See temptation as an attack, not as a defeat

Suppose soldiers guarding the national border against a hostile neighbor find bullets whizzing past them. Naturally, they will see the bullets as signs of attack and start counter-attacking.

When we start practicing spiritual life, we enter into a war against the forces of illusion, which attack primarily with the bullets of temptation. So, the rising of temptation inside us is an attack. Unfortunately, if we don’t understand the dynamics of the inner war, we see it as a defeat. We think, “I am so fallen as to have this desire. Its presence shows that I can’t follow spiritual standards. Now that the desire has come, let me just give in to it.” By so doing, we become like soldiers who lay down their arms at the sight of the first bullets.

But such capitulation is utterly unnecessary. The Bhagavad-gita (05.23) urges us to anticipate the lifelong presence of desire and anger. Rather than deeming their presence as a spiritual disqualification, it exhorts us to tolerate them by yoga practice.

Just as gallant soldiers determinedly return hostile fire, we can become spiritually gallant when temptation attacks and return fire by striving to intensify our bhakti practice, thus becoming absorbed in Krishna. Such absorption provides higher satisfaction, thereby increasing our resistance to the pleasure with which temptation allures and attacks.

Moreover, bhakti-yoga grants satisfaction not just through absorption but also through connection. That is, we can taste spiritual satisfaction not just at the end of the war when we are fully absorbed in Krishna but also in the thick of the war when we strive to connect with him through remembrance and service.

If temptation spurs us to increase our focus on Krishna, then it becomes not the precursor of defeat, but the prompter to victory.

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  1. KRISHNA BHAKTI stymies all temptations

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