Our past explains our inclinations, but it doesn’t excuse our actions

Imagine a computer used by a child primarily for playing games. From the moment it is turned on, it repeatedly gives prompts for playing. Such prompts continue even when the child grows up and wants to use the computer for studying. The past usage of the computer explains why those prompts come, but that prompting doesn’t justify the student’s playing now, for he has the power to say no.

Our body is akin to a machine for us souls – a machine that we have in our past used largely for worldly indulgences. When we fortunately come in contact with Gita wisdom, we recognize that life has the higher purpose of spiritual realization that brings everlasting happiness. Understanding this is akin to growing up spiritually.

However, even when we strive to focus on life’s spiritual purpose, our body keeps prompting us towards worldly indulgences. Our past explains our inclinations, that is, the prompts coming from the body. But we have the power to say no to them. If we still indulge, then pointing to our inclinations won’t excuse us of the consequences – at the very least we will fail to realize our spiritual potential and will perpetuate our miserable material existence.

Just as saying no to the game becomes easier for students if they develop interest in studies, similarly saying no to the bodily prompts becomes easier for us if we develop interest in devotional activities. And bhakti-yoga accommodatingly enables us to serve Krishna according to our psychophysical nature, which refers to the things that naturally interest us. In bhakti, rather than rejecting all bodily prompts, we reject those that are anti-devotional and dovetail those that are devotionally harmonizable. The Bhagavad-gita (18.56) assures us that even while working according to our nature, we can still take shelter of Krishna and thereby attain life’s supreme perfection.

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