Unhealthy cravings are often unhealthy expressions of healthy needs
We are sometimes told to differentiate between desires and needs. However, just an intellectual differentiation is not enough. Sometimes, our desires are misdirected expressions of our needs.
For example, we may crave food not because we find food irresistibly tasty, but because it may be our default source of relief amidst loneliness.
The need for relationships is a valid and healthy need. When we identify this particular need and address it effectively, then the desire for eating will just subside.
When we practice bhakti, some of our desires disappear easily and we attribute that to bhakti’s higher taste. That disappearance may not occur if we were indulging in a desire less for pleasure and more for comfort. We need to address that need in some devotional way. Otherwise that desire for food will resurface.
The Bhagavad-gita (14.11) states that in the mode of goodness, our inner world gets illumined and we can identify the needs underlying our cravings. Through such a spiritually illumined way of addressing our need for comfort, we will be able to give up that desire effectively. Without such redirection, we may make resolutions and court frustration because of our inability to stick to those resolutions. But simply berating ourselves for our poor willpower will not solve the problem because the issue is not of inadequate willpower – it is of misdirected need.
Often when we practice bhakti, we may still be misdirected by our conditionings to fulfill our needs in unhealthy ways. Still, the bhakti practice purifies us and raises our consciousness to the mode of goodness whereby knowledge about our inner world becomes more readily accessible to us. Then we can address our healthy needs in a healthy way and thereby conquer the unhealthy desires that were unhealthy expressions of those healthy needs.
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