We don’t have to defeat our lower desires – we can just let them lose
Tennis players don’t have to hit winners in each point; if they can just keep the ball in play, their opponent may tire and err, thereby granting them the point. If instead they try to hit winners in each point – something even the best players can’t do – the chances increase that they will err and lose.
Practicing spiritual life means entering into a match with our lower desires. Essentially, spiritual life centers on developing pure love for Krishna, which automatically eclipses lower desires. But till we develop such love, we need to manage those desires, that is, continue playing the match with them.
In this match, eliminating lower desires is like hitting winners. But eliminating those desires is nearly impossible. Why? Because they are often present deep within our consciousness from where they can re-surface anytime. Further, even if uprooted from within, they may be anytime triggered by outer stimuli and re-enter. More detrimentally, eliminating them can become an obsession that diverts our focus from Krishna. And that divine focus is our vital source of spiritual satisfaction – it is the energy-source necessary for us to keep playing.
Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (05.23) recommends that we tolerate lower desires and persevere with our spiritual practices. Tolerating desires means enduring their presence without succumbing to their influence. For such tolerance, we need to understand that by focusing on those desires, we strengthen them; and by focusing on Krishna, we nourish ourselves.
So, if we just keep the ball in play, that is, we stay connected with Krishna while tolerating lower desires, we will become stronger, whereas those desires will become weaker. Eventually, they will falter, like the opposing player erring. As our devotion thus progresses uninterrupted, we will ultimately win the match of our life, attaining immortal spiritual love.
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