Don’t sensationalize sensations

The sensations of taste, touch, smell, sight and sound are the sources of sensual pleasures. Such pleasures are the goals of materialism, the worldview that holds matter to be the primary, or even the only, thing in existence.

Materialism sensationalizes sensations, making them seem to be far more enjoyable than what they actually are – fleeting stimulations of bodily nerves. Contemporary culture abuses technology to further sensationalize sensations by depicting prominently the most seductive sense objects. However, such sense objects are unachievable for most people. So, the ubiquitous depiction of such sense objects fuels within people insatiable cravings that torment them endlessly.

While we can’t stop the social sensationalization of sensations, we can stop their individual sensationalization. That is, we can use our intelligence to curb our mind from fantasizing about sensations. Gita wisdom empowers our intelligence by explaining our spiritual identity as souls meant to delight in eternal love for the all-attractive Supreme, Krishna.

The Bhagavad-gita (02.14) urges us to tolerate sensations such as heat-cold and pleasure-pain by meditating on their temporary material nature, as contrasted with our eternal spiritual nature. We normally think that unpleasant sensations are to be tolerated, while pleasant sensations are to be enjoyed. So why does the Gita urge us to tolerate both the unpleasant and the pleasant? Because the two go together, like the two sides of a coin. To the extent we delight in pleasant sensations, to that extent our consciousness gets materially entangled, thereby forcing us to suffer when unpleasant sensations come. Hence the need to tolerate pleasant sensations. Tolerance essentially means stopping our imagination from sensationalizing sensations internally and avoiding their sensationalized depictions externally. By such tolerance, we gradually disentangle our consciousness from matter.

Is tolerance an exercise in self-denial? Not when we practice bhakti-yoga. Because this yoga of love connects us with Krishna and provides higher happiness far more fulfilling than the most sensationalized sensations.

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