Are my attachments holding me or am I holding my attachments?

As aspiring devotees, we often find that our attachments abduct and drag our consciousness away from Krishna, as the Bhagavad-gita (2.44) outlines. Consequently, we may assume that our attachments are holding us in such a vicious grip that we can’t do anything about it. This assumption may even make us rationalize continued moral lapses.

Gita wisdom cautions us against assuming that our attachments are holding us; we might be holding them.

How can we understand the difference between the two?

Only if the tempting sense objects unexpectedly come our way without our desire to encounter them and trap us can we say that our attachments are holding us.

Usually, we are not so innocent. Although we externally say that we want to be detached, we internally hold on to the desire to enjoy the pleasure associated with that attachment. We secretly hope to somehow still enjoy that pleasure. We even plan to encounter those tempting sense objects. If any or all of these – desires, hopes, and plans – precede our becoming trapped, then it is we who are holding on to our attachments.

Significantly, this recognition doesn’t have to be guilt-inducing or depressing; it can be empowering and liberating. It can make us aware that we have the power to hold on to certain thoughts internally, irrespective of our external situation. If we just redirect this power devotionally, we will be able to hold on to Krishna internally by cultivating desires to love and serve him. Such devotional redirection of our desires will crowd all attachments out of our heart – both the attachments that we were holding and the attachments that were holding us. Additionally, our heart will become filled with joyous thoughts about Krishna, thereby making our journey towards him sweet and swift.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 02, Text 44

“In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination for devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place.”

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