“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)
काम एष क्रोध एष रजोगुणसमुद्भवः।
महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणम्।।
kāma eṣa krodha eṣa rajoguṇasamudbhavaḥ।
mahāśano mahāpāpmā viddhyenamiha vairiṇam।।
Arjuna is a conscientious disciple. He does not think only about himself. If every person were to act in their interests alone, one hundred percent of the time, the world would descend into chaos and madness. Theft would be permitted, and since even the thief expects respect of the property they have taken, conflict quickly abounds.
Arjuna was in a difficult situation, worried about the chosen course of action. Was it the right way? Was there something he overlooked? Could a different approach be attempted to reach a satisfactory resolution, to satisfy every party involved in the conflict?
Fortunately, there was the best teacher close by. So near that an amplification device was not necessary for audible communication, Arjuna could pose his questions directly to the person steering the chariot, which was situated in the middle of the battlefield of Kurukshetra, surrounded by thousands of the world’s greatest fighters.
The driver-turned-guru explained the ways of the world, not merely for that time period but applying to every era and every space, including other planets. Arjuna listened attentively and injected his own questions and opinions where appropriate.
One aspect of life that puzzled him was the seemingly helpless nature of human beings in the face of sinful behavior. How could a person continue to do something that they knew was bad for them? For instance, a person understands the health risks associated with a particular behavior. They have sworn off it many times in the past, but the next day they fail in their vow. What is the cause?
The guru answered that it is lust only. Known as kama in Sanskrit, it combines with wrath, krodha, to take down even the most discriminating individual. A simple example of the morning commute gone wrong shows how these forces can quickly manifest.
1. Anger at other drivers
“Why are you just hanging out in the left lane? Don’t you see the trouble you are causing? So many cars are behind you, waiting to pass the slower vehicles on the right. Yet you are just sitting there, as if on an afternoon stroll.”
“Thanks for not signaling your lane change, buddy. Really appreciate it. If only every person in this world were as inconsiderate as you, maybe we could have world wars on a daily basis. Great way to keep other people safe. Let me continue to drive right behind you so that I can keep guessing as to your next move.”
“Your tailgating me is not going to influence my behavior in the slightest. There are tons of cars ahead of me. What do you want me to do, jump over them? Back off or I will slam on the brakes and you will get a lesson to never forget.”
It is very easy to detect faults in others. Just look at a person. Immediately so many negative thoughts come to mind. With other drivers on the road, it is not difficult to get frustrated with apparent violations of etiquette and even breaches of the law.
2. Bemoaning your plight
Stuck in traffic on the way to work, where there is an important meeting scheduled, you bemoan your plight. It’s just not fair. You didn’t do anything wrong. Why is this happening to you? For what transgression has this punishment been delivered to you? Why can’t the trip to work be predictable, as smooth as it was the previous few days? It’s like the higher ups knew that this day was important to you, so they decided to mess with things.
3. Blaming other people for troubles
If the people living downstairs had only kept quiet during the night maybe you would have gotten enough sleep. Then you could have woken up on time and left the house prior to all of this traffic. If people knew how to drive, not stopping to gaze at every flashing light and every car pulled over to the side, there would be a quicker pace.
In this way it is easy to be devoured by lust and anger. The initial spark is a desire, and when it goes unmet, it is understandable to become upset. The anger then leads to bewilderment of memory and loss of intelligence. Sort of like punching the wall in frustration, nothing good results. The wall has no identity of its own, and striking your hand so hard against it only causes you pain, not the other way around.
The wise person tries to maintain a steady and sober outlook. An easier way is to remain connected in consciousness to the Divine. He was there in the personal form with Arjuna, serving as the guru, the role for which He is ideally suited. Shri Krishna is the adi-guru; no one comes before Him. Kama and krodha do not stand a chance at devouring someone who is protected by Him, as He once literally swallowed a blazing fire in the forest to avert danger for His friends.
Arjuna not just over his plight,
Wondering how against sin to fight.
Since even when better knowing,
Still into dangerous path going.
Truth that lust and wrath to devour,
Like during commute at rush’s hour.
So quickly turning into angry face,
Solution only Krishna could erase.
Categories: the three