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 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 practices such as bhakti-yoga that spiritualize our consciousness. The Bhagavad-gita (18.54) declares that the spiritually situated are 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: we exercise all 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 temptation easier as and when it attacks.
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?
18.54 One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.
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