In dealing with our urges, if we don’t consciously choose responsibility, we unconsciously choose slavery

We all treasure our freedom and would fight if someone tried to enslave us. Yet many of us unconsciously let ourselves get enslaved. How? By nonchalantly giving in to our unhealthy urges till they become so strong as to enslave us.  

Each time we indulge in an urge, that indulgence creates an impression within us. And that impression prompts us toward repeated indulgence, till the indulgence become habitual and even addictive. Habitual means we don’t think or need to think about acting out, and addictive means we can’t stop acting out even if we want to. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (16.12) cautions that our urges can bind us like shackles, dragging us across ethical boundaries. 

If we are already controlled by some unhealthy urge, are we bound to stay enslaved forever? 

Yes, if we just resent its presence, beating ourselves up for being so impure; or resign ourselves to its power, deeming it uncontrollable. 

No, if we act responsibly within our limitations. Our limitations may be that we can’t prevent an unhealthy urge from rising within us or that we can’t resist it when it pushes us toward acting out. 

Still, within those limitations, we can start working responsibly in various ways such as:

  • Engage in purificatory spiritual practices that strengthen our intelligence and conscience to combat those urges.
  • Form regulated schedules for our daily life so that we don’t have much time to indulge in those urges even if they arise. 
  • Erect protective barriers between us and specific triggers that fuel those urges.
  • Keep readily accessible attractive spiritual stimuli to which we can divert our consciousness whenever those urges start arising.

When we thus deal with our urges responsibly, not resentfully or resignedly, we pave our way from slavery to freedom. 


Think it over:

  • How can our urges limit us in our choices?
  • Even within our limitations, how can we deal with our urges responsibly?
  • Which urge troubles you the most? What can you do to respond to it more responsibly?



16.12 Bound by a network of hundreds of thousands of desires and absorbed in lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification.

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