Temptation buys us on an installment basis
When we buy something on an installment basis, we need to pay only small amounts at a time. By thus manageably dividing a large amount, we can afford something that might otherwise be unaffordable.
This principle of gradual giving is used against us by temptation which beguiles us into paying an unaffordable price. If temptation came upfront and asked us to give up our principles entirely and indulge in pleasures wantonly, we would refuse, for that would be like asking for a hefty one-time payment.
Instead, temptation lowers our guard with its instalment plan; it asks us to indulge in a little bit of pleasure, which seems harmless. And then it induces us to indulge a bit more and a bit more still, till we become so habituated that we indulge unthinkingly and even compulsively. Because the increment in indulgence is gradual, it doesn’t ring any alarm bells within our conscience – we don’t seem to be giving up our principles. But still, in the end we get so enmeshed in sensuality that our morality is left far behind.
How does temptation pull off the illusion that it isn’t asking for a significant price? By its initial appearance. The Bhagavad-gita (18.38) cautions that sensual pleasure seems like nectar initially, but turns out to be like poison eventually. The minor concessions to our principles that we make to get small indulgences seem harmlessly enjoyable – that enjoyment is like the initial nectar. But through them, we become attached, eventually even addicted. That irresistible craving and its unconscionable consequence of indulgence comprise the poison phase, and it lasts much longer than the nectar.
If we can remember that small indulgences in those pleasures that we know are immoral and anti-devotional have big consequences, we can refuse to let our consciousness to be brought by temptation’s installment plan.
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