16.23 – The obnoxious is obnoxious because it is noxious
A prevailing intellectual fad sees all value-judgments as subjective: “If you think something is obnoxious, it is obnoxious for you – but not necessarily for me or anyone else.”
This subjectivity may be true for arbitrary value-judgments, but not for the Bhagavad-gita’s value-judgments; they are connected with real-life consequences.
Here’s an example to understand this. Alcoholics judge a bottle of alcohol as desirable; non-alcoholics, as undesirable. Are these judgments subjective? Not if we consider the real-life health consequences that beset alcoholics and bypass non-alcoholics.
Just as value-judgments are non-subjective in the area of physical health, Gita wisdom asserts that they are non-subjective in the area of spiritual health. We are all eternal blissful souls who are afflicted with the disease of misidentifying ourselves with material bodies that subject us to mortality and misery. By regaining our spiritual health, we end this misidentification and thereby the associated bodily suffering.
Gita wisdom deems certain materialistic activities like meat-eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex as obnoxious because of their noxious effect on our spiritual health; they aggravate both the sensual desires and the karmic bonds that exacerbate our bodily misidentification. The Bhagavad-gita (16.23) cautions that such unfortunate consequences can’t be neglected by those who neglect scriptural judgments as subjective. Their increased bodily misidentification worsens their misery as disease and debility torment them on their way to death, the ultimate tribulation.
Fortunately, we can transcend this fate. By recognizing the objectivity of the Gita’s value-judgments, we can distance ourselves from spiritually noxious activities. Gita wisdom also helps us see all bodily sufferings as impetuses for accelerating our spiritual health recovery program, a program that minimizes our misery in this life and eliminates all misery in the next.
To those out to compromise moral objectivity, Gita wisdom offers a gentle yet grave reminder: the consequences don’t compromise.