Overcoming Desire

Chapter III, Verse 7

Sri Nerode’s Translation:

7

But he who controls his sense by the mind (and yet), with impersonalness directs his organs of action to the path of activity, such one is truly remarkable. (For action is the consecration of physical energy on the altar of the spirit, employing the organs of action for service in conformity with the Divine Law and duty.)

 

Helpful Translation:

Guiding the senses by the intellect and the human mind is superior to allowing the senses (intoxicants, sensuality and material greed) to lead one’s actions.

Intuition indicates there is an alternative reading of the original Sanskrit which goes something like:

“The mind that controls the senses by directing the breath through an open mouth is superior to the mind attempting to control each individual sense simultaneously.”

 

Commentary:

The mature, enlightened person is fearless, joyful and not attached to outcomes. Do your best and the best will come from it. Uncontrolled senses produce childishness, ignorance, fear, sorrow and attachments.

Intelligence can be taught to anyone. Intelligence can be applied to remove power from the senses and turn them into the tools they are intended to be for enjoyment of the human life.

Consider alcohol as both a habit and a social diversion. The average person says, “I want to be happy. I want to have fun. I want to socialize with others and without inhibitions. Alcohol shared with friends and strangers accomplishes all of these goals.”

When the intellect begins to make an argument against alcohol, it collects information. Simple medical research reveals that alcohol negatively impacts the body in multiple ways. For example, the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism lists a few of potential impacts, including:

  • Brain: Communication pathways are interrupted. Mood, behavior and physical coordination are impacted.
  • Heart: Cardiomyopathy. Arrhythmias. Stroke. High Blood Pressure.
  • Liver: Fatty Liver. Fibrosis. Alcoholic hepatitis. Cirrhosis.
  • Prancreas: Inflammation and toxins negatively impacting digestion.
  • Cancer risk is increased for: mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breasts.
  • Immune system is weakened.

Of course, a healthy average person “knows” all of the above symptoms happen to someone else who drinks, not to them personally. (Sarcasm intended.) So, despite this intellectual knowledge, one continues to drink.

My point is that one must make intellectual knowledge personal. It needs to be based upon individual experience to be of the greatest use. I have had drinks since I began daily meditation and introspection, here’s what I observed in my own behavioral and physiological responses:

  • One drink: Comparable to taking an aspirin. Nothing much is noticeable other than a slight numbness that usually appears wherever I might have been feeling discomfort in the body.
  • Two drinks: I feel great at two drinks. I want to talk to everyone. I listen to people with intensity and if they ask my opinion I have something positive to share. At some point I notice that it feels like a cotton ball has taken up residence in the center of my brain.
  • Three drinks: The good times are rolling by drink three, yet the roll gets increasingly out of control. Suddenly, I realize my sentences are less structured and I am increasingly at a loss for the correct word or name when I speak.
  • Four drinks and more: The body cart begins to crash. I can walk, but not in a straight line. My balance is off. Awareness of my environment is limited.

Most states in the grand old USA also have strict laws against driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. In California, the state publicizes that the first arrest for DUI will cost $10,000 to avoid jail time. The intellect can use cost as an additional argument against drinking.

Now, the next time I’m tempted to drink alcohol I can use my intellect to make an “informed” decision. My checklist might look something like this:

  • Am I driving?
  • No, then will I be able to stop after one social drink?
  • No, then am I in a social situation where my lack of inhibitions is helpful for networking?
  • Yes, then am I able to stop at two drinks because at three there’s a chance I might look foolish or appear to be a lush.
  • No, then am I able to get a ride home? Anything beyond three drinks and I risk being unable to walk correctly, could get a DUI arrest and I am more susceptible to mugging.

 

The list of diseases from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism might apply if I were drinking alcohol with regularity. For example, if I drank alcohol weekly, the intellect could use disease as an additional reason not to drink. Unfortunately, the insidious thing about intoxicants is that with regular use all powerful intoxicants quickly destroy the intellect. Abuse of sensuality and excessive greed will also destroy the intellect but over longer periods of time. Intoxicants have an immediate and direct impact on physiology while sensuality and material greed take longer to rewire the brain and nervous system to facilitate the fulfillment of desire.

Introspect daily to identify personal shortcomings and use the intellect to correct those deficient actions throughout the day.

Easter Eggs:

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

Arjuna – referred to in this verse as “Arjuna” a member of the Kshatriya caste.

Manas – translated as “mind” means individualized consciousness (or soul) in this verse. As in the consciousness that activates the will to direct the energy that gives birth to creation.

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