15.07 – Why pursue pleasure in a prison of protoplasm?
Our material body is a prison of protoplasm for us souls. Just as life in a prison inevitably involves sufferings like grueling work and unpleasant living conditions, the Bhagavad-gita (15.7) indicates that life in a material body inevitably involves various sufferings (e.g. the threefold miseries: psychophysical, social and environmental). Just as a prison restricts the prisoners’ freedom of movement within its walls, the body restricts our freedom of enjoyment within its extremely limited capacity to enjoy.
Despite the affliction and the restriction, we rarely long to get out of the bodily prison. Why? Because of ignorance and obstinance.
- Ignorance: We don’t know that our real identity lies beyond the mass of flesh that we think is me. We don’t know of any pleasure better than that got by inducing sensations in protoplasm that does nothing more than process chemicals. We don’t know that we can relish this superior pleasure easily by connecting with the reservoir of all pleasure, Krishna, through the process of devotional service.
- Obstinance: Even though we experience the shallowness and the emptiness of the much-touted bodily pleasures, we keep pursuing them obstinately without exploring any alternatives. Worse still, even when we experience the alternative devotional happiness to be much higher and richer, still we obstinately crave for the lower bodily pleasures. Worst of all, even when the error of our ways is pointed out to us, we obstinately rationalize it by saying, “This is just the way I am.” Whom can we blame when over time the bodily prison imposes its inevitable sufferings on us with a smug retort, “This is the way I am”?
Krishna provides Gita wisdom to help end our ignorance. But the responsibility to use our free will intelligently and thereby end our obstinance is on us – and us alone.