05.22 – Are we mistaking the red signal to be the green signal?

by April 24, 2013

To navigate through traffic, we need to understand traffic signals properly. Similarly, to navigate through life, we need to understand the signals during our life-journey.

We often treat our feelings as signals. We do whatever feels good, seeing that feeling as a green signal and avoid that which feels bad, seeing it as a red signal. However, our feelings are not always reliable; they often originate not from our core values but from peripheral bodily sensations.

That’s why we need to evaluate our feelings in the light of scriptures. The Bhagavad-gita (05.22) indicates that because sensual indulgences are the sources of misery, the wise see the feeling of pleasure therein as a pointer to trouble, as a red signal. Therefore, they pursue instead spiritual happiness in serving Krishna.

Unfortunately, most people are not so astute. They see the initial pleasure as a green signal, as a promise of greater pleasure. However, that promise is treacherous – it raises false hopes that inflame us with an ever-increasing craving. A craving that blinds us to the ethical boundaries that we transgress, a craving that desensitizes us to the pain that we cause others by our misdemeanors, a craving that alienates us from Krishna who is the source of lasting happiness.

And even if we neglect all these exorbitant costs of pandering to the craving, still our indulgence is brought to a grinding halt by the limitedness of our bodily capacity to enjoy. Thus, do we breed misery for ourselves and for others.

By equipping our intelligence with Gita wisdom, we can learn to correct our default wrong interpretation of sensual feelings. Instead of seeing them as green signals, we can see the initial rush of pleasure as red signals and protect ourselves from tons of needless trouble.


An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.

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