What we feel doesn’t fell us, what we will does

When we strive for self-control, especially in terms of freedom from certain impurities, we sometimes label ourselves as impure if we can’t free ourselves from impure desires.

However, our life’s trajectory is not determined by what we feel; it is determined primarily by what we will. This difference between emotions and intentions doesn’t mean that whatever happens in our inner world is ok and that all kinds of thoughts and feelings are acceptable; it just means that we need to first win battles that are winnable and then work toward winning remaining battles. Or put another way, a state with good law and order or good border security doesn’t necessarily mean that it has absolutely no criminals or invaders; it first means that such law-breakers aren’t allowed to gain enough strength to create troubled, even if they exist.

The Bhagavad-gita (02.70) compares the rising of sensual desires in our consciousness to the occurrence of disturbances in an ocean whenever a river flows into it. If the river is large, naturally some disturbance will occur; but if the ocean is far larger than the river, then the disturbance won’t disturb much. Our consciousness is like that ocean into which various stimuli will pour in like incoming rivers. We can’t entirely control the size of the rivers, for we can’t entirely control what kind of stimuli we will encounter in the outer world. But we can change the size of our consciousness by changing the primary object of focus for our consciousness, by changing what we are primarily attached to, by changing what we think most about.

When our consciousness becomes attached to the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna, then that gives us such inner fullness that we don’t feel inclined to act on lower desires even if they arise within us.

Think it over:

  • What does winning battles that are winnable mean in terms of our consciousness?
  • What metaphor can help us appreciate the difference between feeling and willing?
  • How can we enlarge our consciousness?

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