SUMMARY: Bhaja Govindam Class 9 - 05/03/23
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 cont, cont...
The reason why it is so difficult to rise above the instinctive lust for flesh is because of the impressions of millions of lives lived in lower realms of evolution where we have gathered the powerful instinct for self-preservation, of both ourselves and our species.
These impressions may be instinctive, ie, from animal births as well as societal/cultural from our multitude of human births gone by.
Rising above lust is no easy feat and an achievement in itself, which takes repeated (vāram vāram) practice.
However, either as a result of being born into a family that has given us access in some way to such teachings OR of having a tenaciously independent, honest and curious mind OR having come to a point in life (perhaps after some unsatisfactory, unfathomable, unfulfilled experience in and of life) where we have started to question ourselves, question this life, question the world and our relationship with it, and have started to examine our purpose here OR a mixture of all three plus other reasons...we find ourselves wanting to go beyond the superficial in search of answers/meaning/happiness/freedom/realisation [fill in the blank].
But, why don't we see things as they are?
We allow ourselves to be 'played' (and by that, I mean tempted, lust over, constantly think about, drive our actions and even our lives) by the objects/people/experiences of the world because of our past impressions/conditioning (vāsanās).
Just think about the lengths we go to or sometimes don't go to (and miss the possibility) for some things, people, and experiences that are outside all reasonable behaviour because we have superimposed a sense of happiness/identity/comfort on them and then don't see them as they are. For example, think about the promotion you really wanted or the partner or the child or the car or the accolade, or the position you don't want to give up [fill in the blank]...how much time/energy/mental anxiety has it taken and for how long did/will it keep you truly happy for? Be honest with yourself.
Then ask why do I (as in you, the reader) run after/deem important a certain set of things and someone else another set of things? ...
We don't all value the same things; if that promotion, partner, child, car, accolade [fill in the blank] really were the source of happiness, it would make everyone happy and permanently so, no matter the amount of them. But the same things neither make every person happy nor do they make any one of us permanently happy, nor do the more we have of them increase our level of happiness.
Each one of us is veiled by our own fanciful imaginations superimposed on the object/person/experience by our mental contents (our likes, dislikes, fears, misapprehensions, ego).
Thus, we hardly ever see the world as it is; we see it splashed with or veiled by our own subjective past experiences acquired over lifetimes gone by.
Oh, dear! How do we see things as they are? How do we wipe clean the mirror of our minds?
In order to remove our subjective vāsanās and see objects/people/experiences in their native beauty and in their natural form, the advice given here (and there are many ways) is through close observation, diligent enquiry and scientific analysis.
On a misty evening, we may misunderstand what we see in the near distance, but, on moving closer to the object with an enquiring mind, we see what is really there.
In the same way, wealth and carnal pleasure in themselves are not a threat to us, but in our false imaginations, we give them both a ridiculously inflated value and, striving for their sake, come to lay waste our powers/energy.
Thus, Sw. C. ends by saying, "it is this hallucination in us, and the consequent illusory fascination for the world, which we entertain, that exiles us from our own inner Kingdom of Joy."
Here ends verse 3!
The previous two verses helped us discern a more balanced judgement over the role of wealth and pleasure in a healthy and dynamic life.
REMINDER: At no point has Śaṅkarācārya condemned wealth or pleasure or asked us to renounce either. Rather, he has unpacked them in a way that enables us to see them as they are and not give them "ridiculous over-inflated amounts of value" such that we waste the potential of our lives in hoarding/acquiring/competing/marketing/lusting after things that don't, in reality, possess the permanent happiness that we seek and, by spending our entire lives running after these, miss the very purpose of human birth.