18.22 – Are we meant to be characters in a cartoon show?
Entertainment. That’s the most eagerly awaited part of life for many people. Movies, soap operas, spectators sports, novels, cartoons – that’s the stuff most people dream about.
No doubt, entertainment has always been a part of human culture. But in the past it was a part of life, a relief from the strains of living. Nowadays for many it is the purpose of life; everything else is something to be got out of the way so as to get down to the business of being entertained.
This exaltation of entertainment to the center-stage of life has corresponded with the relegation of the search for meaning to the back alleys of life. The less we understand or even care what life is meant for, the more we care fiercely about the lives of cartoon characters in their fictional world.
Of course, the Disneylands of today often features brilliant exhibitions of technological wizardry. But they demonstrate a tragic misdirection of the human intellect – being used to forget the meaning of life, not to understand that meaning.
The Bhagavad-gita (18.22) indicates that such unidimensional obsession of the intellect with a fragment of life as if it were all of life characterizes knowledge in the mode of ignorance. Such knowledge alienates people from reality. In fact, some people even dream of being in Disneyland with Mickey Mouse, as if that would be their life’s greatest success. Becoming a character in a cartoon show – is that the purpose of life?
Gita wisdom reminds us that such an aspiration is a distortion of our spiritual longing to be characters in Krishna’s eternal pastimes in the spiritual world. That’s life’s supreme reality, the lost world where all our heart’s longings will be fulfilled forever. We just need to look not in Disneyland, but in Krishna-land.