When recovering alcoholics have stayed sober for some time, they may feel tempted: “Let me take just one drink – what harm can it do?”
It can do plenty of harm, because one drink won’t stay one. Addictive desires are, nature, self-fueling – once triggered, they grow and drag their victims forcefully into lower and darker indulgences. Alcoholics who are serious about their recovery know, from both counsel and experience, that one drink is one too many.
We may not be alcoholics, but this principle applies to our pet temptations, especially those that tend to become addictive and destructive. The Bhagavad-gita (02.67) underscores our vulnerability through the metaphor of a boat caught in a storm. When we let our mind focus on the sense objects that our senses encounter, we get exposed to a gust of desire that soon becomes a storm, which sweeps away our intelligence and then sweeps us away.
Can a boat caught in the storm be saved? Difficult, but not impossible. If it can get anchored to something immoveable, it can resist the storm. Similarly, even after the storm of desire has caught us, if we can somehow anchor ourselves to the supreme unchanging reality, Krishna, then that connection can protect us – it can activate our higher intelligence and provide us higher satisfaction, thereby empowering us to resist the desire.
Of course, this positive, protective power of devotion can guard us even before the storm starts. If we stay connected with Krishna firmly through inner remembrance and outer service, we won’t be lured by our lower desires, thus saving ourselves from a ton of trouble.
When we feel tempted to slacken our bhakti practices, thereby making ourselves vulnerable to relapse, we can strengthen our conviction to stay diligently connected with Krishna by reminding ourselves that one indulgence is one too many.
Aug 06, 2022
Brahmatirtha das Director, Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies