Chapter II, Verse 60
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
Turbulent are the senses! The excited senses impetuously sweep away the mind of even a wise man who is striving after perfection.
Incarnate in a body, the soul (individualized consciousness) is ever subjected to the sense lures. Even one close to the final liberation of unbroken concentration may fall victim and get hooked.
Sensual experiences as “the meaning of life.”
Krishna’s description of the wise person who is anchored in an expanded state of awareness seems pretty undesirable by worldly standards. So far, Krishna tells Arjuna that the emancipated person lacks personal goals (leaving behind all desires, v 55), appears emotionally aloof (passion, fear and anger have left, v. 56), finds nothing and no one either agreeable or disagreeable (without attachments, v 57), and controls the senses absolutely (withdrawing them like a turtle, v. 58).
In the last verse, Krishna notes that despite this apparent mountain of unsurmountable self-discipline, the one seeking wisdom still longs for the sensual experiences that he has relinquished. Now, Krishna states that before the moment of final emancipation, the ardent devotee may still fall captive to one of the sense predators.
At this point, any person with a working intellect has to question the meaning of life as well as the point of striving for what may be misinterpreted as a disconnected state of wisdom.
The meaning of life is to be happy. Most humans seek happiness in positive actions, some seek it in negative actions, but all seek to find the ever allusive joy in things and experiences. Ancient sages described the three main categories where humanity seeks happiness as “wine, women and gold.” In other words, intoxicants that alter moods and help us forget our misery, sensuality that comforts us through touch and possession and the false belief that somehow physical contact will make us “whole” and satisfy us, and greed for material things to fill the hollow nature of our limited ego.
Happiness for the worldly person and for the enlightened person is not the same. If you have visited one of Walt Disney’s theme parks, it’s likely that you have ridden on Pirates of the Caribbean. The first timer is usually amazed by the immersive experience of boating through the antics of malicious pirates who have taken control of a Caribbean port in the 1800s. Some people are content to embrace the illusion even after riding, dozens or even hundreds of times. Others want to know how the ride works and how the illusion is created.
Similarly, most embrace the illusions of human life, again and again. Many souls reincarnate thousands of times. Some learn how the illusion works over a great expanse of repeated experience while others investigate and come to conclusions more quickly. The enlightened person is one who has figured out how the ride of life works. The ride is still enjoyable from an expanded state of awareness, but for different reasons. The wise focus on aspects of life that are intriguing and serve their own purpose. While the ignorant are more likely to just embrace the drama with all of its highs and lows.
The choice between sense slavery and sense control is distinct. Like a wax house that melts in the hot daylight sun, the walls of ignorance imprisoning the soul melt away when exposed to the light of wisdom for a long enough period of time. The meaning of a human life is defined by how one experiences the senses.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
Yatatas – One who strives
Kaunteya – Son of Kunti
Kunti is Arjuna’s mother. (His “father” is Indra, the lord of heaven, Svargaloka,
who has a thunderbolt, Vajra, in his hand.) Kaunteya indicates the state of consciousness that is worldly, or no longer naïve. Contrast with Partha. The feminine origin of this moniker indicates it is related to the ida nadi.
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