War won, territory lost?

Suppose an army fought determinedly against an enemy and won the war — yet lost the disputed territory. How might that happen? Maybe another regiment of that enemy seized the territory while the army was fighting the first regiment. 

Something similar happens in our inner war against the forces of illusion, wherein the disputed territory is our consciousness. In this war, we are attacked by worldly temptations that allure our senses. If we fight determinedly and succeed in rejecting those temptations, we may become proud, thinking that we are superior to most other people who are still struggling to control their senses. But such pride is simply another regiment of the same forces of illusion. 

Gita wisdom explains that life’s fundamental illusion is not that sensual indulgence gives pleasure; life’s fundamental illusion is that we can find lasting happiness in anything other than the ultimate reality: the all-attractive supreme, Krishna. We all are his parts and are meant to relish supreme joy by connecting with him through spiritual love. 

Controlling our senses is meant to free our consciousness from obsessing over sense objects so that it can focus on Krishna. However, when we become proud of our sense control, then our consciousness becomes filled with our own greatness and is therefore not available for even experiencing Krishna, leave alone relishing him. Thus, we stay deprived of spiritual happiness and keep craving for the material happiness of pride coming from our superior sense control.

No wonder the Gita stresses humility as the key to wisdom (13.08). By seeing pride as a sneaky enemy, we can strive for sense control so that it leads us to our Lord, not to our ego.

One-sentence summary:

When we control our senses but become proud of our sense control, we are like warriors who win the war but lose the territory. 

Think it over:

  • What war are we all fighting? 
  • Even after winning the inner war, how might we lose the territory of our consciousness?
  • Humble absorption in Krishna provides greater fulfilment than sense control — how can you gain and strengthen this realization? 


13.08: Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; approaching a bona fide spiritual master; cleanliness; steadiness; self-control; … [ – all these I declare to be knowledge].

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