Gita Daily Readings

23rd MARCH
Chapter Three: 38-39
As fire is enveloped by smoke, as a mirror by dust, and as an embryo by the amnion, so is this (wisdom) enveloped by that (desire).

Oh Arjuna, wisdom is enveloped by this constant enemy of the wise in the form of desire, which is unappeasable as fire.

Commentary

By "desire" is meant selfish desire, which is neither natural to life (as desire for food) nor the uncaused desire for God which is accompanied by wisdom and unselfishness and which naturally leads to its own extinction in God-realization. Desire and anger (hate) are two sides of the same coin.

Smoke hides fire and brings about darkness where there should be light. Similarly, desire envelops wisdom and brings about evil where there should be divinity.

The mirror is hidden by dust and cannot function. Similarly, desire nullifies wisdom and puts it out of commission. Even the wise man under the influence of desire is unable to see his own face! Hence our life is a song of regrets and remorse.

But there is one saving feature. Desire encloses wisdom but is unable to overwhelm it, dissolve it or even dilute it. Just as the amnion envelops the fetus in the womb, but the child is not adversely affected by it.

It is possible to fan the flame to dispel smoke. It is possible to wipe the mirror and to see one's face in it. It is possible for the child to be delivered, untainted by the amnion. Even so, it is possible for wisdom to be fanned by right living and by right meditation; it is possible to wipe desire off wisdom by selfless service; it is possible in samadhi (perfect absorption of the mind) to deliver wisdom from the clutches of desire and to enjoy divine communion.

Desire to be desireless is indeed desirable. But it can be deceptive. Hence the need for the utmost vigilance - and even more, God's grace.

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