Intelligence is the last defense against indulgence – and also the first defense
An important fort usually has multiple layers of defense. The best security is placed at the innermost layer to protect the king. Simultaneously, strong security is placed at the outermost layer to nip attacks in the bud.
Our consciousness is like an important fort – it needs multiple layers of defense from the onslaught of temptation. The Bhagavad-gita (02.62-63) outlines how our consciousness falls to temptation: what begins with careless contemplation ends in degrading self-destruction. In this sequence, the last to fall before we fall is our intelligence. If temptation overcomes our intelligence, we no longer see any reason to abstain from indulgence. And our consciousness is defenselessly dragged into sensuality, immorality, even perversity. Undoubtedly, intelligence is our last defense against indulgence.
Simultaneously, intelligence can act as our first defense. How? It can prevent our consciousness from contemplating temptation and can redirect it toward spiritual reality (03.43). If we focus on the all-attractive supreme spiritual reality, Krishna, we relish a higher satisfaction that makes sensual indulgence less appealing (05.21).
Here’s another way to understand these two defenses for our consciousness. The outermost layer of defense prevents distraction, which happens at the mental level. When we are intelligently absorbed in Krishna, we pay no attention to temptation; it can’t gain even a toehold in our consciousness. The innermost layer of defense prevents degradation, which happens at the physical level. If our intelligence is reinforced by Gita’s wisdom, even if we feel tempted mentally, we refuse to indulge physically. Why? We know that such indulgence will only aggravate future urges and implicate us further.
Pertinently, spiritually intelligent brahmanas exercise both mental discipline and sensual discipline (18.42) – they have both layers of defense. If we study and apply the Gita, we too can protect our consciousness with multi-layered intelligence.
Think it over:
- How is intelligence our last defense against indulgence?
- How is intelligence our first defense against indulgence?
- How are the two qualities of the brahmanas related to the two layers of defense?
18.42 Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness – these are the natural qualities by which the brahmaṇas work.
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