What can we do when the mind gets agitated by a tempting sense object that can’t be avoided?

by Chaitanya CharanDecember 31, 2013

Transcription: Arun Nair Prabhu

Question: How do we deal with lust when a tempting sense object is around and can’t be avoided?

Answer:  By serious, unsentimental, uncompromising re-education of the mind. Sankaracarya talks about this manasi vicintya bhārambhāram. He says that the so-called very attractive seeming forms of the opposite sex actually they are simply just nothing but flesh. So he says you just contemplate on this manasi vicintya bhārambhāram. Manasi vicintya – contemplate on this, now don’t contemplate on the specific sense object, but contemplate on the reality that this is just an illusion – this is just an appearance. So this re-education works at various levels. The re-education can be at a generic level that in general whatever appears attractive to us what is the attractiveness actually? Ultimately the body is made of flesh and the flesh is just like our flesh. So what goes into the body of the opposite sex -the food is the same as what goes into our body and whatever waste products come out of the body of the opposite sex is the same as what comes out of our body. So it is a point of simple logic that what is coming in and what is going out of something is same so what will be inside is also same. So for a male a female form seems attractive unless a person has some unusual sexual orientations and conversely for the female the male form appears attractive, but rather than letting the mind get carried away fancifully at every such tempting sight, one can contemplate seriously that what is this attraction really? Now that particular body is basically like my body only. Just as by touching, squeezing, pressing or doing anything with my body doesn’t give me any pleasure, the same is true with that body also. So actually if there is feeling of pleasure or there is any feeling that there will be pleasure, then that is primarily because of the mind’s imagination which is activating the hormones in the body and that is how the pleasure is coming. So in general this contemplation has to be there. It may be nearly impossible to think about this in the presence of sense object. That’s true, but this sort of contemplation bhārambhāram – seriously contemplating on it – gradually educates and reforms the mind. So the whole idea of sexual pleasures at one level is imagination, but apart from that one can also think more functionally. We know that one particular person may appear very agitating or very attractive, but then if we look back at our lives, we have seen that the nature of the illusion is that something appears very attractive when it is not there – when it is not available, and when we experience it then we find there is nothing particularly great about it. The mind basically makes a fantasy out of things which are nothing worth fantasizing about. The mind exaggerates the level of pleasure that is available. And especially when there is a new person around with new looks and new personality and new things everywhere the mind becomes a little more excited as if there will be some new pleasure, but when we understand that basically ultimately the pleasure is the same pleasure that is there with any sense object, so that contemplation can also help us. Like right now I’m feeling excited about this particular person – this particular thing- but then it is just going to lead me on a wild goose chase. Wild goose chase means pursuing something unproductive. It is not going to lead me to any more pleasure than whatever I have got through my past attempts of sense gratification in different ways. That is also one contemplation one can do.

So first is just thinking about the whole nature of how the bodily pleasure is just the matter of appearance – it is visual illusion. Second is that the mind has the tendency to exaggerate. And beyond that even when one has to avoid, one can’t avoid interacting, then one has to know while interacting also there are ways in which one can act in more cultured ways, keep one’s glances guarded and overall behave in a way which doesn’t agitate us nor doesn’t send wrong signal to the other person, and then basically the whole relationship comes down to a more non-fantasized non-romanticized sort of level where people don’t start seeing each other with fanciful eyes and that sort of  thing is required for functioning in this life and often we are able to do this with some people. In fact when we work with people over a period of time then that thing goes away if we have to work regularly. Its only when the person is new then the mind’s agitation is there. So especially if the agitation is becoming unbearable, then one has to take some emergency measures. I use the word ‘pause’ button in my spiritual scientist website and my ‘little bhakti companion’ book I have talked about how to deal with desires when they attack irresistibly, and that time you have to take a ‘pause’ button – that means we have to withdraw ourself in the situation at least for the few moments and then we chant intensely and pray, go to a sort of private place, or maybe read some verses or read some philosophical points which we have heard or read and note it down in a diary – we can have a pocket diary like that which contains those points, or we can have some standard texts in our mobiles in an SMS, so these are like our emergency weapons. We are at war and at a war sometimes the enemy may ambush us and we can fight off the enemy and sometimes when the ambush is very strong, we might have to take a break so that we can fight off and then move forward. So taking a break at that time is very important even if it seems impossible. We can always say that I need to go or something like that for a few moments and then take a break and then come back and during the break pray to Kṛṣṇa or do whatever we can to get our mind under control and come back and deal with it. In such situations the break can well save us from breakdown – from doing something which will cause far greater trouble. And over a period of time when we anticipate such situations, like Ok this is the time it happens, then we are better prepared for them. Forewarned is forearmed, and we can deal with them without getting overwhelmed. Okay, this is the situation when I get hyper excited, then this is how I will deal with it – this is how I should deal with it. And we all learn from experience that this is what I do, I get more agitated, this is what I do I can keep the agitation under control, and in this way rather than getting more agitated about the agitation, we can do whatever required to deal with it at that time and then look at that agitation so that it becomes an education. It becomes an education in the modus operandi. Modus operandimeans the strategy – the way of working, the way of operating of our mind, how it works, what things make it agitated and how we can make Kṛṣṇa consciousness work also. See, Kṛṣṇa consciousness always works, but we have to show Kṛṣṇa a desire to make it work when we pray to Kṛṣṇa and basically we are praying to Kṛṣṇa and seeking for His shelter by pressing the ‘pause’ button, by taking a break and by trying to do some intense re-orienting devotional activity. Then we can find out also that this also works for me. This is how I can make Kṛṣṇa consciousness work, so then by that our understanding of ourselves and our understanding of Kṛṣṇa consciousness will become much deeper and then we will be much more prepared to face this kind of situations in future. So rather than seeing the agitation as an irritation we can see it as an education and learn from it and thereby advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and move closer towards taking shelter of Kṛṣṇa and developing our faith and devotion for Him by which eventually the agitation will become lesser and lesser and eventually it will go away. Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa.

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan