We are inflammable, not incorrigible – we need caution, not condemnation

Suppose we are unable to resist some sensual temptation despite trying repeatedly. Over time, we may become disheartened, thinking: “Maybe I am incorrigible.”

Thankfully, no one is incorrigible. At our core, we all are souls, who are parts of God (Bhagavad-gita 15.07). We all have the potential to be godly.

Why, then, do we keep relapsing? Because we – that is, our inner world – is inflammable. Materialistic impressions from our past indulgences are stored in our senses, mind and intelligence (03.40). These impressions inflame our consciousness with sensual desire whenever we are exposed to provocative stimuli, either externally through perception or internally through recollection.

If a house is made of inflammable material and has a history of catching fire, do its residents condemn or abandon it? Not necessarily. They meticulously implement two precautionary measures: don’t handle fire carelessly, and keep good fire extinguishers always at hand.

Similarly, just because the fire of sensual desire has burned us doesn’t mean we have to condemn ourselves and stop trying to improve. After all, our present inner world is the only inner residence we have; we can’t move from our present inner world to some other inner world.

What, then, can we do? We can retrospect to note the typical triggers that inflame us and carefully stay away from them, or at least stay on high alert whenever we are near them.

And we can keep readily accessible good fire extinguishers: stimuli that douse sensual desire by redirecting our consciousness toward something meaningful and satisfying. Bhakti-yoga provides us many such stimuli including holy names, scriptural verses and devotional images – these redirect our consciousness toward all-pure Krishna, thereby pacifying and purifying us.

When we thus cautiously avoid sensual inflammation and cultivate devotional absorption, we gradually increase our capacity to initially tolerate and eventually transcend temptations.

Think it over:

  • Why are we not incorrigible? Why are we inflammable?
  • What are the triggers that you need to be alert about?
  • What are the fire extinguishers that work for you? How can you make them more accessible?

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The mind is like a bully who has terrorized us for long – it’s time to stand up
Mind your mind before you mind anyone else’s mind
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