For changing internals, changing externals is almost always necessary and almost never sufficient

Consider an alcoholic who wishes to give up alcoholism. Breaking free from the addiction is ultimately an inner resolution that they need to make and stick to. However, can they give up alcohol if their house is next to a bar? It’s almost impossible. The urge may attack them at any moment and if the facility to indulge is readily accessible, then even before their intelligence or conscience can get activated, they will find themselves in the middle of a relapse. So, changing externals is almost always necessary for them.

At the same time, changing externals is almost never sufficient. If they don’t fight their inner urges, then even if they are miles away from a bar, they will still go all that distance to drink. So, they certainly need to work on changing their internals if they are to sustain their sobriety.

The Bhagavad-gita points to this twofold dynamic while analyzing how we can overcome self-destructive desires (03.36-43). Such desires are like intoxication for the soul – they offer a brief high while subjecting us to manifold worldly distresses. The Gita (03.41) stresses that we need to begin by regulating our senses so that they don’t have ready facilities for wanton indulgence. But knowing that this alone is not sufficient, it (03.43) concludes the section by exhorting us to use our intelligence to situate ourselves on the spiritual platform. When we thus change our inner conceptions, redefining ourselves as non-material beings who can find fulfillment only in a devotional relationship with Krishna, then we can conquer selfish desires. Without outer regulation, we may at any moment be victimized by our stray impulses. Without inner redirection, we will eventually seek and find ways to relapse.

By outer regulation and inner redirection, we can transform ourselves sustainably and joyfully.

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Integration inspires integrity
Direct the whole heart towards the heart of the Whole

Author: Chaitanya Charan Das

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3 Comments

  1. indulgence is not a quality of a KRISHNA BHAKTA

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  2. Nice one !!!

    Amazing correlation of alcoholism

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