Fighting self-destructive desire by ourselves is like fighting a forest fire with bare hands

When we indulge repeatedly in some self-destructive desire, it becomes addictive. Addictive desire torments us so severely that it feels like an inner forest fire.

If a fire were outside us, we could flee from it. But as this fire of desire is inside us, we can’t flee anywhere; the only way to deal with it is to extinguish it. But how do we extinguish it? Can we just say no to it? However, that response seems pitifully inadequate. The desire keeps propositioning and pushing us, again and again, till we succumb in helpless frustration. Merely saying no to it seems like fighting a forest fire with bare hands – it’s painful and pointless. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (03.39) cautions that such desire burns like an insatiable fire (Bhagavad-gita 03.39).

Before we can extinguish such a desire, we need to first understand its origin. The Gita explains that at our core, we are souls, who are eternal parts of Krishna. He is our all-attractive Lord, and is the perfect object for our deepest desire to love and be loved. Our self-destructive desires are simply misdirections of that deepest desire. Rather than struggling to suppress those misdirected desires, we need to kindle our desire for Krishna.

How can we kindle our desire for Krishna? By practicing bhakti-yoga, which centers on cultivating his remembrance. When we remember him steadily, that remembrance acts like a fire extinguisher, for it bestows satisfaction and purification. Satisfaction means that we feel less agitated whenever any self-destructive desires pop up; and purification means that such desires pop up less frequently.

Therefore, whenever a self-destructive desire agitates us, we need to respond intelligently: rather than trying to resist it, we can strive to remember Krishna, and that remembrance will efficaciously extinguish the fire of self-destructive desire.

Think it over:

  • How is self-destructive desire like a forest fire?
  • How does remembering Krishna act like a fire extinguisher?
  • When self-destructive desire agitates us, what is the best response?

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