To go beyond thinking wisely and acting foolishly, strive for purification through devotion
“I knew that doing that would be stupid, still I ended up doing it. Why?” This exasperating question often confronts us when we succumb to self-defeating indulgences.
Scriptural wisdom helps us understand intellectually the futility and folly of worldly indulgences, especially anti-devotional indulgences. We may even speak insightfully on the counter-productivity of such indulgences, instructing and inspiring others to desist from them. Yet when temptations come in our own lives, we frequently end up succumbing to them.
Because our intellection is not accompanied by purification.
Reflecting the predicament of seekers who think wisely but act foolishly, the Bhagavad-gita (02.60) states: even those who are striving for self-mastery (yatato) and are discriminating (vipashcitah) find themselves overpowered by the wild senses (indriyani pramathini). The previous verse (02.59) points out the problem: stopping indulgence externally doesn’t remove the internal taste for that indulgence; instead, that taste drags us into indulgence, as this verse depicts.
The solution is purification – changing our inner taste so that we delight in higher spiritual joys instead of lower material pleasures. The next verse (02.61) outlines the path to purification: fix the mind on Krishna. Such devotional meditation purifies in two ways. Firstly, it grants a higher fulfillment that makes lower sensual pleasures unappealing. Secondly, even if the lower taste remains, it gives the inner strength to resist the temptation.
Sometimes temptations torment us when we are trying to fix the mind on Krishna. Then what can we do?
Persist in devotion.
Without getting discouraged, if we call out to Krishna and take shelter of him, the resulting intensified connection with him will grant relief from the torment. Additionally, it will lead to greater purification, ultimately taking us beyond the pull of temptations and placing us in enduring and ecstatic absorption in Krishna.