Ch 5 VERSE 22

ये हि संस्पर्शजा भोगा दुःखयोनय एव ते

आद्यन्तवन्तः कौन्तेय तेषु रमते बुधः ॥२२॥


ye hi saṁsparśa-jā bhogā

duḥkha-yonaya eva te

ādy-antavantaḥ kaunteya

na teṣu ramate budhaḥ


ye—those; hi—certainly; saṁsparśa-jāḥ—by contact with the material senses; bhogāḥ—enjoyments; duḥkha—distress; yonayaḥ—sources of; eva—certainly; te—they are; ādi—beginning; anta—end; vantaḥ—subject to; kaunteya—O son of Kuntī; na—never; teṣu—in those; ramate—takes delight; budhaḥ—the intelligent person.


An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.

ye hi saṁsparśa-jā bhogā
duḥkha-yonaya eva te
ādy-antavantaḥ kaunteya
na teṣu ramate budhaḥ

“An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.”

So I’ll just draw your attention to the two words here: bhogāḥ which means enjoyment, and duḥkha, which means distress, or can mean pain or suffering, and then the third word yonayaḥ, which is from the root yoni, which means the source of, but it also means, for instance, the female genitive organ, which means where something is born, it gets used in that way, that both suffering and enjoyment are born from. So, this is quite a pretty amazing idea but we’ll go back to that shortly.

Every living being is driven by the desire for pleasure, or more appropriately, happiness. To become pleased, to experience happiness is, really is the goal that everybody is following, whether someone is in the human form or the animal form. The reason that we undertake almost anything and everything is because of this desire, this quest for pleasure. But what is being pointed out here is the type of pleasurable experience that one derives from stimulating, or tickling, as it were, the senses, that pleasure or pleasurable experience is not lasting, and is not the same as the happiness that the living being actually seeks.

The reason that we seek happiness is because it is part of our eternal nature, the nature of the soul itself. The living being has the characteristic of sat cit ananda, of eternality, cognizance or knowledge, and of tremendous blissfulness. That’s our natural state. And because we are not experiencing that, due to being covered by material consciousness and thinking the body to be the self, because we are agitated from within to seek happiness but falsely thinking the body is the self, then one simply strives to stimulate the sense organs of the body continuously, hoping that that will fulfill me, that that will make me happy.

An example I always use is Russell Brand, the English comedian and movie star, an incredibly thoughtful person; and he was talking about his struggles with addiction to both heroin and cocaine—which is just like a little bit mind-boggling for me because they’re two entirely different things: one produces the effect of withdrawing from the world, and the other one opens up an exaggerated experience of sensual stimulation—but he was—had those addictions, addictions to alcohol; he was living a life of great sensuality, being able to have sexual pleasure on demand whenever he wanted. And in spite of constantly stimulating his senses with pleasurable experiences, and his mind, he felt suicidal. And he—it blew his mind when he realized that it is possible to have all of those sensually stimulating and pleasurable experiences, and simultaneously to be profoundly unhappy, which led him to the understanding that happiness is not found in these fleeting pleasurable experiences of the mind and the senses.

There are two kind of consequences in this search for pleasure. If we go down the road of constant sense—stimulation of the senses and the mind, it leads one to become increasingly degraded and increasingly selfish. That’s just the result. That’s the way it works. And it creates unhappiness. But it has this tremendous effect on bringing about a state of blindness, blindness to your own spiritual well-being, to the degree that a person can be struggling with a form of addiction, one form or another, and feeling that it’s making me tremendously—I’m so unhappy, but then being unable to stop.

In all of these situations a person is generally not inclined to engage in the spiritual activity that brings about the purification of the mind, the awakening to my spiritual identity, and the opening up to this opportunity to taste more profound spiritual pleasure. And so it’s always advised that if one wants to walk on the spiritual path there is a great need to curb the desire of the senses and the mind, and not to be constantly surrendering to that, because it doesn’t produce the outcome that you seek.

In this regard there’s a wonderful verse in the Bhagavad-gita, in the second chapter, the 70th sloka. It says:

“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires—that enter like rivers into the ocean which has ever been filled but is always still—that person can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.”

This is a very, very straightforward and clear look at the reality of things. The material condition means that I am constantly overwhelmed by the desire of the senses and the mind, and am enslaved, feel compelled to constantly follow. But here the advice is, there needs to be a change of direction; and it will not be until a person is able to tolerate, and not be disturbed by this constant flow of desires of the senses and mind, that when a person is able to do this they will be able to achieve peace. And we learn that one cannot attain actual happiness unless there is peace.

Sri Ramanuja Acharya, a great ancient spiritual authority, in commenting on this verse, has stated:

“Those pleasures which result from contact of the sense objects with the senses, are the wombs of pain, [the wombs of pain] that is, have pain as their ultimate fruit. They have a beginning and an end, that is, they are seen to remain only for a brief period, and the reaction that follows their cessation is painful. He who knows what they themselves are, meaning they know themselves as atman or the spiritual being, will not find pleasure in them.”

So, this is a really important spiritual point, which I’ll speak a little bit more on in a moment, but I just want to reinforce what was stated here, from the Yoga Sutra of Pathanjali, where he states:

“To the discriminating yogi all the fruits of past actions (both pleasurable and painful) are considered sorrowful because they all result in further bondage and suffering.”

So this is an extraordinary idea. Yes, I can engage in something that gives me—they call it instant gratification. The problem is that that statement is such a lie, because there is instant pleasurable experience, but there is zero gratification. I’m not gratified. I’m not satiated. It is just like a temporary rush that then leads to a renewed desire and an increased desire for more. And the outcome of the experience is that it binds me to the material world.

So not only is the pleasurable experience temporary, but it produces, always, a sorrowful fruit, the fruit of being perpetually bound to material existence. It further blinds me to the realization that I am an eternal spiritual being, and it serves as a huge obstacle to me experiencing the eternal spiritual pleasure that I truly desire.

So there are two verses, slokas, in the Bhagavata Purana that speak to the subject and they are absolutely—I find them absolutely amazing. The first one is from the fourth canto, the 22nd chapter, and it is the 30th sloka:

“When one’s mind and senses are attracted to sense objects for enjoyment, the mind becomes agitated. As a result of continually thinking of sense objects, one’s real consciousness almost becomes lost, like the water in a lake that is gradually sucked up by the big grass straws on its bank.”

So this idea that when the mind and senses are attracted to sense objects, as Krishna has previously stated, and we’ve studied, from contemplation of the objects of the senses one develops attachment, and from that attachment arises lust or intense self-centered, or selfish, desire to enjoy and exploit. So the mind becomes agitated in this way. And of course, it always ends up producing anger. But here it states that, “As a result of continually thinking of sense objects, one’s real consciousness become—almost becomes lost,” that the awareness that I am an eternal spiritual being is almost completely and entirely lost.

And then in the next verse:

“When one deviates from his original consciousness, he loses the capacity to remember his previous position or recognize his present one. When remembrance is lost, all knowledge acquired is based on a false foundation. When this occurs learned scholars say that the soul is lost.”

That is like whoa! When one deviates from their original consciousness as being an eternal spiritual being, become absorbed in the bodily consciousness one “loses the capacity to remember their previous position,” meaning their eternal spiritual position, as they previously have existed, nor can one recognize their current position or predicament. One is completely unable to remember who I actually am, and what is my eternal nature. And I cannot recognize the current predicament that I am in, and when such remembrance is lost,

“…all knowledge acquired is based on a false foundation. And when this occurs learned scholars consider that the soul is lost.”

If we think about speech and the use of pronouns, I, me, you, they, them, us, we, as they are used in this world, are all referencing the temporary material bodies, but taking them to be the actual person. And speaking about how the desires and aspirations of all these individuals, those aspirations and desires which are arising from the mind, and the body, and the senses, they take it that this is the actual desires, the actual aspirations of the spiritual beings. And so the people build relationships and lives on an entirely false premise. They build relationships on an entirely false premise that will all be rendered to nothing at death, the death of the body.

So reading this it’s kind of like whoa! This is like a very big concern. Therefore reading now again this verse:

“An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.”

Do not think that the transcendentalist is adverse to actual pleasure. No. Pleasure is the goal. Their interest is real pleasure. Their interest is eternal happiness, but you cannot, as one of our great spiritual masters, as he used to say, “You cannot go east while walking west.” You’re going to be heading in one direction or the other, and if you want to a change in direction it will require a U-turn, a U-turn for happiness.

Thank you very much.