Anyone looking for a get-rich-quick opportunity could do a lot worse than devising a new slimming scheme. It’s a boom industry these days. The latest sure fire method of shedding those unwanted pounds is Zumba dancing, the hot new craze from Brazil. Halls up and down the country are packed out as this frantic paced Latin dance routine attracts more and more perspiring followers.
It’s hardly surprising that such enterprises are thriving. Recent figures reveal that over 60% of Britons are obese or overweight. The problem is threatening to spiral out of control. Obesity expert Professor Tony Leeds says, The UK’s obesity problem has grown so much now that nearly a million obese Britons may be eligible for weight-reduction surgery.” And at over £10,000 an operation that is simply out of the question for the tottering NHS. Perhaps we will start getting prescriptions for Zumba instead.
Obesity is obviously a huge health problem, and for those so afflicted it is also a serious image issue. Not many of us like the chubby look, especially when it’s time to slip, or rather squeeze, into the swimming costume. We want to be attractive, particularly to the opposite sex, and in pursuit of that ideal are ready to devote hours of our hard pressed time pounding away in workouts of one type or another.
Like any endeavour we undertake, it is about finding happiness. We want that head turning form because we believe ourselves to be the body and hence we also believe that happiness comes from bodily pleasures, the highest of which is generally found in sex.
Spiritual practitioners (the real ones) take a different view. They aim to abjure this pleasure in favour of finding the superior joy of self-realisation. An aspiring transcendentalist sees the demands of the senses as a problem that needs to be overcome. The fleeting pleasure of sex, which drives so many of mans’ endeavours—some even say all of them—is a clear case in point. A cool headed analysis of the matter, which is not always easy to achieve, will conclude that sex desire is in fact nothing more than an agitation of the mind and body. We are going along peacefully enough and suddenly, perhaps due to some stimulus thrust upon us by the media, or a vision of some god or goddess in human form, we are cast into the throes of lust. It is certainly a disturbance, especially when we decide to set about trying to satisfy that urge. So much time, money and effort is generally required, and the results are often not as pleasant as we had hoped. And of course it is a complete distraction from the pursuit of higher spiritual happiness.
Sensual indulgence also reinforces the false ego, the misconception that we are material products. “I will be happy by eating, drinking and having sex” rests upon the assumption that I the person am the body. By remaining fixed in this concept we not only deny ourselves the far greater happiness of spiritual bliss, but we leave ourselves open to all the miseries that afflict the body. “I am enjoying material pleasure” is one side of a coin which has “I am suffering agony” as its other side. They are inseparable.
Lust is anyway never satisfied. It just goes on demanding more attention and the more we try to sate it the more it increases, like a fire fed with fuel. This is because it has its roots in the unlimited propensity of the soul to love God. The Bhagavad-gita informs us that our desire for sex is in fact a perversion of our original divine love for Krishna. Filtered through the false ego it becomes a hankering for material affection. But when we experience the real ego of knowing ourselves to be the loving servants of Krishna, we hanker only for his affection.
Only that affectionate relationship with Krishna can truly satisfy us. Our tendency to overeat, over-sex and over everything else is a vain attempt to achieve the intense joy that is found when we fully unite with God.
This is what we are all trying to find, eternal love with no trace of selfishness. And our eternal spiritual form is also the perfect body we so much desire, divinely attractive and free of all afflictions (and not an ounce of fat).
So why not expend our energy finding that joy rather than trying to attain the impossible in the shape of perfect material happiness? And if Zumba is your thing you can even dance your way to a spiritual body. There’s no charge for the daily sessions down at your local temple, and while you are absorbed in the ecstasy of dancing for Krishna you will enjoy the side benefit of losing that excess flab.