Fear not the loss of sensual pleasure – fear the loss of spiritual pleasure
We don’t like to lose things. If a choice entails some loss, we recoil from it. Such recoiling can make us miss out on choices that involve initial losses but lead to eventual gains.
When exploring spiritual life, we often fear that we will lose sensual pleasure because we will have to give up the material things we are attached to. That fear de-energizes us in our spiritual practices and deprives us of spiritual pleasure, which is our eternal birthright.
Gita wisdom explains that we are spiritual beings, parts of the ultimate reality, the all-attractive person, Krishna. We are meant to relish immortal joy in a loving relationship with him. Presently, our material attachments divert us from loving Krishna and experiencing his love for us. By practicing bhakti-yoga, we can redirect our attachments from the world to Krishna. In the initial stages of this redirection, we need to discipline ourselves by regulating worldly indulgences – and that discipline seems like poison. But once we become purified and start relishing Krishna’s attractiveness, spiritual life becomes like nectar, an immortal nectar. Initially like poison, ultimately like nectar – that is the nature of enlightened pleasures (Bhagavad-gita 18.37).
In contrast, sensual pleasures are like nectar initially, but like poison eventually (18.38). Why like poison? Because pursuing those pleasures keeps us in material consciousness wherein we suffer old age and disease, and ultimately lose everything at death. Moreover, because we neglect our spiritual practices due to being materially infatuated, we lose spiritual happiness too. To continue transmigrating in various species in material existence – that is fearful indeed.
With scripturally-guided intelligence, we realize that losing spiritual pleasure is far more disastrous than losing sensual pleasure. Thus illumined, we channel the fear of loss so that it strengthens our spiritual resolve instead of weakening it.
Think it over:
- How does the fear of losing sensual pleasure affect our spiritual life?
- Why does spiritual life seem like poison initially?
- Why is losing spiritual pleasure more fearful than losing sensual pleasure?
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