Turning away is not running away if we are turning toward something better
Suppose we are at a get-together where we see from a distance a person who constantly agitates us. Not wanting to interact with them, we turn away.
Are we being cowardly? Not necessarily. If we had come there to meet someone else who is far more important for us, then turning away is not spinelessness; it is smartness. Guided by such smart purposefulness, if we still encounter that person, we won’t get unduly agitated; we will be polite and brief, and move on.
We need to be similarly purposeful while dealing with agitating stimuli in the outer world. When we start living spiritually, we resolve to abstain from sensual temptations. To stick to our resolve, whenever we see a temptation from a distance, we can turn away from it. Unfortunately, we sometimes avoid turning away, deeming it cowardly. However, we aren’t being cowardly; we are being canny, staying focused on our purpose.
In spiritual life, our purpose is to turn inward. Within us resides the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna, who is all-attractive, all-loving and all-joyful. The Bhagavad-gita (05.21) assures that if we turn away from outer pleasures and toward inner spiritual reality, we relish imperishable joy.
We can access that joy by practicing bhakti-yoga and connecting with Krishna. While striving to connect with him, sensual temptations can be a major distraction. Why should we unnecessarily fuel such distraction by dwelling on temptation?
Of course, if we become obsessed with avoiding temptation, we may feel frustrated, even persecuted, because today’s culture often features an almost unending parade of temptations. We need a balanced approach: whenever possible, we can avoid interacting with temptation; and whenever impossible, we can avoid prolonging the interaction.
By such purposefulness, we can, even in a temptation-filled world, stay spiritually connected and become devotionally enriched.
Think it over:
- Why is turning away from temptation not cowardly?
- When dealing with temptation, how can we be balanced?
- Which temptations can you turn away from? In those situations, how can you turn toward something higher?
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