The journey from contemplation to captivation is powered by imagination
When some self-defeating habit captivates people, that captivation is usually powered by imagination.
For example, when students get hooked to drinking, such captivation doesn’t happen because of other students goading them – peer pressure can make them drink once or twice; it can’t make them hooked. They get hooked when their own imagination is triggered by fantasies of the supposed pleasures of drinking. And such imagination blinds them to the consequences – the hangover, the expense, the health hazards and so forth. Being thus selectively blinded by imagination, they keep seeing and seeking the pleasure, whatever the consequences.
Outlining the general trajectory of degradation, the Bhagavad-gita (02.62-63) states that the journey beginning with contemplation on temptation goes through the stages of attraction, infatuation, irritation, delusion, oblivion and stupefaction down to the nadir of degeneration. What pushes us down the slippery slope from contemplation to captivation is imagination.
To avoid being misled by our imagination, we need to seriously educate ourselves about the nature of reality – not just the reality of the specific temptation tormenting us, but also the reality of material pleasure in general. Such education is offered best by the comprehensive worldview delineated in the Gita. When we sharpen our intelligence by regular Gita study, we can function in the temptation-filled world without contemplating its many temptations. Even if we can’t avoid observing temptations, we can avoid imagining about them.
More importantly, Gita wisdom educates us about our spiritual identity and destiny, thereby opening the spiritual avenue for redirecting our imagination.
By associating with devotees who are absorbed joyfully in service to Krishna, especially in a service that attracts and inspires us, we can fuel our imagination to render similar service. Gradually, the purifying potency of bhakti-yoga will purify our imagination, which will thereafter propel us towards ever-deepening absorption in Krishna.
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