What can explain one’s tendency to succumb to baser pleasures, like over-eating or eating harm products? Unfortunately, such weaknesses are not only confined to children and ignorant masses but also many well-educated people who are aware of the pitfalls of doing so.
What could be the possible reason for courting such risks? First, higher pleasures are more subtle, hence are more difficult to understand and enjoy. Second, lowly pleasures are readily available since they are gross; if anything, sense objects are proliferating in today’s material culture. No wonder a large majority of people are engaged in such pleasures, rather such pleasures are quite fashionable. We are actually copycats and don’t think much; we just imitate.
Senses always demand pleasures; it is difficult to deny them. If it is denied, one gets depressed and such lower pleasures offer an immediate relief or diversion. Falling for such temptations is easy – for example, one can easily get addicted to drinking when he or she is lonely and passing through bad phase. Higher pleasures, like doing social works, require elevation of the self.
Lower pleasures are quite addictive in nature. Generally, any indulgence in lower pleasures, like illicit behaviour has a large price tag attached to it.
How does the Bhagavad Gita guide in this connection? Lord Krishna speaks about the hierarchy – from the senses to the mind and from the mind to the intelligence (3.42). However, this intelligence is not real but material one, which is easily captured by lust (3.40). What one needs is real intelligence, which is spiritual in nature and which comes from the mode of goodness. Unfortunately, one is in the mode of passion. And, this mode gives rise to lust, which controls our senses, mind and intelligence. We, therefore, need to develop spiritual intelligence, which comes from the supreme being; and we need to elevate ourselves to the mode of goodness.
Higher intelligence promotes two things: One, no compromise with lust (3.43), and two, to develop refined taste. After all, without higher taste, one is bound to degrade oneself.
Only by tasting higher pleasures can one give up or restrain oneself from lower pleasures (2.60). And, for that, one needs patience. Only then, one’s human life shall not be wasted and one ends up attaining salvation. God has already given detailed instructions on this subject; it is for us to take advantage of them and save ourselves.