When we resist our urges, they may become scarier, but they don’t become stronger

Suppose an animal trainer is domesticating a wild tiger by starving it till it becomes compliant. Like all other living beings that are kept hungry, the tiger’s anger increases with its hunger. Unlike many other smaller living beings, however, the tiger’s anger makes it look and sound scary. If the trainer is inexperienced, they may become unnerved and feed the roaring tiger without waiting till it becomes compliant. But if the trainer is experienced, they will persist in the starvation campaign. Eventually, the tiger will become too weak to keep growling and prowling – and will do whatever it is told to get food. 

We need to similarly starve to submission our wild urges, especially the urges to act immorally or self-destructively. Such urges are like tigers: just as tigers can devour humans, our baser urges can devour our humanity. Just as tigers become compliant when starved sufficiently, our urges become compliant when starved sufficiently. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (05.23) assures that those who tolerate their urges become gradually situated in spiritual consciousness and happiness. 

Unfortunately, our starving urges intimidate us like starving tigers: they growl and prowl inside our consciousness, threatening to make our life a living torment if we don’t satisfy them, right away. Overwhelmed by their threats, we give in. 

How can we resist our urges? Through knowledge and absorption. 

Spiritual knowledge reminds us that we are indestructible souls who can’t be hurt by our wild urges, no matter how much they scream. To persevere through their screaming, we can absorb ourselves in something elevating, empowering, enriching – ultimately, in the all-attractive supreme, Krishna. 

By thus internalizing spiritual knowledge and cultivating devotional absorption, we can live with our urges till their roars reduce to whimpers and finally to silence. 

 

Think it over:

  • When we starve our urges, how do they deceive us into satisfying them?
  • How can we tolerate our urges?
  • Which urge intimidates you the most? How can you neglect it?

 

***

05.23 Before giving up this present body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, he is well situated and is happy in this world.

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