Don’t work for or against the body – work with it for Krishna

If we were given a car, we would learn how it functions so as to smoothly drive it to our destination.

At birth, we all are given our material body, which is like a vehicle (Bhagavad-gita 18.62) for us souls, who are on a multi-life journey through material existence. However, we usually identify with the body and work for it, seeking to fulfill its desires. Unfortunately, such work ends in limitation and tribulation: limitation because the body’s capacity to enjoy is finite and tribulation because all bodily pleasure ends in pain (05.22).

Understanding that working for the body is counterproductive, we may go to the other extreme and start working against the body. We may mortify the body, aiming to desensitize ourselves to it and thereby transcend it.

However, transcendence is a distinct reality that becomes accessible only when our consciousness rises to the spiritual level. To elevate our consciosness, the body is our vital tool. Indeed, yogis use all their faculties, even their senses, for purification, that is, for spiritualization of consciousness (05.11).

For spiritualizing consciousness, especially potent is the process of bhakti-yoga. Why? Because it connects us with the all-attractive supreme spiritual reality, Krishna, and enables us to use for his service all our resources, even material resources such as the body.

Going back to the car metaphor, working for the body is like letting the car go wherever it wants without steering it, whereas working against the body is like trying to drive the car forward in the reverse gear. Working with the body is like using the car to drive to our destination. By understanding the body, we can regulate unhealthy bodily desires and channel bodily skills for serving Krishna.

When we thus harmonize our bodily nature with our spiritual purpose, we relish all-round growth.

Think it over:

  1. How is working for the body counterproductive?
  2. Why does mortifying the body not lead to transcendence?
  3. What does working with the body for Krishna mean?

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