Defamation of character is not as damaging as deformation of character
Suppose someone defames us by spreading false rumors or making baseless accusations. We would be infuriated and may even sue them.
But far more damaging than defamation of character is deformation of character. Suppose someone, instead of casting aspersions against us, actually impelled us into unethical behavior. If they misled us into acting reprehensibly, thereby getting us into big trouble, we would be furious with them.
Only due to deep-rooted illusion do we not become similarly furious with selfish desire embodied as lust. The Bhagavad-gita (03.37) states that lust is the all-devouring sinful enemy of the world. This inner enemy seduces us with promises of immense sensual delight, but delivers only momentary titillation. And for getting that fleeting pleasure, it impels us into a host of self-sabotaging actions that at the very least waste our time and energy. Such actions can ruin relationships that we have cultivated for years; they can even devastate our whole life.
Even if we don’t face any severe visible consequences, still, lust invisibly deforms our character. Whenever we succumb to wantonness, our indulgence serves as the fuel that strengthens the fire of lust. That aggravated craving torments us with increasing frequency and ferocity. Over time, it can goad us to indulge, even at the risk of wrecking things important or sacred for us.
Unfortunately, although lust dupes us – and dupes us repeatedly – we hardly ever get angry at it. Instead, whenever it tries to dupe us next time, we often nonchalantly entertain it or even warmly welcome it. Such is its deluding power.
To expose the reality and gravity of lust’s conniving ways, we urgently need to equip our intelligence with Gita wisdom. Once we become convinced of its treacherousness, we will counter it more vigorously than we would counter a character assassinator.
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