Conquer vice not just by fighting harder, but by rising higher
Vice is the inner self-destructive force that promises quick pleasure but ends up binding us to misery and bondage.
The Bhagavad-gita (03.36 – 03.43) provides an illuminating discussion on vice in its principal form: lust. The Gita (03.40) pinpoints the strongholds of lust: the senses, the mind and the intelligence. Acting from these enclaves, lust deceives us into believing that irreligious sensual indulgences will yield pleasure.
Denying our innate need for pleasure can amount to a form of repression that is both undesirable and unsustainable.
To avoid being thus misled by lust, the Gita (03.41) recommends that we first discipline our senses. However, denying our innate need for pleasure can amount to a form of repression that is both undesirable and unsustainable. That’s why Gita wisdom urges us to not just fight harder, but to rise higher – to not just battle determinedly for rejecting lower sensual pleasure, but to also diligently purify ourselves and raise our consciousness to the spiritual level for relishing higher devotional pleasure.
To guide the ascent of our consciousness, the next verse (03.42) outlines the levels through which our consciousness is presently routed: the insentient matter that comprises the physical body; the senses that are the primary centers of physical activity; the mind that is the vortex of desires; the intelligence that is the regulator of our intentions; and the soul that is the source of consciousness.
Situating our consciousness at the level of the soul means rendering devotional service to Krishna, the supreme source of all pleasure. By treasuring the fulfillment provided by our present practice of bhakti and by contemplating that much more fulfillment awaits us if we persevere on the path to purification, we can summon the determination to reject lust resolutely and repeatedly. Aptly the Gita (03.43) summarizes its war strategy by urging us to live reflectively at the spiritual level and thus conquer vice.