Just because we have drunk a sip of poison doesn’t mean we have to drink the whole cup

Suppose we accidentally take a drink that is poisonous. As soon as we realize what we are doing, we will immediately stop drinking it and take some antidote. 

When we gain spiritual knowledge, we understand that sensual indulgence acts like poison, even if it tastes initially like nectar (Bhagavad-gita 18.38). Despite understanding this, we still succumb to sensuality. Why? Because our conditions or conditionings highlight the initial nectar alone. 

After some indulgence, when the initial nectar ends, we become aware of what we are doing. Still, our devilish mind eggs us on: “Now that you have fallen from your standards, just fall down completely and enjoy.” The mind is doubly wrong. First, we won’t enjoy more by further indulgence because our awakened self-awareness will keep reminding us that such indulgence is toxic. Second, to choose to fall completely because we have fallen slightly is stupid, suicidally stupid – it’s like drinking the full poison-cup just because we have drunk a sip. 

Instead, we can immediately take an antidote. The best antidote is to remember Krishna, our all-pure Lord. When we remember him by practicing bhakti-yoga, we access a higher pleasure that makes giving up sensual pleasure easier. Moreover, remembering Krishna is powerfully purifying: it drives out impure sensual desires. Pertinently, the Gita recommends that, despite serious lapses, we keep practicing bhakti determinedly (09.30) and assures that we won’t ever be destroyed, but will soon be situated in purity (09.31).  

How does persevering in bhakti practice situate us in purity? When we strive to correct ourselves as soon as we realize we have erred, our self-awareness starts awakening faster. Eventually, we become so self-aware as to not just rectify indulgence quickly, but also resist it entirely. 


Think it over:

  • When the mind eggs us fall completely on falling slightly, why is the mind doubly wrong?
  • How does the antidote of remembering Krishna counter the poison of sensuality?
  • How does persevering in bhakti practice situate us in purity?  



09.30 Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination.

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