04.19 – Are we mistaking the causal to be casual?
“Veg or non-veg?” A caterer may ask us in a train or a plane.
Most people consider such choices to be casual. However, Gita wisdom underscores that all choices are causal. We are souls who due to amnesia have forgotten our spiritual identity and are misidentifying ourselves with our material bodies. But unlike movies in which amnesia usually afflicts one person, in real life spiritual amnesia afflicts all of us. That’s why we usually don’t even realize that we are sick, leave alone take treatment.
Whatever actions we do cause our amnesia to increase or decrease. As souls, we are intrinsically joyous, for the soul is sat-cit-anand (eternal, cognizant and blissful). But as bodies, we are constantly vulnerable to misery and mortality; any kind of suffering, even death, can overcome us at any moment.
How we eat, live and interact with others – all such actions create impressions on us internally, impressions that shape our notions of who we are and how we can find happiness. Moreover, every single action also begets reactions according to the universal and natural law of karma. The more we indulge in pleasures at the level of the body, the more our bodily misidentification worsens. This distances us further from our innate joyfulness and subjects us to greater material misery.
Thus the internal and external effects of our choices are not just causal but also consequential. No wonder the Bhagavad-gita (04.19) urges us to choose each action so that we don’t aggravate or perpetuate our karmic bondage, but liberate ourselves from it.
By carefully keeping our material actions within the ambit of scriptural morality so that they contribute, or at least don’t militate against, our spiritual recovery, and by choosing devotional actions that revive our spiritual memory, we can regain lasting joyfulness.