03.36: A game that we can’t win and can’t quit
The Bhagavad-gita (3.36) states that our material desires impel us to counter-productive and self-destructive activities as if by force. This domineering force that material desires often exert on us is due to their two deadly characteristics: insatiability and irresistibility. To grasp why these characteristics are deadly, let’s compare engaging with material desires with playing a game.
Insatiability: When we say yes to material desires, they become not pacified, but aggravated; not silenced, but incited; not satisfied, but stimulated – like a fire that is fed with fuel. Consequently, the craving becomes stronger, not weaker, and forces us to repeatedly, even perpetually, keep saying yes to those desires. Analogically, trying to fulfill the material desires is like trying to win the game. But, as these desires are insatiable, they just don’t allow us to win.
Irresistibility: When we get fed up with the futile attempt to fulfill these desires and decide to say no to them, they charge into our consciousness regularly and relentlessly, and seem impossible to reject or even resist. Analogically, wanting to give up material desires is like wanting to quit the game. But as these desires are irresistible, they don’t allow us to quit.
Fortunately, there is a way out of this catch-22 situation. Though we can neither win nor quit, we don’t have to keep getting pound. We have a third alternative: switch to playing a different game altogether.
The Gita (2.61) describes that if we fix our minds on Krishna, experience spiritual happiness in remembering him and fill our heart with devotional desires to love and serve him, then gradually material desires find themselves crowded out of the playing arena of our consciousness – and we find ourselves freed from their tyranny.