Some limits restrict; some protect – knowing which limit does what is intelligence

When we are limited in any way, we often see that limitation as a restriction to our freedom. And yes, many limits do restrict. But not all; some limits protect. 

If a person has been unfairly jailed, then the jail walls restrict their freedom of movement. But suppose a person is living inside a fort that is being attacked by rioters who are out to kill that person. Though those walls too limit that person’s movement, they are actually offering protection, not imposing the restriction. If that person foolishly leaves the safe haven of the fort in the name of freedom, they will be slaughtered. 

For physical threats, we can easily discern that some walls protect. But we need intelligence to similarly discern when it comes to subtler threats: threats to our consciousness by temptations. 

Whenever we are told to not do some activities that we consider pleasurable, we tend to rebel, “Why don’t you let me enjoy?” However, such rebelliousness is blind to the reality that what we consider pleasurable often leaves us miserable. Many of the world’s pleasures are baits that entice and entrap our consciousness in sensuality, immorality, and perversity, whereby we end up hurting, even destroying ourselves. That’s how people who take cocaine shots to get high eventually end up addicted, tormented, defeated. 

The Bhagavad-gita (02.64) states that when we keep our search for happiness within scriptural limits, that limitation protects us from self-destruction and takes us towards spiritual realization and lasting happiness thereof. Thus, returning to the fort metaphor, living the scriptural way not only keeps us safe from degrading temptations but also paves a way for us to the safe zone of spiritual absorption in the all-attractive Supreme.

To live within scriptural limits is the ultimate sign of intelligence, for it protects us from degradation and guides us towards liberation. 


Think it over:

  • Explain with examples of how some limits protect. 
  • How are the world’s pleasures baits?
  • Why is living within scriptural limits intelligent? 



02.64 But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord.

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