nadi energy and “blind faith”. This moniker for Arjuna is used to note that he has set himself on a path of differentiation from the average man who is referred to in this verse with the same root, as the “purusam”.

Samad-duhkha-sukham – one translation means “indifferent to pain and pleasure” while another means “sharing in the grief and joy of another”. Poetically, I like “devouring-misfortune-joyfully”. Contrast this with “Titiksasva” in the previous verse. The “even-mindedness” of titiksasva in verse 14 is upgraded from an ambivalent observation of the past to a call to action to engage the senses without attachment.

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Ancient History

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