To best defend our consciousness from the world, first raise it above the world
Suppose a city is under attack from powerful plunderers. If that city were at ground level, pushing back the attackers would be difficult. But if it were situated on top of a hill, the attackers would have to exert to climb the hill and would therefore be easier to repel.
Our consciousness is like a city under attack by the world’s temptations. Frequently, our consciousness is at the same level as the world – we live in materialistic consciousness, conceiving worldly pleasures as life’s primary or only pleasures. Consequently, whenever we are tempted, we feel that saying no to temptation is like saying no to all pleasure. This acute sense of deprivation erodes our will to resist, and we succumb.
To better resist temptation, we need to raise our consciousness above the world. How? By time-honored spiritual practices such as yoga, especially bhakti-yoga. Through such practices, we start realizing our indestructible spiritual essence and thereby start accessing inexhaustible spiritual happiness. The Bhagavad-gita (18.54) declares that when we become spiritually situated, we become free from hankering and lamenting, the feelings that arise when sensual pleasures appear and disappear respectively.
When we resolve to resist temptation, we often obsess over the actual moment when temptation strikes”e our willpower to repel that strike. And when we fail, as we often do, we beat ourselves up for being so weak-willed. Instead, we can use our willpower primarily to engage diligently in those practices that raise our consciousness. When our consciousness thus becomes spiritualized, the resulting inner satisfaction will make resisting outer temptation easier.
Undoubtedly, we will still have to fight and may still sometimes succumb. Nonetheless, each day’s diligent spiritual practice will make us more satisfied and secure, gradually making our triumph over temptation more probable and even inevitable.
Think it over:
- Why do we often fail to resist temptation?
- How can our spiritual practices empower us to resist temptation?
- Which practice raises your consciousness most effectively? How can you increase your commitment to that practice?
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