Freedom to do what we like is not necessarily freedom – freedom to do what we should is

Consider alcoholics who want to break free from their addiction. They often place themselves voluntarily in rehabilitation clinics whose monitored environment takes away their freedom to do as they like: drink alcohol. Why do they give up their freedom? Because they understand that what they are giving up is pseudo-freedom. By drinking as they like, they will become more addicted. By doing as they should – by staying sober as per the clinic’s regulations – they will gradually gain freedom from the addiction.

The Bhagavad-gita underscores this counter-intuitive nature of pleasure. It states that sensual pleasures taste like nectar initially but like poison eventually (18.38), whereas refined pleasures taste like poison initially but like nectar eventually (18.37). Our “likes” are often determined by our infatuation with the initial nectar, while being blinded to the eventual poison. By acting on those likes, we sentence ourselves to that poison. When our intelligence is guided by scripture, our “shoulds” are determined by the resolution to reach the eventual nectar, even if it requires tolerating the initial poison. By doing what we should, we attain the freedom to relish that nectar.

Gita wisdom explains that we are at our core souls meant to relish eternal happiness in loving devotion to Krishna. But we can’t access this spiritual happiness as long as our consciousness is consumed by fantasies about worldly pleasures. And such pleasures, no matter how glamorized, are actually fleeting, unsatisfying and entangling.

By doing as we like and indulging in worldly pleasures, we get entrapped in the vain pursuit of worldly pleasures and lose the freedom to relish spiritual happiness. But by doing what we should and choosing to purify ourselves with actions determined by our scripturally-guided intelligence, we gradually become free to relish everlasting spiritual happiness.

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1 Comment

  1. unlimited and unabatable freedom opened by social media as facebook etc has poisoned the youngsters in india

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