Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Do Not Succumb

Hari Om
Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.

In our life, we must distinguish between our needs and our desires. We have natural, physical needs – when you are hungry, you want food; when you are thirsty you want to drink something. These are natural; they cannot be categorized under desire or kaama.

Categories of Desire

The desire for realization of Truth, for Liberation, or desire for God, are all desires and there will be some agitation until the desire is fulfilled. This type of desire which is for one’s own upliftment will not make you engage in sinful acts. Such a desire cannot be said to be mahashaani or mahapaapama.

So the desire that should be considered as your enemy is the desire for more and more sense pleasures, indulgence and gratification of the senses. Greed for more power, wealth and pleasures can never be fulfilled. These desires are very different from fulfilment of our natural needs. Here we are talking about the extrovert mind and the consequent seeking of pleasure in sense objects. Such desires only go on multiplying. Sri Krishna says ‘viddhi enam iha vairinam – understand this to be your enemy. It makes you do wrong things.

Overcoming harmful Addictions

It is true that some desires are very strong and difficult to overcome. They cause so much sorrow that you think, ‘I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this’. For example, someone suffering but addicted to alcohol or drugs, says, ‘I want to quit’. Unfortunately, by that time the habit has become so ingrained, the inclination (vasana) has gathered strength and become so deep rooted that it cannot be easily overcome. Just his saying that he wishes to give it up is very superficial; it is not a strong desire. Mark Twain said “Giving up cigarette smoking is the easiest thing to do. I have done it a hundred times”. We are just like him!

Another reason for ‘feebly’ wanting to give up something is because we like it. It gratifies our senses and we enjoy it, even though we know it is harmful. Thus, we may say that we do not want to do a particular thing, but secretly we enjoy it. Sometimes we say we want to give up a particular habit because it is considered wrong or undesirable by others; but the fact is that deep down, we do not think that it is wrong.

If you do not want to do a certain thing, nobody can force you to do it. Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda used to say that if somebody does not want to attend a Gita lecture, twenty horses cannot bring him here. Often in our lives we fail to do many things which may benefit ourselves or others. Why? Because there is no real will or desire to do so.

So the reason why we commit sin is because of ignorance, wrong notions, or the power of habits which have gained such a strong grip over us that they push us into doing something that we may not want to do.

As was seen on last Story-day's post, we have the matter of choice. We can rise from our addictions of various kinds, but we must fund the true will to do so. If we have not the strength within ourselves as part of our nature, this is when the 'prop' of a solid philosophy which holds the values we desire can become our life saver. Inculcating the values, following the practices, garnering results of changed habits all build the encouragement to continue along a path away from our self-destruction.

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Hari OM
If what you have read has made you think, tell me why. If you are wondering, others are too, so ask that question. If you have a doubt, let it out.

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