Bhagavad Gita Chapter I Verse 37

“hato va prapsyasi svargam jitva va bhoksyase mahim tasmad uttistha kaunteya yuddhaya krtaniscayah”

“Therefore we are not justified in annihilating our very own relatives, the progeny of Dhritarashtra.  O Madhava (Krishna) how indeed could we attain happiness by killing our own kindred?” (direct english translation)

In this passage Arjuna is asking Krishna how he can be justified in removing his attachment to his senses, “killing our own kindred”, and how any happiness can be derived in life by doing so.

On the path to freedom we must detach from the pleasure and pains brought to us by the use of our senses.  We must use our senses for information only not to create attachment to the information gained from our senses.

For instance, I like coffee, when I smell coffee my mouth begins to water and I begin to crave the taste.  This craving soon becomes a need, a desire, I must have a cup of coffee, I want to hold the warm cup in my hand and smell the aroma and savor it as it flows from my mouth, down my throat, finally feeling the warmth in my belly.

At what point in this scenario have I become a slave to my senses and created desire.? And what part of me is the slave? My mind expects to either experience pleasure from a good cup of coffee or disappointment from a bad cup of coffee.  Since I do not usually have more than one cup a day I am going to control the outcome as much as possible.  I will not be passive in my choice of coffee, the temperature at which it is consumed, or the environment in which I consume my coffee.

What has occurred during the process of my mind following the desire?  My body has also become a slave to the senses, joining the mind while fulfilling the desire.  And what has occurred while both my body and mind are consumed by the quest.  In answer, I have used all of my resources creating a concentrated effort to feed my desire, and nothing else.  How much of my physical and mental energy was used during this quest?

Ahh, finally I finish consuming my great cup of coffee, at which time the mind gathers additional information from those senses and here I go again, off on the next quest.

It seems an amusing scene from almost anyone’s day but for every second of my life that my mind and body are enslaved by the information given by my senses, I am not living my life, I am only existing in my body, but somehow unaware of my body.

This scenario created pleasure, but it could have created disappointment, and therefore pain to the psyche.  The conversation inside my head would have gone like this “I can’t believe I paid for that.  It was disgusting, how could I have wasted my time and money.  What can I do next to make the memory of this bad experience go away”.

Therefore in answer to Arjuna, it is only by releasing ourselves from the enslavement of our senses that we can understand and experience true happiness, instead of the fleeting pleasure or pain experienced by the desires our senses feed.

The time spent enslaved by our senses is no longer available to us.  And the actions and outcomes created by trying to fulfill the desires associated with the senses will not provide us with the happiness we are yearning for.

When we are chasing our desires we are not “in our body”.  We are not aware of our movements, or of our breath.  We can use our senses to bring awareness to ourselves.  For example, our sense of touch is used when we pay attention to our feet moving on the earth, and our ears and sense of sound are used to hear our inhalation and exhalation.  These simple acts allow us to utilize our senses by bringing awareness without becoming enslaved by them.