Better to endure cravings that seem unbearable than to endure consequences that are unbearable
Suppose someone is trying to recover from alcoholism. They may still be subjected to strong cravings to drink. Suppose they feel that those cravings are unbearable. Giving up, they indulge.
But such indulgence gives them only temporary relief from the craving; soon, the craving returns with greater force, impelling them to not just drink more but also act more crazily when drunk. They may lose the sense to not drive under influence. Not only do they drive, but they drive wildly and end up running over a passerby. Once they get legally implicated, the ramifications can be hugely messy. Resisting cravings may have been tough, but it just required willpower. However, once things escalate from the inner world to the outer world, willpower alone won’t mitigate the consequences.
The Bhagavad-gita outlines the terrible trajectory from cravings to consequences when it declares how those who buy into a materialistic worldview (16.11) become bound by hundreds of cravings for worldly gratification (16.12). Wanting to fulfill those cravings, they make shady schemes to earn more and more money (16.13), eventually going to the extent of even eliminating rivals (16.14) and delighting in doing so (16.15).
We need to understand unsentimentally that there’s no easy way to deal with our cravings — there’s only the way that seems unbearable and the way that is unbearable. Once we see our options unvarnished by denials and delusions, we can gird ourselves to resist our cravings. Thankfully, once we resolve to resist them, Gita wisdom provides us resources to resist effectively. The most empowering resource is the time-honored process of bhakti-yoga that enables us to absorb our consciousness in the all-attractive Supreme, Krishna, thereby getting a higher satisfaction that makes the lower cravings less captivating (02.61).
Think it over:
- How may the consequences of indulging in cravings be unbearable?
- Do you have any dangerous craving that you handle with kid gloves? How can you see your options unvarnished?
- How can Gita wisdom help us resist our cravings?
16.12 Bound by a network of hundreds of thousands of desires and absorbed in lust and anger, the demoniac secure money by illegal means for sense gratification.
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