Let self-mastery be devotion’s fruit, not determination’s feat

Bending our impulses to our principles and thereby attaining self-mastery is vital for us to make tangible spiritual progress. At the same time, it is equally important that we choose the right means for achieving self-mastery.

There are two broad ways to self-mastery:

  1. As determination’s feat: We see self-mastery as a peak for our willpower to scale. As our focus is entirely on our own will, the only higher pleasure that we can get in our bid for self-mastery is the pleasure of the ego, the self-centered exultation of having conquered our desires. Self-mastery, if achieved in this way, often increases our ego, and makes us look down contemptuously or at least condescendingly at all those who cannot perform feats of determination like us. The self-centeredness, the infatuation of the ego and the condescension towards others – all these make our heart inhospitable for Krishna, thereby depriving us of any substantial devotional progress.
  2. As devotion’s fruit: When we long to offer our heart to Krishna, we see our worldly impulses as obstacles in offering our heart. To express our heart’s longing for Krishna and to get rid of our passions, we busy ourselves in his service and absorb ourselves in his remembrance. Due to the resulting focus on Krishna, the Bhagavad-gita (02.59) indicates, we experience a higher happiness that enables us to automatically move beyond worldly passions. To remember and serve Krishna, we obviously need and use our determination, but we don’t let determination dethrone devotion as our goal or our focus. So, self-mastery grows naturally and necessarily as an incidental fruit of our devotion to Krishna.

Self-mastery, when achieved as devotion’s fruit, catapults us into an eternal life of love and service to Krishna.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 02 Text 59

“Though the embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.”

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