May – 2008

To dissipate ourselves in immoral and criminal thoughts is more harmful than physically indulging in them. The mind has a tendency to repeat its own thoughts. – Chinmaya

The mind which has tasted the bliss of the devotion for the Lord and also has understood the heavy price that has to be paid for entertaining immoral and criminal thoughts and has experimented with and observed that pain and suffering alone are the end results of all sense pleasures, will not find it worthwhile to dissipate himself in that direction. For such a sublimated mature mind, no rules or instructions are necessary as it is effortlessly peaceful and unconditionally cheerful.

But the reverse is the case with the majority of mankind for whom the joys through senses alone are the joys of life. In such a case, an unintelligent, forced restraint of the senses will only add up to a suppressed mind which, like a compressed spring, will always look forward to an opportunity to spring up and exhaust its pent-up passions.

Many a time one imposes this suppression upon oneself to show off one’s saintliness or to gain honour, fame, money etc. False pride in one’s sense control is another great danger of this suppression. The only occupation of such hypocrites (Mithyacharis) will then be to mentally indulge in such pleasures as this gives the pleasure without bartering for worldly recognition. But in reality, such a person is neither able to enjoy the worldly pleasures nor can contemplate upon the Higher, thus ending up in a situation worse than actual indulgence.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to narrate a parable in this regard. Seeing the constant flow of men in the prostitute’s house, a sannyasi one day called and censured her, warning that her fate after death would be miserable. The poor prostitute became extremely sorry for her misdeeds and with genuine inward repentance, she prayed to God beseeching forgiveness. But as prostitution was her profession, she could not adopt any other means of gaining her livelihood. And so whenever her flesh sinned she always cursed herself with greater contrition of heart and prayed to God more and more for forgiveness.

Seeing no effect of his advice to her, the sannyasi started counting the number of persons visiting her by putting a pebble for each person. One day he showed the heap of pebbles to her and threatened that hell alone was her future destiny. The poor wretch began to tremble at the sight of accumulation of her sins and she prayed to God shedding tears of utter helplessness. The prayer was heard. By the strange will of God, the sannyasi and the harlot died on the same day. The messengers of Vishnu came down and carried the subtle body of the prostitute to heavenly regions while the messenger of Yama carried the spirit of the sannyasi to the nether world.

The sannyasi seeing the good luck of the prostitute cried aloud questioning the justice of God. Messengers of Vishnu replied, “You passed your life in external show and vanity, never sincerely yearning for Him. This prostitute earnestly prayed to God day and night. Your heart was always absorbed in contemplating upon her sins and thus has become impure. Therefore you are the real prostitute and not she!”

The statement that mental dissipation is more harmful than physical indulgence should not be taken as a licence to indulge! In fact, indulgence is prescribed in Dharma Shastras only to know from our direct experience that indulgence is not the solution. As the mind has the tendency to repeat its own thoughts, expecting complete fulfilment through indulgence is as ridiculous as expecting ghee to put off the fire.

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Posted in: Chintana

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