Poison kills on consumption, but passion kills on contemplation
Most people won’t take poison willingly. In the past, when hemlock was used to execute capital punishment, it had to be administered forcibly.
Yet there is a kind of poison that we consume willingly, even eagerly. It is the poison of passion – the overpowering sinful craving triggered by the mode of passion. The Bhagavad-gita (18.38) asserts that passionate pleasures turn out to be like poison in the end, even if they seem like nectar initially. The initial pleasant titillation misleads us into welcoming passion enthusiastically.
What poison does physically, passion does spiritually. It saps away our spiritual energy and ultimately our spiritual life itself. The soul being indestructible can’t be killed, but its spiritual inclination can be. Passion triggers an obsessive materialistic frenzy that deadens us to spiritual stimuli. Echoing the killing metaphor, the Gita (16.21) warns that lust, anger and greed – all passion-induced cravings – destroy the soul.
Passion is more dangerous than poison because whereas poison can destroy only after consumption, passion can destroy merely by contemplation. Once we start contemplating passionate thoughts, they take on an overpowering momentum that makes us do sinful things which bring severe karmic consequences – consequences that inflict severe pain, as does poison. But unlike poison that hurts only till the destruction of the body, passion hurts even beyond the grave. Passionate indulgences create mental impressions that impel injurious actions in future lifetimes.
The counter to self-destructive passion is not just dispassion, but divine passion – the passion to love Krishna and serve him with everything we have.
The Gita (10.09) indicates that those with such divine passion delight eternally in loving service to Krishna. The divine passion of devotion redirects our heart from matter to Krishna, thereby paving the way for everlasting happiness. Thus it not only curbs but also conquers all sinful passions.
"That happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects and which appears like nectar at ﬁrst but poison at the end is said to be of the nature of passion."