Seek strength not just in conviction but also in connection

When we strive to grow spiritually, we need strength to resist worldly temptations. How do we gain such strength? We might seek it through the intellectual conviction that fosters renunciation – the conviction that worldly pleasures are temporary, illusory and binding, and should therefore be avoided.

However, such conviction isn’t enough. The Bhagavad-gita (02.60) indicates that even if we are convinced about the need for sensual abstinence and strive for it, still we find ourselves dragged down to indulgence.

Why is conviction not enough? Because though our intelligence may be convinced, our mind still remains conditioned. And its strong conditionings impel our desires to flow towards the sense objects that we had earlier enjoyed and that still seem enjoyable.

What, then, is the solution? Divine connection. The next verse (02.61) states that when we strive with our present willpower to focus our consciousness on Krishna, that divine connection provides us higher satisfaction, thereby giving us the strength to resist temptations.

Does conviction play any role in spiritual growth? Yes, certainly; it plays a vital role when it centers on connection, not on renunciation. Far more important than the conviction that worldly pleasures are deceptive is the conviction that Krishna is all-attractive – that he is the source of all pleasure, including whatever pleasure we might get through the most attractive sense objects.

Conviction about Krishna’s all-attractiveness will inspire us to consistently connect with him by practicing the time-honored process of bhakti-yoga. We will practice bhakti not just when Krishna seems attractive, but also when sense objects seem more attractive. And gradually those phases of illusion when anything seems more attractive than Krishna will decrease and disappear.

Gaining the conviction that fosters devotional connection, not just material renunciation, we get the strength to persevere till we become absorbed in Krishna, steadily and joyfully.

Think it over:

  1. To resist temptation, why is conviction not enough?
  2. Where conviction falls short, how does connection help?
  3. How can conviction work in harmony with connection?

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