Counter temptation not just at the level of activity but at the level of identity
When we are tempted by some pleasure that we know we should resist, we often fight it at the level of physical indulgence – we resolve not to do it.
While such resolutions are desirable and even essential, they are rarely sufficient. Why not? Because resolving to not do something that seems pleasurable fills us with a gnawing sense of deprivation. Over time, this deprivation erodes our determination for abstinence and sets us up for relapse. Even if we manage to avoid the relapse, still we feel tormented by the desire and the deprivation.
To counter temptation more effectively, we need to not just change our activity, but also reconceptualize our identity, raising it from the material level, where we believe that material pleasures are the way to happiness, to the spiritual level, where we realize that spiritual joys are the way to happiness. Gita wisdom explains that we are at our core souls, who are parts of the all-attractive supreme, Krishna. We are meant for a life of enduring fulfillment in loving reciprocation with him at the spiritual level of reality. Our present craving for worldly pleasures is a misinformed distortion of our innate longing for spiritual love. The Bhagavad-gita (03.43) states that when we situate ourselves on the spiritual platform, we conquer temptation decisively.
Studying the Gita corrects the misinformation that makes us identify with our physical bodies. And living the Gita by practicing bhakti-yoga helps us access a sublime spiritual happiness through absorption in Krishna, with this happiness experientially convincing us of our spiritual identity.
When we become thus situated spiritually, we see sensual enjoyment as a depriver of spiritual happiness, not the other way round. With this changed vision, we can resist worldly temptations with far greater conviction and thereby success.
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