Indulgence decreases our capacity to push against desire and increase desire’s capacity to push us

Suppose we had to push a huge boulder uphill. That would be difficult enough. But on top of it, if we were becoming weak and if someone were piling more weight on the boulder, moving it would become increasingly difficult, even impossible.

Similar is our predicament when we strive to spiritualize our consciousness. Within us are many worldly desires that are like a huge boulder. Just as a boulder naturally rolls downhill, those desires drag our consciousness down towards sensuality, immorality and even perversity.

Suppose we have lived an upright life. If someone proposes that we rob a shop to get some quick money, we would reject that idea immediately. Because we have never indulged in that desire, its capacity to push us is negligible, and our capacity to push it away is unquestionable.

But if we had done some shoplifting intermittently, then our past indulgence will increase the lure of that proposal and weaken the voice our conscience, which is our inner resistor against wrongdoing. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (16.12) cautions that our lower desires can drag us past ethical boundaries.

How does this happen? Let’s understand using the boulder metaphor. Whenever we indulge in a desire, such indulgence reinforces that desire, which then pushes us more forcefully during its future propositions. Thus, each indulgence is like an additional weight piled on top of our inner boulder.

Moreover, whenever we indulge despite the reproaches of our conscience, we are essentially weakening and muting it, thereby decreasing our capacity to push against the boulder.

To prevent such degradation, we need to stop treating indulgence with nonchalance and start striving towards transcendence. Bhakti-yoga connects us with the supreme transcendence, Krishna. When we thus access a higher happiness, indulgence becomes less alluring and abstinence becomes more feasible.

Think it over:

  • How does indulging in a desire strengthen that desire?
  • How does indulging in a desire weaken us?
  • How can we prevent our desires from degrading us?

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  1. JAPA limits our indulgence

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