We need a starter of desire more than a stopper of desire

Spiritual seekers often worry about how to restrain their desires so as to adhere to the principles of sadhana.

Yet quite often this worry is negative and restrictive. After all, saying no to something enjoyable is never enjoyable. Of course, our intelligence when sharpened by Gita wisdom can help us to understand that what seems to be materially enjoyable is not actually enjoyable, but is the way to misery. Still, no matter how sensible and sound the analysis of the hollowness of worldly enjoyment, as long as we are conditioned and habituated and even addicted to worldly indulgence, it will keep seeming enjoyable, even irresistible. And sooner or later, saying no will feel tiresome and burdensome – and will become unsustainable.

To succeed in the endeavor for sense control, we need a more positive and constructive worry. Indeed, the whole process of bhakti is the process of cultivating positive desires – not so much of giving up the desires to enjoy the world as taking up the desires to love and serve the Lord of the world, Krishna.

The Bhagavad-gita (02.61) states that fixing the consciousness on Krishna is the key to sense control, implying thereby that the positive desire to fix the consciousness on Krishna is critical for controlling the negative desires for sense gratification. Krishna is the all-attractive Supreme, and loving and serving him is relishable, though we may need some practice and persistence to experience that taste for ourselves according to our individual nature and inclination. The Gita (12.09) indicates that consistent practice in remembering Krishna will kindle our devotional desires, thereby making absorption in him easier and more relishable. Once our heart becomes filled with a yes for Krishna due to our attraction for him, no to other self-centered desires will result naturally.

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