Small victories are not big victories, but they are stepping stones to big victories

When we fight against our lower desires, we sometimes succeed. But our mind frequently undermines our success: “What’s the big deal? You resisted temptation today, but you will be tempted again: tomorrow, the day after and the day after that. How long can you resist? You will succumb eventually.”

Yes, a small victory in sense control doesn’t mean we have become self-controlled. But that doesn’t mean small victories count for nothing; they count, as stepping stones to a big victory, just as small steps count in covering a long distance. The Bhagavad-gita (06.25) urges us to use our intellectual conviction to gradually, step-by-step, fix our mind on spiritual reality.

Applying this incremental approach, we can celebrate our small victories – celebrate not egoistically, “Just see how self-controlled I am,” but gratefully, “If I strive earnestly for self-control by practicing bhakti-yoga, I can actually get absorbed in Krishna and resist temptation. Bhakti’s higher taste is for real.”

While striving for self-mastery, we need encouragement. And we can get immense encouragement by experiencing that we have been able to exercise, even if to a modest degree, the self-regulation that we had earlier thought impossible. When our efforts and Krishna’s grace have manifested such evidence in the form of our small victory, why let our mischievous mind deny that evidence’s significance?

After all, lifelong self-control is nothing but the act of daily self-control repeated lifelong. With this positive attitude, we can turn the mind’s argument on its head: “If I can resist temptation today, I can resist it tomorrow too. And it may even become easier tomorrow as I start relishing the freedom coming from self-control and the joy coming from uninterrupted absorption in Krishna.”

By such affirmative reflection, we can march humbly yet confidently towards self-mastery and pure devotion.

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