Sorry for being late.
Gita Ch 3, verses 36-39
Verse 36: Arjuna asks what is that force which impels man to sin. That too against his wishes. As if forced.
Arjuna has now come to realise that the desire to think right, but DO wrong is as if a force, an external power that causes man to take the foolish step.
So there is a clear difference or separation between right, knowing right; wrong and doing wrong.
Man stands cleaved between right and wrong and when the moment to act comes he is as if lured by a power towards that which is desirable but wrong.
Equally there is the power of the Divine that desires to lift us up and lead us towards shreyas. In so doing it actualises itself, but in the pull between the power that tempts and the power that elevates, it seems the lower power has a stronger say.
And this is where, despite powerful values imbibed, the fall to the pits happens rather effortlessly.
It appears that Arjuna is slowly waking up to this realisation that despite knowing what his svadharma is, despite knowing right from wrong, how come he was lured to choose a path that was contrary to his values.
Arjuna distinguishes two aspects here: balata, or force to do wrong and anicchhan or, not wishing.
The combined effect of one not wishing and a certain corruptive force, we would imagine, should counter one another. But seemingly they do not and the force to yield to wrong, wins.
Verse 37: Synopsis: The enemy which is at the source of this contradictory behaviour is Desire.
Krishna says “It is desire, it is anger, that is all devouring...”
We are told, desire and anger are not 2 forces. Anger is desire unfulfilled. When desire is intense, it whips up its own storm which erupts as animalistic forceful conduct.
It is this stormy anger that assumes such great power that it can bend our values, and cause them to yield, to give in, to break.
This is scary. For that means, when the desire has grown so large and unwieldy, it has the capability to do anything, chief among them, cast a thick shroud on our reason.
So we want to know what is this desire.
The answer is even worse.
Desire is spiritual ignorance expressing itself in our intellect, making itself appear like wisdom but in fact intending to shroud wisdom. And what is spiritual ignorance? Spirit is (simply) the as-is-ness of a thing. Knowing a thing for what it really is. Spiritual ignorance is not knowing our as-is-ness. Believing we are something else, which we are not.
This spiritual ignorance manifests when desire is obstructed. Until then we remain in an illusion that we are wise, that we know. If desire were not so intense,then, in the face of an obstacle, we will drop the desire, we will let it go. But when the obstruction causes the same emotion to morph into anger, then all that is playing out, is a result of our ignorance of our as-is-ness.
Away from such a moment of challenge, if we were asked whether we would be angry should a desire not be met, we are very prone to say, Oh no, that is so foolish, why be angry! But this is what Arjuna also wonders about, how come man, knowing this is foolish, is yet overcome by such a force that makes him forget his wisdom?
It’s like the sun. Once the sun rises, you cannot see the darkness. No matter what you try. Likewise, once desire arises, you cannot see wisdom. The rising of desire is the setting of wisdom......
..........yet wisdom lies in managing the rise of desire!
We may be tempted to think we do not have desire. We will think so by comparing ourselves with the most depraved of humans and see ourselves in contrast, aglow in a halo of purity. This is the mind deluding. To each, his own brand of desire which is appropriate to annihilate his level of wisdom. Your weakness need not be mine. But mine is enough to wreck my wisdom. This, one must be ever aware of.
Desire has various other forms too – fear, jealousy, hatred...these are the different garbs or dresses that desire wears to delude us, whereby we justify our fear, our hatred thinking that to be wise. But at its heart it is desire – either for an object or person (hence anger), for self promotion (hence jealousy), for self preservation (hence fear), for one’s chosen idea to be perpetrated (hence hatred – eg, I believe vegetarianism is the only way to be; so I hate all those who are non vegetarians. I believe God lives ONLY in Hinduism, so I hate all other residences of the Lord...).
Verse 38: How wisdom is enveloped by desire/anger
Desire leads to attachment for continued enjoyment of the object.
This attachment can take 3 different forms:
a) low, at sense enjoyment level,
b) for power and wealth
c) for divine perfection
These three are regrouped or labelled as: Tamasic, Rajasic and Satvik respectively.
In all three cases the evident mechanics are: a) desire b) formation of attachment in the mind c) Obstruction of the intellect’s discriminating power. This obstruction is what is called veiling, as if a curtain drops on our intelligence.
These are exertions of our desires that invoke specific gunas which consequently veil our discrimination.
To explain the 3, the scriptures use 3 analogies or metaphors: a) Like smoke conceals the fire, even a satvik desire can cloud /cover the intellect. b) Like dust hides the reflection in a mirror or makes it dull and blurred, so too the agitations caused by a desire for power and glory are so thick that our discrimination is clouded. This veiling is very disturbing because the sadhaka is pulled back (like snakes and ladders) by his anger and related passions. And by the time he realises it, it has done its damage.
(In my understanding) this kind of veiling is always followed by a realisation of the error which makes it even worse. I feel in the case of satvik and tamasic veiling there is no realisation. (I request correction if someone knows differently.)
c) Like a foetus in the womb that is not seen at all till it is born, wherein the veiling is for an extended period, so too in tamasic veiling, the desires build layer upon layer around our discrimination so that our condition needs far more time and effort for repair. These veils drop off after a very long period of sadhana and effort.
Gurudev summarises all these with a cryptic, pithy sentence: Desire is that which covers/hides the divine in us. So if we do not sense the divine in us, we may please know that we have veils of desires to blame.
Verse 39: Desire is the enemy of wisdom. It is difficult to satiate it. It envelopes wisdom...
So that exercising wisdom is a huge task, as it calls for working through the encasement of desire. Therefore to exercise wisdom one has to attack desire. This is a terrible challenge. Desire brings joy. Destroying desire takes away joy and brings unhappiness. And we are being told to annihilate that which makes us happy so that we can exercise wisdom.
What do we get for overcoming this enemy of wisdom? How do we understand this even as we are enjoying in the supermarket of desires? How do we leave this market so that wisdom can play out? It is as scary as a person suffering from amnesia walking into an evil man’s den convinced that is his home.
The endeavour of this assertion of wisdom is the ability to know Real from Unreal. To know my real Home from a false home.
The point is even the idea of a Real versus an Unreal, the idea that, all that we seem to be wrapped in as desirable, these malls and things and designations and relationships... that these are Unreal is so silly to hear, but that is the truth but it becomes clear as the day only when we are able to work actively with Wisdom as the key element in every thought.
But as long as desire is our driver, Divinity, Wisdom will be suppressed, covered.
So to go back to Arjuna's question in Stanza 36: What is that force which impels man to sin. That too against his wishes. As if forced...... Let us recall all the people we know whose sins have shocked us, and let us know that the force that impelled him to sin, was DESIRE.