03.39 – Are we mistaking torture to be pleasure?
When a moth sees a fire, it becomes so captivated that it rushes straight towards it. The closer it gets, the hotter it feels. However, its anticipation of reaching the flame de-sensitizes it to the heat, thereby impelling it to self-destruction.
Similarly, when we see visually alluring forms, we become captivated and try to reach them. The closer we get to them, the more a scorching fire of desire afflicts us. This fire burns in our mind, making us feel deprived, agitated, frenzied. Unfortunately, we don’t recognize this for what it is: torture. Because accompanying it and subsuming it is another feeling: the anticipation of enjoyment. Impelled by the anticipation, we rush towards the very stimulus that is torturing us.
Sometimes we can’t get the object and so don’t get any enjoyment. All we get for our efforts is torture – plain and simple torture.
When we do get the anticipated enjoyment, do we get pleasure? Only temporarily. The fire of desire abates slightly while we are indulging, but soon that very indulgence becomes its fuel. The renewed fire tortures us even more severely in future again and again – not just throughout this life, but life after life till we reach the point of not getting seduced.
Thankfully, Gita wisdom can get us to that point right now. The Bhagavad-gita (03.39) alerts us that lust is like a fire, and an insatiable fire at that. Remembering this insight protects us from mistaking torture to be pleasure.
When we encounter a provocative stimulus and start feeling tortured, we can instead of moving towards it immediately move away from it – either physically or at least mentally by intentionally thinking of something else. This way we can save ourselves from unnecessary torture and continue our life’s journey towards lasting spiritual happiness.