Scripture ends the hush-hush around the failed project of sense enjoyment
When a much-touted project of a government fails – and fails abysmally – the government often tries to save face by an overall strategy of hush-hush. It hides the truth, spin-doctors reports and gags potential whistle-blowers.
The project of sense enjoyment is the most-touted project in material existence. And in a hyper-sexualized culture such as ours, this glamorization reaches absurd levels where the bombardment of sexual imagery, overt and covert, is incessant and people live perpetually in a state of artificial sexual overstimulation. But no matter what the cultural depiction or the individual imagination, the reality remains that our bodily capacity for sexual indulgence is limited, inescapably limited. Dreams that people spin for years disappear in moments during the actual experience – they find their real-life indulgences to be, at best, anti-climaxes.
However, movies and novels keep gushing about sexual pleasure. So, people think that something is wrong with them because they are not able to enjoy what everyone is supposedly enjoying. Thus, they often end up on a sexologist’s coach for counsel that continues their illusion. The few who expose the hollowness of sense pleasure are sidelined by being labeled as old-fashioned moral police, rotten apple complainers, unwanted killjoys. Because of such overall hush-hush, people keep pursuing sense pleasure in vain – lifetime after lifetime.
Thankfully, scripture refuses to kowtow to such populism. The Bhagavad-gita (05.22) declares boldly that sense pleasure is temporary and ends in misery, concluding that wise people don’t delight in it. Significantly, the Gita doesn’t reject the project of happiness itself. In preceding (05.21) and succeeding (05.24) verses, it stresses the reality, accessibility and glory of spiritual happiness. It also offers yoga, especially bhakti-yoga, for relishing this higher happiness, thereby complementing our experience of the emptiness of sensual pleasures with the experience of the fullness of spiritual joys.
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