06.26: Change of values is a more reliable parameter of inner life than change of desires
When we as spiritual seekers find ourselves becoming repeatedly afflicted by greed, anger or lust, we may become discouraged, thinking, “Despite my practice of devotional service, why is my inner life not changing?
The fact, though, may pleasantly surprise us: our inner life has already changed. That change is evident in our questioning the presence of anti-devotional desires in our heart. This questioning itself indicates a fundamental change in our values.
Before we started practicing devotional service, most of us probably valued material desires, and looked forward to them as sources of pleasure and symbols of success. But now we are valuing freedom from material desires and are looking forward to the time when we will:
1 Relish the peace that the cessation of material desires brings
2. More importantly, cherish the resulting capacity for undistracted remembrance of Krishna, and utilize that capacity to serve and please him, thereby savoring the supreme happiness of pure love.
This change in our values – from looking forward to material desires to looking forward to freedom from material desires – is irrefutable evidence of our inner change. The Bhagavad-gita (6.26) acknowledges that the conditioned mind has the nature to wander (manash canchalam asthiram). Based on its past experiences, the mind by default wanders towards material pleasures. Gita wisdom urges us to not be disheartened by this default movement but to expect it and to plan for countering it. If we preparedly and determinedly keep resisting its default movement and keep looking beyond material desires, gradually these desires will wane and fade. To persevere till we attain that state, we need to overlook the discouraging unreliable barometer of inner life – our desires – and focus on the encouraging reliable barometer – our values.