Stop worrying about avoiding temptation, start working on cultivating absorption
When we resolve to resist some harmful temptation, we may fear, “The world is filled with tempting objects. How can I avoid all those objects and stay safe?”
This is a valid concern. Given that temptation can drag us down to stupidity, immorality or even perversity, it is helpful to keep a safe distance from temptation.
However, if we become obsessed with avoiding temptation, we may become culturally paranoid and socially paralyzed. Culturally paranoid means that we feel that the entire culture is our enemy, out to get us. Socially paralyzed means that we become inhibited during routine social interactions.
Moreover, thinking about avoiding temptation constantly is still thinking about temptation – and that thought may make us feel deprived till we feel driven to indulge again. The Bhagavad-gita (02.59) cautions that avoidance of tempting objects doesn’t free us from the desire for those objects. And that residual desire can impel even the discerning and determined among us to relapse (02.60).
What, then, is the solution? Focusing on something higher that engages and consumes our consciousness.
Gita wisdom offers us the most absorbing higher reality: the all-attractive supreme person, Krishna. By the process of bhakti-yoga, we can increase our attraction to Krishna (12.09), thereby making absorption in him easier.
Even if we don’t presently feel attracted to Krishna, we can practice bhakti-yoga as a discipline. Amidst such disciplined practice, we can note those bhakti activities that connect us most with him. And we can strive to do those activities more and more, at every opportunity.
Absorbing ourselves in Krishna generically can require practice and purification, but absorbing ourselves in those specific activities that naturally connect us with him is much easier and much more enriching.
When we thus become absorbed in Krishna, the resulting higher satisfaction will enable us to tolerate and transcend temptation (02.61).
Think it over:
- If we become obsessed with avoiding temptation, what are the consequences?
- How can we cultivate absorption in Krishna?
- To go beyond temptation, what can you absorb yourself in?
One who restrains his senses, keeping them under full control, and fixes his consciousness upon Me, is known as a man of steady intelligence.
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