Don’t let victory in the battle against temptation come at the cost of defeat in the war for devotion
While growing spiritually, we know that we need to resist certain anti-devotional temptations. But we may get so consumed by the effort to give up the temptation that it becomes the standard by which we define our spiritual success or failure.
However, the standard of spiritual success especially on the devotional path is how close we are going to Krishna, how we are winning the war for devotion, which is the force that naturally draws our heart towards him. Of course, winning the war for devotion does require winning the battle against temptation because temptation is one of the primary forces that draws our consciousness away from Krishna.
Still, winning the battle against temptation can sometimes comprise not a victory but a defeat in the war for devotion. If our victory over temptation makes us proud, then we become more filled with ourselves, not with Krishna. Spiritual advancement means to be filled with Krishna, to be absorbed in his glories. In the light of his glory, we feel humbled by his mercifulness in allowing us to connect with him despite our fallen condition and especially his mercifulness in lifting us from where we are to his lotus feet.
Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (13.08-12) begins the list of the qualities that comprise knowledge with humility. The list does include items such as self control and detachment that signify victory in the battle against temptation, but these come in the wake of humility. After all, the Gita later states that the purpose and perfection of all knowledge is to know Krishna (15.15), to be wholeheartedly devoted to him (15.19).
Instead of becoming obsessed with trying to resist temptation and becoming proud on doing so, we can focus on striving to serve Krishna and fill our consciousness with him. By such a devotional service attitude, we will be gradually blessed with not just purity but also humility, thus propelling us towards Krishna and the ultimate ecstasy therein.
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