SUMMARY: Bhaja Govindam Class 7 - 19/02/23
Chinmaya UK Study Class, Śaṅkarācārya, Swami Chinmayananda (Sw. C.)
nārīstanabhara nābhīdēśaṃ dṛṣṭvā mā gā mōhāvēśam |
ētanmāṃsāvasādivikāraṃ manasi vicintaya vāraṃ vāram ||
Seeing the full bosom and naval of women[/men] do not fall prey to maddening delusion.
This is but a modification of flesh and fat.
Think well thus in your mind again and again.
Verse 3: Lusty passions
From the earliest texts to today's wisdom teachers, we are constantly warned against wealth (kāñcana) and women [/men] (kāminī).
Swami Chinmayananda assures us that this is not because any insult is meant to either but as scientific truth; that all intelligent living creatures have these two irresistible urges: (1) 'to possess more' and (2) 'to enjoy'.
Is this true? Think in our own lives, do we have these two 'irresistible urges' to some degree or another?
Remember, wealth here means all material objects, including money, and women/men represent carnal pleasure for either gender.
All living organisms seek peace and harmony. However, all are constantly whipped up by two definite urges: (1) to escape pain and (2) to attain happiness.
Think about everything you do...if we go to the root, it's either to escape pain in the form of fear of criticism or rejection or towards happiness in the way of pleasure or accomplishment—even the most well-intended action.
Think of all the actions in our lives... from as simple as getting up because we need the toilet, or going to work to a job we love/hate or answering the phone/or not, giving to charity or not [fill in the blank],...is it to either, avoid pain, or, gain happiness in some sense?
We run after wealth/objects/accomplishments in order to end our anxieties and sense of insecurities.
Our possessions are barricades against our fears.
As a way of protecting ourselves from the 'besieging troops of uncertainties in life' we build imaginary wealth fortresses around ourselves. Not realising that these fortresses are built on the everchanging surface of life, whose only constant is change.
Wealth alone, as we have seen, is not the cause of happiness. Many of us (regardless of our wealth) are unhappy because it is the thirst for more that makes us unhappy and unsatisfied with all that we have. And all of us reading this, are in the fortunate minority of the world where we have roofs over our heads, food to eat, running water, clothes to wear etc.
After the basics...
According to Sw. C., when we feel relatively secure from our fears, then the urge to attain happiness becomes stronger.
This urge drives us to 'the irresistible enchantments of the flesh', and we run after bodies.
[Sw. C. clarifies here, that it is both genders that fall under the temptation of fickle carnal pleasure and that for everyone, the ultimate destination is sorrow.]
Because this kind of pleasure can be addictive, it is a 'sticky' pleasure physically and it can infiltrate the mind and become obsessive, psychologically.
There are many shades of grey here, but just think for a moment about how much it is in our realm of experience and how much of our lives it takes up. Think about:
- a crush you had in the past, and just how much time and energy it took/takes up in the mind.
- how many songs, how much of our popular culture is about sex, lusting after people, pleasure and how it conditions us/colours our minds, rightly or wrongly.
- how our cultures have, for many generations, held the 'married status' to be the be-all and end-all of our lives, so we've been conditioned to believe that getting married is the ultimate purpose of our lives.
- how, if we have compromised enough to have withstood a lifelong relationship* - with all its frustrations, joys, sorrows and growing pains after the honeymoon period (which is a natural part of being a living, breathing, thinking human) - at some point when one partner passes, there can be the heart-wrenching sorrow of separation.
- the advertising industry today, how it has objectified bodies and sex to sell products.
- how uncontrolled the senses must be in some countries where there is the insistence that women's bodies are covered up from head to toe and think about the kind of repression and oppression that causes to both genders.
- when, in all cultures, obsessions lead to suppressions which lead to all kinds of perversions... the porn industry, the scandals of paedophilia in families, schools, religious institutes etc, the sex-slave industry...all these things happen...because of an unexamined thirst and untamed urge for cardinal pleasure and power.
We could go on...but you get the point...
* Remember, marriage/relationships are NOT meant for attaining happiness alone. The biggest myic myth is the happily ever after one. Relationships are meant for growth. Our partners, kids, parents, mentors, real friends etc, hold a mirror up to our ego and show us in full disclosure our likes and dislikes, our weaknesses, and our attachments. They are a field for growth, to develop unconditional love - if we can't love our closest unconditionally, what are the chances we can love the world unconditionally, or see sat-chit-ananda everywhere??
Biologically, all mammals are made with a natural affinity for the charms of sex. It is what has propagated these species. It is a natural urge and should not be tabooed in the slightest.
However, this urge is to be controlled, disciplined, purified, and sublimated; otherwise, as we've seen above, it can turn into an unhealthy obsession in the mind and perversion in action.
Sex is not a taboo in the same way it is in the Victorian puritan sense of the Virgin Mary. In Hinduism, kama (pleasure) attained by dharmic means is one of the four goals of life and is part of the gṛhastha āśrama (householder). We have the Kamāsutras - a śāstra (text) on pleasure, for those of you who want to take a tantric path to liberation. Before Śaṅkarācārya was conceived, his parents went on a pilgrimage and prayed to the Lord for a child.
Sex is indeed a sacred act and should be treated as such. Imagine what the world would be like if it was perceived in this way. What kind of children would be conceived, the families that they were brought up in...how society would be...THINK!
The glory of a human being
Only an intelligent intellect alone can sublimate such carnal urges; an animal acting on instinct and impulse cannot.
We have been blessed with human birth, and it is our rational intellect that allows us to curb and control the flow of our urges for carnal pleasure and REDIVERT them, ultimately sublimating ourselves into something nobler and more divine. It is a conscious effort to grow into the best versions of our Selves.
Truly accomplished tend to redivert or transmute this creative energy into higher realms of success, be that material or spiritual.
Baby sādhakās and older ones alike may find this uncomfortable and difficult as it seems to go against the very nature of the flesh. A useful way to view this, we shall see in the next class. Until then...
Bhaja Gōvindaṃ, Bhaja Gōvindaṃ
Gōvindaṃ Bhaja Mūḍhamatē!