03.37 – Red carpet or red light?
Self-destruction. That’s the bane of humanity. From hot-heads who ruin relationships and break hearts due to their urge for speaking ill-considered words to sex addicts who risk their dignity and integrity for a few sensations of physical release to alcoholics who ruin their jobs and families to go high for a few moments, our society presents a sorry spectrum of people who have brought suffering upon themselves.
Why do we act in such self-defeating ways?
This is the essence of the question that Arjuna asks Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (03.36). In the next verse, Krishna identifies the cause to be the urge for quick pleasure that expresses itself first as lust and then transmogrifies into wrath.
We are unrelentingly pleasure-seeking creatures. Whatever promises pleasure catches our attention, stimulates our imagination and accelerates us into action. We roll out the red carpet for it. What we frequently fail to consider is rational and unsentimental evaluation of the consequence of the pleasure. Anger gives us the pleasure of being in control for a few moments before we realize how we have caused things to spin further out of control. Lust gives us a taste of exhilaration till the body brakes due to exhaustion. Alcohol gives us the pleasure of escaping from our problems into the bliss of oblivion till reality rudely and ruthlessly drags us back.
Gita wisdom shows us the way to a higher happiness and by contrast exposes the urge for such short-sighted pleasures to be our enemy. The Bhagavad-gita (03.37) emphatically declares this urge to be the enemy of the world. An enemy whose arrival at the threshold of our consciousness should cause us to turn on the red light, not roll out the red carpet. Then we can avoid self-destruction and progress towards self-fulfillment.