Continuing Bhāgavatam’s description of the amazing conversation between Pṛthu and the Four Child-Sages…
“Why does this veil hiding the true self and Superself exist in the first place?” the King asked with deep feeling.
The boy-sage explained that it exists because of attraction to perceiving objects independently and externally.
“How does this loss of self occur?” the King asked in exasperation.
“In the same way that grasses on the banks of a lake suck out the lake’s water,” the boy explained.
Asked to elaborate, the boy said, “Senses attracted to sensory objects drain and pull on the mind’s attention. Without that power of attention, the intellect’s power of comprehension fades. As comprehension fades, its resources – memories – decay and dissolve from disuse. Without a library of memory, cognition itself decays. Cognition is the core of the self, so scientists describe this vicious sequence as ‘self-destruction.’”
The king was silent and grave.
The boy-sage solemnly said, “Nothing in the world could be worse than this. Thinking other things dearer, we destroy our own selves.”
It is indeed so sad! Thinking, this object is the most important thing in the world, we allow ourselves to decay and die due to our infatuation with it. Our infatuation with independent perception of external objects is so strong that we forget about the entity who even makes such perception possible – the counscious self. Thus as our malnourished consciousness withers and crumbles, our ability to perceive the objects we love also diminishes, withers and crumbles. We lose everything by losing our self.
– Excerpt from an early draft of Part 4 of
Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive
A translation of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam’s fourth canto
By Vraja Kishor
Parts 1, 2, and 3 of Beautiful Tales of the All Attractive
are available at VrajaKishor.com