If a desire is irresistible, what to do?
Transcribed by: Sudeep Naik
Question: If a desire is irresistible, what to do?
Answer: We need to evaluate our desires and check if those desires are harmful.
Suppose we get a desire to itch. If the skin is healthy and we scratch the desire is over. If we already have a rash and then we scratch, the rash worsens. If we keep scratching, the rash will turn into a wound. Some desires are casual. For example, if we want to eat something, we eat it and it is over. We do not have to make a big issue that we want to control it. If food can be offered to Krishna then we can eat it after offering.
Scratching on healthy skin is not harmful, but scratching on a diseased skin is harmful. If our overall consciousness is healthy then an occasional desire to do something is not anti-devotional. It is just a part of normal life. We do not have to get too caught up in it. Trying to restrict such desires requires so much effort that it consumes our consciousness. We may think I will not eat this food, but just by not eating we are not going closer to Krishna. Of course, by eating also we are not going closer to Krishna. We should not invest time in thinking should I do it or not. If we decide to fast nirjal on ekadashi and chant 64 rounds, it may happen that when we start chanting, our tongue may be chanting but our mind may be thinking of prasad. In that way we may chant many rounds but not be hearing the holy name at all. In such case better to take prasad and then chant. It is good to fast but that is not the main goal. Main goal is to focus on Krishna. Sometimes in saying no to some desires we consume our consciousness so much that we may get distracted from focusing on Krishna.
If a desire is harmful then we need to find how best to deal with them. There is always an illusion created by mind that when we say no to a desire, it will become stronger, however that is not always a reality. One of the standard ways in which wild animals are trained is by starving them. They are kept in a cage and until they follow the instruction they are starved. Animal like lion may growl ferociously if they are not given food. A timid trainer may feel that it is better to give food. However, an experienced trainer understands that no matter how loudly the lion may be roaring, it is becoming weaker. Eventually its roar will become a whimper and it will fall silent. Similarly, when we say no to a desire, the mind may scream more and more. Although the mind may be screaming louder but it is becoming weaker. It is indulgence which feeds the desire. When indulgence is not there, desire will not get food and will become weak.
Persistence in abstinence is one way to silent the mind even if it is screaming, but we need to see what works for us. Our focus should not be simple renunciation but it should be devotion. Sometimes we are so caught up in fighting a battle against the temptation that we forget to fight for devotion. Fighting against temptation is important but more important is focusing, connecting and moving towards Krishna.
To summarize, whatever may happen with our temptations, keep practicing bhakti. It is by practicing bhakti lower desires will go away. Rather than worrying too much about controlling our material desires we should primarily focus on connecting with Krishna. Connection with Krishna and steady practice of bhakti is eventually going to purify and strengthen us enough to say no to that desire.