15.10: The self-imposed misfortune of trusting the untrustworthy

by January 11, 2012

The Bhagavad-gita (15.10) cautions us about the perils of unwittingly subscribing to the childish idea of “seeing is believing.” This idea, known in philosophical parlance as naïve realism, is the primitive belief system in which one imagines reality to be what it appears to be. This belief system is based on an unquestioning trust in our senses as conveyors of reality. However, our trust in our senses is highly questionable because the senses provide us a link to reality that is:

  1. Ontologically inadequate: The senses being material can never give us access to the nonmaterial dimensions of reality: God, the soul, the spiritual world.
  2. Operationally unreliable: The senses being driven by material desires blind us to even those aspects of material reality which are unconducive to the fulfillment of those desires: the unpalatable yet unavoidable occurrences of old age, disease and death.

That’s why the Gita deplores as misled those who unthinkingly trust their senses and imagine that what looks good is actually good, for they self-righteously sentence themselves to the sufferings of material existence. The Gita urges us to become mindful that our senses are inadequate and unreliable guides to reality and to seek intelligently beyond what looks good to what is actually good: our personal, spiritual and eternal relationship with Krishna.

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