We relapse not because we are witless or will-less, but because we are weapon-less
When we make resolutions to give up some unhealthy indulgence, we often relapse. On succumbing thus, we may berate ourselves for being witless: “How could I have been so dumb as to fall for that yet again?” Or we may berate ourselves for being will less: “I am too much into this; I have no determination. I am lost.”
Such self-condemnation is often misconceived because our relapse is often caused by something else: weaponlessness.
Suppose a heavily armed enemy attacks an unarmed soldier. Even if the soldier is spirited and sharp, if they are arm-less, they will most likely succumb.
Similar may be our predicament in our war against temptation. In this war, temptation attacks us with the weapon of inner torment, with a sense of being deprived of pleasure. Over time, that sense of deprivation becomes so unbearable that we indulge — not because indulging is so joyful, but because resisting is so painful.
Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (02.60) states that sensuality overcomes even those who are discerning and endeavoring. That they are discerning means they have wit. And that they are endeavoring means they have will. Why do they still succumb? Because they are weaponless, as indicated by the preceding and succeeding Gita verses. The taste for sensuality remains even if we physically restrain ourselves (02.59). We transcend sensual taste when we get a higher spiritual taste, when we focus our consciousness on the all-attractive divine, Krishna (02.61). This divine focus gives us a higher fulfillment or at least a higher purpose. Either of these can shield us from the torment with which temptation hounds us.
Therefore, when we relapse, we needn’t berate ourselves for relapsing. Instead, we can strive to equip ourselves with absorption in Krishna or at least connection with Krishna. Being thus equipped, we will gradually start winning the war against temptation.
Think it over:
- When fighting against temptation, why do we relapse?
- What is the weapon with which temptation attacks us?
- How can we equip ourselves to win the war against temptation?
02.60 While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.
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