Remission is not elimination

Suppose a patient’s serious disease such as cancer goes into remission, that is, decreases in severity. But if the patient imagines themselves healed and stop taking treatment, they set themselves up for relapse.

During our spiritual healing, we may similarly blunder by equating remission with elimination. Selfish drives such as lust comprise a serious disease for us souls, as is cancer for our body. Underscoring the dangerousness of lust, the Bhagavad-gita (03.41) warns that it is the destroyer of both knowledge and the urge for knowledge. When captivated by sensual cravings, we lose both our spiritual awareness and our interest in cultivating such awareness. Fantasizing that we will find bliss at the material level of reality if we just get the right sense objects, we live materialistically. Thus, we perpetuate our worldly existence, wherein we suffer repeated old age, disease, death and rebirth.

When we understand our grim prognosis as lust-infected beings, we seek measures to heal ourselves. If we start practicing spiritual disciplines seriously, we find ourselves increasingly able to resist previously irresistible temptations. Such remission in our worldly infatuation demonstrates the potency of spiritual healing, thereby inspiring us to embrace those disciplines more diligently.

But unfortunately, we sometimes take our increased capacity to resist temptation as evidence that we have already conquered lust. When we thus equate remission with elimination, we become lax in our spiritual disciplines. And soon we fall again for lust, which has all along been lurking in the background.

Pertinently, the Gita concludes its outline of how to overcome lust (03.36-43) by recommending that we intelligently situate ourselves steadily on the spiritual platform (03.43). Such enduring spiritualization of consciousness can be best achieved by practicing bhakti-yoga and becoming devotionally absorbed in Krishna. When we thus relish spiritual joy constantly, we transcend worldly allurements, thereby sending lust from remission to elimination.

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Longing is the test of taste
Don’t look over temptation – overlook it
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