Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3 verse 36: Arjuna asks: What is it that impels a man to commit sin, even involuntarily, as if driven by force?
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3 verse 37: Krishna responds: It is desire; it is anger, born of Rajo Guna, all consuming and most evil. Know this to be the enemy here on earth.
Krishna switches direction to the negative force of anger in order to deepen our need to separate Self from desire and action. In previous verses we came to understand the level of separation between Self and desires, where we identify with the unbounded contentment of Self, where the Gunas of Nature source our desires to further evolution to God Consciousness. Here, we identify with desire and consequently anger, evil and becoming our own worst enemy.
Krishna addressed anger previously. In 2.62 - 2.63 we understood that ‘desire gives rise to anger,’ which in turn gives rise to delusion, unsteady memory, and destruction of intellect. The emphasis was on anger. Krishna sidelined desire’s role until we had a better understanding of Self separate from desire. Destruction of intellect, and inability to discern what is real and true from what is not, is bad enough. This verse lays the blame for anger on desire and raises the consequences of anger to a higher level than loss of intellect: ‘all consuming,’ ‘most evil’ and ‘the enemy here on earth.’ Gulp!
To answer Arjuna’s question about sin and involuntarily being driven by force towards it Krishna answers, ‘It is desire.’ Desire is born of ‘Rajo Guna.’ Rajo Guna is the forward motion and direction underlying desire. A thought rises out of pure consciousness and develops into a desire and so gains motion and direction. Rajo Guna has the accelerator and wants to take desire to a happy outcome as directly and as quickly as possible. At the level where desire initiates experience, moderating Gunas of Sattva (steering wheel) and Tamas (brakes) sleep in the back seat while Rajo Guna steps on the accelerator. Being firmly attached to the outcome through the agency of desire gives Rajo Guna momentum.
‘I need to pick up my daughter from ballet at 6:00 PM and I’m on my way,’ with a big smile of the ever-responsible and good father.
Overconfidence throws a curveball. ‘But what the hey, I have plenty of time, so I’ll drop by the dry cleaners and pick up my shirts.’ Oops. The potential for conflict raises its ugly head. Delays and obstructions loom on the horizon.
I identify completely with the desire of the good father picking up his daughter at 6:00 PM. This is who I am, the good father, a comforting thought but one which is far away indeed from unbounded contentment of Self. Momentum kicks in.
There’s a long line at the dry cleaners and the young nincompoop behind the counter can’t find my shirts. No matter. I patiently (well, kind-of patiently) wait, pick up the box of folded shirts, dash to the car, and toss the box into the back seat where Sattva and Tamas snooze away, unmindful of their potential contributions ahead.
I zip back onto the road. But soon traffic stops to a standstill. I’m going nowhere fast. Flashing red and blue lights in the distance ahead. ‘I’m a great dad. I’m not going to leave my daughter waiting.’ Momentum quickens. ‘Else, my wife is going to be peeved, very peeved.’ Momentum born of attachment becomes as unstoppable as a wrecking ball dropping onto my stalled car. Seeking another way around, I veer onto a side street only to realize it’s a dead end. I pull an illegal, tier-screeching U-turn. But now I can’t even get back into the stalled line of stopped traffic!
‘It is anger.’ When flow and momentum of one desire is obstructed by another conflicting flow of desire a collision occurs and the harmonious flow of desire becomes obstructed. The collision of conflicting flows thwarts the very purpose of desire, to flow towards happiness.
Frustration abounds. Anger erupts. Sparks fly. ‘%$&^@*&^$’ as I stick my head out the open window to curse up a God.
End of Example
Thwarted desire is ‘all consuming’ because Rajo Guna is in charge without moderating forces of Sattva and Tamas. Rajo Guna is movement, wants to take us where we desire to go and pulls the mind in that direction despite evidence to the contrary for a need to change direction or at least to stop and think things through. Hard charging Rajo Guna closes itself off from rational thought. Rajo Guna keeps going. That’s its job, come hell or high water, keep moving forward. Rajo Guna is frustrated and frankly, out of its depth once the collision of desires occurs. Rajo Guna steps harder on the accelerator in an attempt to break through the conflict and confusion, only worsening matters.
Desire is ‘most evil’ because after the collision of desires occurs we mutate creation — we create our own scenario of life — and evolution stops, or gets seriously sidetracked. Our mutated creation flies in the face of the Lord of Creation. After the collision occurs expect no support from Nature.
Desire is ‘the enemy here on earth’ because under the influence of Rajo Guna, thwarted desire upsets the smooth and harmonious flow (requiring all three Gunas) so important to evolution and to our very purpose of being ‘here on earth,’ which is to rise to God Consciousness.
‘It is desire; it is anger, born of Rajo Guna….’ Collisions of desires occur. Anger occurs. So what’s the solution? Simple. Don’t have any desires. Serve the desires of others, innocently renounce your own, and achieve separation from desire and action under the auspices of unbounded contentment of Self. Let Nature desire for you, always directing traffic of mental and physical action in the direction of evolution.