Resisting temptation while holding on to attachments is like fighting an enemy while staying shackled

Suppose a warrior has been shackled by their enemy. If they want to fight back, they need to first break free from the ropes. Otherwise, the rope will severely limit their ability to fight.

First fight the shackles, then fight the shackler – this principle also applies in our inner fight against temptations. In this fight, the shackles are our attachments. Herein, temptations refer to external attractive objects, while attachments refer to our internal belief that those objects are enjoyable.

Suppose a tempting object that we have resolved to stay away from appears before us. We may fight to abstain from it. However, as long as we believe that that object is enjoyable, abstinence will be extremely difficult. Even if by sheer willpower, we stay away for some time, the sense of deprivation will torment us incessantly till we give in, either out of unbearable frustration or irresistible anticipation. We succumb because the shackle of our misbelief limits our capacity to fight.

Why is that belief that worldly objects are enjoyable a misbelief? Because though those objects seem to be founts of unending pleasure, the actual enjoyment they provide is short-lived. No worldly object can ever fulfill our longing for lasting happiness.

Gita wisdom explains that we are souls, who are meant to relish eternal loving absorption in the all-attractive supreme, Krishna. He is the source of unlimited, unending pleasure. By studying the Gita and following its recommended process of bhakti-yoga to connect with Krishna, we can glimpse this higher happiness. That experience becomes like a knife for unshackling us – it counters our misbelief about worldly objects, thereby empowering us to more easily turn away from them towards Krishna.

Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (02.59) assures that abstinence stops feeling like starvation once we relish higher happiness.

Think it over:

  • In our fight against temptation, why are our attachments like shackles?
  • In resisting temptation, why does sheer willpower not work?
  • How can we unshackle ourselves from our attachments?

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  1. JAPA tells you how to overcome temptation

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