08.15 – We can’t change the nature of nature, but we can change the nature of desire
“And they lived happily ever after.” This is the common end of most novels and movies. That is the dream of all of us, isn’t it?
Puzzlingly, the Bhagavad-gita seems to puncture our dreams. It declares (08.15: duhkhalayam ashasvatam) the world has two essential characteristics that are the polar opposites of the “happily ever after” dream: it is miserable (the opposite of “happily”) and it is ephemeral (the opposite of “ever after”).
Why does the Gita paint such a pessimistic picture of our prospects of happiness? Actually, it doesn’t.
It echoes our heart’s innate conviction: we are meant to be happy – and be happy forever.
But it cautions us against seeking happiness in the world of matter because material nature by its very nature is destructible. And nothing can ever change this nature. We can dream through literatures, movies and technologies, but we just can’t change the nature of nature.
So it is not that the Gita is puncturing our dreams; it is reality that is going to puncture our dreams. The Gita wants to protect us from the agony and the trauma of that puncture.
And that protection comes in the form of its unequivocal assurance that we don’t have to renounce our dreams; we just have to redirect them. We can change the nature of our desires from material to spiritual and live to honor our spiritual nature as beloved parts of Krishna. By so doing, we will live as happily as is possible in this world. And we will eventually attain eternal ecstatic life with Krishna, thereby fulfilling the “happily ever after” dream.
So rather than struggling to change the unchangeable nature of nature, Gita wisdom urges us to strive to change the changeable nature of our desire.
After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.