Sense control will make us not deprived, but relieved

Consider an alcoholic who has understood the gravity of their addiction and is struggling to break free from it. For such a recovering alcoholic, the thought of giving up alcohol makes them feel deprived. If they dwell on such thoughts of deprivation, they will never be able to break free from their addiction.

If, however, they shift their vision – from the pleasure of drinking and its associated sense of deprivation on giving it up to the desire for drinking and its associated sense of agitation whenever that desire becomes dominant. If somehow that desire for drinking disappeared, they would feel relieved – immediately, immensely, intensely relieved.

However, the desire won’t go away unless they send it away, unless they say no to it resolutely and repeatedly. And the willpower to say no can come if they meditate not on the pleasure of drinking, but on the trouble resulting from drinking.

We may not be alcoholics, but we all have our own pet indulgences whose hold on us might be similarly addictive. The Bhagavad-gita (18.38) helps us shift our vision from the pleasure to the trouble when it underscores that the experience coming from the contact of the senses with the sense objects tastes like nectar initially, but like poison eventually. We may not want to drink the poison, but we will be forced to endure the toxic consequences of sensual indulgence, which aggravate our material entanglement and material miseries.

When we strive for sense control by tolerating and rejecting sensual desires whenever they arise, we gradually weaken those desires. And more positively, when we fill our consciousness with spiritual desires to connect with Krishna through inner remembrance and outer service, we become freed from anti-devotional sensual desires. That freedom brings not deprivation, but relief – relief from the agitation that leads to tribulation.

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