Four Activities That Might Not Reflect Well On My Character

[Sita-Rama]“I am faithfully engaged in the service of Rama, who is a hero and prince of wide renown, who has full control over His senses and mind [jitendriyam], who is mighty-armed, and whose face resembles a full moon.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.36)

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पूर्णचन्द्राननं रामं राजवत्सं जितेन्द्रियम्।
पृथुकीर्तिं महात्मानमहं राममनुव्रता।।

pūrṇacandrānanaṃ rāmaṃ rājavatsaṃ jitendriyam।
pṛthukīrtiṃ mahātmānamahaṃ rāmamanuvratā।।

Some people dread it. It’s the last thing they want to happen while they are out. If they are lucky enough to spot the other person first, they look for a way to hide. Move to another aisle in the supermarket. Pretend to be reading the ingredient list on a particular item. Turn around and walk the other way.

Yet the difficulty of the situation is precisely that the person you happen to run into hasn’t been in your vision for a long time. There is the chance that they spot you first and that you don’t recognize them right away.

Upon the inevitable meeting, the conversation is likely to turn in this direction:

“Wow, the last time I saw you was years ago. You were doing such and such. Man, how quickly the time flies. What are you up to these days? How are things going?”

[sleep]Certain responses might not reflect well on both your character and your direction in life.

1. I sleep for long periods of time

“Oh, I’m talking like ten to twelve hours a night. No joke. I purchased this expensive mattress that allows you to adjust the firmness setting electronically. Some days I feel like a more plush resting surface and some days not. No one disturbs me, either. I can stay in bed for as long as I want.”

2. I eat more than anyone can imagine

“It’s like I have a lifetime pass to the buffet restaurant. Pick and choose whatever I want. Not the same thing every day, but there is no boredom. Then it’s usually a full pizza pie at night, along with a twelve pack of soda. The area where I live has the best food. I never have to cook for myself.”

3. I maintain multiple partners at the same time for enjoyment

“Am I married? No. Why bother? I’m having too much fun. I keep several people in my rolodex, so to speak. They are available at a moment’s notice. Whichever one I feel like calling on a particular night. They don’t stay long, either. They don’t know about one another. They each think that I am exclusively with them, which adds to the fun.”

4. I visit casinos on a regular basis

“As the trust fund money has kicked in, I spend a lot of my weekends at the casino. Blackjack. The roulette wheel. Betting on sporting events. There is always a rush. Maybe I break even, or a little less. Hey, it’s a good time.”

The Sanskrit word to describe such a lifestyle is ajitendriya. This means “conquered by the senses.” Though in material life the pursuit is towards achieving a position where the aforementioned types of enjoyment will be available without limitations, in truth those who control their senses are held in higher esteem.

Upon whom would I rather rely to complete an important task? Someone who is sober, level-headed and focused on the task at hand or someone who can’t control how much they eat and sleep? The Vedas reveal the secret that jitendriya is the way towards happiness and peace.

Infamous characters like Hiranyakashipu and Ravana were ajitendriya. Despite rising to prominence and great power for a period of time, everything eventually came crashing down. They had no peace while such enjoyment was available to them. Others, who were seemingly in an inferior material condition, could withstand any change in fortune due to their connection to the Divine.

तेषाम् एवानुकम्पार्थम्
अहम् अज्ञान-जं तमः
नाशयाम्य् आत्म-भाव-स्थो
ज्ञान-दीपेन भास्वता

teṣām evānukampārtham
aham ajñāna-jaṁ tamaḥ
nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho
jñāna-dīpena bhāsvatā

“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.11)

[Sita-Rama]Those who are connected to God the person in a mood of love and devotion automatically become jitendriya. A separate endeavor is not required for conquering the senses. The Supreme Lord shines the torchlight of knowledge from within, showing them the way towards transcendence. Sita Devi describes that her husband, Shri Rama, has conquered the senses. This is to exhibit the power of life in dharma, to show that everything good comes from following the path of righteousness.

In Closing:

After initial pleasantries to greet,

When longtime friend to meet.

To inquire what up to now,

Time spent mostly how?

Not good upon you reflecting,

When life of indulgence projecting.

Jitendriya way with Supreme aligning,

From inside light of truth shining.

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