03.41: Response to Temptation: Welcome Tune or Alarm Bell?
The Bhagavad-gita (3.41) urges us to recognize carnal temptation or lust as a symbol of sin (papamanam) and curb it as soon as it rears its ugly head in our consciousness.
This ability to understand the true colors of temptation is a prime barometer of our intellectual health. When we are intellectually sick, the arrival of temptation sets off a welcome tune in our consciousness; our unhealthy intelligence has no strength or spunk to unmask the treacherous façade of temptation. Consequently, we get helplessly, even eagerly, carried away by the doomed hope that indulging in the temptation will make us happy.
But when we are intellectually healthy, the arrival of the same temptation triggers an alarm bell in our consciousness; our robust intelligence swings into action to pound out the temptation, knowing well that it is a forerunner of emotional distraction that can snowball into spiritual destruction. Consequently, we gird ourselves for an inner battle that leads to a gradual but inevitable triumph if we seek shelter and strength in the remembrance of Krishna.
Of course, if the arrival of temptation leads to no response – neither a welcome tune nor an alarm bell, then that absence of response indicates, not that we have transcended temptation, but that our intelligence has fallen asleep due to a cocksure complacency that can be suicidal. Therefore, the absence of the triggering of an alarm bell should itself trigger an alarm bell and galvanize us to arouse and activate our intelligence, and protect our spiritual integrity.