“Any man who has perfect knowledge of the constitution of the individual soul, the Supersoul, and nature—both material and spiritual—is called a dhira or a most sober man. Such a man is never deluded by the change of bodies.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13 Purport)
One meaning to the Sanskrit word dhira is “sober.” The word gains prominence through a verse from the Bhagavad-gita. The words are spoken by Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the all-attractive, best well-wishing friend to every person. One place where that compassion is highlighted is through the friendship to Arjuna, the bow-warrior about to lead the Pandavas to victory on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Arjuna needs some help first. He’s concerned with the bodily welfare of the opposing side, which includes elders within the family and spiritual guides. Arjuna isn’t really worried about what will happen to himself. He’d rather lay down his weapons and let the other side kill him. At least then he won’t feel the guilt resulting from victory, where he would take over the kingdom and enjoy everything it has to offer.
Arjuna is wise enough to not make a rash decision. He puts the matter first to Krishna. Immediately, that great well-wisher explains the difference between matter and spirit. The soul continues to move on, while the body outside changes. The shifting continues even beyond death.
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
The person who is dhira is not bewildered by such changes. The difference between matter and spirit forms the foundation of the science of self-realization, which is the ultimate platform of knowledge, the ideal destination for the living being blessed with the auspicious human form of body. The importance of sobriety is well-known, as it is required in so many aspects of life.
1. Operating a motor vehicle
Lack of sobriety here could land you in a lot of trouble. It is against the law to operate a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated state. The determination is made through measurements and a variety of tests administered by police officers.
The car can travel very fast. If out of control, it can turn into a deadly weapon. This applies to the driver, passengers, and anyone who may come within the path of the car. For this reason sobriety is a must. That is the final word.
2. Operating on a patient
You are on the operating table. This is an important surgery. It is considered a routine enough procedure, but not just anyone gets the opportunity to tackle the problem. There are degrees and certifications attesting to proficiency. That proficiency came through years of training and practice.
Now imagine that the surgeon comes to the room in an intoxicated state. How will the surgery go? How will you feel as a patient? Once again the need for a level head is obvious. With the senses not working properly, the slightest misidentification can bring disastrous results.
3. Applying for a job
What does the company really care? It’s just an office job. It’s not like you will be operating machinery. More importantly, they don’t test for alcohol abuse. Nevertheless, there is a drug test that must be passed prior to starting the new position.
The idea is that the intoxicated person may be more willing to break the law. If the employee is using illegal drugs on a regular basis, perhaps they fall into debt. They then need money quick. They decide to sell sensitive information that the company has protected. The sober person would be less likely to do such a thing.
4. When responsible for dependents
There are the horror stories of children growing up in abusive homes. The parents are drug addicts. Or perhaps just the father is an alcoholic. In any case, there wasn’t proper care and attention given. It is natural for the children to imitate the adults. Whatever a leader does, others tend to follow. If the parents are not sober, it is likely the children will inherit the bad habit in adulthood.
Compared to understanding the most confidential knowledge presented in the Bhagavad-gita, the experience of a material existence is a walk in the park. As sobriety is required in so many areas, it becomes even more important when taking up spiritual life.
For this reason the spiritual master imposes rules and regulations. It is the path of nivritti, or renunciation. The four most dangerous activities, which are the strongest barriers to sobriety, are meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. The person who can avoid these sinful activities and incorporate the positive aspects of spiritual life not only sees the spirit within all creatures, but they understand the origin of all spirit as well, Shri Krishna.
With heavy machinery to operate,
Required is sobriety’s state.
Same children watching over when,
First testing for drugs the job after then.
With spiritual understanding why not?
Dhira to know that body I am not.
So guru rules and regulations giving,
For potential in proper mindset living.
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