18.38 – The human talent for misery

by January 22, 2013

We often use our talents to make ourselves miserable. Not intentionally of course, but creatively nonetheless.

Addictions are a classic example.

Individually, a smoker often uses all available talents to get to the cigarette, no matter what the obstacles.

Collectively we humans have used our talents to find new ways of getting ourselves addicted. TV, video games and porn require talent to make and make available to people all over the world at a click. And they can consume people’s minds so compulsively that many psychologists classify them as sources of addiction.

We may feel I am not that kind of addict. Even if that’s true, it doesn’t spare us from using our talent to invite misery into our lives. We all have our own vulnerabilities, our pet indulgences that pull us forcefully even when we know the trouble far outweighs the pleasure.

Why do we bring misery upon ourselves?

Because we need happiness. Once something gives us even a bit of happiness, we often seek it frantically, no matter how little the happiness provided and no matter how much the cost incurred.  The Bhagavad-gita (18.38) explains the nature of typical addictive pleasures: they are nectar in the beginning, but poison in the end. When the initial tiny nectar enamors us, it blinds us to the eventual huge poison and goads us to use all our talents to get the nectar.

To stop abusing our talents thus, we need an alternative nectar, Gita wisdom reveals a nectar that lasts forever.

We are all souls who are meant to rejoice eternally in a loving relationship with Krishna. By practicing devotional service, we can revive that dormant relationship. When we use our talents to pursue that spiritual revival, then they bring us not misery, but happiness – ever-lasting happiness.

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