Intellectual gluttony causes spiritual lethargy
When we eat gluttonously, our eating often does the opposite of what it is intended to do – rather than giving us energy, it takes away our energy. As our body struggles to cope with the overload that we have dumped into the stomach, we become lethargic.
Intellectual gluttony can similarly affect our spirit counterproductively. Studying philosophical wisdom can energize us to explore and experience life’s spiritual side. Such energization is evident in the Bhagavad-gita – on hearing the Gita’s wisdom, Arjuna’s vision and verve was restored, as was demonstrated in his declaring that he was ready to do his part according to the divine will (18.73).
Proper intellectual nourishment can similarly energize us spiritually.
But while hearing the Gita, or spiritual wisdom in general, we may succumb to gluttony – we may get caught in reading too many books or too many interpretations of one book. And instead of gaining energy, we may end up losing energy. As our intelligence struggles to cope with the intellectual overload of multiple opinions that we have foisted on it, we will feel confused. From doubts about what is right arise the delusion that nothing may be right or that the right thing may be unknowable to us. Such doubts and delusions sap our spiritual energy to do anything practical about what we have read.
To resist the temptation for intellectual gluttony, we need to remember the purpose of reading – to accelerate our spiritual journey by giving us spiritual energy. With this purpose in mind, we can focus and guide our reading accordingly. And by applying what we read, the Gita (09.02) assures that we get experiential realization of those principles, thereby raising us from intellectual comprehension to internalized assimilation.
By thus harmonizing our intellectual intake with our spiritual purpose, we can stay enthused on the path of inner growth.
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