03.39: When the heat hits…
When the environmental heat hits us, we shield ourselves with our fans and air-conditioners.
But, curiously, we react in the exactly opposite way to another kind of heat: sensual heat. This is the heat of intense craving that burns within us when we contemplate on alluring sense objects. The Bhagavad-gita (3.39) insightfully refers to this acute, almost irresistible, craving as fire (analena).
When this sensual heat hits us, we instinctively move towards the heat source instead of away from it. That’s because we are misled by the promise that the pleasure from the sense objects will extinguish the inner fire. The falsity of this promise becomes evident in the end-result of indulgence: we get very little of the expected pleasure and instead get a lot of unexpected misery in the form of escalated heat, increased torturous craving.
That’s why the same Gita verse describes the fire of craving as insatiable (dushpurena). This describer underscores that indulgence is not a fire-extinguisher but a fire-fueller; it simply causes the fire to blaze bigger and longer. But, we may protest, it’s undeniable that indulgence brings pleasure. Gita wisdom agrees, but helps us to see that the pleasure is not much more than a short-lived relief from an intense, intolerable craving. This relief is similar to the temporary decrease in the fire for the period when the fuel added to it has not yet ignited. Once the fuel starts burning, the fire blazes higher and stronger. Similarly, soon after the “pleasure” (read: relief) of indulgence ends, the inner fire becomes more intense and more intolerable.
That’s why Gita wisdom recommends that when the sensual heat hits us, we move away from its source – if not physically, then at least psychologically – and move towards the ultimate coolant: remembrance of Krishna.