16. One who does not follow the principle of yajna which seems to pervade the entire universe merely lives a sensual, indulgent life, oblivious of a higher purpose. Such a one lives in vain.
Your birth, abilities and circumstances are conducive to take you to the highest goal of Enlightenment. Everything is designed only for that end. If you choose to waste this golden opportunity and are swept away by instant pleasure it is the greatest loss. No doubt, the spiritual path is painful in the beginning. Waking up early and studying the scriptures is no pleasure. But very soon it gives way to immense joy and the results are well worth the initial discomfort. Yet you give up a life time of happiness for trivial, momentary joys.
As a birthday gift if you were to offer a four-year old child the choice of a box of chocolates or a million-dollar cheque she would take the chocolates. She is ignorant of the value of a million dollars. Similarly you give up infinite Bliss for transient, finite, pleasures due to sheer ignorance!
Individuals, societies and civilizations declined when they opted for indriyarama, sense indulgence, as against Atmarama, delighting in Atman. Sense enjoyment is not taboo. But not as an end in itself with no higher pursuit in mind. Do not deny yourself superior enjoyment. Enjoy the senses. Just make sure they do not enjoy you. Be a victor, not victim, of the senses.
Gain knowledge of the higher. Ignorant, immature, unrefined people with myopic vision make sense enjoyment their sole aim in life. They are children, who cannot see beyond toys and playthings. Expand your mind, broaden your vision, look beyond the immediate present. Set a goal for yourself that includes the welfare of others as well. The byproduct will be immense prosperity and happiness. Selfishness severely limits the extent of success you can achieve. It is a myth to believe you can be selfish and happy. And desires snowball with selfish activity.
17. Verses 17 and 18 describe those who are exempt from this doctrine of action. The earlier verses emphasized the importance of yajna in taking you to Realisation. Once you reach Enlightenment you have no desires to eliminate, no dependence on the world hence no obligations. Just as when a dreamer wakes up he is instantly freed from all obligations in the dream.
As long as you are dependent on anyone or anything in the world you have obligations. You have a bounden duty to the world if you are a stakeholder in its enjoyment. A realized Person is one who experiences trupti satisfaction, tusticontentment and rati delight within. Totally independent of the world.
If you have physical demands, emotional cravings and intellectual aspirations you have duties and you must act. Performing obligatory actions fulfils existing desires and no further desires are created. Thus your desire load decreases.