“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.59)
रस-वर्जं रसो ऽप्य् अस्य
परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते
rasa-varjaṁ raso ‘py asya
paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate
“Have you ever heard of this idea of someone wanting to stay in prison? It sounds ridiculous, but the truth is evident. I guess it makes more sense with inmates who have been there a while. Upon release, it is like they are moving to a brand new home, with unfamiliar neighbors. They have to make new friends.
“They end up committing crimes again in order to return to the incarceration facility. It is where they feel most comfortable. There is food, clothing, and shelter, all the same. It is the place to which they are attached.
“Then there is the kind of person who doesn’t want to retire. It is not that they prefer their working environment so much, but they just wouldn’t know what to do otherwise. Sitting at home, they would get bored. Worse than that, their mind would go in this direction and that. I think that is one of the reasons for the word manoratha.
“This refers to speculations of the mind. The two component terms are ‘mind’ and ‘chariot’. The chariot darts in this direction and that, and the mind is known to follow. The individual becomes victim to the mind instead of controlling it.
“What would you say to such a person? Perhaps they are unable to sit still. They must always be doing something. They work on home improvements during the weekends because it keeps them occupied. Otherwise, they would get sad and depressed.”
This is another defect of the material world. It is also a sad commentary considering that no one has supplied them a superior engagement. If this is what we are relegated to, what is the reason for following pious behavior? Why not just live in prison?
Why make progress in constructing buildings? After the project completes, we will run into a dangerous situation of uncertainty. Better to demolish the structure and start again. Rinse and repeat in order to avoid depression.
This does not sound like a logical proposal. Vedic culture is precisely for supplying a superior engagement. Along the way, there are tight controls over sense gratification. This is for avoiding attachment to that which is not profitable, anartha.
This makes it easier to understand the higher concepts. That knowledge is known as raja-vidya. It is the king of education. Those who follow it are known to be joyful. It is not a punishment-style system, such as being forced to sit in a classroom for eight hours a day, for twelve or more years.
पवित्रम् इदम् उत्तमम्
सु-सुखं कर्तुम् अव्ययम्
pavitram idam uttamam
su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam
“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2)
In Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna also explains how a person can find a superior engagement which then removes attachments. They experience something better, param drishtva. There is a higher taste. Every person is meant to have the same experience.
This means that depression is not the natural state. We do not get educated so that we can be occupied in busy work as an adult, in order to avoid trouble. That might be worthwhile for someone requiring remediation, who is otherwise troubled.
Once the condition gets corrected, there has to be work. There has to be something to do. It is the individual’s dharma to serve. This is the natural characteristic. That dharma is not limited to a single outlet of activity.
I can follow my dharma in sitting quietly and meditating. This is known as dhyana. The proper way is to focus on the personal, to understand that God is an individual like you and me, but with transcendental features.
If I am not qualified to meditate or to conduct worship in front of a saguna form of God, I can appreciate the entire cosmic manifestation, which is known as the virata-rupa. Just as I appreciate one person or entity, I can expand that appreciation to everything that exists.
This collective cannot be denied. It does exist. Place everything into a single image and you have the virata-rupa. There are endless ways to appreciate, with new angles of vision appearing in the mind through the passage of time.
Whichever direction we choose, there is a higher engagement. We were not sent to the human form of body to lament our situation, to be afraid of sadness and depression, to work in futile endeavors simply for the sake of occupying time. God is the person worth finding, and in connecting with Him we can truly shine.
In that endeavor to shine,
Through higher taste to find.
Such that no longer depression,
Dharma not in suppression.
Since serving directly the one,
From whom everything has come.
Joy and enthusiasm to repeat,
Way for idleness to defeat.