Inner enemies are more to be given up than killed
Practicing spiritual life is like fighting a war against our inner enemies.
The Gita (16.21) cautions that the inner enemies of lust, anger and greed destroy the soul and lead to hell. Still, it concludes by urging us to give up these enemies, not kill them.
Of course, we can find elsewhere the call to kill the inner enemies. Such usage, like the whole war imagery, is metaphorical. This imagery is meant to arouse the fighter within us, to prepare us for the bruising battle necessary to overcome temptation.
Our inner enemies are self-defeating desires lodged inside us. And they can lodge there because we believe their promises of pleasure. Actually however, they provide misery – whatever little pleasure they provide is a trap, like bait for catching fish.
When we fight these inner enemies, they appear to hold on to us. But in truth we hold on to them, by believing their promises. When we learn to disbelieve their promises, we loosen our hold on them and they lose the hold they have on us.
By understanding that the inner enemies are more to be given up than killed, we can select the right strategy for overcoming them. The best strategy centers not on attacking them, but on shifting our focus away from them by taking hold of our inner friend: Krishna. He is present in our heart (15.15) and is our greatest well-wisher (05.29). He is the source of supreme spiritual happiness; when we connect with him through devotion and service, he mercifully grants us access to higher happiness, thereby enabling us to give up the sources of false pleasures.
Ultimately, taking hold of Krishna doesn’t just free us from our inner enemies; it also enables us to attain eternal, enlightened, ecstatic life in his abode – the ultimate destination.
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