As long as we desire to bring matter under our captivity, we remain in its captivity
Our bad habits, our attachments to base material things, are often extremely difficult to give up. The resulting struggle may raise the question: “I am a soul who being conscious am superior to unconscious matter. How then can inferior matter bind me?”
Because our consciousness is captivated by inferior desires, answers Gita wisdom.
The Bhagavad-gita (13.22) indicates that we become entangled in matter due to the desire to enjoy material things (karanam guna-sangasya). This desire disconnects our consciousness from the spiritual reality to which we belong, thereby depriving us of the unending happiness we relish there in loving Krishna. We cannot live without happiness. When we lose our link to spiritual fulfillment, the urge for happiness propels our consciousness to control matter according to various culturally-induced fantasies with the hope of gaining happiness.
However, all material things are ephemeral, whereas our longing for happiness is perennial. That’s why the enjoyment from manipulating matter can never substitute for the fulfillment from reciprocating love with Krishna. Though we feel dissatisfied, we unfortunately misdiagnose its cause: “I haven’t been able to control matter well enough. Let me get the really good material things that I haven't yet got. Then I will enjoy.” This false hope makes us seek pleasure more fervently in the very matter that has taken us away from pleasure. Thus, the more we desire to bring matter under our captivity, the more we go into its captivity.
The way to freedom is through detachment, as the Gita (15.03: asanga) indicates. This detachment becomes easier to cultivate when we complement it by cultivating attachment to Krishna, for that restores our access to devotional joyfulness.
When we practice devotional service diligently and let ourselves become captivated by Krishna’s beauty, then matter can no longer captivate us.
“The real form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. No one can understand where it ends, where it begins, or where its foundation is. But with determination one must cut down this strongly rooted tree with the weapon of detachment.”