18.38 – Discover the right way to enjoy our right to enjoyment

by Chaitanya Charan dasJuly 21, 2013

We all feel that enjoyment is our right.

And Gita wisdom declares that we are right. But it cautions us against assuming that this right makes any and every form of enjoyment right.

To understand, let’s compare enjoyment with eating. We all have a right to eating. But does that make eating anything and everything right? Certainly not.

Infants tend to explore the world with their tongues. Starting with their fingers, they put into their mouth whatever they can lay their hands on. They may put a knife in their mouth – or even their stool. Attentive mothers gently but firmly stop their precious babies from eating such things, and give them something better to eat. Are they violating their infants’ right to eat? Not at all. They are simply training their babies in the right way to enjoy the right to eating.

The same applies to enjoyment. We are souls who can relish our joyful spiritual nature by reciprocating spiritual love with Krishna, our eternal Lord and lover.

As we are spiritual beings, material things as sources of enjoyment are simply incompatible with our nature, just as a knife as food is incompatible with the human digestive system. Material things even if they initially promise enjoyment eventually imprison our consciousness in the material body, thereby subjecting us to the agonies of old age, disease and death. The Bhagavad-gita trains us, as would a caring mother, when it (18.38) cautions that enjoyment at the material level turns poisonous and painful.

Of course, we don’t have to give up all material things; we can use them to serve Krishna. Accepting Krishna as the source of ultimate enjoyment and using material things to reciprocate love with him is the right way to enjoy our right to enjoyment.

***

That happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects and which appears like nectar at first but poison at the end is said to be of the nature of passion.

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Chaitanya Charan das

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